Lots of ways to Drink Local in the Carolinas.
Of course, the wine industry is huge here and the focus on craft beers is without question; but did you know that North Carolina has close to 70 different distilleries, too? With all the culinary spotlight on craft cocktails at local bars and restaurants, it nice to know that it’s really not hard to craft your own cocktail creations at home and still keep it local.
All it takes is the right glass, the right ice, the right ingredients and a little bit of know how. Read on for all the detail on six of my favorite ways to Drink Local this holiday season and then each month stay tuned for more Eat and Drink Local posts to come.
Today we’ll start with the goods from four different North Carolina Distilleries with a delicious line up of four rums from Muddy River Distillery in Belmont, NC – the Carolina’s first Rum; a smooth and satisfying, rich almond-based liqueur that is Oak City Amaretto in Raleigh NC; Damn Fine Liqueurs from Durham Distillery in Durham, NC – also the makers of the very popular Conniption Gin and the Eight Oak Aged Whiskey from TOPO Distillery, North Carolina’s first LEED green and totally organic grain to glass distillery in Chapel Hill.
Because a craft cocktail is not made with liquor alone, I am also featuring Crude Bitters from Raleigh North Carolina in this Drink Local post. Think of bitters as that little something extra that peaks the flavor of a cocktail – the same way that vanilla or almond extra peaks the flavor of your favorite baked goods. These local bitters come in a variety of creative flavors from Sycophant (Orange & Fig) to Rizzo, a piquant blend of rosemary, peppercorns and grapefruit.
Crude Bitters has a regular line of a half dozen or so varieties available all year and then comes out with seasonal flavors, too. These local bitters are based in GMO free and organic alcohols and while they are not for drinking on their own, they certainly pack a concentrated punch when added to any drink from a cocktails to coffee or club soda and I love to cook with them as well.
If you are to be the host and hostess with the mostess then you also need to offer non-alcoholic varieties of your favorite craft cocktails. I am happy to say that I’m not talking Shirley Temples here. Did you know that fresh ground fresh brewed or cold brewed coffee makes an exceptional non-alcoholic substitute for the spirits in your glass?
Enter Charlotte’s own Pure Intentions Coffee. Pure Intentions started in the Queen City in 2011 and is Charlotte’s first roaster to be both USDA organic certified and Fair Trade Certified sourcing a variety of beans from all over the world. Pure Intentions features distinctively different coffee blends each evoking different flavor profiles and so each may easily be used in place of your favorite liquor or liqueur in most any cocktail recipe.
If you are an iced coffee lover, then you will definitely want to know more about Pure Intentions new canned cold brews. Available on tap in many bars and coffee shops, as well as in the can – there is a regular variety and now a new Nitro canned version which foams when you pour and offers drinkers a richer “creamier” ( without any added cream) coffee drinking experience.
While the growth of North Carolina’s distillery industry seems a recent focus, truth is it all started back in the 1920s and 30s with the era of Prohibition.
Before it was legal, and before all the wonderful locally made aged liquor we now enjoy, bootleggers would run moonshine all across the state. The faster they could drive, the less chance they had of running into the law – an activity that became the early roots of NASCAR, but that’s a story for another day.
Today ( Wednesday Nov 29) I’ll be appearing on WCNC’s Charlotte Today sometime in the hour between 11am and noon to present these six different and delicious ways you can Drink Local this holiday season and on into the new year. Once the show is over I’ll follow this post with another that will include more details, more photos and recipes, too. Plus the video from the Charlotte Today presentation.
Consider this post a tease and an invitation tune in today at 11 am in Charlotte or stream the spot online from the WCNC/Charlotte Today website. Then come back to the blog this afternoon for all the details, photos and recipes.
So you won’t forget, I suggest you sign up to follow HeidiBillottoFood.com and the updated post with recipes and where to buy details will come right to your in box later this afternoon.
Looking forward to sharing more info soon….