Over Labor Day weekend we headed across the country to see my sister's new home (and puppy!) in Decatur, Georgia and road-tripped with my family up to western North Carolina, where I was born. It was a great visit -- both for the company as well as for the flavors. I like to ask around to see what's up with the local food and drink scene when I go somewhere new. The south did not disappoint us. Neither did the puppy:
With all my travels, near and far, I have yet to really get into reviewing and recommending. This last trip had too many yummy food and drink options to not comment. I'll start here with places and libations and end with a recipe for an end-of-summer's-denial-drink: a Cucumber Cooler Cocktail. Have a last cheers to summer ingredients!
If you are in the Decatur/Atlanta area and into local beer and interesting cocktails, here are some places you should not miss. We only had 36 hours, I'm sure you could add to this list substantially if you had more even a bit more time:
Brick Store Pub, A gastropub that is world-renown for it's great number of beer choices. The pages-long beer list is bound and presented in a regal leather-bound book. They also have a new menu that features foods with locally sourced ingredients.
Leon's Full Service: New, owned by the same folks as Brick Store Pub. Smaller but stellar beer selection, great cocktails, interesting food options with an eye towards southern and southern-fusion specialties. The Cucumber Cooler Cocktail featured here (recipe below) was inspired by their miller's cucumber cooler.
The Square Pub: Not as flashy as the other places mentioned here, but a solid pub with good beer choices. On a Saturday night we got a nice lounge-y couch area for our group of five and the service was great.
Porter Beer Bar, another world-renowned beer bar. They also had a great sweet tea cocktail and some interesting food options, southern fusion and other (foie gras creme brulee, anyone?). People seemed really into the salt and vinegar popcorn and hushpuppies. They do some food writing on their blog.
Ale Yeah! is a great shop to stop in for stocking up on local and craft beers, as well as for beer making supplies. Want recommendations for new brews to try or places to have a good drink? These guys are friendly and offer great suggestions. Here are some of our picks:
Back home again, we couldn't believe all the talk about the end of summer. Somehow our travels to different time zones and the passing of August into September created a strange reality-bending vortex. We are in denial. And it's easier to be in denial about the seasons here in the Bay Area. There were still cucumbers at the farmers' market this weekend, so we gave Leon's cucumber cooler our own twist. Pull the lawn chair out into the September sun and sit back with one (or two) of these:
Cucumber Cooler Cocktail
For two 12-ounce drinks
2 limes, squeezed
10 thin slices of cucumber
3 ounces Hendricks gin
2 -3 Tablespoons simple sugar (preferably made with raw or demura sugar)
Club Soda (about 10 ounces)
1. Put the lime juice, cucumber slices and gin in a shaker with a small handful of ice. Shake vigorously for about a minute (it's a great workout!)
2. Fill two 12-ounce glasses 1/2 to 3/4 full of ice, whatever you prefer. Strain the gin, lime, cucumber liquid into the glasses, dividing between the two.*
3. Top each glass with club soda and simple syrup. Stir.
*If you want to garnish the glasses with long, thin slices of cucumber (as in the photo), do this before adding the ice. Cut long, thin slices lengthwise down the cucumber and position them on the inside of the glass.
|inside the Porter Beer Bar|