Ask a southerner, any southerner, for a drink, and they will probably offer you wine, beer, sweetened or unsweetened tea, lemonade, soda, water, and/or a cocktail. After all, the unspoken but hard rule for hosts and hostesses in the south is that they should have the ability to offer any and every drink known to man… Well, not literally, but you get the gist of the sentiment. People in the south believe that you can make your guests feel right at home if you offer them a drink and invite them to sit. As such, for this week’s ‘Emily Recommends’ series, we decided to introduce 10 southern cocktails to make at home. We hope you enjoy making these cocktails!
10 Classic Southern Cocktails
Below, we listed 10 southern cocktail recipes you can make at home. These recipes include southern classics as well as more modern inventions. We hope you enjoy making these! Also, let us know of your favorite southern cocktails in the comments below!
1. A Southern Cocktail Classic: Old Fashioned
In my mind, the Old Fashioned probably takes the cake as the most famous and beloved of all the southern cocktails ever invented. Typically made with bourbon, bitters, and/or water, you can garnish this cocktail with an orange twist or cocktail cherry.
The origins of this cocktail are a bit iffy. In all honesty, the Old Fashioned may not be southern at all. On one hand, the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky, lays claim to inventing the cocktail in 1881. On the other hand, someone first wrote the phrase ‘old fashioned cocktails’ in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1880. So, who knows the truth, right? Either way, the city of Louisville named their official cocktail as the Old Fashioned.
For a delicious twist on the classic, we recommend trying Kate’s recipe from her blog Cookie and Kate.
2. A Cocktail for the Races: Mint Julep
If the Old Fashioned reigns as the most famous southern cocktail, the Mint Julep runs a close second. You make the Mint Julep with bourbon, sugar, water, crushed ice, and fresh mint. Most famously, the Kentucky Derby serves the Mint Julep as their signature drink during the horse races.
If you want to make an authentic Mint Julep, make sure to serve it in the proper cup! The designer of the Julep cup specially made it to hold this specific drink. Typically, craftspeople use sterling and pewter make to these cups.
We recommend checking out the Youtube channel How to Drink for a good Mint Julep recipe!
3. A Frozen Southern Cocktail: The Bourbon Slush
The Bourbon Slush is a frozen drink made by mixing lemonade, orange juice, sugar, water, and unsweetened tea. Once frozen, you place a few scoops into a glass and top with some ginger ale.
Typically, people drink the Bourbon Slush two times of the year. Firstly, people drink this thirst-quenching drink during the hot summer months. Secondly, people prepare the Bourbon Slush for holiday parties–this drink can be made in large batches many days in advance. It tastes very festive and goes well with classic holiday hors d’oeuvres.
We recommend checking out our blog for this recipe. Our Bourbon Slush was altered and tweaked to fit my grandmother and mother’s taste over the years. I honestly think we make the best version out there! It is one of our favorite southern cocktails.
4. A Southern Punch: Chatham Artillery Punch
As a girl born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, I had to add this recipe to the list. The Chatham Artillery Punch possibly goes back to the colonial period. The oldest Georgia military unit, the Chatham Artillery, originally invented this cocktail. At the time, they mixed this punch in large horse buckets and served it during celebrations, including the time when President James Monroe visited in 1819.
Though this cocktail goes down easily, it isn’t weak. I promise it can knock you off your feet if you aren’t careful. The recipe calls for champagne, rum, brandy, bourbon, lemons, green tea, and sugar.
We recommend checking out Southern Kitchen for this cocktail recipe!
5. A Southern Tailgating Staple: Bourbon and Ginger
Obviously, bourbon cocktails are popular in the southern United States. Bourbon originates in Kentucky. For a drink to be considered bourbon, it must be a distilled spirit produced in the United States, contain at least 51% corn, and be stored in a new barrel of charred oak.
Among college student tailgaters, the Bourbon and Ginger cocktail is a delicious, quick, and easy cocktail. For some recipes, you simply make the cocktail using bourbon and ginger ale. For other, more heightened recipes, people use homemade ginger simple syrup.
We recommend checking out Garnish With Lemon for this recipe.
Also, if you dislike bourbon and ginger, try making bourbon and coke!
6. A North Carolina Cocktail: The Avetts Made Me Do It
The Avetts Made Me Do It is not a classic southern cocktail. In fact, it was invented very recently and featured in Garden and Gun in 2017. You make this cocktail using cardinal gin, tonic water, Cheerwine, and a cherry for garnish.
Cheerwine is a cherry-flavored North Carolina soda. For those wondering, Cheerwine is non-alcoholic and doesn’t contain anything resembling actual wine. This soda has been produced since 1917. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t be surprised. In all honesty, you may not be able to find it outside of the southern states.
The Avetts Made Me Do It was invented by Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve. As a big fan of the Avett Brothers, he went to see them at the Cheerwine Giveback Concert in Charlottesville, VA. As such, he thought it would only be right to name this Cheerwine based cocktail after the group.
For this recipe, we recommend going to Garden and Gun. Also, we recommend looking at their magazine. It is one of our favorites.
7. A New Orleans Special: Sazerac
The Sazerac cocktail originated in New Orleans in the 1830s. Back then, bartenders made the drink using cognac and absinthe. Now, people make Sazerac by combining rye whisky, bitters, and simple syrup. For those who have never tried it, this amber-colored cocktail packs a powerful flavor experience.
Because of its long history, the Sazerac cocktail is the official drink of New Orleans. We recommend trying this truly southern drink! In conclusion, we recommend the Youtube channel The Educated Barfly for this cocktail recipe.
8. An Alcoholic Milkshake: Bushwacker
The Bushwacker cocktail originated in the U.S. Virgin Islands but eventually made its way to Pensacola, Florida by a bar owner who enjoyed the drink. The drink is named after Afghan Hound dog whose owner was a guest at the bar in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This boozy milkshake cocktail calls for vodka, Kahlua, dark crème de cacao, coco lopez (cream of coconut), a splash of triple sec, and milk or vanilla ice cream.
Since 1989, there has been an annual Bushwacker Festival held in Pensacola, Florida every year. In conclusion, we recommend Meme’s Bushwacker recipe from her blog Living Well Kitchen.
9. An Ode to Bootleggers: Rum Runner
During prohibition, people who ran illegal alcohol importations and sales were known as rum runners. You may have heard of their other nickname: bootleggers. This drink, invented in Florida, is a nod to those individuals who ran illegal alcohol businesses on sea and land.
Depending on the recipe, the exact ingredients differ. However, most recipes include rum, banana liqueur, and grenadine. When ordering a rum runner, it may include coconut rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and/or other ingredients! Just know, this cocktail sneaks up on you pretty quickly.
We recommend Cheyanne’s recipe from her blog No Spoon Necessary.
10. A Holiday Favorite: Milk Punch
During the winter season, many southerners serve special holiday drinks. For example, they serve Eggnog, Bourbon Slush (mentioned above), and Milk Punch. The Milk Punch is the southern response to eggnog. Ingredients include milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and brandy. Typically, people shake these ingredients together with shaved or crushed ice before serving the drink in crystal glasses.
If you don’t like brandy, some versions use bourbon instead!
We recommend trying the Milk Punch recipe from the blog A Couple Cooks!
What’s Your Favorite Southern Cocktail?
In the end, did we list your favorite southern cocktail recipe? If not, we would love to hear in the comment section below!
If you want further recommendations for southern recipes check out:
If you have any questions or comments, you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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