Home Team BBQ Debuts Handheld Gamechanger From King of Pops

popgamechangerPresumably nobody ever wished the Gamechanger, Home Team BBQ’s signature iced cocktail, was stronger. But for drinkers who’ve fantasized about a stiffer version of the Painkiller riff, the local chain’s introducing a fully-frozen Gamechanger-on-a-stick.

Starting this weekend, Home Team’s Sullivan’s Island location will be serving up Gamechanger Pops, created by King of Pops. The West Ashley location will start selling the $6 treats in early May.

“The pops came about when Home Team catering director Hope Cleveland ran into (King of Pops owner) Andy (McCarthy) and they joked about the idea,” Home Team publicist Angel Postell says. “The idea is now a reality and it is pretty exciting.” Continue reading

Cocktail Class at Edmund’s Oast

If a houseguest asks for a brown liquor cocktail, odds are he or she will be satisfied with a whiskey sour, Manhattan or Old Fashioned – assuming it’s well-made.

For hosts and hostesses looking to brush up on their mixing skills, Edmund’s Oast next week is offering a “Cocktail Tasting and Educational Class,” at which participants will learn how to make the three classic whiskey drinks.

The Apr. 22 class costs $35, and starts at 6 p.m. Reservations are available through Edmund’s Oast’s website.

Firefly Distillery Offers Behind-the-Scenes Tours Tomorrow

sweetTeaFive days a week, Firefly Distillery invites guests onto its property to learn about the brand and taste spirits. But the only glimpse visitors get of the distillery’s inner workings is a video tour and a look at the company’s original still.

On Apr. 15, though, Firefly is offering actual tours of its Wadmalaw Island production line, featuring two 350-gallon stills. “Guests aren’t ever allowed in this area,” publicist Ryan Nelson says. “So it’s great for them to see how it’s truly made.”

The free tours coincide with Firefly’s sixth birthday. Continue reading

Candy Maker Sues Local Vodka Outfit Over “Lemon Head” Name

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Thomas Rousing

A promotional website for Lemon Head vodka describes the Charleston product as “daring,” “sexy,” and “carefree.” But a lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court claims it’s also in violation of trademark laws.

The Ferrara Candy Company, manufacturer of Lemonhead – a sour candy dating back to 1963 – argues the name is “likely to cause consumer deception and confusion.” Ferrara’s attorney did not return a call seeking further comment

According to Lemon Head Vodka’s web site, the spirit is “proudly distilled and bottled by Striped Pig Distillery.” Striped Pig’s co-owner Casey Lillie clarifies the forthcoming vodka is not a Striped Pig product, but is produced by the distillery on a contract basis. Continue reading

High Wire Scores Two Medals in Craft Distilling Competition

hat-trick-bottle-shot-croppedOf the more than 300 entries in the first-ever craft spirits judging administered by the newly-formed American Craft Distillers Association, only 35 percent took home prizes. The winners group included Charleston’s High Wire Distilling Co., which claimed bronzes for its Hat Trick Botanical Gin and Quarter Acre Sorghum Whiskey.

The judging panel rated spirits on their stylistic integrity and balance, rather than their relative merit, which resulted in a rum category with no gold medal recipients. According to interim executive director Penn Jensen, in laymen’s terms, golds were reserved for spirits that judges would proudly display on their back bars. Silvers went to spirits the judges would want to buy, and bronzes meant “this is good stuff.”

“It’s not the Special Olympics,” Jensen says of the national competition, which concluded last week with an awards ceremony in Denver. “Not every spirit gets a gold. Making the medal round is a big deal.” Continue reading

Next Up For Bittermilk: Sazeracs

EP-130929675.jpg&maxw=600Now that its shipment of crushed, dried-up insects has arrived, Bittermilk is nearly ready to start testing the fourth product in its popular line of mixers.

Bittermilk is using cochineal, the same natural coloring agent found in Peychaud’s and Campari, to lend a red hue to its Sazerac salute. Although the mixer doesn’t yet have an official name, co-owner Joe Raya says he and MariElena Raya plan to release bottles in time for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival in March.

The Rayas last fall launched Bittermilk from a small Charleston warehouse, with hopes of restoring dignity and quality to the just-add-spirit format. The first three releases – a smoked honey whiskey sour; a Tom Collins and a bourbon barrel-aged Old Fashioned – have performed phenomenally well. In December, the company sold 10,000 bottles. “We had our three-year old putting stickers on tops of bottles,” Raya says of the intensified assembly process. Continue reading

Charleston Distilling Company Projects February Opening

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That barrel is a bathroom!

Although two Charleston distilleries beat Charleston Distilling Company to the starting gate, the King Street distillery’s owner and master distiller maintain their spirits will be worth the wait.

“We are making a much higher-end product,” owner Stephen Heilman says.

According to master distiller Brent Stephens, “other places are just trucking in alcohol,” referring to the common-but-contentious craft spirits practice of purchasing neutral grain spirits to cut with water or redistill (The American Distilling Institute neatly summarized both sides of the ongoing debate in a newsletter headline: “Bulk Neutral Spirits, Cheating, Or A Blank Canvas to Work With?”) By contrast, Stephens says, Charleston Distilling Company will handle every aspect of production, from milling the rice and corn for its vodka to barrel-aging its gin.

Earlier this week, the Post & Courier’s Abigail Darlington reported the distillery was on the brink of completing construction at 501 King Street. The distillery is aiming to finish its build-out by year’s end, but Heilman and Stephens don’t anticipate scheduling a grand opening before February. Continue reading

If Life Gives You Persimmons, Make Persimmon Cocktails

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DBduo Photography

Around Charleston, it’s easier to find persimmons on a tree than on a cocktail menu, but ICEBOX’s Boris Van Dyck recently came up with a drink which he believes could boost the fruit’s popularity with bartenders.

After receiving 300 pounds of overripe persimmons from GrowFood Carolina, Van Dyck cooked the fruit with sugar and spices; the strained syrup became the base of a drinking vinegar which he mixed with Striped Pig vodka for a Tuesday night meeting of the Charleston Bridal Association.

Event planner Mitchell Crosby described the drink as “epic.”

“I think I’m the only person who ever served them persimmons,” says Van Dyck, who’s planning to put the drink on draft for a GrowFood Carolina event tonight. Continue reading

High Wire Launch Party Benefits Greenway Supporters

Drinking and driving may not mix, but High Wire Distilling Co. has come up with a lovely way to make cocktails compatible with biking and walking: The Charleston distillery next week is hosting a spirits launch party to benefit Friends of the Lowcountry Lowline, a greenway advocacy group.

The event at Warehouse runs from 5:30 p.m.-8 p.m. next Wednesday, Nov. 20. Attendees will be treated to cocktails featuring High Wire’s gin, vodka and silver rum in return for a suggested $5 donation.

Dissecting the Difference Between Corn Vodka and Unaged Whiskey

spvodkaCharleston’s Striped Pig Distillery, which this week released its first batch of spirits, recently dropped off a sample bottle of its Striped Vodka. If you’re wondering how the liquor tastes, imagine a rowdy Saturday night followed by a Sunday family dinner which ends with you face down in a bowl of creamed corn.

The vodka comes by its alcoholic sting and corny sweetness naturally: It’s distilled from Bowman, S.C. corn. The mash bill led an editor here to wonder about the difference between vodka and white whiskey, which is equally clear in color and also made from corn. Since I couldn’t adequately explain, I put the question to distilling expert Matthew Rowley, author of Moonshine!

“The difference between vodka and white whiskey boils down to three things: ingredients, oak, and proof,” Rowley says. Continue reading