Collards and Cognac and five great southern kitchen love affairs
I think Collard Greens and Cognac are a match made in heaven. But it’s Valentines Day. Everybody tries to dine out on the day, February 14. Some people try to dine out the day before and after so we run our special Valentines Day menu all week long. The idea is that people are here to celebrate. So we thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to do a special cocktail for this special menu?”
We travelled far south for this Valentines Day drink, all the way to Hadestown: The Persephone Cocktail
The Persephone Cocktail comes from two fascinations for me. First, I am definitely intrigued by Greek Mythology. Second, the recent fad of pomegranate everything. Pomegranate juice, dark chocolate covered Pomegranate; the six Pomegranate seeds that eventually gave us the seasons.
And we wanted something pink, a pink drink. Something the color of love’s first blush; the blush in the cheeks when someone’s in love. And we were thinking about all the great love stories — and Persephone.
When Hades, the King of the Underworld, kidnapped Persephone to be his Queen, he told her she couldn’t eat anything. If she did, she’d have to stay there forever.
While she was gone, her mother Demeter missed Persephone so much that she made Zeus persuade Hades to let her go. On appeal, Hades said that Persephone had actually eaten six pomegranate seeds, so he’d let her go for six months out of the year: One for each seed eaten.
For the six months Demeter has her daughter back, she makes everything bloom. The rest of the time, when Persephone is back the Underworld, Demeter is so sad that nothing grows in the winter season.
This drink celebrates Valentines Day and the soon-to-be return of spring.
PERFECT PAIRS: Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Cocktails and Entrées
Persephone Cocktail and Veggie Ravioli
Pomegranate has a sweet, astringent flavor. The red Pomegranate liqueur is partnered with sloe gin – a wild plum relative indigenous to England. It’s not overly sweet. We also put a little pineapple in there. You get this really pink drink that reinforces the name blush.
Because the Veggie Ravioli is not very assertively flavored, the nuance of the cocktail can shine through. The cocktail’s acidity cuts through the richness of the cream sauce. The roasted vegetables make for a subtle and nuanced flavor in the drink. If you had chile peppers and pork, or filet mignon, it would be too strongly flavored to be a perfect pair.
The New Jersey Cocktail and the Roasted Chicken Poppy Seed Salad
This drink is modeled after a cocktail in Imbibe! by David Wondrich. Named so because in Antebellum America, New Jersey really was the Garden State and where apples came from. Anything made with apples was generally referred to as “Jersey Style.” The name of this drink is more of a tribute to that legacy. It’s made with NC apple brandy, Foggy Ridge hard cider, bitters and a sugar cube in a champagne flute.
The Roasted Chicken Poppy Seed Salad is its perfect match: made with baby spinach; a Poppy Seed Vinaigrette; pears, goat cheese, and candied pecans.
Sazerac and Gumbo
Believed by many to be the first cocktail ever created (but not believed by everyone), our Sazerac (originally named after the brand of Cognac used) is made with, Jim Beam Rye, a touch of Absinthe, Peychaud Bitters, and a bit of sugar with an orange twist.
Antoine Amédée Peychaud was a Creole apothecary who settled in New Orleans and started mixing drinks in the pharmacy as a way for folks to take their “medicine.” Peychaud served his Absinthe and Cognac in an egg glass known as a coquetier, similar to a sherry glass.
Sazerac’s perfect match is Gumbo for their geographical proximity; they’re both from New Orleans, both heartily flavored. Sazerac smells like Anise and the gumbo has some assertive, vegetal qualities as well. The okra and roux is strong and it will stand up to the Sazerac.
We’ll be featuring this pairing at the Whiskey school in Cary on February 23.
The Revolution and Jambalaya
When Makers Mark 46 came out, we thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to mix it with some Ginger Liqueur?” So we called it a Swamp Mule originally because it reminded us of a Moscow Mule (Vodka and Ginger Ale).
One of our bartenders made one and served it to Karen Walker, the General Manager here at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, and she said, “This is fantastic and I would never order anything called a Swamp Mule.”
So for the name, the drink made us think of having a new way of seeing the same old thing: It’s a revolution on Vodka and Ginger Beer, Makers Mark. Reminds us of that quote in the Wild One, when Marlon Brando’s character is asked, “What are you rebelling against?” And Brando says, “What do you got?”
Jambalaya has that creole seasoning and the andouille sausage with quite a bit of spice that will stand up to any kind of ginger revolution. But it also has some earthy notes and the rice, and the rice helps hold down the boozy nature of the drink.
Bayou Punch & The Cornmeal Crusted Catfish
This is actually a reworking of the Philadelphia Fish House punch from David Wondrich’s book, Punch. We use it as a template with some substitutions. We make it with Mount Gay Rum, Courvoisier, Apricot Brandy, and Sour Mix.
It goes with the Cornmeal Crusted Catfish because it’s crunchy and crisp; the orange and sour mix heightens the flavor of fish. The acidity of the punch cuts the richness of the grits.