Southern spirits are on the rise: At the dawn of U.S. cocktail culture, imported liquor was king. American spirit-making, an original cottage industry, was long seen as an unpolished pursuit at best, and at worst the root of societal ills. That was the cornerstone of the Temperance movement, which helped usher in Prohibition.
But Southern distilleries persisted. Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace, which produced so-called “medicinal whiskey” throughout Prohibition, has been operational for 200 years, making it the oldest continually operating distillery in the country. The South knows its liquor.
The rest of the world is catching on. Our bourbon is in high demand. Our gin is world-class. And we’re making some of the country’s most unique spirits, like an Appalachian fernet that showcases the terroir of a mountain forest.
Here, Southern Kitchen, USA TODAY's Southern food vertical, takes you on a trip through some of the region’s most distinct spirits, with curated recipes showing you how to enjoy them.
The USA Today Network's Spirits of the South
Jeremiah O. Rhodes, Nashville Tennessean