50 Shots of America: South Carolina

Ah, South Carolina, home of Charleston, the grand lady of the South. All sorts of antebellum thoughts start running through my head when I think of the coastal cities of the 8th state of the Union.

But first, some history.

The Carolina colony was one of the original 13, settled in 1670 by English colonists from Barbados and then French Huguenots. Pretty much from the get-go they did a brisk market in slave trading, specifically trading off thousands of Native Americans  which was the cause of the Yamasee War and, ultimately led to the split of the colony into North and South in 1719.

Of course, most know that the Civil War (ahem, the War of Northern Aggression as some prefer to call it) began with the shelling of Ft Sumpter but South Carolina had been stretching it’s independent legs prior to this momentous occasion. They were the first to declare their independence from British Rule and the first to ratify the Articles of Confederation. In 1832 they declared Federal Tariffs unlawful and opted out, only to have to rescind this option in a couple of years.

With all of these firsts, South Carolina seems to have learned it’s lesson and was the next to last state to ratify the 19th Amendment (giving women the right to vote) a full 53 years after it was nationally ratified and it was also the last state to remove the Confederate flag from their statehouse in 2000.

Nonetheless, southern hospitality is still recognized as the state’s stock in trade. Another state known for it’s peaches and having milk as the official state beverage, South Carolina goes one step further to have an official State Hospitality Beverage: Tea. Iced, no doubt, with plenty of sugar, southern sweet tea is practically a food group to it’s citizens. Some may find it one step removed from syrup, but that’s how we like it in the southeast.

Which leads us right into…

Hospitality Suite
(serves 2)

3 oz Brewed Tea, strong
2 oz Peach Schnapps
1 oz Tan Sugar Syrup*
1/2 barspoon Vanilla (the real thing, no imitation extracts!)

Combine over ice in a large shaker and give it a firm handshake to a count of ten. Strain into chilled glasses.

Now, this is a bit more generous that previous shots–by the time the ice melts in the shaker and adds a bit of volume you should end up with 2 4oz cocktails or 4 2oz shots. Never make this for one–you’re gonna want to share this with someone to be in the true spirit of hospitality. In fact, the first batch was so good, we made another after supper.

This slightly spiked take on a sweet peach tea would go great with any of the seafood available along the South Carolina coast or with the official State Snack: Boiled Peanuts–aka Southern Caviar.

*Tan Sugar Syrup is my shorthand for a 1:1 simple syrup made with half white sugar and half brown (hence, tan). The molasses in the brown sugar adds a bit of depth to the syrup and it comes through with a stronger base ingredient like brewed tea. You could also use Demara sugar and achieve a similar result.

50 Shots of America: Massachusetts

In 2005 I took my first plane ride ever up to Plymouth, Mass., to learn the new accounting system my company purchased. (Actually, we flew into Boston–late–and drove to Plymouth by way of Rhode Island… whoops!) At any rate, we didn’t get a chance to do much sight-seeing (one of these days I *will* visit Salem) but we did make it into town to see Plymouth Rock.

Or, you know, what’s left of it.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to gaze on this pebble of our Nation’s history (we’re talking about the site of the second permanent English settlement in North America, after all) let me break it down for you:

It’s a rock. In a cage.

After years of being gouged at and dragged around town the powers that be put what was left of the bit of glacial rock (1/3rd of it’s original size, by then) back where it came from, on the beach, surrounded by a promenade and covered by a portico. You walk up and look down. At a rock in a cage (there are gratings–bars–that allow sea water into the enclosure and back out again).

But, you know, it works. At least they don’t charge you to see it, otherwise it’d be like paying a dollar at the fair to see the world’s smallest horse.

Which brings me to this week’s beverage:

Rockin’ Tea Party

1 oz strong-brewed Tea
1 oz Cranberry Juice
.5 oz Gin
1 Sugar Cube

Combine the tea, juice and gin in a shaker over ice and shake vigorously. Place the sugar cube in the bottom of the shot or cordial glass and strain the mixture over it.

In this little sipper we have several facets of Massachusetts represented: Plymouth Rock, of course, by the sugar cube, tea for the 1773 Boston Tea Party–one of many early actions in MA that spurred us into the American Revolution, cranberry juice for it being the 2nd largest cranberry-producing state and gin for it’s part in the temperance movement.

Oh, yes, there’s some irony in creating a cocktail for the state that is directly responsible for Prohibition and, therefore, “bathtub” gin. But all’s well that ends well, and Prohibition definitely didn’t last.

Other things Massachusetts is responsible for? Check out the short list:

  • the Presidential families of Adams and Kennedy
  • Transcendentalists Thoreau and Emerson
  • the Telephone, 1876
  • Johnny Appleseed and a whole host of cider-apple trees
  • Volleyball, 1895
  • the first Subway system in the US, 1897
  • Birth Control Pill, 1954
  • Vulcanized Rubber, 1839
  • Sewing Machine, 1845