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Best Cocktails from the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival

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Photo by Jennifer Hitchcock
Photo by Jennifer Hitchcock

A couple of days ago, we focused on the best bites from last week’s festival, but there were some sips that were just as memorable. Numerous top-notch wineries were represented at the festival, there was a peach tea inside the tasting tents that was ultra-refreshing, and the beers were frothy, effervescent, and welcoming in their own biergarten this year. However, cocktails stole our hearts.

And what do we look for in a cocktail, you may wonder? We are not as interested in the alcoholic punch a beverage packs (that’s kind of like those super-hot-eat-if-you-dare hot wings). Balance is the thing. High-end mixology doesn’t look to cover up the taste of the alcohol but instead balances it, enhancing it with combos of bitter, sweet, sour, and even salty, and providing a glass that is more than the sum of its parts.

The five cocktails that made TLP swoon (and not just because we happily over-indulged!):

Personality_Jayce McConnell Head shot
Jayce McConnel of Edmund's Oast / Charleston, SC

Jayce McConnell’s
Billy Reid Bevvy

There was wine and beer at the Billy Reid party on Thursday evening, but the bar at the far end had a line all night for these fizzy concoctions featuring Cannonborough Beverage Company’s Honey Basil soda and Hat Trick Gin. Billy Reid Party at Blue Ion.

Dusty Rose

King Cocktail Dale Degroff offered this “negroni for beginners,” and although he warned the crowd that we didn’t have to consume all the cocktails, most of these glasses emptied fast. He named this cocktail for a Texas woman that, in his words, “was a little past her prime,” but this drink was definitely in its. Perfectly Paired Cocktail Dinner at Poogan’s Porch with Dale Degroff.

Lillet & Sparkling and Lemongrass Martini

This Friday class at the Culinary Institute of Charleston got our votes twice, once because, as Charlotte Voisey says, “It’s always nice to start with something sparkling,” – it was Friday lunch! – and two, because the lemongrass martini was perfectly paired with shrimp and grits, a notoriously hard dish to partner with cocktails. Eat, Drink & Be Merry with Charlotte Voisey, Patrick Emerson, and Jim Ryan.

Fleur de Creuset

The Crunkleton himself was mixing the drinks at our own partnered event with Le Creuset to benefit GrowFood Carolina, and this delight in a beautiful glass, made with Hat Trick Gin and Gary’s own rosewater concoction, was a beautiful bouquet to begin the evening. Southern Tastes Garden Party.