Carolina Cocktail

Citrus, spice, and everything nice: Local ingredients blend into beautiful winter cocktails

photos by Chris Isham

What’s in these glasses tells a tale of two makers; South Carolina crafters, in fact, obsessed with the possibility of pouring a really good cocktail at home.

The Yuletide Old Fashioned (see recipe at right) is a complex sip for such little effort: add four parts bourbon to one part mixer, stir and serve over ice. It’s a seasonal cocktail perfect for fireside nights, warm on the palate with notes of citrus, cherry, and burnt golden cane sugar matched with small- batch bourbon.

It is up-front delicious and worthy of commentary for its premium native ingredients. Count your guests impressed.

Meet the Makers

BITTERMILK produces handmade cocktail mixers in North Charleston including their 2016 limited- edition release, No. 7 Yuletide Old Fashioned. A standard Old Fashioned—consisting of sugar, booze and bitters—is traditionally garnished with orange and cherry. BITTERMILK eliminates this extemporaneous pick by adding nuanced flavors directly into their handcrafted syrup.

They boil fresh orange peel with dried cherries and literally juice the mixture before kettle cooking it with a barrel-aged blend of spices, burnt golden cane sugar, and molasses. Rather than source burnt cane sugar, they do it themselves, by hand. Let’s call it a labor-intensive operation for the cocktail crazed.

The result is an extraordinary Old Fashioned with an inflection of orange and a bright cherry pop.

Six & Twenty produces select small-batch whiskey at their distillery in Piedmont including their 5-Grain Bourbon entirely derived from South Carolina heirloom crops; corn and wheat from the Upstate, barley from the Midlands, and rye and rice from the Low Country.

A Tall Pour: Embolden your winter bar with locally crafted spirits and syrups.
A Tall Pour: Embolden your winter bar with locally crafted spirits and syrups.

To date, it is the only five-grain bourbon in existence, each grain leaving a distinct impression: Rye imparts spiciness. Rice adds back sweetness, much like sweet tea. Soft winter wheat (grown specifically for Six & Twenty) lengthens the mouth feel on the palate. Barley offers sprouted maltiness. And corn? Corn is the body upon which these flavors, including that of the oak barrel, stand.

No other bourbon could be more perfectly suited for a Yuletide Old Fashioned.

With two ingredients, you can mix this aspirational drink at home, one that will astound your guests and impress known cynics. But be sure to use a jigger. Not only will your cocktail taste better, but it will stave off the chance of over-serving your guests.

The Old One-Two

To make the Yuletide Old Fashioned for a crowd, pour one part BITTERMILK Old Fashioned No. 7 to four parts Six & Twenty 5-Grain Bourbon Whiskey into a glass pitcher. Add two scoops of ice and stir to marginally dilute. Pour into glasses filled with ice and serve.

A Taste of Carolina

The Satisfy Your Thirst Tour celebrates the liquid history of South Carolina’s favorite beverages. From sweet tea to moonshine and much in between, there’s a map to sip and see your way through the state. Learn more at



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