Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Seminole Chief Osceola


During the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta I met James Billie, then chief of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. A Vietnam veteran, the chief played good guitar and could sing country songs in Seminole that sounded like Hank Williams’ classics. We discussed his feelings about Native American nicknames used by college and Major League Baseball teams, specifically, the Florida State University Seminoles and the Atlanta Braves. The Braves had been viciously attacked by Minnesota sports media for their nickname. Billie, who recalled that Jim Thorpe had a superstar season with the Boston version of the Braves, told me that Indians “are honored when whites adopt our names as symbols of competition and courage.”

FSU’s football team plays South Carolina in the Chic-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta. The bowl, until recently known as the Peach Bowl, debuted in 1968 with FSU playing a victorious LSU in sleet and snow. The Seminoles played again in 1983 against North Carolina where it was 16 degrees with artic wind. Florida State won this contest.

No longer will weather matter. Inside the Georgia Dome, just a couple of blocks from the Georgia Aquarium, it’ll be 70 and comfortable. Beyond football, there are interesting facts that connect FSU to Atlanta. To this day the cadets of the Florida State University are one of four Army ROTC programs to wear a battle streamer for combat. In 1865, cadets from the school then known as West Florida Seminary, engaged the veteran Union Army at the Battle of Natural Bridge. Led by Colonel George Washington Scott, their victory saved Tallahassee as the only Confederate capitol not to fall during the Civil War.

The battle flag carried by the cadets is permanently exhibited at the Dekalb History Center, six miles due east from the Georgia Dome. It has a few bullet holes in it and was made in Tallahassee from the petticoats of Colonel Scott’s wife. Scott, a Pennsylvanian, ultimately settled in Atlanta and produced a popular fertiizer at his mill, founding a community, Scottdale, that is on the National Register of Historic Places, and Agnes Scott Collge, a top national college for women.

Prior to donating the flag to the museum, it had been stored and well-preservedby Scott’s descendants. His grandson, a family neighbor, told me when I was a kid that the storied flag rightfully “belongs to Florida State University.”

South Carolina’s Coach Steve Spurrier has a career 6-8-1 record againsnt Florida State, all accumulated while coaching at the University of Florida. After the retirement of FSU’s legedary Bobby Bowden, much of the intensity may have lessened, but it should still be a good game.

The Civil War began in South Carolina  at Fort Sumter. Natural Bridge was one of the last important battles of the tragic conflict. The revered Seminole Chief Osceola, illegally captured during a white flag peace conference, died at Fort Sumter where he is buried.

The Civil War Sesquicentennial officially begins on New Year’s Day. For those Seminole fans visiting Atlanta, don’t miss the Battle of Atlanta depicted in the Atlanta Cyclorama, and visit Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, the carvings at Stone Mountain, the Margaret Mitchell House(Atlanta is Scarlett O’Hara’s hometown), and the toomb of Dr. Mr. Luther King, Jr. Close to eveything is the Carter Presidential Center, standing where General Sherman commanded Union forces during the ferocious combat. The view here of the Atlanta skyline at night is stunning.

The books are closing on this year. 2011 is a big unkown. If we’re here and healthy, that’s a solid start. Chief Billie taught me a Seminole phrase: “sho na bish.” It expresses gratitude. It means thank you. A polite acknowledgement of life and all that life offers.

NOTE: This appears in  Southwind, my column published in the award-winning newspaper, By The Sea Future.

Monday, December 27, 2010



By Doc Lawrence

"I love to drink Martinis,
Two at the very most,
Three I'm under the table,
Four I'm under the host."
              Dorothy Parker

She loved Martinis, the original made with good gin and vermouth served in a Martini glass. Dorothy Parker, far and away one of America’s most gifted journalists, knew her way around the Manhattan cocktail crowd and somehow wrote brilliant pieces for The New Yorker while lifestyle copycats would have been immobilized. Her peers were no slouches.

It was Ernest Hemingway whose seemingly endless drinking provoked his friend Gertrude Stein to proclaim one of history’s most enduring lines: “You are all a lost generation.” Hemingway not only enjoyed good cocktails, preferring early on Absinthe and later on the Mojito, but he even invented one, the “Montgomery Martini.” Craig Boreth writes in his marvelously entertaining The Hemingway Cookbook:  Like James Bond with his Vesper, Hemingway, too, had his special martini: The Montgomery. Named after the World War II British General, Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, who would not attack unless he outnumbered the enemy fifteen to one, Hemingway's martini contains that same proportion of gin to vermouth. The Montgomery is a house special of Harry's Bar in Venice.”

Hemingway’s favorite ingredients, according to Boreth, were Gordon’s Gin and Noilly Prat Vermouth.

Ringing In 2011 With Love and Cocktails


You can, attests Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and Barrack Obama win the Nobel Prize without being a heavy drinker. But, winning it for accomplishments in literature suggests that Bourbon, whiskey and martinis are somehow on the trail global acclaim. William Faulkner, joined esteemed Nobel Laureates like Hemingway and the great South American novelist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years Of Solitude), by writing Southern classics accompanied by libations.

In Absalom, Absalom! one of  Faulkner’s masterpieces,  his characters  aren’t fueled with demon rum, although according to friends and family he absolutely wrote every word with a glass of Bourbon nearby.  Santiago, Hemingway’s character in The Old Man and the Sea isn’t propelled by alcohol either, but the author regularly was. A Hundred Year’s of Solitude doesn’t hinge at all on cocktails.

Not to sing the praises of cocktails beyond the pleasure of experience, a case, however, can be made that there is a spirits connection among some of the most accomplished writers and their enduring works.


It was a loose, often open-ended assemblage of writers who met regularly at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City including many prominent scribes and stars of the day like Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber and Tallulah Bankhead. The cocktails were poured non-stop and many a good story was born during these marathon sessions.

What makes the Roundtable memorable, I think, is that the members, if not already successful were at the least emerging stars. The cocktails loosened their tongues, sharpened their wits and unleashed creative energy. It’s hard to imagine there was ever a dull moment.

With so many great writers and authors living in and around Atlanta (the biggest hit book so far on The New York Times fiction best seller list is The Help by Atlanta resident Kathryn Stockett), I wonder why there isn’t a local version of the Algonquin Roundtable, perhaps called the Peachtree Roundtable. The perfect place would almost have to be the Palm restaurant in Buckhead. The Palm’s ever-ebullient General Manager Willy Cellucci has the savoir-faire to accommodate such a motley group.

Author Margaret Mitchell drank martinis from Mason jars. She was famously successful and endearingly irreverent. Imagine opening a lunch meeting with a toast to Atlanta’s most renowned author and then engaging in all sorts of conversation for a few hours over libations. Would the next Margaret Mitchell or William Faulkner blossom from these hobnobs?

In social settings, cocktails play out much different than wine. I’ll go out on a limb and say that cocktails are a better fit in any gathering. People are not intimidated by ordering a martini. Or a Jack Daniel’s (Frank Sinatra’s favorite) on ice.

Why, asks Craig Boreth, has Hemingway remained the consummate drinking writer? “Because, for much of his life, he truly enjoyed drinking and it did help him to maintain his craft. The eventual devastation notwithstanding, the image of the smiling, boisterous Hemingway, drink in hand and surrounded by friends, is one of the lasting images he left behind. If we live in the moment, get caught up in his generosity and succumb to the charge he bestowed on a room upon entering, we may, with honor and respect, raise a glass to Ernest Hemingway and toast the good times. This may hint at another reason why the deleterious effects of drinking are often overlooked in Hemingway's case: he made it sound so damn intriguing.”

Meet me on New Year’s Eve at the watering hole. Bring along some good jokes and join the fun of living. To get everything going, let’s propose a toast once given by Oscar Wilde: “Work is the curse of the drinking class.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010



Basil Hayden's Bourbon

Nothing brings more joy than giving. It’s mutually rewarding when we give something useful that is not so readily available. Here are just a few suggestions that won’t break the bank and likely will appeal to the home chef and those who love the gourmet lifestyle.

The Beka Cookware 11-Inch Chef Crepe/ Pancake Pan is one of the most useful and practical ways to make crepes and is available at
The Honey Baked company also produces the delicious HoneyBaked Ham Cajun turkey breast which pairs nicely with a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling. Talbott Teas has the Ultimate Gift Set.  Steeped in style and packaged in sleekly sophisticated tins, it explores combinations of unexpected flavors, spices and aromas.

For that picnic or long trip, the VinniBag is an inflatable pouch that secures and protects wines by conforming to the shape, safeguarding fragile items against breaks and the rest of your bag from spills.  Specifically designed to withstand high altitude and cushion impact. From Hannon Group, the Sachi Vino Insulated Wine Totes,, holds up to three bottles with a fully lined insulated silver interior that makes it easy to transport wine and maintain the temperature.   Ayala’s Sparkling Herbal Water offers a mixer infusing unique herb flavors with your favorite alcoholic drinks, and makes for great holiday entertaining. Available at, it comes in three invigorating flavors, Lemongrass Mint Vanilla, Cinnamon Orange Peel, and Ginger Lemon Peel.

Cleaning with a green commitment is a snap with products like E-Cloth CleanSafe Screen Cleaning Kit, perfect for cleaning all electronic screens. The company, Tadgreen,, produces Ecarcare Interior Car Cleaning Kit, E-cloth Glass & Polishing Cloth and E-cloth Drinkware Drying and Polishing Towel.
E-cloth's advanced fiber technology removes dust, dirt, and grease without damaging the screen's surface coatings
For 20 years, the Women's Bean Project has employed women from backgrounds of chronic unemployment and poverty, and helps them develop the work and interpersonal skills needed to function independently in the workplace and community. Through employment in the food manufacturing business, these women earn a steady paycheck, develop solid transferable work skills and strengthen self-confidence and personal responsibility. 65 percent of the nonprofit's revenue comes from its product sales which include gourmet ready-to-make food products (i.e. soups, mixes, dips, etc.), gift baskets, and jewelry specially designed for the Women's Bean Project. I recommend their products without hesitation.

From the legendary American Bourbon heritage of Kentucky comes Basil Hayden Bourbon, the Super-Premium small-batch bourbon with a distinct flavor profile that features a mild 80 proof and twice the rye of traditional bourbons, making it extremely smooth and approachable. With citrus overtones and a spicy finish, Basil Hayden’s balance of taste and flavor make this spirit a sophisticated choice for both bourbon novices and connoisseurs. One of Doc’s favorites and the ultimate stocking stuffer. Available at fine liquor stores.

Soirée is a "wine decanter" that fits into the top of a wine bottle. Made from handcrafted glass, it is a pouring device that infuses oxygen into wine and decants the wine while it’s poured. Aerating the wine helps to open up the wine, and allow all of the wonderful flavors to come out. A special gift for any wine lover, Soirée can be used for red or white wine, fits into any wine bottle and comes with a convenient drying rack/stand.

Champagne is the way we bring in the New Year and renew old acquaintances. Only flute glasses befit the ritual and the fines sets are from Spiegelau. The Hybrid set is boxed tastefully, and contains the flutes you need to kick-start 2011.

Warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2010



 “East-bound and down, loaded up and trucking. We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done!”
             From “Smokey and the Bandit,” by Jerry Reed

The fascination with alcoholic beverages is a Southern phenomenon with profound Florida connections, the stuff of songs, movies, NASCAR and some of the most colorful characters to grace the folklore landscape. It’s a gallery that includes actors Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason and Robert Mitchum along with racers Richard Petty, Fireball Roberts and the unbelievably colorful Junior Johnson. A proud one-time moonshine runner, NASCAR champion, Daytona racing legend and peerless raconteur, Johnson now has his own moonshine.

Except this batch is legal and doesn’t require delivery into states like Florida with a souped-up vehicle powered to run at near supersonic speed.

Piedmont Distillers, Inc is a small distillery in Madison, North Carolina at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It produces handcrafted spirits in a small-batch copper pot still, the only "legal" distillery in the state and operates out of a century-old old train station.

Piedmont Distiller's first spirit is called Catdaddy which. according to the owners, “stir[s] your imagination [to] deliver the most unique and satisfying experience.” It draws on a private- batch recipe that contains ingredients not used in any other product. True to the history of moonshine, each batch is from an authentic copper pot still.


During this year’s edition of Tales of the Cocktail, I had Catdaddy served over ice and pronounced it as excellent. This is where cocktail enthusiasts from the world over met Junior. Johnson, who could teach the business world loads about entrepreneurship, sells country hams in his home in Wilkes County, North Carolina and has a big role in legal Carolina whiskey. Now a part owner of Piedmont Distillers, Johnson launched his moonshine called Midnight Moon currently distributed in 19 states.

Likewise, Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine is a unique spirits from Piedmont.  Every batch is born in a copper still and is handcrafted in very small batches.  Catdaddy is made from American corn and triple distilled. Joe Michalek, founder of Piedmont Distillers, won’t tell you what’s in it, but he will tell you the taste is a little sweet, with a hint of spice.  “It’s fun to watch someone,” Michalek says, “try Catdaddy for the first time.  The taste is familiar, but people can’t put their finger on it.  All they know is that they like it.” 

Junior Johnson developed his incredible driving skills and car building ingenuity while bootlegging his family’s moonshine and staying two steps ahead of the revenuers. Now 78, Johnson embodies the old and new moonshine culture. In the 1950’s he served 11 months in a federal penitentiary and was later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan who had a soft heart for American heroes.  Later, he became one of the most successful drivers and team owners in racing history.

Junior Johnson prepares a solid southern breakfast for his family and anyone else who happens by every morning at his shop in North Wilkesboro.  Sometimes you see the local sheriff, an old buddy from the racing days or a new friend who stopped by on their way through town. Not surprisingly, the Bloody Mary is Johnson’s favorite cocktail.  The smoothness of his Midnight Moon, according to his legion of friends, makes it the perfect spirit for this classic cocktail.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


DOC'S NEWS: LIBERTY BOWL: "RED CARPET FOR GEORGIA AT O’SULLIVAN’S  BULLDOG PARTY HEADQUARTERS  Silky Sullivan, owner and manager of Silky O’Sullivan’s Pub, the ..."




Silky Sullivan, owner and manager of Silky O’Sullivan’s Pub, the legendary watering hole and award-winning restaurant on Memphis’ storied Beale Street declared his operation as the top gathering spot for University of Georgia football fans visiting the city that gave birth to Rock and Roll during the Liberty Bowl festivities at the end of December. “My heart will always have a connection to the Georgia campus,” said Sullivan, a noted raconteur and the 2011 Mardi Gras King in New Orleans. Sullivan was a student at the University of Georgia in the early 1960’s.

Sullivan, who has close connections to the Liberty Bowl, said he would have his facility decorated in red and black, Georgia’s football uniform colors and unviel a new cocktail dubbed “The Rabid Dog.” Describing the concoction as “more than potent--one drink and you’ll go mad unless you get another.” Each fan, said Sullivan, ordering a Rabid Dog gets a free souvenir cup honoring the Liberty Bowl.

O’Sullivan’s, one of the best known party spots in the Deep South, features live Memphis-style blues and rock seven days each week and stays packed during Liberty Bowl revelry each year, according to Sullivan. “Georgia is different,” he observed. “They get preferential treatment at my club because I am a Bulldog with strong emotional connections and could not be happier that they will be playing in the city where I live and work.

O’Sullivan’s has a reputation, according to Mr. Sullivan, for attracting celebrities including Hollywood legends like Clint Eastwood and Brad Pitt, along with Memphis natives Cybill Shepard and Kathy Bates, an Academy Award winner. Sullivan, who grew up a short distance from Graceland also knew Elvis Presley well and counts among his customers sports and music stars ranging from Terry Bradshaw, Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning to Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bono, Willie Nelson and many others. The late Lewis Grizzard, a famous Georgia graduate and popular humor columnist, dropped in regularly for libations, said Sullivan. A Sullivan favorite was the late Sam Phillips, founder of Memphis headquartered Sun Records.

While music and cocktails are in abundance, Sullivan urged Bulldog fans not to overlook his menu. “We are proud winners at Memphis in May (the annual food competition that draws an international audience) for our ribs and for our seafood. A Southern cook and restaurant can’t get higher honors.”

“We’ll start welcoming Georgia Bulldog fans on December 27th,” said Sullivan, “and keep everything rocking until the game is over on New Year’s Eve. Then, we’ll finish off the year with the biggest victory party Memphis has ever seen.”

Silky O’Sullivan’s Pub is located one block from The Peabody Hotel, headquarters for the Georgia football squad and dignitaries, and is an easy walk to museums, art galleries, music landmarks and unique attractions in downtown Memphis.

 More information:
Silky Sullivan
(901) 525.3732