Monday, June 27, 2011



By Doc Lawrence

July is the unofficial beginning of barbecue season, the most American of feasts. Meet some backyard grillers and competitive teams and get introduced to mom and pop places where you can enjoy barbecue. Share opinions about good barbecue beverages: beer, iced tea, and wine, even cocktails. It’s all fun and tasty.

The road leads to Monticello and Madison, Florida, visits to watermelon and tomato farms, an organic vineyard and winery, a historic country store near Tallahassee where football legend Bobby Bowden shops for homemade country sausage and a visit to Tallahassee’s Mission San Luis, a stunningly magnificent restoration that was once a major outpost in New Spain.

Remembering Ernest Hemingway. July marks the 50th anniversary of his death and we’ll walk through his homes in Key West and Havana and talk about his love of adventure, food, wine and cocktails.

This is the 75th anniversary of “Gone With The Wind,” and we'll have a review of the play about author Margaret Mitchell at Atlanta’s heralded Ansley Park Playhouse. July is primed to enjoy the Scarlett O’Hara cocktail, an American original making a comeback.

The Civil War Sesquicentennial is an opportunity to travel to great cities in Georgia like Dalton, Chickamauga, Cartersville, Marietta, Madison and Milledgeville with a day at the Atlanta History Center. The March to the Sea actually began in Stone Mountain and the great park here has a full schedule of events for family and fun lovers.

The first of my annual series of barbecue stories appears now  in the wonderful publication, By The Sea Future headquartered in South Florida’s lovely city of Lauderdale-By-The Sea.

Thursday, June 23, 2011




By Doc Lawrence

AMERICUS, GA--It’s near the home of Jimmy Carter and in the same community where Habitat for Humanity was created by Millard Fuller and Reverend Clarence Jordan. Legendary Koinonia Farm is just down the road.  Americus’ spectacular Victorian Windsor Hotel, where Al Capone once blew through town and posted an armed guard at the foot of the stairs, is a short walk from Thirteenth Colony Distilleries, a new kid on the block, a Georgia business and industry original dedicated to producing craft Vodka, Corn Whiskey and Gin.

Thirteenth Colony opened here a year ago as Georgia's first operational artisinal distillery. It is a growing business closely tied to the highly important considerations of taste and likeability. Think Jack Daniel and Jim Beam, and you get the idea.


 “We’re Georgia-made and Georgia-grown,” says Lindsey Cotton, Thirteenth Colony’s marketing specialist. She sees a bright future believing they will become more prominent and popular in Georgia and Florida bars and retail stores. After a few pour from a bottle the handcrafted Vodka, Atlanta-based criminal defense lawyer Tommy Chason said, “it has a lingering finish, something deeply farm-fresh. Also, I am comfortable knowing it is made from water and grain from my state.”

hirteenth Colony, according to the owners, was founded and is rooted in the philosophy of making the finest southern style, hand-made spirits possible, the result of four friends from South Georgia, growing and distilling spirits for their friends to drink and enjoy. Everything is handcrafted in small batches and finely hand tuned for an exceptionally refreshing taste. It is also above the South's oldest and deepest aquifer.

Each bottle of Gin, Vodka and Corn Whiskey begins with water drawn from the aquifer and is naturally filtered by the limestone and dolomite created during the late Paleocene and early Miocene periods.  The naturally pure water is the taste cornerstone, a quality that harkens to days when everything consumed was made near the home.  The magic of small batch, handcrafted spirits is better appreciated knowing that, for example, the Vodka is distilled five times and carbon filtered six times.

Retired physician Gil Klemann, a partner in Thirteenth Colony, is an enthusiastic believer: “Now could be the time for craft distilleries in the industry.” After opening the distillery in 2009, the first batch called Plantation Vodka was released, followed by a “Southern series” of products, Southern Vodka, then Southern Gin followed by Southern Corn Whiskey. Klemann added that high quality standards distinguish these spirits. “The pure water in Southwest Georgia and our local farm products used in the distilling process are the best used in distilling in the country.”

The All-Georgia Gin, Vodka and Corn Whiskey experience is a welcome and popular consumer product that has the authenticity of other fabled Georgia legends like homegrown tomatoes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011



By Doc Lawrence

MONTICELLO, FL—The road to Cynthia Conolly’s organic farm goes through lands that once were populated by Spanish monks, Conquistadors and Apalachee Indians, with the center of daily living being missions with names like San Juan and San Pedro. The spiritual remnants of the long destroyed civilizations are retained. As you enter Monticello Vineyards & Winery, everything is manifested provided you come as a pilgrim and not soley as a tourist.


 It was the monks and soldiers who first brought wines of Europe into Florida and then North America. The wines were for sacrament and dining. Dr. Conolly, a genuine wine pioneer, continues an ancient winemaking tradition that is now fully American

The wine is produced on a certified organic 50-acre farm and vineyard featuring native Muscadine grapes. No stranger to planting and growing, Cynthia received her Ph.D. in Agricultural Education and Agricultural Engineering in 1980 from Iowa State University, the first woman in the country to achieve this degree. She worked internationally with food production in developing countries before starting her own farm in this bucolic region of the Sunshine State. 

Her Muscadine wines are made with 100% organically grown Muscadine grapes that are grown, picked, and processed on-site at the farm winery. Florida Red, Carlos and Magnolia varietals are popular along with a few blends and after an early morning tasting, we selected bottles of semi-dry wines to serve along with local goat, lamb and Jefferson County farm vegetables for an outdoor feast for the ages at Troy and Gretchen Avera’s magnificent Avera-Clarke House in nearby Monticello.

Situated in the Red Hills bioregion of Jefferson County, Florida, the winery features organic Muscadine wines and is a joy to visit. Over 18 different varieties of Muscadine grapes-all USDA certified organic-are grown on the farm.

Muscadine is native to America and wines made from them rank high in consumer popularity. They are not all sweet. The wines are as sweet or dry as the winemaker chooses, just like Cabernet Sauvignon.

I will return here for the late summer harvest. Somehow, I know the ruins of the ancient missions are near Cynthia’s fields. I’ll search for them, listening for spirits, carrying along a chilled bottle of her magnificent wine named Magnolia, believing this is what pilgrims should do when walking sacred land.


Thursday, June 16, 2011


Gifts For Our Great Guys


By Doc Lawrence

Dad is my hero and life mentor, a combat veteran who still despises war. He is a rock-solid citizen and family man who is dedicated to good things like food, friendship, fine wines, cocktails, and his country. He leads by example and has an open mind. Through him, I earned an education, received badly needed discipline, learned the importance of a work ethic and was instilled with the unyielding belief that love triumphs over evil.

I found a few gifts that should bring a smile, hoping that these inspire readers to remember our grand guys on Father’s Day.

If he’s a virtuoso at the outdoor grill he will enjoy his name on personalized barbecue tools and even a mug (from TempFork Thermometer is the grill master’s best friend and will digitally tell him when the delicious pork loin is done. The handsome stainless steel Grill Mill from William Bounds crushes peppercorns or sea salt rather than grinding them. When the weather isn’t cooperating, the George Foreman Control Temp Grill-Griddle with fat-reducing elements, two removable non-stick grilling plates and a griddle for whipping up eggs and bacon will keep Dad happy. It actually removes up to 42% of the fat from 80/20 ground chuck beef.

The Ninja Master Prep Professional is a revolutionary 6-blade device that allows Dad to evenly chop, mince, dice, blend and puree in seconds. Perfect for the home chef who believes in speed without sacrificing quality. Another kitchen helper is the Black & Decker Powerful Die-Cast Blender, a sleek design featuring 750-watts of power and digital controls. Gotta love the 1-oz. measuring cup. (At Target.)

Always well groomed, Dad is a snappy dresser who glows decked out in nice clothes. Monogrammed cufflinks (from is an elegant gift. For shaving and skin care, the Double Play Kit (from, or G for Men does wonders for the shaving experience. ( The high fashion Dad loves functional watches. Casio has the Edifice Black Label Collection black timepieces with slight color accents designed in a racecar motif.  A rugged, stylish timepiece, Casio’s new Pathfinder PAW-5000-1 features self-charging, self-adjusting technology, tough solar power and Wavceptor Multi-Band 6 Atomic Timekeeping Technology, adjusting automatically for daylight savings or leap year.

A high-power LED beam, waterproof  Rogue II flashlight (from ICON) is superior to bulky flashlights and lasts a lifetime. GOAL ZERO has a portable solar power energy generator, The Guide 10 Adventure offering compact and portable solar power. It folds down to the size of an ipad, providing power to all handheld electronics, giving 1-3 hours of extra juice and doubles as a recharger. It’s a superb emergency kit.

Put some MoJo in his kitchen and grilled food with Bland-Aid, “exotic condiment and Hot Pepper Sauces From Far Away Places,” that comes in a six pack set sold by Half Moon Bay Trading Company. Many men have a sweet tooth. Chuao Chocolatier is a premier artisanal producer and their outstanding products are available at select Whole Foods Market, Crate & Barrel and Graeter’s Ice Cream is the super-premium hometown ice cream out of Cincinnati since 1870, made in the traditional French Pot process for irresistibly creamy ice cream with rich chunks of chocolate chips and all-natural ingredients. (Will

Beautifully balanced and aged 15 years in Kentucky oak, Mount Gay Rum Extra Old  from Barbados qualifies as a sipping rum with the luxury of an aged Cognac and the beauty of a delicate Bourbon. Luxurious Appleton Estate Reserve 12-Year-Old is an exceptional blend of rums aged for 12 years. Created for savoring, here’s a masterpiece of elegance comparable to small batch Bourbon.

Dad will love the Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, the brand’s first-ever single barrel Bourbon. Aged 9 years and boldly bottled at 120 proof, it features rich wood, vanilla and caramel notes that distinguishes rare Bourbon. Another Bourbon choice is Basil Hayden. Aged 8 years, at 80 proof  it has a spicy, warming finish that makes it enjoyable to sip, mix into one of Dad's cocktails or add flare to his cooking. Maker’s Mark 46 is this hallowed brand’s first new Bourbon in 50 years. It actually starts out as fully matured Bourbon and then goes through an additional aging process with seared French oak staves.

The elixirs from South of the Border have a special place for those Dad’s who make their own recipe Margarita’s. Tequila Herradura Silver, aged in the heart of Mexico’s tequila region in American oak barrels, is an essential ingredient. It’s comes in a hand-blown glass bottle. I’ve visited the magnificent distillery and recommend this enthusiastically.

A bottle of Canadian Club Classic 12 or the new kid on the block, Canadian Club Sherry Cask (aged in Sherry barrels from Spain), are winners. Likewise, DEWAR’S Signature – one of their best marques, or DEWAR’S 18, voted best blended scotch at New York’s Ultimate Spirit competition, will satisfy the man who loves bagpipes. Cognac is a gourmet’s  essential. Few can compare with regal CAMUS VSOP, fairly priced to boot.

Everything is available at your local spirits retailer.

Almost like a magician, Dad can exhibit his cocktail skills with his new exquisite crystal Bormioli Rocco Capitol Decanter and serve drinks in the Bormioli Rocco Capitol Double Old Fashioned Set of 4 or 6 glasses. A gift that lasts.

A Clingo for Father's Day? It holds any wireless device through "stick to it" technology and is safe and handy for travel. Clingo can be used to mount his wireless device in the office, car or anywhere.  

Sunglasses are appreciated. Fatheadz is stylish and practical, made for larger than average heads like Jay Leno’s. Ill-fitting, often so-called unisex sunglasses, can ruin an outdoor experience. Polarized and impact-resistant. For Dad the traveler, a lightweight carryon that converts to a backpack is a blessing. CompuDay Photo250 holds and protects cameras, laptops and electronic gizmos and is a snap to open for airport security.

Dad’s are national treasures. All of us are proud of you and on this special Father’s Day, we join in a unified voice to shout out “Thank you!”

(This article also appears in Unless retailers are listed in this article, each product other than alcoholic spirits can be found and purchased through

Monday, June 6, 2011



Margaret Mitchell Gala


By Doc Lawrence 

Margaret Mitchell was no ordinary writer. The one book she published in her lifetime, Gone With the Wind, sold millions of copies at the height of the Great Depression in America and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. Currently, with over 30 million copies sold, it is one of the world's best-selling novels. Equally impressive, the film adaptation of Gone With the Wind broke all box office records when it premiered in 1939, and received 10 Academy Awards.
But who was the creator behind two of the world's greatest lovers Scarlett and Rhett and the tumultuous romance that left book readers and film viewers wondering about their final fate together in one of storytelling's most talked about cliffhangers?

This month, on the 75th anniversary of her landmark book, Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel, has its world premiere: an original film that proves that along with being no ordinary writer, Margaret Mitchell was no ordinary woman.

The new Georgia Public Broadcasting original documentary, Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel profiling the life of the late author is set to debut at a glamorous and exciting evening  at The Georgian Terrace Hotel, the site of the legendary gala dinner following the premiere of Gone With the Wind in Atlanta in 1939. The 1939 dinner menu will be re-interpreted by executive Chef Zeb Stevenson and his staff from the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant Livingston.

Everything begins on June 9 at 7pm and will feature a Margaret Mitchell retrospective of photos, letters, and personal items; The Atlanta Ballet’s Nadia Mara and Heath Gill will perform the infamous Apache Dance which cost Mitchell her membership in the Junior League; a video presentation of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra fanfare, composed by Jennifer Higdon, will be played in celebration of GPB’s 50th Anniversary; Mitchell’s favorite gospel hymns will be sung by a local Baptist choir; and of course, the schedule will include clips of the documentary. The historic evening will be peppered with dramatic readings from the works of Margaret Mitchell and capped off by dancing to the music of the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s

Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel premieres Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 8 p.m.