Wednesday, December 28, 2011



"Our people live almost exclusively on whiskey" - E H Taylor, Jr.

By Doc Lawrence

LOUSIVILLE. Bourbon is all over the pages of newspapers and magazines, even featured on network television news. For a product that has been quintessentially American since the days of George Washington, in his own right a highly successful whiskey maker, one might think that intrepid investigative reporters had recently discovered this elixir.
No amount of sleuthing can uncover anything new except that Bourbon has returned to it’s place of prominence in a way that parallels the return of red wine over white to the casual enthusiast. Dark or brown drinks now threaten clear ones dominated still by vodka.

My Bourbon experiences are up close and personal, garnering wisdom and a better-educated palate by traveling to Kentucky to drop in places like Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, Michter’s and more. After several Kentucky trips, I decided the most memorable moment was a recent afternoon tasting Wild Turkey in its various forms with the legendary Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. In the private bar outside his office in the distillery’s Lawrenceburg headquarters, he poured each of his products sold in the market, told how he made them while I, like an obedient student, dutifully sipped. This, I thought, must have been how the first person who tasted Dom Peringon’s bubbly felt after sampling the monk’s Champagne centuries ago.

The evening before, I had dinner with Kentucky’s heralded bartender, Joy Perrine in the Oak Room, a place frequented by the rich and famous in Louisville’s luxurious Seelbach Hotel,

For the record, the ebullient and eloquent Ms. Perrine, the best known and most acclaimed bartender in Louisville. rejects the  yuppyfied mixologist label.

Joy gave me a signed copy of her book, The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, co-authored with Susan Reigler, (The University Press of Kentucky, 2009), and ordered everyone an Old Fashioned, arguably America’s first cocktail, and told me how to make a great one.

Here is the one Bourbon cocktail that has been served since time immemorial. It’s an American classic and a splendid drink for the holidays.
Joy Perrine’s Old-Fashioned
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
1/2-ounce simple syrup
5 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 ounces bourbon

In a rocks glass, muddle the orange slice and cherry with the Simple Syrup and bitters. Add the bourbon and a few ice cubes and stir well.

Enjoy the story about Koinonia, the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity:

Friday, December 23, 2011


                   By Doc Lawrence and Lynne Brandon

One priceless holiday tradition is serving homemade egg nog to family and friends. Like Bourbon, one of the primary ingredients, it’s as American as anything that comes to mind. George Washington served it at Mount Vernon, as did Thomas Jefferson to his Monticello guests.
Because this is the first year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, we searched and found the treasured General Robert E. Lee family recipe for the egg nog. Other recipes include one from the founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail, Dale DeGroff, the most respected mixologist in the country today. More than anyone, DeGroff returned the art of the cocktail to the gourmet culture where it originated.

And there’s one from NASCAR legend Junior Johnson featuring one of his own distilled spirits, making the case that egg nog tastes even better when accompanied by a good story.

From THE ROBERT E. LEE FAMILY COOKING AND HOUSEKEEPING BOOK, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 1996, a highly recommended resource for home entertaining. Minimal editing added refrigeration.

The Recipe (makes 1.5 gallons.)

12 Eggs, Separated
12 Tbs, Sugar
7 Wineglasses of Brandy (approx. 5 ounces = 1 wineglass)
5 Wineglasses of Rum (or Bourbon)
2 -3 Quarts of Milk
1 Quart of Cream
Fresh Nutmeg
Beat egg whites till stiff. Beat yolks with sugar till sugar is dissolved (should not feel grainy when run between your fingers).
Fold egg mixtures together. Pour in the brandy and rum, and stir. Let stand for 30 minutes to an hour. Add 2 quarts of milk and the cream. Taste – if too strong, then add the 3rd quart of milk, otherwise sprinkle with nutmeg, and let stand overnight on cool porch, or in refrigerator.

From Dale DeGroff (1 batch - 6 people)  

"This was my Grandmother's brother's recipe. He submitted the recipe to the Four Roses whiskey people in some kind of contest and the PR people or who ever handled the advertising in those days sent a release for him to sign for its use on the bottle and in ads. An engineer, Angelo Gencarelli owned a Granite quarry in Rhode Island and figured out a way to build stone jetties into the ocean without renting barges and tugboats. His Italian stone cutters cut the stone in the quarry in such a way that on side the stone was flat and the trucks could drive out on the jetty as it was being built. He built a lot of the jetties along the East Coast especially in New England, but some here on Long Island as well.

Angelo always had two bowls of egg nog at Christmas, one for the kids and one for the grown-ups. Here is the recipe, and incidentally what made the recipe special was its lightness, twice as much milk as cream and the white of the egg whipped stiff and folded in to the mix, so it was almost like clouds on top of the egg nog."

6 eggs (separated)
1 qt. milk
1 pint cream
1 tbsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar
6 oz. bourbon
6 oz. your favorite medium bodied rum 
Put the whites aside in the fridge for the time being. Beat egg yolks well until they turn very light in color, adding half a cup of sugar as you beat, when you think you have beat them enough beat them a little more. Add milk, cream and liquor to finished yolks. Stir well and Chill this mixture. Then when you are ready to serve beat egg whites with 1/4 cup the remaining sugar until they peak. Fold whites into mixture. Grate fresh nutmeg over drink.

Whisk together and cook (stirring constantly for about 30 minutes) until mixture reaches 160F:
8 eggs
3 cups 2% milk
1.5 cup fat free evaporated milk
1/2 cup sugar
Strain the cooked mixture into a large bowl, then add:
1 cup Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine
1/2 cup Myer’s Jamaican dark rum
1/2 cup Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
3 Tablespoons St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 Tablespoon homemade cinnamon syrup
1 teaspoon Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur
Cover and let age in the refrigerator for as long as you want.
Serve with a dusting of ground nutmeg.

Warmest Wishes For A Wonderful Holiday Season And A Happy New Year!

Enjoy this story about a farm in rural Georgia, the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity:

Thursday, December 15, 2011



By Doc Lawrence

Celtic and Appalachian traditions, high spirits and mystical song share a Christmas legacy this time of year, confirming the importance of cultural heritage.  Deep in the Appalachian Mountains the ancient hymns and Christmas songs are brushed off for festivals, celebrations and religious services.

And you can find the song and dance of the season here in Atlanta.

This year marks the 19th annual Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert which takes place on Dec. 17 at Agnes Scott College’s Presser Hall. Hosting the concert is a good friend, James Flannery, the Winship Professor of the Arts and Humanities at Emory University. An internationally renowned Irish tenor and theater producer, Flannery is a scholar of W.B. Yeats and directs the W.B. Yeats Foundation, which produces the concert. Flannery long ago reintroduced audiences to the Celtic-Appalachian connections where they are most recognizable in music, dance, hospitality and reverence for things sacred. A casual examination of dance forms popular in Southern mountain communities today-buck, clogging or flat-foot-manifests similarities with Irish step-dancing, recalling many scenes from “Riverdance.”

According to Flannery, “the principal appeal of the concert to people of all ages and religious affiliations lies in the way it expresses the quest for spiritual renewal at the heart of the Christmas season.”

Featured performers include renowned Irish folk singer Moya Brennan and her ensemble; American banjoist and Grammy-Award winner Alison Brown; storyteller and fiddler Joe Craven; Irish guitarist and songwriter John Doyle; and the Emory Celtic Chorus, who will sing “Quis Est Deus?” (“Who Is God?”), a choral piece based on a seventh-century Irish poem in which a fairy questions St. Patrick about the nature of the Christian God he
is bringing to Ireland. Other performers include three Grammy winners: “First Lady of Celtic Song” Moya Brennan; Celtic and bluegrass banjo virtuoso Alison Brown; and “Riverdance” composer Bill Whelan with a stunning choral setting of a seventh-century Irish prayer poem.

Also featured are the soulful harmonies of Rising Appalachia, a dynamic duo winning applause with their innovative interpretations of traditional Southern music. Other performers include madcap percussionist Joe Craven, renowned Irish balladeer John Doyle, uillean piper John Maschinot, The Buddy O’Reilly Band, the Rosin Sisters and other top traditional musicians of the Southeast. The vital Southeastern Celtic music scene will be represented in both the Irish tradition and in the Scottish, as well as many forms of Appalachian-style music with its close connections to the Celtic lands.

“People tell us that they return to the Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert year after year because they find a sense of community,” says Flannery. “People feel free to join in with laughter, clapping hands, even shouts of encouragement as fiddlers and dancers take flight. In a real sense, at the Celtic Christmas Concert, the performers onstage and the members of the audience become a family, joined by the wonder and joy of all that we share together.”

Enjoy Lynne Brandon’s wonderful North Carolina holiday story, “City of Lights,” at

 See "Atlanta Celtic Christmas" on Georgia Public Broadcasting: