I was born and bred in the South. I am Southern from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. So tonight, I am reflecting on the drinks that spell SOUTHERN in capital letters!
Who can talk about the South and not talk about sweet tea? No one. Not a single person. Sweet tea is best when it is brewed and sweetened with white sugar. It is even better when a freshly cut chunk of lemon is squeezed into it and then left floating among the ice cubes. It is best served in a glass. I mean a real glass. Not paper, not plastic, not foam. Pour that wonderful, thirst quenching liquid into a glass. Another very special tea is mint tea. Only a few people can make proper mint tea. First you have to grow your own mint in your garden plot. My Nannie had a plot right beside her back door with nothing but mint in it. Her recipe for mint tea was a secret. When she was done, there was no “muddiness” in the bottom of the pitcher. The brew was perfectly done and had just the right amount of minty taste. And of course, it was sweet. Ahhh-to have a glass of her mint tea again.
The second drink that shouts Southern is Coca-Cola. I am not talking about Tab or Coke Zero or any other form of Coca-Cola. I am talking about Coca-Cola that is bottled in Atlanta, Georgia and comes in a glass bottle. The best place to get a cold one is from an ice chest that is filled with ice and those lovely little green bottles. You would reach your hand down into the ice to find the one at the bottom because it would be the coldest. Your fingers would feel like they were freezing as you searched for that cold one. And it was all worth it. You used a bottle opener-also called a church key-to pop off the lid. FYI, in those days, the twist cap had not been invented. You would sit on the swing and just swig down that drink. It would almost take your breath away. When you were done, you burped. Sometimes a lot. Coca-Cola was also good with an individual bag of salted Mr. Planter’s peanuts poured into the bottle. Coca-Cola and peanuts-a delightful combo! Kids would also sit around and compare whose drink came from the farthest away. In those days, the bottle had a city name stamped on the bottom to indicate the city of bottling. When your bottles were empty, you returned them to the store of purchase because you had to pay a deposit for those bottles!
The third drink that I hate to mention but probably should is moonshine–also called white lightning. It was very illegal when I was a child. I never saw anyone drinking moonshine. But I know that if you were camping in the mountains in the rain, you could purchase some “fire starter” from most of the locals who also sold wood to campers. Hmmm. Of course today, moonshine can be consumed in public with no problems. Our local history museum has a benefit every year and the big draw is the moonshine tasting. I have never been but have considered it! I understand that the peppermint is quite tasty.
Well, all this talk about drinking has me parched. I am heading to the kitchen for a Coca-Cola!