Whiskey Fit For A King

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Contributed photo

What do you get when you combine a bunch of food and beverage lovers, a beautiful venue and exquisite whiskey? One hell of a SOME KINDA GOOD Tuesday evening! The high was 96 degrees in the Lowcountry, without a cloud in the sky. We met on the roof of Stars Rooftop and Grill Room in downtown Charleston on historic King Street for one reason: to explore two new variants recently introduced by Crown Royal Canadian Whisky. Here I would meet Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, the brand’s first-ever blended rye whisky, and Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel, a drink which pays homage to the brand’s signature smoothness.

The crowd turned out in true Charlestonian fashion -- dressed for a proper night on the town.
The crowd turned out in true Charlestonian fashion — dressed for a proper night on the town.

During cocktail hour, waiters circulated the rooftop with trays of summer tomato-mozzarella skewers and shaved salmon crostini with capers and cream cheese. I met other marketing professionals and beverage connoisseurs, among them Susan Lucas of King Street Marketing Group, representatives from The Local Palate, Taneka Reaves and Johnny Caldwell of the Cocktail Bandits (super fun girls!) and Robin Rodriquez of locally owned Egan’s Spirits.

Meet Brandon Verkaik and Bud Huber, the two mixologists who created the four signature cocktails of the evening: Holy City Brunch Punch, Royal Shandy, The Light Dimmer and Wild Flower Whiskey Sour. I can’t wait to share one of the recipes with y’all! Choosing a favorite of the four cocktails is a bit like being partial to your best friends or family members…you appreciate them each for what they bring to the table. If I had to choose one though, I’d pick the Wild Flower Whiskey Sour. This drink features Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, known for its oak flavor with spicy notes of vanilla and a hint of butterscotch.

For the guided whiskey tasting portion of the event, we made our way into the air-conditioned (thank you, Jesus!) Wilkinson Room on the second floor of the restaurant where we were enlightened by Master of Whiskey Stephen Wilson. At one point, this guy asks if anyone in the room is a fan of country music. Are you kidding!? Without hesitation I raised my glass and in my sweetest Southern accent, said with fervor, “You can’t be a whiskey fan and not love country music!” He later asked how we enjoyed whiskey best, and I told him “To the tune of George Jones.” Is there any other way? Maybe a Jack Daniels audience would understand this better. 😉

Master of Whiskey Stephen Wilson teaches us how to sniff and taste the libation for its full pleasure.
Master of Whiskey Stephen Wilson teaches us how to experience the libation at its fullest. Contributed photo. 

I was pleased to learn Wilson first discovered Crown Royal Deluxe in none other than the beautiful Savannah, Georgia. Here’s a guy who grew up on the Tennessee Virginia line, and says he “fell into” a career as a Master of Whiskey and now works for Diageo, the company who owns Crown Royal. He said, “There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy whiskey. Good conversation over a glass of good whiskey is what it’s all about.” Sounds like we share the same philosophy! He taught us that Crown Royal was first created as a gift for the King and Queen of England to celebrate their visit to Canada in 1939. The iconic purple bag which the whiskey is purchased in is a concept from the original packaging! It was developed to suit the royal occasion and outfitted with gold drawstrings, a tradition that continues to this day.

A decadent chocolate cake in the form of a whiskey bottle! What's not to love?
A decadent chocolate cake in the form of a whiskey bottle! What’s not to love? Contributed photo

The attention to detail at this event was unmatched! Dessert was a moist, rich chocolate cake shaped like a bottle of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye whiskey. Who knew eating whiskey could be fun too? HA!

Tastemakers sampled three varietals during the evening: Crown Royal Deluxe, Northern Harvest Rye and Hand Selected Barrel.
Tastemakers sampled three varietals during the evening: Crown Royal Deluxe, Northern Harvest Rye and Hand Selected Barrel. Contributed Photo

I’ll leave y’all with this: A refreshing concoction suitable for any summertime happy hour, courtesy of the mixologists mentioned above. Thanks to Taylor Strategy for an evening really well done, and a valuable education on the top-selling Canadian Whiskey in the United States.

This is the best whiskey sour I've ever had.
This is the best whiskey sour I’ve ever had. Contributed Photo

Wildflower Whisky Sour

2 oz. Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

1 oz. St. Germaine

.5 oz. Yellow Chartreuse

1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

.5 oz. Wildflower Honey Syrup

Stir together ingredients. Serve over ice and enjoy!

Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh: A Food and Style Event You Don’t Want to Miss!

With the dog days of summer comes trips to the beach, picnics, grilling out with friends and family, baby showers, weddings, you name it! Summertime is entertaining time and I couldn’t be more excited to announce “Nibble & Nosh and Everything Posh!” a food and style event I’m hosting with my longtime friend Chad Steed, in his sweet home of Alabama.

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Tailored for entertaining, the event boasts Southern recipes and innovative style ideas for hosting the perfect summer soirée . I’ll share dishes you can prepare with minimal effort that are big on flavor and presentation! Guests will sample bites of my bacon, lettuce and fried green tomato sliders with spicy pimento cheese among other refreshing grilled desserts, appetizers and warm-weather-friendly beverages. In addition to my live cooking demonstrations, Chad of “The Stylish Steed” lifestyle blog, focused on living well for less, will bring his creative taste to the table teaching guests how to personalize parties with custom cloth table linens, unique lighting elements, painting techniques and easy floral arranging.

You may remember Chad from our brief appearance on The Dr. Oz Show. We met on the mission field in the summer of 2002 during college and have been the best of pals ever since. We always have a good time together and this event will be no exception. I’d like to personally invite you to join us as we sing, laugh and demonstrate how to entertain with ease on Thursday, May 15 at 6 p.m. at the Gadsden State Cherokee Arena. Admission is $5 in advance or $8 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at the Gadsden State Cherokee Campus.

This special event is sponsored by the Continuing Education Department at Gadsden State Community College.