Miller studied culinary arts at the Art Institute of Atlanta. He further honed his skills at Jean-Georges in New York City, the French Laundry in California, and at the Asher Restaurant and Bluepointe in Atlanta. Most recently, he worked as executive chef at STK in Midtown. When Miller's wife felt sick during her first pregnancy in 2010, he soothed her with a homemade ginger ale. When friends and family loved it, too, he knew he was onto something. He decided to brew and bottle the fizzy drinks on his own and Miller's Artisan Soda was born. For now, Miller's soda comes in three flavors: root beer, ginger beer, and sweet tea, and you can find them on the menus at Buttermilk Kitchen and Bantam & Biddy.
Miller initially left STK in June to pursue his soda dreams full-time, but has since taken another kitchen job to work out some kinks, and, more importantly, pay the bills. CL caught up with Miller to learn more about his one-man crusade to change our relationship to soda.
What's wrong with conventional soda?
I drove in from Atlanta yesterday and went straight into the panel "Midnight in Paris: Cocktails of the Lost Generation," led by Phillip Greene, historian, lawyer, and author of To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion. The seminars here can get pretty nerdy in a science and math kind of way (I just finished a sherry seminar with lots of math, more on that in a sec), but this was nerdy in my kind of way - the book way. Greene structured the entire talk as basically a tour through Lost Generation -era literature, pulling drink-referencing passages from classics such as Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Fitzgerald's Tender is The Night, and more, to put drinks such as absinthe, martinis, and side cars in very interesting, very romantic cultural context.
A THING I LEARNED: The rye-based sazerac that we all know and love so much, came about after an aphid called Phylloxera devastated France's Cognac supply. So, when some folks in NOLA started running low on Cognac, they started switching it out in drinks with rye, a cheaper, more readily available booze, eventually leading to the birth of the sazerac.
Next came a tour-de-gin and tonics in a jam-packed gin tasting room, dinner at the Mid-City meatery Toup's, sazeracs at the famed sazerac bar at the Roosevelt Hotel, and terrible drinks and an even worse cover band at a so-called "film festival" that wasn't actually a film festival.
This morning (12:30 p.m.), I attended "Advanced Sherry: Secrets, Lies, and Solera." For those of you like me who are less "advanced" in knowledge than you are just fans of drinking wine, solera is a blended aging system where younger wines are blended with older wines in order to make them taste older without having to wait so long. The mathematic details of how solera works involve some kind of complex reverse carbon dating-type calculations. Don't worry about it. Suffice it to say, sherry is delicious and has pretty low alcohol so you can drink lots of it. We made a Manhattan-like sherry cocktail today that was (basically) one part rum, one part Oloroso sherry, and Angostura Bitters. So good. Make it. Drink it.
Afterward, some friends and I went in search of food and ended up in a magical place with air conditioning (it's hot here) that was literally lined with bottles of Bulleit.
I was going to try and do a daily drink tally, but there's just too many.
Check out more photos and a video below. Tomorrow I'll be back with more tales of cocktails.
So what bars in Atlanta hit Manhattan high points? Whose fall flat? For this Smackdown, I took up the task of discovery. The rules were simple. Each bartender was asked for his or her house Manhattan. No white whiskey, no Scotch, no Red Hooks or Rob Roys, or any other of the multitudes of Manhattan relatives that populate bar menus. I wanted to know the specific whiskey and vermouth involved, the technique employed. And I wanted to unearth cocktail enlightenment, a Manhattan moment of eye-closing bliss.
Now, it must be said, any good bartender can tailor a Manhattan to your tastes. But really getting to know what type of Manhattan is your Manhattan takes trial and error. I was amazed at the diversity of approaches found around town. Let the trials begin.
Continue reading "The Atlanta Manhattan Smackdown" by Brad Kaplan.
Between 1993 and 2002, a handful of craft breweries and brewpubs began popping up around the Atlanta area. Elder statesmen such as Red Brick (formerly Atlanta Brewing Company), SweetWater, Five Seasons, and Terrapin introduced such household names-to-be as 420 and Hopsecutioner, and laid the groundwork for the current craft beer boom. Unfortunately, by the early aughts, archaic distribution rules, and prudish, restrictive alcohol-by-volume (ABV) laws had stifled the homegrown industry. Georgia capped ABV at 6 percent, limiting the ability of local brewers, barkeeps, and beer lovers to experiment. But in 2004, the state raised the legal ABV limit to 14 percent, a move that not only allowed establishments like Decatur's Brick Store Pub to start serving some of the finest high-gravity beers in the world, widening palates and deepening consumer interest in the process, but also freed up local brewers to be more adventurous with their creations.
Now at the helm of one of Georgia's oldest and most celebrated craft breweries, Buckowski stays busy dreaming up new brews in Athens - and also sometimes abroad. He was recently invited to New Zealand to create three new beers - Spike's Pilsner, Spike's IPA, and Spike's Red Rye - for Boundary Road Brewery's "The Resident" series. Back from the trip, he's looking forward to what promises to be Georgia's most prolific craft beer year yet. "More craft beer!" he exclaims about the future. "It feels good to know Terrapin has opened the doors for other breweries in Georgia to jump into this awesome industry."
If you missed our roundup of (mostly) Southern-inspired cookbooks and food reads, you can find it here. But in our holiday rush to post, we failed to share what was probably our favorite find of all: Intoxerated: The Definitive Drinker's Dictionary by Paul Dickson (we spotted a copy at A Cappella Books). The wise-guy lexicographer and Guinness Boook of World Records champ for "Most Synonyms" has outdone himself with this collection of words to stand in for "drunk." Whether you're still "whazood" from too many winter brews last night or still trying to live down your "roasted" performance at the office party, this one's a great read, "stinko" or sober.
It's eventually - maybe? - going to start getting cold in Atlanta, as it generally does during the winter season every year. And when/if temperatures start plummeting, you're going to need a nice, seasonal brew with which to cozy up. Because you've got a lot of options, and because the weather is going to turn on us - allegedly - any day now, we asked several Atlanta beer aficionados for their favorite winter beers. Looks like you've got your drinking cut out for you. Cheers!
It was raining. Hard. I had spent the last few hours hiking through the Monteverde cloud forest reserve in Costa Rica, looking for the rare Resplendent Quetzal. That's a bird. Although it could also make a great name for a flamboyant Costa Rican wrestler or an immodest Costa Rican stripper. Anyway, I stumbled out of the cloud forest reserve, and spotted exactly what I needed for sustenance - a coffee shop. And not just any coffee shop, but one serving up their own locally grown and roasted coffee beans. The coffee was great, the exact pleasurable jolt I needed at that moment. I even bought a bag of beans to carry home to Atlanta with me, which is where things get even more interesting.
There's a new shrub in town. And I'm talking cocktails, not shrubbery. You'll be forgiven if you don't know what a shrub is, but haven't you been reading all the excited pronouncements of its ascension to cocktail prominence? The simplest definition and background I've found is this from CLASS magazine:
Shrub comes from the Arabic word 'sharaba', which means 'to drink'. The first mention of the word 'shrub' in the English Dictionary was in 1747, which defined it as "any of various acidulated beverages made from the juice of fruit, sugar, and other ingredients often alcohol."
Which brings us to Shrub & Co., which is a company, dedicated to making delicious shrubs. Shrub & Co. was founded by a small group of Atlanta bartenders and cocktail enthusiast friends who wanted to reinvigorate the use of shrubs in the "libationary arts."
In the subsequent years he'd sling beers and cocktails in countless establishments, learning the details of the business while chatting up many an inebriated patron. Fast-forward to the summer of 2010, when he moved to Atlanta to focus on golf again. As luck would have it, he ended up living in the same neighborhood as his old friend Alan Sher, who was about to become co-owner of a new music venue on the Westside, Terminal West. "I told him I had to help," Gilbert says.
And help he did, serving as TW's director of bar operations. While he doesn't run his own place just yet, he has curated the best beer list of any music venue in Atlanta. In addition to a few usual-suspect macros, the King Plow-affiliated spot sports a handful of cocktails and 34 canned microbrews, including offerings from notable craft breweries such as 21st Amendment, Oskar Blues, Avery, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, and many more. CL recently talked to Gilbert about what got him here and why he decided to make Terminal West an Atlanta beer destination.
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