Photo by Emilie Dayan Hill.

Here’s a tidbit from the latest issue of our Gravy quarterly. (Not an SFA member? Join us to start receiving Gravy on the regular. Or look for it at Billy Reid stores; Highlands Bar & Grill, Bottega, and Chez Fonfon in Birmingham; Star Provisions in Atlanta; Main Street Meats in Chattanooga, and the Alabama Chanin Factory in Florence, AL.)

The First Fire

Serve with a good book.

by Jayce McConnell

I’m a firm believer that one’s demeanor, diet, and duds should match the current season. I also hold that an outfit isn’t complete without a cocktail in hand. One chilly evening I stood before my home bar desiring something to warm, calm, brighten, and inspire my night. My beloved roommates were passionate tipplers, so our counter was always well-stocked.

I combined Laird’s applejack with some Carpano Antica vermouth, threw in a heavy hand of bitters, and stirred. I noticed a bottle of Nocello walnut liqueur and added a bit to my glass, twisted some orange peel over the top, and sipped.

It matched the mood of the season. I made several more that night and spent hours re-reading H.P. Lovecraft, each sip enhancing the nostalgia. The warmth it gave me reminded me of the first fire my father built in our fireplace every year, and of the bonfires my friends and I constructed on camping trips in the chilly Lowcountry autumn. I hope it brings you as much comfort. Cheers.


2 oz. Laird’s applejack

1 oz. Carpano Antica Formula vermouth

1/4 oz. Nocello walnut liqueur

5 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in mixing glass, stir with ice, and strain into snifter. Garnish with orange peel.

Jayce McConnell has been the head bartender at Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi. In February 2014 he will ship off to Charleston, South Carolina, to helm the bar at Edmund’s Oast.