warm weather cocktails

Spring has spread it's glaze of pollen over just about everything in coastal Carolina, thickening the air, reminding me that there is a physical explanation as to why folks tend to take things a little slower in the humid South. And so begin the days when the Old Fashioned finds its way back to the shelf to make room for lighter, fresher fare. Here are three originals from the vault available at manna all summer long.

Lavender Citrus Blossom
photos: Leslie Koehn

Lavender Citrus Blossom

1.5 oz. vodka
1 oz. lemon sour
½ oz fresh orange juice
3 dashes orange bitters (Fee Bros West Indies works well!)
1 oz. lavender simple syrup*

Combine the above over ice.
Shake hard for twenty seconds and strain.
Garnish with dried lavender flowers and a twist of orange.

*To make lavender syrup, soak a generous amount of dried lavender buds while dissolving sugar in water on the stove at a 1:1 ratio. Strain when cool. 

Lemon sour, also in the Cat Smash featured below, is 1 part fresh lemon juice with 1 part simple syrup. Simple syrup is sugar dissolved in hot water at a 1:1 ratio.


3-4    thick slices of cucumber cut into quarters
¾ oz   Domaine de Canton (ginger-infused cognac)
1.5 oz  Hendrick's gin
dash rosewater
1 oz    seltzer

Pre-chill cocktail glass.  Muddle the cucumber in the Dom. Canton in a separate mixing glass.  Add Hendrick's, the dash of rosewater and ice. Shake for 20 seconds, add seltzer, and double strain. Garnish with berries, cucumber slices and/or rose petals.

The Lotus was born back in the Caffe Phoenix days when I stared out the large windows all afternoon at the sushi joint across the street. Jonas was nice enough to feature it some time ago as a Drink of the Week.

Cat Smash
Cat Smash

3-4 sprigs of mint 
1/2 oz. lemon sour
2 oz.  Catdaddy Moonshine
1 oz.  seltzer

Muddle the mint in lemon juice in a mixing glass.
Add ice and moonshine. Shake and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint, and/or lemon wheel.

Watch for Wm’s air guitar when someone orders one.  When I came to manna, my “Moonshine Smash” met local music promoter/enthusiast/proprietor extraordinaire who decided to up turn the amp to "Cat Smash (Fever)".  As long as he keeps composing beer haikus and finishes off the toughest nights with a celebratory rug cutting, I’m down with the name change.

Palaver Spring 2013

Delighted my essay was accepted in the debut issue. 

Setting our Schools on Fire:
A Case for Enlightened Education

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.

In my third week of student teaching I was faced with diving into a dull lesson on coordinating conjunctions while, from the north tower of the World Trade Center, a toxic miasma of black soot billowed out into the otherwise clear blue September sky. I had the television on during my prep period and was still watching, transfixed, as my third period class began to trickle in around the screen. One little girl began to cry. Her sister lived in New York, she said. Another student, who jogged in just as the late bell pulsed and the second plane struck, watched with wide eyes. “Whoa, that’s soOo cool!” he exclaimed, “It’s like a video game!” Leading him to his seat with my eyes, I handed the girl my phone to call her sister, reassuring the rest of the thirty-three ninth-graders that everything was going to be okay.

I was pretty sure the principal would make an announcement soon, probably instruct us to get under our desks with our hands over our heads. But until then, my instincts told me to wait and see. After a few minutes fielding questions, I finally called my mentor in the faculty lounge, whispering into the phone, “What should I do?” Her response: “teach through it.” I was to stick to the lesson plan. “Kids need structure,” she said. “This is no different than Columbine. Continue on as though nothing has happened.”

But I couldn’t. The little girl was having trouble getting through to her sister. How could I expect her to pay attention to my grammar mini-lesson? Even more unsettling was that this was the class when I was expected to execute my mentor’s ultimatum: give a student detention, no matter what happened, or face a C for the semester. To defy her, in her words, “would be extremely detrimental for future job prospects.” Were we still living in the dark ages? I wondered. Like the prisoners in Plato’s allegory of the cave, forced to ascribe form from the distorted reality of shadows cast upon the wall?

Although I was only a few years older than most of my students, I knew not to befriend them. But what was wrong with being friendly? Apparently, the flexibility I allowed in class, to my mentor, registered as a liability. Whenever I allowed the class to deviate from the outline I had given her a full week in advance, she perceived a weakness. Did I have difficulty staying on task, or was my willingness to improvise an essential part of the educational process?

In order for students to learn, teachers need to help them find connections, to build a bridge between what they already knew and the new material at hand. When an opportunity arose for what I considered meaningful discussion, I didn’t hesitate to step back, to see where a tangential flow might go before bringing them back to task. My mentor embodied a more traditional, authoritarian approach. As I observed during my first few weeks of class, her lessons allowed very little breathing room for spontaneous interaction. Maintaining control, above all else, remained paramount. Having recently re-entered academia after over ten years of contemplation, I can’t help but wonder: should empowering students to take back some control of their studies have a place in the future of education? Would a paradigm-shifting concept, like the introduction of a more democratic class structure in our public schools, work in favor of the future by allowing smothered flames room to breathe, and, perhaps with some care, fan to a blaze?

Continue reading here.

Shooting the Breeze with Shea Carver

Focus on the Coast
Thursday, 25 April 2013

Shea Carver - her confidence honed after a decade of competitive dance - never suspected, when she accepted a job with Encore magazine right out of college, that her mentor, John Stanton, might have been right when he warned if she took a full-time job, she might never want to leave.

                     photo: Jason Armond

Now Features Editor at the Star News, John held the editorial helm at Encore during Shea's internship during her last semester at UNCW.  Knowing her plans for graduate school in California, he told her to go to Berkeley right away. "And here I am thirteen years later," Shea said. "Working for a local alternative-weekly, you're much more connected to people that matter in your life than if you worked for Rolling Stone. Don't get me wrong: That's still my dream. And I have been able to interview all the bands I wanted to talk to. Maybe not go on tour with them [laughs], but John was right, I really got connected to the community. In fact, I haven't written about music now for a few years. Interviewing artists, chefs and others made me realize I was most interested in people's stories."

Find out more about Shea's Shag Dancing Hall of Fame induction get-down in the full interview.

The Cullen Bohanan cocktail

Cullen Bohanan

Named after the character on AMC's series Hell on Wheels known to take a stiff tipple from time to time. 

If I were to go back in time and make drinks for those guys, this is what I imagine I would be able to scrounge up (if lucky) to make a well-rounded, balanced cocktail. 

2 oz. un-aged corn whiskey (moonshine) 
5-7 sage leaves (thyme or rosemary could also work)
1 oz sorghum syrup (a 2:1 blend of the molasses and hot water)
1/4 oz. fresh lemon
2 dashes of celery bitters (The Bitter Truth)

Muddle the herbs, sorghum syrup, lemon and celery bitters in a mixing glass.  

Add whiskey, a scoop of ice, and shake for 20 seconds.  

Double strain into a pre-chilled coupe.

Garnish with hibiscus and thyme.

Spin your lady 'round and 'round.

Props to Chef Kyle McKnight for helping to conceptualize this afternoon musing.