50 Shots of America–Alabama

Alabama cocktail

East Avenue South--the background photo is from my trip to Birmingham, its the lane leading down to an amazing restaurant, Cobb Lane

Passing through French, British & Spanish hands, the town of Mobile, Alabama was finally captured by Andrew Jackson and claimed for the US free and clear. Now that it had some beach-front property, statehood proceedings were completed and it became the 22nd state of the Union on December 14, 1819.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had quite a few memories of the Heart of Dixie: touring the USS Alabama as a sullen teen, making my Mom nearly fall off the ladder from laughing at me after I ran my head into an opening I failed to duck for; the honeymoon trip to visit my second husband’s father in Pell City and waking up to hear some deadly storms has ripped through Dixie Alley during it’s secondary tornado season while we slept; scrapbooking and comics conventions in Mobile; the summer trip spent at Auburn University during high school and… oh, yes.

Birmingham is known as the Magic City–it was the one city to boom during the Great Migration of the early 20th century when so much of the population left for opportunities far to the north. It’s railroads, mining and related refining industries created opportunities not readily available in the state. Most mining has ceased (except for coal) but Birmingham continues to be a hub for manufacturing as well as southeastern headquarters for multitudes of national corporations. It also boasts a significant food culture.

Finishing my Culinary degree required a semester’s internship and I’d been able to garner an interview with the head of the chef’s association there. It was my first weekend trip entirely on my own–both a lonely and exciting opportunity! I visited restaurants my boss had recommended (having lived and worked in the area for 1o years), wandered (and got followed through) the beautiful Linn park and the nearby museums, and hung out in Five Points South.

I also got lost.

This is less than news as I have no natural-born sense of direction but the circumstances were interesting and worth sharing. Downtown Birmingham (where 90% of my activity was focused) is laid out in a grid–couldn’t be simpler, right? Everything is marked North and South with Avenues running one way and Streets and Alleys crossing them. My hotel was on 3rd Avenue South (or something like that) and I was coming home from Five Points and got turned around. I found 3rd Avenue North and just figured I’d take it south a ways and I’d get where I wanted to go.

I found myself in a train yard something, turned around and found myself almost on UAB campus and _finally_ retraced my steps and got back to my hotel. On Sunday, as I was leaving and looked at that same gridded map for the umpteenth time it finally hit me:

The Avenues of Birmingham run East-ish/West-ish, they’re named North and South in relation to where they are above or below the railroad tracks!

No wonder I didn’t find my hotel on the first try, that night!

And now we drink!

East Avenue South

3/4 oz Peach Schnapps
1/4 oz Amaretto
1 oz Orange Juice

Combine over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cordial glass.

Obviously this is a nod to the Alabama Slammer cocktail but we’ve amped up the orange juice and ditched the sour mix and sloe gin/vodka/southern comfort whatever else folks opt to put in there. It’s sweet–almost unctuous –and tastes similar to a fuzzy navel but retains that hint of almond in the background.

And, absolutely, make 2 and share 🙂