50 Shots of America–Florida

Liquid Sunshine

Liquid Sunshine

Oh, hey, did you think we were done with the East Coast? That we were at least finished with the Southeast, moving as we are through the Midwest and all?

Not exactly.

See, while the rest of the country was becoming locally-owned, the Spanish were still holding on to Florida with a pretty good grip until after the First Seminole War in 1818 and, even then, only lost the Eastern portion.  West Florida wasn’t signed over to the US until 1819 for $5 million and the understanding that the US would give up any of it’s Texas holdings. (And how long did that last, you wonder? The fact that *spoiler!* Texas is next week’s state */spoiler!* should give you a clue.)

Still, Florida didn’t have the oomph to become a fully-fledged member of the Union until 1845 (March 3rd, to be exact) and we’ve grown to be the 4th most populated state with our eye on New York to take 3rd place sometime soon.

Lots of folks retire to Florida for the lovely weather we have. News flash, folks: Florida is hot. And it’s a wet, sticky, humid heat that there is no escaping from. I remember 106-degree summers with no air conditioning as a child and wonder how we survived. Winter (with a few notable exceptions) is reserved for a week or so in January or February. We wave as something spring-like passes by on the fast-track to summer and hurricane season and again as a fall cool-snaps hits in October but heads for the hills just in time to make choosing Halloween costumes difficult since it could be 70s or 90s that day.

We’re also prone to afternoon precipitation that can range anywhere from lightening and thunder-storms with a side of hail to out-of-nowhere rain from a practically cloudless sky, the latter known as sun-showers or, you guessed it, liquid sunshine.

Liquid Sunshine

1 oz Lemon-Lime Gatorade
1/2 oz Rum
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Cointreau*

Combine over ice and shake like your running through raindrops. Strain into a chilled shot or cordial glass and try and cool off.

*I don’t normally specify a specific brand but you really don’t want to use a basic Triple Sec for something like this (or many other things, really)–it’s prone to overpower and you just don’t have room for that in a small drink like this.

Florida is, of course, known for it’s oranges and grows more than half of the nation’s citrus fruit (oranges, tangerines and grapefruit). Sugarcane, tomatoes, strawberries and celery round out our many agricultural achievements.

In addition to the natural juice we produce, all those fitness drinks on the market? Yup, they all started with one–Gatorade–developed by the coaching staff and physicians in 1965 at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, whose mascot is the Gator.

And if you’re not feeling the mixed drinks, you can check out the amazing San Sebastian Port available from the monks in St Augustine (the oldest European settlement in North America). The grapes are grown and processed in central Florida at the Lakeridge Winery (excellent tasting tours available pretty much any time–ask for Christy, if she’s there!) and finished up in St Augustine. It’s an amazing cherry Port in a bottle whose design dates back to the Middle Ages.

Random Appetites: United Grapes of America



Joel Stine of TIME Magazine decided to try (at least?) one wine from each of our 50 states and rate them. The article itself is a fun, quick read and if you follow the link at the bottom you’ll get to see how each state was represented and rated. Unfortunately Florida (as with the other Southeastern states in close proximity) did not fare well. On the one hand, I’m glad that it was a Gulf Coast winery that was tasted but I’ve had some much better wines from the Chautauqua Vineyards out of DeFuniak Springs. The blackberry wine is especially nice and they used to have a Carlos that was not overly sweet (they also used it in their bottled Mimosas that they no longer carry, mores the pity) but I tend to agree that muscadine wine can be a bit much even for those of us with a pronounced sweet tooth. Furthermore, the Port that the monks in St Augustine make is absolutely divine and definitely worth the drive to the other coast (which I still need to make one of these days!).

What’s your favorite regional wine (if you have one) and why? Had any of the ones on Mr Stein’s list?