Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spotlight on Greg Best

We like to imbibe. Not simply random drinking—just to be drinking (although we’ve been known to do that), but really imbibing—truly tasting, absorbing and assimilating. Frequent forays into Atlanta’s pub culture find us often at Holeman and Finch Public House where proprietor/barkeep Greg Best holds forth along with his partners and talented kitchen and bar crew.

Originally hailing from New York’s Hudson Valley, Greg has been working in the restaurant and bar scene for about 12 years. Greg has been oft credited with “kick-starting” the craft cocktail scene in Atlanta with his work behind the bar at the award winning Restaurant Eugene. His role at Atlanta’s Holeman and Finch Public House, has earned him numerous accolades such as GQ magazine’s “Top Ten Cocktail Bars in the Country” and Playboy Magazine’s “Top Ten American Mixologists”. Most of Greg’s free time is spent hunting down boutique spirits and up-and-coming American distillers to celebrate and writing a cocktail column for Atlanta’s Creative Loafing weekly newspaper. An active member of groups like the Southern Foodways Alliance and the United States Bartender’s Guild Atlanta Chapter, Mr. Best has officially decided that the South is his home.

Last year, during the Charleston Wine and Food Festival, at the Jim ‘N Nick’s “Bourbon and Q” dinner, Greg created a special cocktail for the event called the “Pig-Pik Sour”. The libation is ingenious, mixing tart juices with our favorite, Old Rip Van Winkle 12yr. Bourbon and finished with a smoked egg white. That’s right, Greg agitates some egg whites, places them in a smoker for a few minutes and then foams them together with the other ingredients to create a smoky cloud. If you don’t happen to have a smoker going, (although why wouldn’t you?!), we suggest that you at least light a fire in your fireplace, chew some Benton’s bacon while you drink this or heck, just light a match in homage to Greg’s brilliance. For those of you who want to get an idea of how it’s done, here’s that recipe.

The Pig-Pik Sour

1 & ½ oz. Old Rip Van Winkle 12 yr. Bourbon

½ oz. Apricot Liqueur

1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

¼ oz. Tamarind Syrup (1:1 ratio)

2 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters #6

1 smoked egg white

-Shake all ingredients vigorously without ice for 15 seconds. Add ice and shake again for 15-20 seconds. Strain over ice into an old-fashioned glass*

*Rim the glass with a mixture of bacon powder and brown sugar.

Oh, and bacon powder is dehydrated bacon, whirred in a fancy commercial kitchen machine to create a powder. Again, we suggest you chew on some Benton’s bacon while you drink it or smear the glass with Benton’s bacon drippings then dip the rim of the glass in the brown sugar (you think we’re kidding—we are most certainly not)

Greg will grace us with his presence once again at the Charleston Food and Wine Festival this March during our “Hickory, Fire and Smoke” dinner. There will be more Q, more Old Rip Van Winkle and another new cocktail from the “Best” in the business.

Find out more about Greg at

(photo by Heather Anne Thomas of Beall and Thomas Photography)

Learn about the Charleston Wine and Food Festival at

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