Check out these alcohol related food and drink purveyors that have something for everyone!
By Allison Futterman
Creative use of alcohol is at the heart of these southern-based businesses. Whether it’s in a cupcake or a bottle, these companies offer tasty and original products.
Located in Mt. Sterling Kentucky, Ruth Hunt Candies has been in business for almost 100 years. The current owners Larry Kezele and Tobby Moore are only the third in all that time, and are committed to continuing the traditions of founder Ruth Tharpe Hunt, and later, her daughter.
In an industry where many take cost cutting shortcuts and use processed ingredients, Ruth Hunt Candies uses the same high quality, real ingredients that have made their products exceptional — real cream, sugar, and butter. Although they sell a variety of delicious candies, they are well known for confections made with bourbon.
These include bourbon caramels; bourbon caramels dipped in dark chocolate and topped with sea salt; bourbon butter crunch; and their best selling item — bourbon balls. Selling about 3 million bourbon balls a year, Ruth Hunt offers both their own brand, as well as Woodford Reserve® Licensed Bourbon Balls.
If you haven’t ever tried bourbon balls, you can’t go wrong starting with these. This southern delicacy is not to be missed! Ruth Hunt’s bourbon products use Woodford Reserve® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Adding to the outstanding taste is Ruth Hunt’s use of Wilbur bittersweet chocolate and the plump Elliot pecan that tops every bourbon ball.
Charleston Distilling Co.
This popular distillery that produces unique, small batch craft spirits, overseeing every step of the process, from grain to glass. They sell bourbon, rye whiskey, vodka and gin — in a total of eight varieties.
Some of their creative flavors are the spicy and sweet heat of their Carolina Reaper Vodka, which is infused with the world’s hottest pepper — the Carolina Reaper; their all natural whiskey liqueur, Tolerance, which is distilled with ginger and a hint of cinnamon; and Calhoun’s Rye Whiskey, which is a 100% Wren Abruzzi Rye which has a dried fruit and honey aroma.
Sold online and in liquor stores, people can also experience the products of Charleston Distillery in person, at their bricks and mortar location in Johns Island, SC. They have a tasting room that’s open Thursday-Sunday, where visitors can taste the spirits distilled in custom copper stills imported from Germany. But make no mistake, this is a southern company, with all grains sourced from South Carolina.
Delights by Dawn
After 19 years as a criminal attorney, Dawn Belisle decided to turn her passion for baking into a business. With a love of baking instilled from a young age, Belisle always baked, even when practicing law. Baking provided stress relief from a high-pressure career. Her creations became wildly popular with friends and family, who would always request her desserts. Eventually she realized this could be a successful business an in 2014 started Delights by Dawn, an online bakery based out of Atlanta.
Her desserts have been sold at Falcons and Braves games, as well as to many satisfied customers. She spends a lot of time researching what flavor combinations will work when infusing alcohol into her cakes and cupcakes. Her best seller is her rum cake, which was her first creation. She also has a Tap 357 maple, bacon whisky cake, coconut rum cake, chocolate Kahlua cake, and coconut rum cake, among others. If smaller portions are more your thing, she also has a variety of alcohol infused cupcakes.
North Carolina is the number one sweet potato producing state, growing about 60% of the sweet potato supply in the United States. Many sweet potato farmers can be found in eastern North Carolina, due to the well-suited climate and soil. Two of these farmers are Bobby Ham and Jimmy Burch, both of whom are the third generation sweet potato farmers. You could say they are competitors, but they are also lifelong friends who grew up together. They are also business partners, with their creation Yamco. Yes, yams and sweet potatoes are technically different vegetables, but it was a catchy name and people get the idea.
Their partnership led to Covington Spirits, which produces Covington sweet potato vodka. They describe it “remarkably smooth, rich with subtle creamy undertones and without the slightest hint of heat on a long and level finish.” Covington’s sweet potato vodka is made though a handcrafting process, in small batches that capture the “heart” of the distillate. And it’s ecofriendly, with the spent mash being returned to the soil in order to enrich the next crop.
When you walk into FuManChu Cupcakes, you know immediately that this isn’t a typical bakery. It’s a quirky, artsy place that reflects the colorful owner, Andy Jackson. After a successful career in the commercial plumbing industry, Jackson transitioned into baking. Friends and family loved his cupcakes and soon he was selling them, leading to a business he hadn’t been planning.
Jackson’s creativity comes through in his unique flavor combinations, which include non-alcohol and alcohol infused cupcakes. In some, the alcohol is cooked out or have it in the icing, but others are adults only because the only the alcohol is poured in after the cupcakes are made, FuManChu’s best seller is their Irish Car Bomb, a delicious flavor explosion of Guinness flavored chocolate cupcake filled with Jameson infused chocolate panache and filled with Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting.
Other mouthwatering flavors include the Lemon Drop Shot (lemon cupcake soaked with citrus vodka, topped with lemon frosting and lemon sawdust); the Black Out Chocolate Stout (chocolate cupcake with Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout, cherry buttercream frosting, and lemon/lime sawdust); and the Margarita (lime cupcake soaked with tequila, lime-tequila-Triple Sec frosting, and a lime salt sugar rim).