Three Atlanta bars mix it up with spirits from local distiller Independent

Michael Anderson and Tommy Williams, co-owners of Independent Distilling Co., are proud to be a part of Georgia’s whiskey producing heritage. When they opened doors in Decatur in 2014, bourbon was on the short list of spirits they wanted to bring to the Atlanta market.

Last month, that dream was realized with a launch party of Hellbender bourbon at neighboring Kimball House. Like Independent’s corn whiskey, its Hellbender bourbon is distilled traditionally in a copper pot still and is comprised of 83-percent Georgia-grown corn.

Thirsty for a sip? Hit up the following three bars that are mixing with Independent’s new bourbon as well as its two other spirits, Hellbender corn whiskey and white rum.

Old Fashioned at Southbound

Graham Lansford, bar manager of Southbound in Chamblee , says Hellbender bourbon was one of the inspirations behind his “bottled in bond” cocktail program.

“I love that Hellbender bourbon uses local corn and is distilled just down the road,” Lansford said. “The vanilla and woody caramel notes of this bourbon are really nice and speak to the small barrel aging. I needed something high proof with a bit of sweetness. The Hellbender is a great fit and mixes really well in the Old Fashioned.”

The cocktail is comprised of a smoked sugar syrup which highlights the oak and char of the young bourbon (aged between 12 to 18 months,) and three bitters: orange, Old Fashioned and black walnut. The orange and Old Fashioned bitters mellow the spirit’s youthful, sweet corn notes while the black walnut warms and rounds out any heat, allowing the caramel and molasses to come forward.

Southbound, 5394 Peachtree Road, Chamblee, 678-580-5579,

Boulevardier at The Cockentrice

Clayton Morey of The Cockentrice at Krog Street Market takes this cocktail to another level and replaces spicy rye, typically used for a Boulevardier, with Hellbender corn whiskey.

“Anyone from south Georgia who’s had corn whiskey knows it got a lot of heat. What’s nice about Independent’s is how surprisingly smooth it is even with that bit of kick. We build our Boulevardier off of its natural, spicy sweetness by infusing the whiskey with fresh oranges and pomegranates we juice and batch,” Morey said.

This cocktail is a great example of what happens to acid when it comes in contact with a base. The base pH sugars of the fresh pomegranate juice and plum bitters seem to almost neutralize the heat of the corn whiskey. The acidity of the orange, however, pulls through just a hint of warmth. Like any good chemical reaction, the corn whiskey transforms from white hot to a cool, spicy rye. Morey then builds back the classic with Carpano Antica and Campari.

The Cockentrice, 99 Krog St. NE., Atlanta, 470-428-2733,

Daiquiri at Kimball House

Miles Macquarrie and his team at Kimball House in Decatur are big supporters of local and regional spirits. They had already been mixing with Independent white rum when the distiller released its bourbon last month.

“White rum has a long cocktail history and can be found in old cocktail recipe books,” Macquarrie said. “I tried Independent’s and really liked the agro-qualities it contains and the fact that they use table grade molasses, which retains its natural sugars. It really brings out the flavor in a quality white rum.”

Independent rum was Macquarrie’s rum of choice for the classic daiquiri because of the sweet, grassy tones the spirit retains from the distillation process. As with most of the cocktails on the menu at Kimball House, even the classics have an extra touch. A bit of green chartreuse is added to ramp up the herbal flavors of the rum and bump up the cocktail’s sex appeal. And the drink, with its beautiful yellow hue, arrives in a vintage, etched coupe glass.

Kimball House, 303 E. Howard Ave., Decatur, 404-378-3502,

Oh, and after tasting these three drinks, you might just want to stock up on Independent’s spirits for your own home bar – or give them as holiday gifts . For a list of liquor stores and wine shops that carry Independent Distilling Co. spirits, go here .

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Read the AJC Fall Dining Guide, Atlanta Around the Clock, here.

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About the Author

Ligaya Figueras
Ligaya Figueras
Ligaya Figueras joined the AJC as its food and dining editor in 2015.