Raise a glass to spirits made by ‘proud Dawgs’

As we write this column from our home in Athens, there is a palpable excitement about the University of Georgia’s football season, especially since the Bulldogs are the defending national champions. While we were rolling down sorority row last week, an ad aired on a local radio station, reminding us that the folks behind Atlanta-based American Spirit Whiskey, better known as ASW, are all graduates of UGA, or “proud Dawgs,” as the ad put it.

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With this in mind, we thought we might provide a little background on ASW, along with a couple of tailgating recipes.

Founders Jim Chasteen and Charlie Thompson, along with distiller Justin Manglitz, all are UGA alumni. Atlantans might know ASW, which began operating in 2016, for its award-winning whiskeys, such as Fiddler bourbon or Resurgens rye, produced at the company’s distillery in Buckhead. There also are two newer locations, ASW at the Battery and ASW Whiskey Exchange, which is the barrelhouse and tasting room in West End.

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Although most distilleries start out with clear spirits, in order to pay the bills while their aged products rest in barrels, the boys from UGA took a different route.

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ASW at the Battery is where the company installed stills better suited to clear spirits in 2021, and started producing Bustletown vodka and Winterville gin.

The gin takes its name from Winterville, a town about 15 minutes east of downtown Athens, and the childhood home of Chasteen and Manglitz. The gin is lighter on juniper, but has the addition of marigolds, symbolic of Winterville’s annual marigold festival. It is a floral and herbaceous gin that mixes nicely in cocktails.

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A few notes on the tailgate cocktails: The Il Calendula, Italian for marigold, might be more appropriate in front of a large-screen TV, rather than in a parking lot. It is a martini variation, with wild fennel liqueur, known as finocchietto. The Salty Bulldawg, our riff on a salty dog, gets its more appropriate red hue — as well as added complexity — from pomegranate juice.

IL CALENDULA

1½ ounces ASW Winterville gin

1 ounce Carpano bianco vermouth

½ ounce finocchietto, preferably Il Gusto di Amalfi

2 dashes orange bitters

orange twist

Combine the gin, vermouth, finocchietto and orange bitters in a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and express the oil from the orange twist over the cocktail.

Serves 1.

SALTY BULLDAWG TAILGATE VERSION

1 bottle ASW Winterville gin (or ASW Bustletown vodka)

1 quart fresh ruby red grapefruit juice

6 ounces Pom pomegranate juice

Rimming salt (preferably Beautiful Briny Sea’s Magic Unicorn salt, or kosher salt)

Combine gin, grapefruit juice and pomegranate juice in a large resealable pitcher. Rim a red plastic cup with salt and fill with ice. Pour in the cocktail and holler “woof woof.”

Makes 16 6-ounce servings.

The Slaters are beverage industry veterans and the proprietors of the Expat and the Lark Winespace in Athens.

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