‘Spirit of the SEC’ video series focuses on game-day cocktails

The Clayton classic cocktail at the Bourbon Cellar, located beneath the original Onward Reserve store, takes its name from Clayton Street in downtown Athens. Courtesy of Onward Reserve

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

The Clayton classic cocktail at the Bourbon Cellar, located beneath the original Onward Reserve store, takes its name from Clayton Street in downtown Athens. Courtesy of Onward Reserve

Onward Reserve, an Atlanta-based men’s apparel and gifts chain, is teaming up with Tennessee distillery Sweetens Cove Spirits to launch an online video series that delivers a spirited taste of game day in the South.

The “Spirit of the SEC” series highlights Sweetens Cove Kennessee bourbon cocktails from 13 bars across the Southeast, to celebrate the personalities and traditions of such college towns as Athens, Auburn and Tuscaloosa in Alabama, and Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Game day here just hits different,” said TJ Callaway, founder of Onward Reserve. “Over the next two months, we’ll be visiting some of the best bars in the Southeast and sharing cocktail recipes each week that fans can make at home.”

Callaway kicked off the series ahead of the Sept. 16 Georgia-South Carolina football game with a drink from Athens — where the first Onward Reserve store opened in 2012 and the company also operates a speakeasy below, called the Bourbon Cellar. The Clayton classic cocktail at the Bourbon Cellar is named for Clayton Street in downtown Athens.

Also featured is Bourbon, a restaurant and bar in Columbia, South Carolina, that serves a garnet & black cocktail for Gamecocks fans.

Bourbon, a restaurant and bar in Columbia, South Carolina, serves a  garnet & black cocktail in homage to the hometown Gamecocks. Courtesy of Sweetens Cove

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

Kristian Niemi, owner of Bourbon, said he was struck by how crazy football season in the South is, after moving to the area from Minnesota in 1993. “It is a way of life,” he said. “Our bar is right in the heart of everything on game day. It’s really cool to see the tens of thousands of fans from all the different cities come through town.”

The cocktail video series continues each week through Nov. 25.

“There’s no better celebration of rivalry than SEC football and great bourbon,” said Sweetens Cove Managing Partner Mark Rivers, whose investment partners include former SEC quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning.

The blend of Kentucky and Tennessee bourbons was named one of the best whiskies in the world by Whisky Advocate in 2022.

Visit onwardreserve.com/pages/spirit-of-the-sec for a list of participating bars, cocktail recipes, photos and the “Spirit of the SEC” videos. You also can follow @onwardreserve and @sweetenscovespirits on Instagram to see the cocktail videos as they debut.


Clayton classic from the Bourbon Cellar, Athens

2 ounces Sweetens Cove Kennessee bourbon

¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

¾ ounce ginger simple syrup (recipe below)

Lime wheel garnish

Combine the bourbon, lime juice and ginger simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously until the shaker is very cold, about 25 seconds.

Pour over ice and garnish with the lime wheel.

Serves 1

Ginger simple syrup

1 cup granulated sugar

¾ cup water

1 cup sliced fresh ginger root, peeled

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Add the ginger and bring to a light boil. Cover, reduce the heat and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it steep and cool, about 45 minutes. Strain the ginger and transfer to an airtight container. It will keep for up to two weeks in a refrigerator.

Makes 1 cup

Garnet & black, from Bourbon in Columbia, South Carolina

2 ounces Sweetens Cove Kennessee bourbon

1 ounce Carpano Antico sweet vermouth

½ ounce Bigallet China China Amer liqueur

½ ounce Campari

2-3 dashes Herbsaint or absinthe

2-3 dashes angostura bitters

In a cocktail shaker, stir the ingredients together over ice for 15 to 25 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange zest.

Serves 1

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