Eugene Walter of Mobile loved Southern foodways, particularly spirits, and enjoying sharing this passion with the world. He was the author of “American Cooking: Southern Style,” in addition to being a novelist, screenwriter, costume designer, actor and more.
David Goodman, who manages the Eugene Walters estate, and Thomas Head of Louisiana, former executive wine and food editor of Washingtonian magazine, have edited a cookbook Walter was working on in his final years. “The Happy Table of EugeneWalter: Southern Spirits in Food and Drink” blends stories with food and cocktail recipes, with great explanations of both. Throughout it all is Walter’s dynamic personality shining through, a book that’s fun to read whether you’re interesting in cooking or not.
In the press materials that came with the book are some recommendations from the editors. One of Goodman’s favorite cocktail, for instance, is The Milton Makeover, which I’m including below. I’ve been to Milton, Fla., and enjoyed the setting sun over the gorgeous Blackwater River. I can picture Walter sipping this cool drink on the river’s edge, a variation of the mint julep that’s good for late summer when mint is hard to find.
The Milton Makeover
Candied orange peel or crystallized ginger for garnish
Directions: Scrape only the outer skin of a few kumquats, tangerines, sweet oranges, or whatever combination of these you can conjure into a good quantity of best bourbon. Add a dash of cane sugar. Let sit an hour or so, then strain and chill well. Add a dash of dark rum. Add 1 or 2 drops of lemon juice. Pour over cracked ice in chilled mugs or tankards, garnish with 1 thin strip of candied orange or crystallized ginger, and serve after putting into icebox at least 15 minutes.
Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is coauthor of “Cooking in Cajun Country” with Karl Breaux and author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana.”