What do Southerners do when life hands them lemons? Make lemonade and spike it, of course. Patrick Emerson, wine and beverage director for Maverick Southern Kitchens—responsible for High Cotton, Old Village Post House, and Slightly North of Broad—puts a Charleston twist on the unofficial drink of summer with a few shots of house-made, huckleberry-infused Very Very Berry Vodka, plus bubbly soda water in—what else—a Mason jar. The Huck Finn, as they call it, feels about as simple and mischievous (tastes sweet, but watch out—it can knock you off your feet) as the character it’s named after.
“It’s as refreshing as putting a fan to your face,” says Emerson, who adds that the drink is the popular choice of thirsty, heat-bedraggled travelers when it appears on High Cotton’s bar menu from Easter through Labor Day.
“It’s not an overtly alcoholic tasting drink; it’s sort of a local Arnold Palmer, designed for sipping on a front porch on Friday nights with friends,” says Emerson, who arrived in Charleston about eight years ago after working in restaurants in New York and L.A.
And his travels have informed the advanced sommelier and certified wine specialist who takes an oenophile’s approach to cocktails. “I’m a wine guy, so I try to always include a rainbow of flavors in a drink, giving them a low, medium, and high note,” he says. For the Huck Finn, the berries are the low, the lemonade serves as the middle, and “the high note is that almost invisible soda flavor.” Make one at home and taste the rainbow.