I’m from the South. I say y’all and fixin’ on a regular basis and I have a Southern drawl that gets commented on when I go to New York or San Francisco on business. Being from the South, I enjoy the same simple pleasures that all Southerners do. Florida Gator Football, NASCAR Racing, fishing, and pretty much any other activity that gives me a reason to either relax or drink or do both. One thing that we Southerners enjoy above all other things is enjoying a big, cold glass/mason jar of sweet iced tea while watching the sun go down on a hot July evening.
Make no mistake, sweet tea is as much a staple south of the Mason-Dixon line as milk, bread, eggs and beer. It’s not an uncommon site to see a toddler walking around with a bottle or sippy cup full of the stuff. Seriously.
I am no exception when it comes to having a vice for sweet tea. And as you know by the fact that I write for a drinking site that I also have an affinity for alcohol. On several occasions, I’ve mentioned to people that I wish there was a way to get drunk while drinking sweet tea. To be honest, I’ve actually mixed sweet tea with everything from Natural Light (I was drunk already) to Jim Beam. Nothing ever got me drunk without killing the taste of the sweet tea. I just gave up and figured it was never meant to be.
That was until a few weeks ago when I had heard rumors of a vodka made in South Carolina that when mixed properly tasted like sweet tea. Could it be? Had my prayers been answered? Was God finally coming through with our consolation prize for not winning the Civil War?
You should never underestimate the ingenuity of a bunch of rednecks with a moonshine still and a mission. Ok so maybe the folks over at Firefly Distillery aren’t a bunch of rednecks with a still. They’re actually geniuses in my book. Since the beginning of sweet tea and vodka, no one has ever thought, “Hey! Let’s infuse vodka with tea leaves and see what it tastes like.” The Firefly Distillery actually infuses the vodka with tea leaves grown on a plantation less than 5 miles from the distillery. Is there a Nobel Prize for alcohol?
Once I had actually confirmed that Firefly Vodka actually existed, I visited their site to discover that the nearest place to buy it was in Jacksonville which is 75 miles away. Yes, I could have driven, but with the price of gas a bottle would have ended up costing an extra $35 on top of the $20 the 750ml actually costs. So I figured I could wait until I either was going to Jacksonville for some reason, or Firefly started selling their hooch locally.
Fast-forward to this past Friday. I walk into the ABC Jax Liquors across from the mall looking for something to relax me after the week-long multi-city business trip I had been on. This store is perfect when you have no idea what you’re in the mood for. It’s huge and has everything you could imagine. I wandered past the bourbon, gin, and meandered over to the vodka. Everything was nice and neat with all the bottles pulled to the front. That’s when I noticed a gap in the bottles. I walked over, looked into the dark, two-bottle wide void, and there it was. A lone bottle of Firefly Vodka. I can’t swear to it, but I’m pretty sure I heard an angelic choir.
I quickly snatched up the bottle and began looking for something to mix it with. What the hell do you mix with sweet tea flavored vodka? Then I had an epiphany. I looked on the back of the bottle and there were the single greatest mixing instructions I had ever read.
1 half Firefly Vodka
1 half spring water
Pour over ice and garnish with a lemon twist
The fact that the makers of this spirit suggest that I mix it half and half – which is the way I mix everything – catapulted them to the top of my “People who are badasses,” list. I hurried home and like a kid with a science kit followed the directions.
Ladies and gentlemen. Sweet tea that gets you drunk and actually tastes like sweet tea. I tasted it and a single tear rolled down my cheek like that Indian in that commercial from the ’60s. This is definitely a drink that will have a permanent place in my repertoire of sit on the back porch and chill drinks. I didn’t drink a lot of it. This isn’t the type of stuff you buy and try to kill the bottle. I drank a few to get a good buzz going and left it at that.
So if you’re a true Southerner, or someone who thinks they are, or just someone who enjoys watching the sun go down with a drink. I highly recommend keeping a bottle of Firefly on hand. It’s the best $20 you’ll ever spend on alcohol.
P.S. According to their website, the Firefly Distillery just shipped out 1.75L handles that should hit the shelves this week.
Editor’s note: A special thanks to @jsig for pointing us in FireFly’s direction!