To explain a night of drinking that includes elephants and Southern belles, I have to start in 1939. That's when Gone with the Wind, maybe the world's first movie marketing franchise, premiered in Atlanta and immediately began spinning off merchandise (for the occasion, Southern Comfort created a Scarlett O'Hara cocktail, pairing their whiskey liqueur with cranberry juice for that "scarlet" effect).
Fast forward four decades, to another Southerner (either an Alabama bar owner, or a Jack Daniel's rep) who first spiked lemonade with Tennessee whiskey. I thought this was the inspiration for the Lynchburg-named cooler on Root restaurant's cocktail list.
While it's also based on Jack Daniel's and a fair amount of citrus, Root's Lynchburg Peach Cooler brings in cranberry juice, and something even closer to Scarlett O'Hara's heart: peaches, her state's signature fruit.
The peach purée adds body and roundness to this refreshing, approachable and beautifully balanced cocktail (the recipe's written by server Roy Sell, and expertly poured for me by Akeesha Calderini).
You get Jack on the nose, but he fades a bit on the palate, which is juicy, softly peachy, and only a touch sour. (Chef Philip Lopez' peach mustard, on our charcuterie board in a clever paint tube, delivers a bigger bite.)
Adding peaches is a more meaningful reference to Scarlett, and it also echoes seasonal flavor themes sprinkled throughout Root's menu: in a roasted peach and goat cheese salad, a peach panna cotta, and pickled cut fruit. It's a thoughtful inclusion in this cocktail, pairing perfectly with Jack's distinct corn and vanilla notes.
And no, you won't start seeing elephants after knocking back a few Lynchburg Peach Coolers. From our window seat at Root, we watched a line of circus elephants storming Julia Street, on their way to the riverside boxcars.
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Root Restaurant, 200 Julia Street, 252.9480