Author Denise Gee comes from a long line of Southerners who like to imbibe. Growing up in Natchez, Mississippi, she observed her fair share of Southern belles and seersuckered gentlemen with drink in hand. Eventually, cocktail hour became a distinctly personal and cultural experience for Gee, who set out to share it with others. The result is Southern Cocktails, which recounts the history and traditions of social drinking in the American South and includes some creative and tasty recipes.

In addition to the staples of any good Southern happy hour, from the classic mint julep served in a silver cup to the more modern martini, Gee also offers twists on other popular totties like the Long Island Iced Tea’s Dixie cousin, the High Tea. Other drinks, such as the Guava Mama or the Blueberry Martini, she developed herself or was introduced to by a friend. Each recipe is accompanied by either its history or a personal anecdote, with an occasional in-depth discussion of the South’s most beloved spirits or the subtle differences between bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. Not merely a list of bar recipes, Southern Cocktails also includes appetizer recipes as well as advice on the necessary liquors, dishes, and accessories that can turn any pantry into the ideal Southern bar.

Some Southern suggestions:
Creole Bloody Mary
Scarlett O’Hara
Watermelon Crush
Apple JouJou
Derby Cooler
The Bee’s Knees
Sloe Gin Ricky
Beer-Battered String Beans With Righteous Rémoulade Sauce
Shrimp in Stoles With Dr Pep BBQ Sauce