by Kevin Barrett, cocktail director at Foundation
photographs by Jillian Clark
Did you know North Carolina is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S.? I didn’t. It provides over 40 percent of the domestic supply. North Carolina is my adopted home state, and I have no farming background, so yeah, I didn’t know that.
Did you know you could make a sweet potato cocktail for your family and friends for Thanksgiving? I did. Did you know it’s delicious? I’m winning.
Last year, when Congress shut down the government, I was thinking about how to put North Carolina’s most beloved crop into a cocktail. I came up with sweet potatoes, rum, a whole egg, and pumpkin pie spice.
I know what you’re thinking: “Kevin Barrett, what’s wrong with you?” There are too many things wrong with me to mention in this column, but trust me: This drink is delicious. I’m not going to lie – it’s prep intensive, a bit complicated, and family and friends will underappreciate the hard work it requires. So it screams of Thanksgiving.
Start with one large sweet potato. I boil it first, then peel off the skin like the paper around a sticky bun. You can peel it and chop it before you boil it, but my way is the Native American way, I think.
Pierce the potato with a fork to check for tenderness. If it falls right off the fork, it’s ready. Add a teaspoon of brown sugar and a couple dashes of pumpkin pie spice, then mash that tater. You can stop here and serve this delectable mashed sweet potato (Barrett family secret) next to the turkey if you want to impress your Aunt Mildred, but I recommend adding one cup of simple syrup and whisking the mix until combined.
There’s one last step before you give thanks for finally being done. Pour the syrup through a sieve and use your whisk to push the potato solids through it. You’ll have some sweet potato left in the sieve, but the syrup will thicken as you whisk the ingredients through. Chill your concoction and expect it to keep for 3 or 4 days.
The first time I made this mixture I flambéed the sweet potatoes and other ingredients with 151 proof rum. That was fun, but I don’t recommend it unless you’re a trained chef or have protective body wear, especially eyebrow protection.
Sweet Home Carolina
1½ – 2 ounces your favorite light rum (depending on how much you love your family)
¾ ounces your famous sweet potato Syrup (read the story)
1 whole egg
Add all ingredients in shaker and shake vigorously for ten seconds. Add ice and shake again. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and top with a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Don’t just plop it on there. Make it pretty. Your Grandpappy, or PopPop, or MeeMom, or Nana will be beside themselves.