The alarm goes off, and in typical Sunday morning fashion, I press snooze at least three or four times. I call my buddy Jason, the chef-de-cuisine at FIG, to check in. We are going to the Charleston Cup this morning to represent my company (Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.), and he has agreed to help out. Plus, there is fancy dress, tasty food, and pretty women in it for us, so it makes it easier to rise early on our sacred day off. I ask him to bring bananas, because I have some peanut butter that I bought online that I wanted him to try - and bananas are the perfect vehicle for peanut butter. Feeling mighty fine today because horse racing is the optimal time to throw on your finest threads, and I picked up a bow tie for the occasion. I have a friend, Cooper Ray, who designs bow ties for Brooks Brothers under his label, Social Primer. And Cooper lives in Charleston, so I love to support. After I finish the banana toast, I spread some peanut butter on some cucumber slices, which is a move that Jason introduced me to. Put that on dark rye - it sounds weird, but it’s good as hell.
We leave the house, packing up my car with tonic, some Beefeater Gin, and some random snacks for the day, which I learn later we won’t need. We start heading to Hollywood, SC, only to realize a couple of minutes into the trip that I don’t have soda water or ice, which I will need for the bar. We stop at Harris Teeter and grab those sundries. We arrive at the track. Parking was tough, and we were lugging about 50 lbs of ice/coolers/goods each, so the trek was challenging. We watch the horse races, bet on the ponies, drink G&T’s, eat food, and generally make merry. We find the tent. Sweaty and exhausted. We take a bit to pound some prosecco, cool down, and eat some snacks. Friends swing by throughout the afternoon, the weather is perfect, and all feels right in the world.
On the way back into town I get a message from a friend that her mom is passing through town and has decided to fix a proper country feast. She asks me if I would like to join, and I respond with an enthusiastic “Hell yes.” In the interim, we’ve made plans to meet some friends at The Royal American for another cocktail once we hit downtown Charleston. We arrive, grab a bourbon and soda water, and take to the spacious patio. Our friends arrive - Liz Macpherson (from a previous SHWYD feature) and Harper Poe (the beautiful gal behind Proud Mary). We have a drink, laugh about an awesome inscription in the men’s bathroom, and then go our separate ways. I arrive at my friend Emmie’s house for dinner. At this point I’ve switched 100% to water. We chat as her mom puts the finishing touch on an incredible dinner that makes me feel like I’m back home in Kentucky. I go back for seconds, help clear the table, and then settle into the living room. I quickly realize that I’m getting very tired and excuse myself. Drive home. One roommate has returned from dinner with his girlfriend, and we decide to watch a movie. We surf HBO for a long time, mourning the lack of any good choice, and settle on a documentary about the annual competition in Cairo to find the student who has memorized the recitation of the Koran. It’s nice, but I’m tired, and…asleep.
Three Last Things…
1. What’s up with that painting behind your bookshelf?
I bought that piece in Austin, Texas, at a very cool store called Uncommon Objects. I’ve collected art since I was 15, but I can’t always afford a lot. That piece is from a barbershop in Africa. It’s a brilliant, hand-painted piece that I would certainly call folk art, and it was a steal. There were two more, but I didn’t have the dough.
2. Why tonic?
The goal of the company is to take classics of the American bar and remake them for a modern audience. Imagine going to visit your grandparents and opening their liquor cabinet: tonic, grenadine, etc. We want to take those things, rework them, and re-introduce them to a younger audience. Tonic was a natural first start because I love gin, and a classic G&T is loved the world around. In short, I loved gin but had access to no good tonic, so I decided to make my own. When people responded favorably, I thought I might try to sell it. And it worked.
3. Cucumber & peanut butter on rye? Give us another one your master PB recipes to try.
The classic is peanut butter and banana. I probably eat 3 or 4 of those a day. Peanut butter spread on “Digestive Biscuits” from England is spot on, and when I’m with my son, pretzels in peanut butter or animal crackers in peanut butter never ceases to please us both.