Letter from the Editor: Drink Up, Atlanta Vol: 88

June 1, 2012

We’ve seen events combining food, culture, and music popping up lately, and it’s a mash-up StarChefs.com can certainly support. In fact, we’ve been on board all year, planning our 38th Rising Stars Gala with artwork added into the mix for the first time. Teaming up with the Goat Farm Arts Center, we’re putting local artist David Baerwalde and The Bonaventure Quartet in the spotlight for our night of good food and good friends.

I’m so jazzed to be going back to Atlanta next week, where we’ll toast the newest class of Rising Stars with its own local liquid culture. In our tastings, we sipped a slew of unforgettable drinks—from beer and wine to cocktails and coffee. But Atlanta’s drinks scene wasn’t always this potent. During our 2007 Rising Star tastings, a trio of talented mixologist friends (Andy Minchow, Greg Best, and Regan Smith), along with Pegu Club alum and 2007 Atlanta Rising Star Mixolgist Eric Simpkins, were the lone stars in the city’s virtually nonexistent beverage scene. Today, Atlanta is heating up with every craft drink imaginable.

In large part, we have craft brewers to thank. Through their efforts to change Georgia’s Blue laws, the city now has new, looser regulations that allow for Sunday alcohol sales, higher alcohol content, and brew pub sales. Atlanta’s beer production is branching out (and up, in terms of ABV), moving to a community of young start-ups and home brewers turned pro. (Join us at the gala on June 13 to find out who won our 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Brewer award.)

Atlanta’s mixologists and sommeliers now have a lot more resources at their fingertips—including a number of new mezcal and wine varieties—in part due to the drive of local distributor Joe Best of Quality Wine and Spirits. And it’s helped pack the city’s upscale-casual restaurants with a talented group, pouring drinks we can’t get enough of. Which is to say, move over Coca-Cola, there’s a whole new beverage game in town.

At 4th & Swift, our 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Sommelier Seth Roskind takes full advantage of the new bounty, focusing on the harder-to-find and lesser-known grapes. Not that we needed another reason to imbibe in the ATL with 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Mixologist Miles Macquarrie inspiring new drinks and paving the way for his new digs, and a new amaro bar we can’t wait to try at 2012 Atlanta Rising Star Restaurateur Brian Lewis’ STG Trattoria.

If you want to skip the strong stuff, Atlanta also has an emerging coffee scene. Replacing corporate java shops, a handful of dedicated baristas and roasters are showing off small plantation beans, creative coffee drinks, and just the right mix of traditional and modernist brewing techniques. And the city can’t get enough of the quality caffeine, which is why we decided to honor one outstanding barista among the Atlanta Rising Stars.

For your very own sip of the New South, come celebrate Atlanta’s Rising Stars. Sign up for your tickets before we sell out! And keep your nominations for chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists, and sommeliers coming. We'll soon travel to coastal New England, San Francisco, and DC. For real-time updates on our whereabouts and meals, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Antoinette Bruno