Archive for July, 2011


July 17, 2011

The Summer of 2011 is proving to be a record-breaking scorcher in Birmingham and much of The South. The stultifying heat inspired Southernness to dream of a signature “Birmingham Cooler” libation. As we began talking with local bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts we asked the question, “What is essential for THE Birmingham cocktail?” The overwhelming answer was two required elements: 1) The Birmingham Cocktail has to be cold, because it’s frequently so danged hot. And, 2) it has to have a refreshing splash of local, Buffalo Rock Southern Spice Ginger Ale.

Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale, a true Southern Original, was concocted in Birmingham around 1901. The original spice recipe came from a Selma druggist, Ashby Coleman, who used it to soothe the stomach cramps of Confederate soldiers. After the War Between The States, that “recent unpleasantness” as it was called, druggist Coleman’s daughter, Minnie, married Sidney Wood Lee of Birmingham and introduced the Lee Family to the recipe. The Lees added peppy carbonation to the the spicey, peppery blend and another Southern, soft drink dynasty was born.

Silvertron Cafe, a long-established, Birmingham watering-hole and Southernness favorite, is introducing the Buffalo Rock-centric “Birmingham Cocktail” later this week. The whole city will be voting on a name for the drink and deciding the exact formulation. You’ll be the first to know this new “Southern Original” on the Southernness blog and we’ll try to get Silvertron to let us share the recipe. What we can guarantee you is whatever the selected drink is, it’s gonna be cooling and it’s gonna have uplifting, Southern original, Buffalo Rock.

Y’all Be Y’all,

Ben South at Southernness



July 11, 2011

If you want to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, there couldn’t be too many ways more satisfying than playing one of the many hit records of “The Happy Goodman Family.”  The group had wonderful harmony but Miz Vestal was the undisputed star and “The Queen of Southern Gospel” with a mile-high, gravity-defying hairdo crown and a big, glorious voice to match.    
Vestal Goodman was from up in Sand Mountain, Alabama not far from our family farm.  When she was a young girl, she toyed with joining the Metropolitan Opera but then she got the spirit to do something more original for the glory of God.  Anytime y’all need a pick-me-up, youtube Miz V singing “Wouldn’t Take Nothin’ For My Journey, Now,” or my favorite is her playful sing-off with famed tenor, Johnny Cook, on “Lookin’ For A City.”  Vestal Goodman died just a few years ago in a Southern town called, Celebration, after a loving family, Christmas homecoming.  Long live “The Queen.”

Y’all Be Y’all,
Ben South at Southernness


July 5, 2011

Mississippi produces potters like Italy produces saints, but at the top of the mudpile is the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” George E. Ohr.  Certainly, with his bugged eyes and his mustache wrapped around his head and tied in the back, this father of American Abstract-Expressionism looked the part.  Ohr, the son of a German blacksmith up from New Orleans, was born in Biloxi in 1857 and died there in 1918 after flingin’ 10,000 pots.
All Southern Originals don’t have the advanced case of eccentricity of George Ohr nor necessarily his celebrated creative gifts.  During his lifetime, folks thought he was crazy for asking $25, the equivalent of $500 today for his wildly experimental ceramics.  He may not have been twisted, but his art was.  Ohr pottery is a magical, mystical mashup of adventurous glazes and pinched, often asymmetrical forms.  George Ohr dug much of the clay he used from the same pottery pits originally used by native Mississippians.  At Southernness, we dig this Southern Original and would welcome him to make a mudpie in the Love Y’all Forever Cafe and day of the week and wouldn’t even require a mustache net.
The Ohr-OKeefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, designed to showcase a large collection of Ohr’s “madmud,” is a new work of art itself.  An imaginative cluster of pinched-form buildings comprise the museum campus designed by American “starchitect,” Frank Gehry.  Plan your trip beginning at
Y’all Be Y’all,
Ben South at Southernness