This past weekend, I traveled to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to celebrate my buddy Nick’s new job in Detroit. He introduced me to not only a very tasty BBQ pit, but also my dream bar that I’ve deemed “Whisky Heaven” until someone takes its place. Located in historic downtown
Florence, Alabama, Odette’s is a wonderful neighborhood farm to table eatery and bar. We’d just filled our stomachs with ribs and wings before arriving so I don’t have anything to say about the food but their menu does look promising. Nick swore by their cheeseburger. We came to drink, specifically bourbon. First of all, I’d never been to a bar with this many bourbons on hand before. My face lit up as soon as we walked in the door and I saw so much brown liquor. Odette’s has an upscale feel to it. It’s a lovely place for a drink date. Brian Lovejoy was our dapper dressed bartender for the evening and the master behind their 15 item cocktail menu.
I started with a shot of Elmer T. Lee’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Our bartender picked this shot for us and it was pretty good. There wasn’t anything special about the nose or taste of it, but the finish was warm and long lasting. That was my first time having Elmer T. Lee’s and I’d definitely recommend it for drinking straight.
My next drink was the “Vieux Carré.” The cocktail was invented in 1938 by Walter Bergeron, head bartender at the famous Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans, and is named after the French Quarter. My Vieux Carré was a delicious blend of Bulleit rye, Hennessy VS, Carpano Antica Vermouth Benedictine, and Angostura & Peychaud’s bitters. My drink was the only one that didn’t come with a straw out of everything my friends had already ordered. I expected it to be hard hitting and got a juicy sweetness instead. I loved this cocktail and it took everything in me not to drink it all in one big gulp.
My friends ordered “Boots With the Fur” which the bartender accurately described as “Christmas in a cup,” the “Corpse Reviver #2”, “Time is a Circus,” and the “Smokestack Lightening.” I did get to try the “Smokestack Lightening” (Vida Mezcal • Drambuie • Carpano Antica Vermouth lemon • Jack Rudy grenadine • soda) and it was pretty much what the name suggested. It’s what I’d imagine a Capri Sun mixed with liquid smoke would taste like. There was a weird airy smoke flavor that didn’t remind you of anything burnt. It was surprisingly tolerable after eating a smoked wing and rib platter, I must say.
Please, please, please (in my James Brown voice), if you’re ever in the general proximity of Florence, AL visit Odette’s. It’s a precious little gem outside the big cities of Alabama worth recognition. Also if you have $250 to blow on a shot, they have bottle #534 of 1000 of the highest rated and rarest bourbon on Earth, A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Reserve distilled in the Spring of 1974.