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A Southern Sip from Franklin, Tennessee's GRAY'S on Main

Anthym Spirit, served at GRAY'S on Main in Franklin, Tennessee | Photo: Ron Manville

As warmer days roll in without frigid interruption, the world seems to hum with renewed energy—days stretch longer, and we enthusiastically seek ways to step outside and fill the extra sunlit hours. One of the most divine employments of this solar-powered spirit: willing yourself to slow down and lap up the flavor of the season.

Jon Yeager, bar director at Franklin, Tennessee's GRAY'S on Main, knows a thing or two about rejuvenated spirits, as well as encapsulating seasonal delights. With the bar program he and his wife Lindsay have developed at GRAY'S, Yeager aims to honor the cultural heritage of the area through celebrating vintage spirits and peak-season offerings. Using house-made bitters and tonics in flavors like lavender, magnolia, earl grey, and lemongrass, Yeager has crafted a spring cocktail menu of classic Americana beverages featuring fresh, and often definitively southern, twists. In order to help us slip/sip our way into spring, Yeager has shared one such cocktail, the Anthym Spirit, featuring his signature magnolia bitters.

ANTHYM SPIRIT Courtesy of GRAY's on Main in downtown Franklin, Tenn. Bar Director John Yeager conjures a smoky and floral take on the classic Manhattan with his distinctive magnolia bitters. A few drops of Yeager’s concoction—it's infused with Angelica root and dried orange peel—and the whiskey drink is elevated with the sweetness of the Southern white flower. The honeyed mixture, which centers on dried petals of magnolia blossoms has hints of citrus enveloped into its creamy blend, is added to James E Pepper rye, Rothman & Winter apricot, Benedictine and Cynar to produce the Anthym Spirit—a smoky and botanical spirit that provides a 19th-century twist to the standard cocktail.

Ingredients 1 1/2oz James E Pepper rye whiskey 3/4oz Rothman & Winter Apricot 1/2oz Cynar 1/4oz Benedictine 2 dashes Angostura Bitters 4 drops magnolia bitters (recipe below)

Stir all ingredients with ice for 30 seconds.  Strain over large ice cube and garnish with expressed lemon zest.

MAGNOLIA BITTERS RECIPE 1 cup vodka Dried petals of 2 magnolia blossoms (13-17 leaves) 1 teaspoon Angelica root 1 teaspoon dried orange peel

Combine all ingredients into a quart-size mason jar and let steep for 6 weeks.  Strain and use by the measure of drops.