With such an abundance of sweet potatoes in our state, the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission has decided to mix things up and challenge bartenders to create drinks inspired by the state vegetable. It’s fitting considering North Carolina is the top producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, providing nearly half of our nation’s crop.
The N.C. Sweet Potato Commission is hosting “Sippin Sweets,” a cocktail promotion during the month of December. Bartenders will create and feature a craft cocktails using state-grown sweet potatoes as a main ingredient. Now when you’re at the local bar, you can point to a couple of health benefits found right in your glass thanks to the trusty root vegetable. After all, sweet potatoes average around 100 calories each and have more fiber than a bowl of oatmeal.
Mixologist Christopher Tamplin’s use of an original sweet potato simple syrup in his drinks served as the inspiration for “Sippin Sweets.” He currently crafts cocktails at the Fiction Kitchen in downtown Raleigh.
“Sweet potatoes are fun to work with in both a cocktail and culinary sense,” Tamplin says. “They have a great flavor on their own but also work well with both sweet and savory flavors and a lot of exotic spices.”
Not only is the food delicious at The Fiction Kitchen, which is known for serving fresh vegan and vegetarian cuisine, but the cocktails are inventive. Tamplin prefers to mix up the drinks based on the local availability of produce, and his cocktail menu changes with the seasons, just like Fiction Kitchen’s plate offerings. Tamplin will be featuring his “Tater In The Rye” cocktail during “Sippin Sweets” and has shared the recipe for you to try at home.
Tater In The Rye
Recipe by Christopher Tamplin of the Fiction Kitchen, Raleigh
1.5 ounces Bulleit rye whiskey
1 ounce sweet potato smoked paprika simple syrup
0.5 ounces lemon juice
7 drops of orange fig bitters from Crude Bitters of Raleigh
1 mint leaf
Place all ingredients in a shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a mint leaf.
Sweet Potato Smoked Paprika Simple Syrup
2 cups roasted and mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups brown sugar
1.5 cups water
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Add all ingredients to a saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Strain and let cool. Keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.