8 Franklin Cocktails That Will Make You Raise a Toast
Franklin, Tennessee is well known for its civil war era history, beautiful rolling hills, and vibrant downtown. However, another attraction you won’t want to miss during your stay is the wide variety of unique cocktails. We have concocted a list of the most popular libations in the area that capture the history and flavor of Franklin. From whiskey to tequila and every spirit in between, it’s safe to say the art of cocktail making is alive and well in this thriving Tennessee town.
Gray’s “Anthem Spirit”
Sipping on a cocktail at Gray’s On Main magically transports you back to the Golden Age of Cocktails. This is the era when all of the classics were created and quite possibly the best bartending the world has ever seen. Gray’s bar program pulls the simplistic methods from that time period by incorporating housemaid syrups, only the freshest squeezed juice, and using ice molds to create beautiful ice spheres. Gray’s is usually the first place a local will tell you to visit in historic downtown Franklin because it is located in a Victorian building formerly known as the Gray Drug Co. which was a landmark pharmacy for nearly a century. The Anthem Spirit is another claim to fame for this prohibition-style restaurant; it’s a one of a kind cocktail, explicitly created for this unique spot. This delicious elixir was named “The South’s Best Cocktail,” by Southern Living Magazine and it is, of course, one of Gray’s best sellers.
This deceptively, velvety smooth concoction begins with a healthy pour of 1776 James Pepper Rye Whiskey, which brings a peppery, fig note. The drink also incorporates a distilled apricot liquor, an Italian liquor called Cynar which adds a slightly bitter quality, Benectitine, and house-made Chai Bitters. Stirring this mixture instead of shaking it allows the cocktail to remain rich and dense, without incorporating air. It’s poured over one of Gray’s signature ice spheres, and a lemon peel is squeezed over the drink and used as a simple garnish. It’s decadent without being too heavy, and almost too easy to sip. This one packs a punch!
Oh Be Joyful – Manhattan
Franklin is known for its rich history, specifically the Battle of Franklin during the Civil War. During that period, people would often say “have a glass of Oh Be Joyful.” That old phrase was slang for a glass of “homebrew” or moonshine, which is actually whiskey before it’s aged. The owners of this late-night bar, reminiscent of a speakeasy, have paid tribute to that civil war history giving it the name Oh Be Joyful. It’s undoubtedly the place to go for a proper nightcap in downtown Franklin. America’s Spirit is the name of the game here, with over 200 whiskeys in house. The whiskey connoisseur will be in heaven studying the collection behind the bar and chatting with the knowledgable bartenders.
It seems fitting to order a classic cocktail here, and you can’t go wrong with a Manhattan. For the wine drinker, the Manhattan is a gateway cocktail of sorts into the whiskey world. The Manhattan at Oh Be Joyful uses Sazerac Rye Whiskey as the base spirit. Then one ounce of Italian, sweet vermouth which adds a sweet milk chocolate note, and two dashes of orange bitters. Fun fact, the ratio for the drink is “212,” which is also the area code for Manhattan where the drink, obviously, gets its name. This sophisticated, nostalgic cocktail is finished beautifully with an orange twist.
Gray’s “Butter Me Up”
Notes of smooth milk chocolate, walnut, and salted butterscotch make this drink a must-try for the Fall and Winter months in downtown Franklin. Gray’s on Main’s “Butter Me Up” is what sweater weather dreams are made of. It all starts with infusing browned butter into the rum, which as you can imagine, gives this the silkiest quality. The addition of Demorora syrup, which is a rich, sugar in the raw syrup and Creme de Cacao, from Post Modern Spirits out of Chatanooga, gives this a luxurious quality. Black Walnut bitters add a hint of nuttiness and a few drops of saline amplify the buttery, sweetness. As expected, this drink is stirred, not shaken to keep the density, and it’s poured over an ice sphere. To brighten up this cocktail, the bartender squeezes an orange peel over the glass and drops it in as a garnish.
Gray’s does it again with this buttered rum cocktail that you’ll be raving about all night long.
Cork and Cow – Stop and Frisk
Cork and Cow is the spot for fine steaks and award-winning cocktails in downtown Franklin. This elegantly decorated steakhouse has over 20 different cocktails on the menu created in house. One of the local favorites is the Stop and Frisk, which was created for a special Valentines Dinner menu, catchy right? It was so popular that it has stayed on the menu for years and I, for one, hope it never leaves. It all started with a raspberry sous vide infused vodka, which allows the spirit to take on an intense raspberry flavor and eye-catching, bright pink color. The drink is sweetened with a house-made pineapple gimme syrup and balanced out with mint and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The mixture is shaken and poured into a coupe cocktail glass before its topped with a little bubbly. The gorgeous drink is garnished with a lemon peel, making it almost too pretty to drink. However, one sip and you quickly realize why this cocktail is popular. It’s light, refreshing, and certainly not too sweet. This is a delightful happy hour drink after a day of exploring all that Franklin has to offer.
Cork and Cow – Mr. Hyde
The folks at Cork and Cow believe that the art-making of a great cocktail is not only about the ingredients and process of mixing, it’s also imperative to give the drink a memorable name. One of the creative ways they have gone about finding inspiration is looking through the names famous rodeo bulls; it is a steakhouse after all. This is precisely where the name Mr. Hyde came from, and it’s oh so fitting. Mr. Hyde is a spirit-forward drink that has been on the menu for more than five years, and it’s certainly appropriate for the guest looking for an Old Fashioned.
The drink features Belle Meade Bourbon with a high rye content and a hint of spice. The additions of Ancho Reyes which is an ancho chili liquor, Lazzaroni Amerretto for a hint of nuttiness, and Gomme syrup to emulsify the drink, create impeccable balance. The cocktail is classically stirred and garnished with an orange peel. This one has a luscious, silky mouthfeel while maintaining a bright balance. There is no doubt that Mr. Hyde, the bull, would be proud of his namesake.
Mojo’s Tacos – Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita
For a change of scenery, head over to The Factory at Franklin where you will find a hip little taco joint known as Mojo’s Tacos. If you’re looking for a good margarita on a date night or with the whole family, this is the perfect setting any occasion. As you walk through the door, you’ll be greeted by a large painting of Mojo, the bull who is a “pet” of a co-owner of this establishment. After ordering your favorite tacos, and of course, some house-made chips and salsa, grab a seat at the expansive bar.
You’ll have to choose from a wide variety of tempting margaritas, but you must try the Cucumber Margarita if you want a kick! It begins with fresh cucumber and jalapeño infused Blanco tequila, made in-house of course. This process brings out the cucumber’s natural sweetness, so there isn’t a need for too many added sweeteners. You could liken this to an intensely flavorful, skinny margarita. To round out the flavors, the bartender adds a little Agave syrup, an orange liquor called Clement, and cold-pressed lime juice from Franklin Juice Co. As always the mixture is shaken and garnished with fresh sliced cucumber and jalapeño. I feel the need, the need for heat!
Ruby Sunshine – Bacon Bloody Mary
What better way to get your day started than with hearty kick from a Bacon Bloody Mary from Ruby Sunshine. This New Orleans Inspired restaurant captures the essence of the city with a high energy atmosphere, jazz music, and the owners’ favorite dishes from The Big Easy.
The Bacon Bloody Mary is a top seller that begins with house-infused bacon vodka. The bacon sits in the vodka for five days, and then it’s cooled and drained of the excess fat. It’s rich and slightly smokey without being overpowering. Next is their secret recipe containing Ruby Sunshine’s signature spice mix combined with tomato juice. The brunch cocktail is served upright with pickled green beans, a slice of lemon and lime, a green olive, and a slice of apple smoked bacon. Good morning sunshine!
Ruby Sunshine – Brandy Milk Punch
The Brandy Milk Punch at Ruby Sunshine is one of downtown Franklin’s best-kept secrets! This creamy, brunch cocktail is a classic in New Orleans during the holidays and Mardi Gras, and after tasting it, we can see why. Milk Punch is comparable to a lighter boozy milkshake, and the people of Nola have been drinking it for centuries.
This indulgent libation begins with brandy which is mixed with milk, half and half, simple syrup, and vanilla extract. The creamy elixir gets a good shake which gives the drink a frothy consistency, and it’s finished traditionally with a sprinkling of nutmeg.