I’m not sure how this slipped through the cracks, but I forgot to let you know September was National Bourbon Heritage Month. By a unanimous vote on Aug. 2, 2007, the U.S. Senate passed a bill declaring September the month for celebrating the red whiskey. Fitting we have a month for my favorite liquor. It took a literal act of Congress in 1964 to declare it “America’s Native Spirit.”

In Mobile we start hitting the bottle when football season begins, but the true bourbon season down here is when temps reside in the sub-60-degree range. You need a sweater. Why not try a sweater you wear on the inside? That’s what bourbon is to me.

The aforementioned bill was sponsored by Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, and we largely associate bourbon with the Bluegrass State. Some of you may believe bourbon has to be from Kentucky, most notably Bourbon County. You hear all kinds of claims about this. Truth is it must be made in the United States. Geographically that is the only rule.

For bourbon to be called bourbon, it must be distilled from a mix comprising 51 percent to 79 percent corn. The other grains used are either rye or wheat. It must be aged in new charred white oak barrels — from this country — for at least two years. Many go longer, resulting in a richer color and flavor.

Some Tennessee whiskeys are prohibited from being called bourbon simply because the wood they use for aging doesn’t meet the above criteria. Some may be filtered or stress aged.

So why do the more popular ones come from Kentucky? Well, my guess would first be that it’s because that’s the birthplace of bourbon. A lot of Kentucky distillers claim the limestone spring water gives their product an unmatched flavor. Whatever the truth may be, as a fairly serious bourbon drinker I must say almost all of my bourbons originated there.

September is in the rear-view mirror, but I am just getting started in the bourbon season. Celebrate the month responsibly, bring on the recipes, the hard-to-find labels, find a friend to share it with.

Andy’s favorite bourbon cocktail recipe
2 fingers of bourbon (preferably Woodford Reserve, Pure Kentucky, Willet, Conecuh Ridge, Elijah Craig, Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark or equivalent quality).


Light fuse and get away.

Mellow Mushroom offers pizza delivery
If it’s spring water dough you want, it’s spring water dough you’ll get, in person at the restaurant or on your sofa. Good news for those living between the boundaries of McGregor Boulevard and Downtown. Mellow Mushroom on Airport Boulevard near the Loop is now delivering.

It’s teamed up with Dapper Deliveries to bring you hot stuff from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. for orders exceeding $25. You’ll have a Tie Dye and a Philosopher’s Pie for a $3 delivery charge. Delivery times depend on when your order is placed. Call 251-471-4700 and ask for Ben. Tell him what you want.

Oyster business is all shucked up
It is with heavy heart that I announce to you that Wintzell’s closed its Eastern Shore Center location last Sunday. Luckily for the team members, the company was able transfer them to other locations.

“Our team is outstanding, and we are very glad to keep them on board with us at a different unit,” said Frank Hall, vice president of operations for Wintzell’s.

The announcement comes following exciting (but unrelated) news that Wintzell’s 10th location is set to open in Fultondale, Alabama, by May 2016. The new restaurant boasts 5,500 square feet and will seat 150 guests in the dining room, oyster bar and banquet hall. It will employ 75 individuals, so if you’re headed north have your application ready by spring.

As for the Eastern Shore Center, rumor is Half Shell is looking to take over the lease. More on that story as it develops. Join me as I continue to shellebrate the shellabration at the other locations.

Rockefeller closes
Schillinger Road is now shy one less oyster-serving restaurant. Oysters Rockefeller Bar and Grill announced via Facebook Sept. 21 that it has closed its doors permanently, saying the owner has elected to redistribute his time into other projects. I never like to hear of closings, especially where oysters are concerned.

North American Oyster Showcase
Finally some good oyster news! Every I turn around, the Hangout is making another addition to its 2015 Oyster Cook Off. We naturally brag about the oysters from the Gulf of Mexico, but growers in our region will have to put their money where their mouths are for the North American Oyster Showcase.

An esteemed panel of judges will taste oysters flown in from six regions and driven in from one. You might guess the Pacific Northwest, New England, the Maritimes, British Columbia, the Mid-Atlantic,and the Baja Peninsula are the ones flown in. I’ve been wrong before, but I’m pretty certain the Gulf of Mexico oysters can get here without air travel.

You don’t have to be a judge to savor the flavor. Find your favorite oyster by visiting the North American Oyster Bar at this year’s cook off, Nov. 6 and 7.