Shaking Up Birmingham’s Distillery Scene: The Rise of Dread River

That’s the kind of fresh thinking that’s shaking up the bar scene in Birmingham, Alabama. It wasn’t too long ago that if you walked into a local bar, the most exciting choice was whether to have your Miller Lite in a bottle or a glass. But times have changed, and now, you’re just as likely to find a cocktail list as long as your arm featuring drinks you might have to Google to understand. That’s a huge jump for the folks in Birmingham, according to Cocktails with Friends guest John Cubelic.

The city’s got a new vibe these days. It’s not just about the BBQ anymore—though that’ll always be a big part of it. Birmingham now has restaurants that are drawing foodies from all over, like the Dread River Distilling Company.

Dread River Distilling Company is breaking new ground, stirring up the first bourbon in Birmingham since, well, forever. They’re not just following the old distillery playbook. They’ve got a tasting room that’s as much a cozy hangout as it is a bar and restaurant. And they’re doing it all under Alabama’s tight alcohol laws, which say you can only serve what you make. But instead of seeing that as a hurdle, Dread River took it as a challenge to get creative.

They’re mixing up their own syrups, squeezing their own juices, and brewing up cordials right there in the kitchen. So when you sip one of their cocktails, you’re not just tasting the usual bar fare; you’re getting something that’s all Birmingham.

And since we’re talking fall, let’s get into the spirit with a cocktail that’s got all the warmth and comfort of a Southern hug. Imagine this: you’re sitting out on the porch, there’s a chill in the air, and you’ve got your hands wrapped around a glass that’s got a bit of that Dread River magic in it. It’s the kind of drink that makes you want to slow down and savor the moment—maybe with a plate of BBQ on the side, because why not?

Here is how to make it: 

  • 1.5 oz. Dread River Bourbon
  • .5 oz. Toasted Marshmallow Syrup
  • .5 oz. BroVo Amaro Macquarrie (project amaro)(can replace with Montenegro)
  • 1 bar spoon Guajillo bitters
  • 1 bar spoon Cacao bitters

So, whether you’re a whiskey enthusiast or a cocktail aficionado, we invite you to join us on our Cocktails with Friends podcast, where we share insider tips, secret recipes, and engaging conversations with fellow enthusiasts of fine food and drink.