Low Proof Jams and All Day Plans

            When the word “Summertime” is mentioned, the first things people think of are outdoor adventures, refreshing beverages, and picnic food.  These are things we excel at in the South.  Dating back to the days of steamboats and parasols, we Southerners have been trying to perfect ways to stay cool during the unbearable heat Mother Nature forces us to endure in exchange for mild winters. Therefore, we have become proficient in less boozy options in order to maintain the party without wilting too quickly.  When thinking of fun in the sun, Spritzes and Cobblers can be your best friends.  All day plans require preparation and the best way to last until the end of the night is to make sure you’re having just enough fun. 

People began retiring to Verandas to take their afternoon refreshment in the days before air conditioning because it was the only place where you might catch a breeze and not feel so stifled.  These are the days that begat Juleps and Cobblers. Pebble or “cobbled ice” creates the most surface area keeping your beverage as cold as possible. Therefore, you could still enjoy things like Sherries and Vermouths as Aperitifs even though you were beneath the insufferable blanket of summer heat.  These fortified wines were usually holdovers from shipments brought in during cooler months. Making the most out of what is already on hand is a Southerner’s best trait.


Vermouths, Sherries, Madeiras, and Ports all lend themselves so easily to blending that they make great bedfellows with fresh juices, herbs, and bubbly delights.  Another huge plus in their favor is that they are substantial enough to be the base to cocktails though they are lower in ABV than their spirituous counterparts. Ports and Madeiras are wonderful alternatives to darker spirits like Whisk(e)y and Rums because of their fuller bodies and higher proofs. By contrast, Dry Vermouths and Sherries are great substitutes for clear spirits.  Fortified wines have been supplicating the party for a long time.


When paired together, fuller fruits and drier sprits make some of the tastiest libations. The South sees an abundance of fresh produce. Being afforded the luxury of so many delicious fruits and berries means that a plentitude of delicious syrups and shrubs are created to be perfect foils for some of summer’s favorite players like a dry, crisp Fino Sherry or Dry Vermouth. Some great examples of these refreshing beverages are usually something like White Port and Tonic or a Vermouth Cobbler.


All in all, these fortified wines have a long and storied history that is clear to see why they are so beloved in the South. Throughout the centuries, we have been perfecting the best way to throw the greatest parties and these “friends” have been there cheering us on.  It is undeniable that the South is hotter and more humid than any other part of the country and yet we still have the sweetest palates. And yet, we find ways to temper that sweetness that is craved through fresh fruits paired with these fortified wines in a way to make the best of what is available.  Partnering with low proof jams is always the best idea when trying to win the race in the all day plans game of life.


Upcoming Dinners

Swingshift is happy to announce the following dinners:
March 4th with Victor King
March 6th with Wil Drake
MArch 7th with Robin Bashinsky
March 11th with John Hall
Each dinner will be $50 for 3 courses including alcohol.
To reserve a spot, please email swingshiftpopup@gmail.com.
When requesting a seat, please also include any dietary restrictions in you email. We are happy to accommodate vegetarians with notice.

Jan 31st Swingshift Dinner with Robin Bashinsky

Swingshift had a great dinner on Saturday, Jan. 31st with Robin Bashinsky cooking. Dinner included three courses, each paired with a wine or cocktail. The first course was Cauliflower Soup with Worcestershire Shiitake Mushrooms and Brioche Breadcrumbs, paired with Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc. Second course was a great winter treat of Roasted Lamb Chop and Braised Lamb Shoulder on a base of Harissa with Fennel and Golden Beets. We finished off the dinner with Pistachio Ice Cream Sundae with ice cream made from our friends at Big Spoon Creamery.



Upcoming Dinners

Swingshift will be doing the following dinners over the next month.

Feb.4th with John Hall
Feb.20 with Robin Bashinsky
Menus will be posted closer to each date. Seats go quickly so if you’d like to come to one of these dinners, please email your name, number of seats, and any dietary restrictions to swingshiftpopup@gmail.com. We are happy to accommodate vegetarian or vegan with notice.

Swingshift Popup Dinner with Robin Bashinsky Jan. 17th.

Swingshift will host a popup dinner with guest chef Robin Bashinsky onJan. 17th. Robin honed his skills while working for Chris Hastings at Hot and Hot Fish Club. He now cooks in the test kitchen at Cooking Light.

What: Popup Dinner Jan. 17th. 3 course dinner paired with alcohol.

When: Start arriving at 7:30 for punch and amuse. Sit down for dinner at 8pm.

Where: Phoenix Lofts in studio 410. 1710 2nd Ave N

How much: $50(cash only, please), tips never hurt anyone’s feelings

What else do I need to bring: Just your appetite and a sense of culinary adventure.

How do I reserve a spot: Reply to this email(swingshiftpopup@gmail.com) with the number of seats that you’d like and any dietary restrictions. Seating is limited, so reply quickly.

Swingshift dinner Oct.6

Swingshift Dinner Oct. 6


Swingshift will host it’s first vegetarian dinner on Oct. 6. Robin Bashinsky has prepared a great menu to usher in fall.

The Menu

Amuse: Homemade Tofu, BBQ Plum Sauce, Sesame Chips


Course One: Roasted Fennel, Beets, and Grapefruit with Goat Cheese Dressing


Course Two: Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower with Kale and Red Eye Gravy

Rum Cocktail

Course Three: Ginger Poached Bosc Pear, Chocolate Sorbet

Digestif Cocktail

Dinner Details:

  1. When–Oct. 6, start arriving at 7:30, sit down for dinner at 8pm.
  2. Where–Spring St. Firehouse 412 41st St S 35222 in Avondale
  3. How much–$50 including food and alcohol(cash only please, tips never hurt anyone’s feelings)
  4. Do I need to bring anything else–just an appetite and sense of culinary adventure
  5. How do I get in–email swingshiftpopup@gmail.com to reserve a space.

Introducing Swingshift Popup

Swingshift is a monthly Monday night Popup dinner featuring a different Chef each month. Monday is the perfect day in Birmingham for a Popup since so little is open. So please join us for a Monday night dinner among friends and meet Birmingham’s up and coming Chefs as they get to do fun and experimental things. Steva Casey will be making and drinks and talking about wine for each dinner.

The details: Mondays. 14 seats. 4 courses including alcohol. $50

Way to sign up: email your contact info to