Every year when the S.C. State Fair comes to town, people’s mouths instinctively start to water in anticipation of food and treats.
From cotton candy to funnel cakes to new offerings like deep-fried mini cinnamon roll pops, the fair is a trove of caloric riches that folks love to splurge on.
Even when the fair rolls out of town, you can get many of its flavors in a cocktail.
We asked several Columbia bars for drink ideas that embody the fun, excitement and (sugar) rush that the annual fair brings. Drink it all in!
Motor Supply: Smoky and the Bandit
“It’s like watermelon candy with a whiskey kick,” said Josh Streetman, head bartender at Motor Supply Co. Bistro. and overall craft cocktail enthusiast. “I use our awesome Bradford watermelons in a shrub to add a bit of summer nostalgia to a smokier autumn drink. We spritz a rocks glass with smoked and peated whiskey, add Russell’s Reserve 10-year bourbon, lemon, honey and a half-ounce of watermelon shrub. While still available, I’m garnishing this drink with compressed salted watermelon cubes made by tossing watermelon and sea salt in a pressure vacuum, concentrating the flavor of the melon and removing excess air from the structure of the fruit.” 920 Gervais St. (803) 256-6687, www.motorsupplycobistro.com
Taneyhill’s Group Therapy: Jolly Rancher shots
“All of our Jolly Rancher shots taste like something you’d get from the fair, said Cedric Johnson, one of the bar managers. “We have apple, grape and watermelon puckers, so we can do three to four flavors. It’s a vodka-based shot, and then we add in our flavor puckers, which gives it that Jolly Rancher flavor. The most popular is the watermelon.” 2107 Greene St. (803) 256-1203, www.facebook.com/grouptherapyfivepoints
SakiTumi: Raspberry Lemon Drop and Ecstasy martinis
“The raspberry lemon drop martini begins with a sugar-rimmed glass,” bartender Jackie Meyers said. “From there, Absolut Raspberry and Absolut Citron are combined on top of ice along with grenadine, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and housemade simple syrup. Our ecstasy martini starts off with a chocolate drizzle inside of the martini glass. Then we combine PAMA liqueur, Absolut vanilla vodka, cranberry juice and pineapple juice shaken over ice and then strained into the martini glass. It’s then garnished with a unique chocolate drizzle design on top.” 807 Gervais St., #103. (803) 931-0700, www.sakifresh.com
Grill Marks: Cookies and cream dirt “FreakShake”
“The cookies and cream shake looks really cool because it’s chocolate frosting and chocolate dripping off it, and then it’s covered in Oreos and gummy worms on top. So it looks like the gummy worms are coming through the dirt,” bar manager Coy Little said. “It’s very fair-esqe … over the top and like guilty food, almost.” 711 Gervais St. (803) 661-8932, www.grillmarks.com/columbia-sc