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Emily Schneider-Green

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Barn to Bun: How many miles do the ingredients in your burger travel?

Illustration by Jungyeon Roh
Illustration by Jungyeon Roh

We thought this would be easy: Call a restaurant, ask them where they source their ingredients, and tally the miles. Turns out, tracing the farm-to-table distance of several of Atlanta’s “local” burgers isn’t so simple. See how they stack up.

burger

Farm Burger
410 West Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA
Bun: H&F Bread Co.; 1401 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, Atlanta, GA; 8.8 miles
Meat: Cooke Cattle Company; Madison, GA; 55.7 miles
Cheese: Cabot Creamery; 193 Home Farm Way, Waitsfield, VT; 1,155 miles
Lettuce: N/A
Tomato: N/A
Onion: Love Is Love Farm; 900 Dancing Fox Road, Decatur, GA; 3.2 miles
Pickle: N/A
Condiment: FB Sauce made in-house from Duke’s mayonnaise; 211 Pine Road, Easley, SC; 133 miles
Total cost: $8
Total distance: 1,355.7 miles
*Information is for the Farm Burger menu option

Flip Burger Boutique
1587 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, GA
Bun: La Baguette; 1810 Auger Drive, Tucker, GA; 15.4 miles
Meat: White Oak Pastures; 22775 Highway 27, Bluffton, GA; 186 miles
Cheese: Sweet Grass Dairy; 19635 Highway 19 North, Thomasville, GA; 226 miles
Lettuce: Stone Creek Hydroponics; Hartwell, GA; 107 miles
Tomato: William L. Brown Farms; 4334 Highway 49 North, Montezuma, GA; 121 miles
Onion: Stanley Farms; Lyons, GA; 183 miles
Pickle: Made in-house with cucumbers from J&J Family of Farms; 1750 Garden Village Drive, White Pine, TN; 235 miles
Condiments: Flip sauce made in-house. Ketchup from Heinz; 1200 North Fifth Street, Fremont, OH; 664 miles.
Total cost: $7.50
Total distance: 1,737.4 miles
*Information is for the Classic menu option

Yeah! Burger
1168 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, GA
Bun: H&F Bread Co.; 1401 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, Atlanta, GA; 1.3 miles
Meat: White Oak Pastures; 22775 Highway 27, Bluffton, GA; 185 miles
Cheese: Organic Valley; 1 Organic Way, La Farge, WI; 943 miles
Lettuce: Tucker Farms; Thomas Bluff Road, Rome, GA; 66.6 miles
Tomato: N/A
Onion: Walker Organic Farm; 6810 Savannah Highway, Sylvania, GA; 212 miles
Pickle: Doux South; Decatur, GA; 7.9 miles
Condiment: Yeah! Sauce; restaurant would not disclose ingredients; add 1,000 miles
Total cost: $10.49
Total distance: 2,415.8 miles
*Information is for the Yeah! Burger menu option

Holeman and Finch Public House
2277 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA
Bun: H&F Bread Co.; 1401 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, Atlanta, GA; 3.8 miles
Meat: Southeast Family Farms; Florence, AL; 247 miles
Cheese: Kraft American cheese, from Champaign, IL; New Ulm, MN; or Springfield, MO. Average distance, 788.3 miles
Lettuce: N/A
Tomato: N/A
Onion: Green Ola Acres; 1126 North Ola Road, McDonough, GA; 41 miles
Pickle: Made in-house with cucumbers from Dillwood Farms; 4000 Brushy Fork Road, Loganville, GA; 29.4 miles
Condiment: Mustard and ketchup made in-house
Total cost: $12
Total distance: 1,109.5 miles

The Optimist
914 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, GA
Bun: Alon’s Bakery; 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA; 13.4 miles
Meat: Brasstown Beef; 1960 Brasstown Road, Brasstown, NC; 116 miles
Cheese: Boar’s Head; does not disclose plant locations; apply 1,000 miles
Lettuce: N/A
Tomato: N/A
Onion: Green Ola Acres; 1126 North Ola Road, McDonough, GA; 38.8 miles
Pickle: Made in-house with cucumbers from Dillwood Farms; 4000 Brushy Fork Road, Loganville, GA; 32.7 miles
Condiment: “Comeback Sauce” made in-house
Total cost: $13
Total distance: 1,200.9 miles

Miller Union
999 Brady Avenue, Atlanta, GA
Bun: H&F Bread Co.; 1401 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, Atlanta, GA; 1.6 miles
Meat: White Oak Pastures; 22775 Highway 27, Bluffton, GA; 185 miles
Cheese: Cabot Creamery; 193 Home Farm Way, Waitsfield, VT; 1,158 miles
Lettuce: Crystal Organic Farm; 425 North Johnson Street, Newborn, GA; 54 miles
Tomato: Woodland Gardens Organic Farm; 1355 Athens Road, Winterville, GA; 73.2 miles
Onion: Green Ola Acres; 1126 North Ola Road, McDonough, GA; 39.6 miles
Pickle: Made in-house with cucumbers from Woodland Gardens Organic Farm; 73.2 miles
Condiment: Mayo made in-house. Eggs from Evie’s Country Garden; 951 Barge-Tallapoosa Road, Waco, GA; 56.5 miles.
Total cost: $12
Total distance: 1,641.1 miles

Bocado
887 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, GA
Bun: H&F Bread Co.; 1401 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard, Atlanta, GA; 1.8 miles
Meat: Unnamed distributor in Arkansas City, Kansas; 882 miles
Cheese: Kraft American cheese, from Champaign, IL; New Ulm, MN; or Springfield, MO. Average distance, 786 miles
Lettuce: N/A
Tomato: N/A
Pickle: Made in-house with cucumbers from Green Ola Acres; 1126 North Ola Road, McDonough, GA; 38.7 miles
Condiment: N/A
Total cost: $13
Total distance: 1,708.5

The General Muir
1540 Avenue Place, Atlanta, GA
Bun: Baked in-house
Meat: Certified Angus Beef; distributor uses multiple sources across the U.S.; apply 1,000 miles
Cheese: Sysco Atlanta; does not disclose plant locations; apply 1,000 miles
Lettuce: BJ’s Produce; 185 Paradise Boulevard, Athens, GA; 63.6 miles
Tomato: N/A
Onion: Turnip Truck; 190 Ottley Drive, Atlanta, GA; 4.4 miles
Pickle: Made in-house with cucumbers from Hughes Farm; 711 Sparta Drive, Crossville, TN; 197 miles
Condiment: Russian dressing from Admiration; 66 Grand Avenue, Englewood, NJ; 850 miles
Total cost: $8.75
Total distance: 3,115 miles

One Eared Stag
1029 Edgewood Avenue, Atlanta, GA
Bun: Alon’s Bakery; 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA; 15.7 miles
Meat: Painted Hills; Fossil, OR; 2,457 miles
Bacon (ground into meat): Berkwood Farms; 515 Northeast Broadway Avenue, Des Moines, IA; 905 miles
Cheese: Kraft American cheese, from Champaign, IL; New Ulm, MN; or Springfield, MO. Average distance, 790 miles
Lettuce: N/A
Tomato: N/A
Onion: White Oak Pastures; 22775 Highway 27, Bluffton, GA; 183 miles
Pickle: Woodland Gardens Organic Farms; 1355 Athens Road, Winterville, GA; 70.7 miles
Condiment: N/A
Total cost: $12
Total distance: 4,421.4 miles

We calculated 1,000 miles for ingredients whose sources could not be identified. Neither Boar’s Head nor Sysco would reveal the locations of their plants.

This article originally appeared in our September 2014 issue.

What happens when a lifelong vegetarian eats the parts menu at Holeman and Finch?

Sweetbreads at Holeman & Finch Public House
Sweetbreads at Holeman & Finch Public House

Photograph by Evan Mah

I wish I could say there was one life-changing experience that caused me to be a vegetarian for twenty-three years, but really, it just happened. My father, who is what we’ve always called a “sort of vegetarian” (meaning he eats fish), first had the idea to raise me and my sister on a no-meat diet. My mom, herself a carnivore, protested at first but eventually agreed, assuming it wouldn’t last anyway.

She was wrong. By the time I was six, I’d entered what my mom referred to as a “rabid phase of animal rights activism,” adopting staunchly anti-factory farm viewpoints, which I still maintain, and becoming passionate about animal rights. In my backyard, we raised a flock of chickens, and in my front yard, we maintained two large vegetable gardens. I was literally surrounded by an awareness of where food came from, and I wanted no part in supporting the suffering of any animal.

But by March of this year, I had decided to start occasionally eating chicken and fish, though not without mixed feelings. As an aspiring food writer, I recognized how limiting my vegetarianism would be, perhaps destined to forever scour over menus in search of the one tofu dish or vegetable pasta. Besides, I was not morally opposed to the idea of eating meat, so long as it was sustainably and humanely raised. Still, old habits die hard, and vegetarian guilt had me compartmentalizing whenever I did eat meat.

So when Evan Mah, this magazine’s deputy food editor, said he wanted to take me to an end-of-the-summer intern dinner on the condition that I wasn’t allowed to look at the menu, I was more than a little concerned. He told me to meet him at Holeman and Finch Public House and to “keep an open mind,” which is not what anyone wants to hear before dinner. Ok, I thought, I can eat a burger. I can do that. When our hostess seated us, Mah asked if we could move. “We’re going to need a bigger table,” he said.

Then came the food. Beef tartare, beef tongue with eggs, and veal brains in a black butter sauce. Chicken and fish were one thing, but lamb testicles, hot dogs, and bone marrow served still in the bone? I knew if ever I were to try these foods, there was no better time or place, and if I was okay with eating chicken and fish, logically, I realized, why not brains too?

“What do the lamb testicles remind you of?” Mah asked. “Sort of like well-done tofu, right?”

Not quite, but moral reservations and general shock aside, everything was surprisingly mild and easy to swallow. The hotdog was not so unlike the fake ones I knew, and I actually enjoyed the salty, buttery brains with capers and toast points.

That night, I came away from dinner feeling triumphant, victorious, really. If a former vegetarian could eat bone marrow, scooped right out of the bone, what couldn’t I do? The next day, I wasn’t even sick when I woke up. I actually felt good—on a protein high, perhaps.

People used to always ask me the same questions about my vegetarianism: Why and then how could I have lived my life without bacon or a cheeseburger or a steak. “Easy,” I would tell them, “I’ve never had it, so I don’t know what I’m missing.” Now, I have the freedom to find out, but I still hold tight to my veggie burgers and tofu. After all, it’s impossible to be a vegetarian for twenty-three years and adjust to eating meat overnight. Something that long-term stays with you, and it’s too soon to tell how long this meat streak will last. I still have strong opinions about the miserable conditions in many of our factory farms and slaughterhouses. At dinner, I at least took comfort in knowing that much of the meat came from White Oak Pastures, a farm in Bluffton, Georgia where owner Will Harris cares strongly about animal welfare.

Mah says he took me to dinner because a couple of weeks ago over a (much milder) lunch, another editor quizzed me on what had been the strangest thing I’d eaten this summer. “I really haven’t had to eat anything strange,” I replied.

Now, next time someone asks, I’ll have a much better answer.

Lusca, Gunshow, Sobban nominated for Best New Restaurants by Bon Appétit

50usabestAtlantans already know our food scene shines, but recognition on a national scale is always a nice bonus. This week three Atlanta restaurants—Lusca, Gunshow, and Sobban—were included on Bon AppĂ©tit’s annual “50 Nominees for America’s Best New Restaurant 2014” list.

Bon AppĂ©tit’s restaurant and drink’s editor, Andrew Knowlton, scoured new restaurants across the country to compile his list, of which, ten finalists will be announced on August 19.

Lusca

This seafood-centric brainchild of Octopus Bar’s Angus Brown and Nhan Le opened in South Buckhead this past March. Open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, Lusca features Octopus-themed décor and murals, in keeping with the theme of Le and Brown’s first restaurant.

Gunshow

Opening in the spring of 2013, Top Chef alum Kevin Gillespie has been pushing the envelope of traditional kitchen/restaurant layout ever since, with his inventive open-kitchen concept that puts the chefs front and center and invites diners to sit at communal tables and receive (or pass on) dishes delivered by chefs, about which Knowlton notes it’s “tough to say no.” Gunshow was originally featured in our September 2013 issue as one of Atlanta’s “Best New Restaurant.”

Sobban

Though one might not think to pair Southern down-home cooking with tradition Korean soul food, it’s clearly working for husband and wife team Cody Taylor and Jiyeon Lee, who first made their mark with their similarly themed Korean/southern Heirloom Market BBQ. Knowlton calls their inventive dishes like the kimchi deviled eggs, shrimp and rice grits, and Korean fire wings “fiery, funky, but above all delicious.”

Could beef soon become as expensive as lobster?

Courtesy of Brasstown Beef
Courtesy of Brasstown Beef

For Stuart Baesel, beef isn’t just what’s for dinner. It’s his livelihood. As a co-owner of one of Atlanta’s favorite barbecue joints, Community Q BBQ, Baesel relies on a consistent supply of beef to run his business. But in recent months, he’s had to raise his prices—something he hasn’t done in four years—in response to the soaring price of beef.

“All prices are going up, but beef is definitely standing out the most. It’s going up leaps and bounds,” he says.

Just how much? Take brisket, for example, the price of which has nearly tripled, rising especially fast in the last six to eight months. “We’re losing money on brisket, period,” Baesel says. Only regular customers might notice the menu’s climbing brisket prices, but it’s harder to ignore the note on the front door, explaining that the beef rib is no longer offered at all.

The fact that beef prices are at a record high—ground beef at an average of $3.85 per pound— is no secret.  The cost of ground beef has increased 11 percent since last spring, with no signs of slowing down. Most economists and industry insiders squarely place the blame on multi-year droughts, which have parched the once-lush grass fields in the cattle-producing Midwest. With no grass to feed their cows, farmers are being forced en masse to liquidate their herds—the euphemism for slaughter—and as a result, the population of the U.S. cattle herd is now the smallest it’s been since the 1950s: a paltry 87.7 million, strikingly small when compared to the 132 million cattle of the 1970s peak population. As supply levels have fallen, prices have skyrocketed.

But talk to cattle farmers, and they’ll tell you that something else is at play. Will Harris, owner of White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia, has been in the cattle industry his entire life, just like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him. At 59, he’s seen the natural ups and downs of the industry and says that the cycle—the balance between herd size and beef price—has always been so predicable that, in years past, “you could plot it on a graph.” Not this time.

“That cycle has been disrupted,” he says. “I believe that we are seeing a real change in the fundamentals of the beef business in this country.”

Brasstown Beef

In years past, prices would fall back down as farmers replenished their herds, but this time around, they’re choosing not to. Why? Many are getting out of the business. The average age of a farmer in America in 2012, according to the USDA, was 58, and many are seizing this moment to earn retirement money or get out of debt by selling female cows at record high prices, according to Steve Whitmire of Brasstown Beef in Brasstown, North Carolina. “The general feeling is, why keep a young female. Get what I can get while I can. It’s a downward spiral,” he says.

Raising calves isn’t exactly a glamourous line of work, either. Whitmire adds, “It’s a lifestyle you have to be born into to appreciate. Nobody works as hard and as long hours to make what [cattle farmers] make.”

Two weeks ago, Whitmire says he paid $1650 for a calf that, a year ago, would have cost him $1150. That’s almost a 50 percent increase. To stay in business, he’s now forced to sell beef for a dollar more than he did a year ago.  “That’s just to break even,” he clarifies. “Not to hold our margins, but literally to recoup the increase in cost.”

Prospective new ranchers in the beef business face daunting startup investment costs, and both Harris and Whitmire believe that the younger generation, for a large part, lacks the interest in the cattle industry to begin with.

“For so long, people raised cattle as part of a lifestyle,” says Harris. “Those of us that love cattle, really love cattle. I was raised watching my daddy do it.” He feels that for young people today, the idea of “wading around in shit and building fences” is nowhere near as romantic.

Both believe that the high prices are here to stay and that the industry is headed for a longer-term shift. Harris predicts that high-prices will change beef from a staple to a luxury item, like lobster, and that people will consume less of it. The numbers back up his prediction: since 1980, U.S. per capita beef consumption has dropped roughly 25 percent. Poultry consumption, on the other hand, is way up; the per capita consumption of chicken in 2012 was about 82 pounds, up from 33.6 pounds back in 1965. Whitmire calls the phenomenon a “paradigm shift,” and predicts that in the near future, beef will  head one of two ways—either becoming low-quality “commodity” hamburger meat, or in the case of the high-quality beef, becoming more and more expensive.

Anticipating a shift in appetite, White Oak Pastures has diversified its production. Up until 2000, beef was all it produced, but Harris has since branched out to raising ten different species of meat such as hogs, goats, chicken, and turkeys.

As for Stuart Baesel at Community Q BBQ, he says he has no choice but to keep delivering the brisket his customers have come to expect, even if his margins take a beating. As he puts it, “There’s no real way to change anything without changing the concept of the restaurant.”

10 peach dishes you need to try now

Given that our ubiquitous state fruit has made its way onto our license plates and street signs on practically every corner, it should come as no surprise that local chefs are also tinkering with the Georgia peach in a number of creative ways. We suggest getting your fill now while the fruit is at the peak of its season.

1.The Optimist: Fried peach pie

Local peaches from Pearson Farm tossed in cinnamon-sugar are stuffed into a deep-fried pie dough pocket, and finished off with white pepper ice cream and peach caramel. theoptimistrestaurant.com

2. Revolution Donuts: Peach slider

The landmark Decatur donut shop sandwiches a gooey, sweet stack of sliced peaches into a yeasty, sugar-crusted puff of a donut. revolutiondoughnuts.com

3. Star Provisions: Peach cupcake

A quiet contender for one of the best spots to grab a cupcake, the deli at Star Provisions pipes peach jam into a dense vanilla cake and caps the top with a pink, peachy frosting. starprovisions.com

4Sublime Doughnuts: White chocolate peach fritter

Peach chunks are mixed into a fritter batter before being fried, glazed, and drizzled in white chocolate. sublimedoughnuts.com

5. Farm Burger: No. 5 Peach burger

All three locations currently offer the seasonal “No. 5” on their menu: Georgia peach chutney over the burger of your choice (veggie quinoa, grassfed beef, or chicken,) finished off with a creamy smear of local goat cheese and fresh arugula. farmburger.net

6. Grindhouse Killer Burgers: Booty Shake milkshake

Spiked with a hefty dose of peach liqueur and bird dog peach whiskey, this deceptively potent shake is flecked with chunks of actual fruit. grindhouseburgers.com

7. King of Pops: Peach Popsicle

Summer wouldn’t be complete without a fresh peach pop, from King of Pops.
Available around town and at various ITP and OTP farmers markets. atlanta.kingofpops.net

8. Westside Creamery: Peach ice creams and sorbet

This roaming ice cream truck scoops up a Georgia Peach flavored ice cream, a ginger-peach flavor, and a “Very Peachy” sorbet. To find them, visit westsidecreamery.com Also look for them at the Piedmont Park’s Ice Cream Festival on July 26th.

9. Miller Union: Peach Cobbler

What would this  list be without a peach cobbler? Pamela Moxley nestles local peaches under a sweet buttermilk shortcake and tops it with a homemade lemon chamomile ice cream. Moxley says it’s a crowd favorite, so she’ll be keeping it on the dessert menu for at least a few more weeks. millerunion.com

10.   Polaris: Signature peach daiquiri

Now that this Atlanta icon spins again, they’ve brought back a modern rendition of their signature retro favorite, which bartenders have been mixing up at the Polaris since 1967. Enjoy the view while sipping on a blend of Highwest Peach Vodka, peach essence, and fresh mint from the hotel rooftop garden. facebook.com/PolarisAtlanta

 

Urban farmers now opting to rent, not buy, land

Even those with little to no agricultural know-how might assume, and reasonably so, that to be a farmer, you have to own land. Turns out, that’s not the case. A study done by the National Young Farmer’s Coalition in 2011 found that access to land was one of the major obstacles facing new farmers, but some have found a way around the hurdle. Landless farmers, as they’re called, rent acreage from landowners who have no need or use for it. Atlanta farms like Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet, which grows on land from a neighboring church, or Patchwork City Farms, whose land is owned by Atlanta public schools, are just a few of the local examples embracing “landless farming.”

One of the city’s most well-known landless farmers is Joe Reynolds of Love is Love Farm. A lack of capital to buy his own farm plus a need to relocate closer to the city pushed Reynolds to apply for the plot of farmland in the Decatur East Lake Commons co-housing community its residents had set aside for organic farming. He’s now the resident tenant farmer at Gaia Gardens in East Lake.

“Not having to buy land allows farmers to really hit the ground running with very little investment,” explains Reynolds. “Without taking out large loans, you can get your crops growing and learn whether or not farming is something you want to do.”

Currently, Reynolds grows and sells tomatoes, eggplant, edamame, peppers, sweet potatoes, squash and okra (summer crops) at East Lake Market, offers a CSA, and sells to restaurants like Farm Burger and Kimball House. Reynolds says his lease stipulates that he grow a variety of organic crops, (“so I can’t come in here and just say ‘sweet corn everywhere!’ ”) and that he offer those who live in the community first dibs to buy the food from their backyard.

Landless farming requires very little capital from the grower, but does depend on a carefully cultivated relationship with the owners of the land. When Reynolds wanted to plant blackberry bushes on the farm, he had to present his step-by-step plans and get permission from the landowners. While he admits that the extra step is a process, he understands, since the owners will still live on the land long after he may have moved on. 

The average age of a farmer, according to the USDA, is 57 and creeping upwards, but programs like the Farmer Landowner Match Program and the Center for Rural Affairs Land Link Program are helping a younger generation of farmers by providing databases of available farmland for rent. As Reynolds says, “In the beginning, my idea was to learn how to grow vegetables so I could buy a farm. I’m not sure that’s the only way of looking at it anymore.”

Urban beekeeping on the rise

If it seems that the buzz around bees has picked up volume, that’s because it has. According to the USDA, bees help pollinate one-third of all our food, but recently, a mysterious and destructive honeybee disease called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been wiping out record numbers of hives across the U.S. Although CCD is a common phenomonom, scientists can’t explain why it’s increasing at such a devastating rate.

Coincidentally, headlines about the crisis combined with a dining culture fixed on a farm-to-table philosophy have pushed urban beekeeping into the spotlight. Once a thing of rural countryside farms, bees are now moving to the city in droves. 

Cindy Hodges, an urban beekeeper and president of the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association, says she’s witnessed the skyrocketing interest in all things bees. “When I joined the association [in 2006] we had 40 members. We now have more than 200,” Hodges says. “Urban beekeeping is growing.” According to the Georgia Department of Agriculturethe vast majority of honey now actually comes from small-scale beekeepers with only a few hives worth of bees.

Atlantans, along with the rest of the country, are installing hives on high-rise rooftop gardens and in their own backyards. Hotels like the Four Seasons Atlanta and the Hyatt Regency’s Polaris keep their own bees and use the honey in their restaurants. Hodges helms the rooftop garden beehives for the Polaris alongside executive chef Martin Pfefferkorn, who calls the bees “his girls.” Pfefferkorn relies on the bees for their honey and for pollinating his herb garden.

Ordinances governing urban beekeeping vary from state to state, but if you want to keep bees here in Atlanta, there’s little standing in your way. “There are no rules restricting it in the metro Atlanta area currently,” says Hodges. While there are no official guidelines governing city bees, the association urges beekeepers to use good practices, such as providing bees with a nearby water supply and setting them as far away from your neighbor’s door as possible.

For first-timers looking to get their start, the director of the University of Georgia’s Honey Bee Program, Keith Delaplane, has penned the hobby beekeeper’s bible, First Lessons in Beekeeping. A popular blog by an Atlanta beekeeper, Linda’s Bees, has additional starter info, and the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association holds educational meetings at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

And if you’re thinking bees might still be better suited to the country life, research actually shows the opposite. Master beekeeper Noah Wilson Rich discussed at a recent Ted Talk that the lack of suburban pesticides in cities makes urban bees heartier and more productive than their rural counterparts.

So really, there’s been no better time to start your own hives. Honey and beekeeping helmets are officially hip. As Hodges point out, “it’s not your grandmother’s beekeeping anymore.” 

7 cool spots for spiked summertime drinks

The essential libations of childhood are summertime mainstays for a reason, but local bars and restaurants have stepped up the game with drunken spins on retro favorites like milkshakes and slushies. The thinking is simple—if a refreshing, icy confection is delicious as it is, a shot or two of something stronger can only make it better. With summertime now upon us, check out these seven boozy choices. 

Slushies and Sodas

DBA BBQ Kids, stay clear. The spiked slushies at this VaHi neighborhood barbeque joint are not for the timid. Ask the bartender for the flavor of the day and home in on key lime or the tangy, rum-soaked hurricane.

Geerbeer: Bringing some fun to the OTP crowd, this Woodstock brewery offers their “naughty sodas” in flavors like apple pie, Jamaican ginger, and a fizzy marshmallow cream soda. Geerbeer also has plans to launch their sodas in local grocery stores in the near future.

Victory Sandwich Bar: This popular sandwich joint delivers plenty of inexpensive bar offerings, but the star of its menu is its “world famous” Jack and Coke slushie, available in two sizes. Also on the menu: four spiked soda flavors, including the “Root Canal,”—a classic root beer laced with absinthe—and the “Victory Libre”, an old-school Mexican Coke with rum and lime juice. 

Floats and Milkshakes

Farm Burger: All three locations offer “adult floats,” blended so thick that the inch-wide straw they come with is a necessity. Flavors include chocolate stout float, banana bread beer, and a vanilla-heavy Original Sin cider.

Grindhouse Killer Burgers: Grindhouse churns out your typical flavors of handspun shakes, but the real fun is in its “boozy shake” menu of over-the-top concoctions like the “stimulus package,” an Oreo shake mixed with coffee and 100 proof peppermint schnapps and the “booty shake,” a peachy cooler infused with peach liqueur and bird dog peach whiskey. 

Hobnob: When it comes to milkshakes, the neighborhood tavern’s focus is clearly on the hard stuff, with alcoholic options heading their menu. Try the classic “chocolate stout” with vanilla ice cream or the decadent “hazelnut mud slide” with Fragelico, Kahlua, and espresso powder. For a lighter option, sip on the sparkling lemonade made with lemon sorbet, Champagne, and vodka. 

Flip Burger: You won’t find predictable shakes at Flip Burger, where “Top Chef All-Star” winner Richard Blais crafted a trendy menu with the option to add dessert-flavored vodkas or Kahula for an additional cost. Options include Krispy Kreme, Nutella topped with a cushion of burnt marshmallows, or the ramped up vanilla, sprinkled with whopper dust. 

Doggy Dogg hot dog cart puts a local twist on the American staple

Think of the hot dog and visions of stadium concession stands and summer BBQs probably come to mind. But locally-grown, farm-fresh ingredients? Not so much. The humble American hot dog has a less-than-glowing reputation, notorious for a best-not-ask hodgepodge of add-ins and questionable sources. James Hammerl is trying to change that stigma. Since 2011, the creator and owner of the local hot dog cart, Doggy Dogg, has taken to the streets to push an American classic made using locally-produced meat, bread, and toppings.

Here, Hammerl tells us about his inspiration and what sets his dogs apart from the pack.

How did you get your start in the business? I was actually in Germany about four years ago coming out of a Christmas mass late at night. Snow was falling, and in the courtyard there was a guy next to a sausage cart with steam coming out of. It just seemed like the angels started to sing. It was just basic sausage on bread with mustard, and I was like “Wow, I’d like to give this a shot.” When I got back to Atlanta, I set up at the Piedmont Park Green Market as just a table vender with a small griddle, playing around with all kinds of different toppings. The public reaction was good, and I took it on as a fulltime gig.

Did you have any prior background in the food industry? I was bartending at The Iberian Pig at that time and had managed a bar in the Old Fourth Ward before that, but this was my first venture into the hot dog world.

The hot dog is an American classic—what sets your creations apart from the pack? Atlanta has such a huge collection of people from everywhere. I have many friends from all over the world specializing in unique ingredients like kimchi and pimento cheese, so I’m able to take those and create something that people would never think of having on a dog. I use whatever’s available and in season.

Was an emphasis on local, farm-fresh ingredients your mission from the start? My mission was just to try out different combinations of toppings that you normally wouldn’t see, but as I started working in farmers markets I realized I could do these different toppings but with a locally-sourced emphasis. It’s totally changed my philosophy towards sourcing and eating.

Which local farms, bakeries, and butchers do you use? I wouldn’t be where I am, if it wasn’t for The Spotted Trotter, a local butcher shop that sources organically and sustainable meats. Their new peach BBQ sausage is right around the corner. We get our bread from H&F Bread Company—they don’t use any preservatives. I also use Simply Seoul kimchi, Camden Park Deli pimento cheese, and Preserving Place for sweet relish.

Where do you typically park your cart? The best way to find us is just to roll on over to doggydoggatl.com, and from there we have our Facebook and Twitter links. You can find us at all of the best farmers markets in town, as well as at Monday Night Brewing every Monday night.

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