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Sugar Cane Harvest Festival Cocktails

by St. Augustine Distillery

by Kristin Chambers

Sugar cane harvests were once large community events in which locals would gather to help out in hopes of scoring a jug of cane juice. Since the sugar cane industry now has little use for the syrup cane variety, a small number of individuals that replant these types keep them from being lost. The St. Augustine Distillery Cane Harvest is unique in that the heritage cane will later be used to make spirits.

Being a tropical or subtropical plant, sugar cane does not do well in cold weather, and must be grown for a full year before harvest. Called the “Sugarcane Syrup Belt,” North Florida is one of the few states that can successfully grow and produce the plant.

Sugar cane syrup is a 3-4 hour-long process, made by evaporating cane juice to concentrate the sugar content of the juice. This requires a continuous boiling of at about 210 degrees Fahrenheit. Before the boil, experts from the St. Augustine’s Distillery Co. will utilize a beautifully restored 2.5 ton cast iron mill from 1883 to mill the cane.

Event Cocktail Preview (Single Serving Pours):


Grapefruit Collins

2 oz. St. Augustine Distillery Gin

½ oz. grapefruit juice

½ oz. fresh lemon juice

½ oz. cane syrup

5 drops Grapefruit Bitters

Soda water


Shake all ingredients except for soda water, strain over pebble ice, and top with soda. Garnish with grapefruit peel.


KYV Cooler

2 oz. Distillery Vodka

1 oz lime juice

½ oz. Cane Syrup

½ simple syrup


Squeeze juice from limes into old fashioned glass and rub rim of glass with one spent wedge. Add both spent limes to glass. Add vodka, cane syrup and ice to fill; stir until chilled.


* Slow Food First Coast will be serving cocktails made with St. Augustine Distillery spirits – including Florida Cane Vodka & New World Gin made using Florida Sugar Cane.  Non alcoholic available for purchase in addition to local food vendors.  Artists include JJ Grey, Rivernecks, Lonesome Burt & the Skinny Lizards and Brent Byrd & the Suitcase Gypsies.

Where: KYV Farm, 7086 County Road 16A, St. Augustine, FL 32092

When: Saturday, Dec. 6, 11 a.m.

Price: $5 per person

Parking: $10 per car (carpooling encouraged)