Wade on Birmingham

Birmingham’s Best Eats: Buffalo Rock rocks! The ginger ale as calmative


Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale

Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale is not only a soda,
but also believed to be a cure for motion sickness.
Photo by Andrew Brasfield, OkraCola.com.

By Glenny Brock and Brad Daly

Birmingham’s original local soda has its detractors; some people just can’t handle the powerful “Southern spice” of Buffalo Rock. The bubbly beverage is based on a ginger elixir developed in Selma in 1865, when pharmacist Ashby Coleman used the hot, fragrant spice to treat gastrointestinal complaints of Confederate soldiers.

In 1889, Coleman’s daughter Minnie married a Birmingham man named Sidney Word Lee. He helped create a soft drink dynasty in 1901 by adding carbonation to the recipe from his father-in-law. After 110 years, Buffalo Rock is still some of the most ginger-y ginger ale available anywhere.

At home, we drink it straight, or mixed with bourbon in a Sneezing Vulcan. We gave it that name because of the histaminic effects of the soda on some people. But after a few drinks and more than a few slurred tributes to the cocktail’s coppery color, we changed it to the Rusty Vulcan, a descriptive nod to the Magic City’s metallurgical history.

Soon we bragged to other Birminghamians about our clever combination of mixology and nomenclature. Our friend Nancy shook her head at our boasts.

“Bourbon and Buffalo Rock?” she asked. “That’s called a Burbalo.”

• • •

Rusty Vulcan

  • Servings: 1


  • 1-1/2 oz. bourbon
  • 4 oz. Buffalo Rock

Stir bourbon and Buffalo Rock together, then pour into a highball glass filled with ice. Serve immediately.

P.S. Mountain Brook’s Dram Whiskey Bar serves an excellent version of this cocktail called the Alabama Gentleman, which includes Buffalo Rock and Gentleman Jack!

• • •


• • •

Glenny Brock

Brad DalyWriter Glenny Brock (@glennybrock) and photographer Brad Daly (@bwdaly) launched the Birmingham food blog Stay Hungry (@stayhungrybham) in June. He cooks, she writes, and they both eat, thoughtfully.

• • •

Hungry for more? Check out the menu of Birmingham’s Best Eats!

11 Yips for “Birmingham’s Best Eats: Buffalo Rock rocks! The ginger ale as calmative”

  1. morty
    Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 12:33 am

    When I moved from DC to Silicon Valley in 2004, I came by way of the home patch, and stocked up on a couple of 12-packs (on sale for $2 each at the Piggly Wiggly in Warrior, AL). It made for quite an accompaniment to flying down the interstate for hours at a time – smoking cigars, sipping on the Rock and listening to XM. Everyone should try it once. It also made a favorable impression on all in Cali who tried it. I should import some more.

  2. Wade
    Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 9:58 am

    You can order some directly from the company.

  3. Bill
    Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 10:21 am

    An even tastier drink, dark rum and Buffalo Rock with a squeeze of lime — a Rock ‘n’ Rum.

  4. Tweets that mention Wade on Birmingham » Birmingham’s Best Eats: Buffalo Rock rocks! The ginger ale as calmative -- Topsy.com
    Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 10:23 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wade Kwon, Jason Horn. Jason Horn said: Today on Bham's Best Eats: @stayhungrybham's ode to Buffalo Rock (and bourbon) http://itswa.de/bbe-buffalo-rock #bhameats […]

  5. trav
    Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 11:33 am

    I am SO trying this when I get home. I also feel compelled to add that Sneezing Vulcan is a much more appropriate name than the others.

  6. Chris
    Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 2:39 pm

    Or mix it with Southern Comfort for a “Southern Buffalo.”

  7. david
    Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 6:25 pm

    I’ll have to try this, I’ve made similar drinks with Blenheim’s ginger ale, but not Buffalo Rock.

  8. Wade
    Friday, November 12, 2010, 8:22 pm

    Drink the burboun. Drink the Buffalo Rock. Don’t mix. It demeans them both.

  9. Wade
    Friday, November 12, 2010, 8:24 pm

    Sorry about the spelling. That’s what happens when you get started on the burboun.

  10. Wade
    Friday, November 12, 2010, 9:14 pm

    P.S. Comments 8 and 9 are by another Wade, but not the publisher Wade.

  11. Philip E Griffith
    Wednesday, August 10, 2011, 12:34 pm

    Nice write up, but I have to admit I stopped mixing them and use the Buffalo Rock as a chaser.

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