[image-4]There  were  plenty of pig ears and pig livers at the Charleston debut of John Currence’s new cookbook, Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey, while the title’s other two food groups found more subtle ways to present themselves. High Wire Distilling’s open space and cozy bar proved the perfect venue, although it’ll be a decade or so of aging before their whiskey can match the standard they’ve set with their pungent gin (remarkably palatable straight).

Currence’s University Grays Punch provided the evening’s first taste. In his book, he writes of the drink (which is named after the Civil War regiment from Oxford, where his City Grocery restaurant group is located): “This stuff is about as lethal as the foe they faced.” He’s not kidding — we ended the night back at the punch bowl and woke up feeling pickled.

FIGs Jason Stanhope took the evening’s unofficial MVP award with his impeccable fried oysters. My wife, who was born and raised in Charleston, claims it was the first fried oyster she’d ever had. There’s no use ever having another.

Jeremiah Bacon’s pâté whetted our appetites, before we lingered (almost) too long in front of the meat pies from Butcher & Bee. At Husk’s table, Sean Brock played it safe with fried pig ears. Although they went down like soft French fries, even themost indulgent among us couldn’t help but call it quits after a few rounds of crispy pickled fat rubbed with lard.

Scott and Rich from Edmund’s Oast doled out their finest home brews, which provided a welcome alternative from the potent gin and tonics and Tom Collins served up  from behind the High Wire bar.

By the time we stuffed our faces with Two Borough Larder’s deviled eggs and more of Currence’s punch, we were mispronouncing names and making new friends. Our social highlight may have been butting in on Crooks Corner alums Robert Stehling (Hominy Grill) and Currence catching up at the punch bar (labeled ‘Apothecary’), where we were treated to the full story of Currence’s education in Scotch whiskey at Saucy Mary’s pub on the Isle of Skye (incidentally, the site of my own rehearsal dinner).

Forgive us. We  over-drank and overstayed our welcome, but we went home happy, pickled, pigged out, and ready for a whiskey nightcap.