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One of the best parts of vacationing in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains is all of the delicious food in the area. Fortunately, it’s not hard to take a lot of that tasty food back home with you! If you’re hosting a party or attending one, you can impress your friends with some authentic treats from the Smokies. Here are a few of our favorite Smoky Mountain foods and drinks that are guaranteed to be a big hit at your next get-together.
The Old Mill is an iconic part of Smoky Mountain history. Located along the Little Pigeon River, this gristmill was built in 1830 and still works today! The rushing of the river turns the mill’s water wheel, which powers the grinding of grain into flour. The result is some of the highest quality food in the area.
If you’re a chef extraordinaire, The Old Mill will provide you with all of the raw materials you need to bake something amazing. Just pick up a bag of the mill’s cornmeal, flour, or oats and get cooking. Visitors to the mill will also find a variety of speciality mixes made from the mill’s freshly ground flour, including biscuit mix, fritter mix, fried chicken breading, and sausage ball mix.
Even if you’re not too sure of your cooking abilities, The Old Mill has got you covered. The general store offers a wonderful collection of easy to make dips that are perfect for a party. Popular items include a Bacon & Cheddar Cheese Spread Dip Mix, an Almond Poppy Seed Dip Mix, and a Caramel Apple Dip Mix. The Old Mill also offers a great selection of soup mixes (we love their Signature Corn Chowder!) and a variety of premade sauces, spreads, jams, pickles, relishes, salsas, salad dressings, and more.
Years ago, the Smoky Mountains were full of moonshiners who distilled their illicit spirits in the woods under the cover of darkness. Today, the days of sneaking around in the middle of the night are over because the Smokies are now home to a number of legal moonshine distilleries! Sealed tightly in mason jars or jugs, moonshine travels well and lasts forever, making it an ideal souvenir to take back home
Moonshine is a great drink to serve at a party, especially if you live in an area where white lightning isn’t commonly found. If you want to make yourself seem more adventurous, you can remove all the labels from the jar and claim that you bought the shine from a gray bearded stranger in the national park (rather than in a store in downtown Gatlinburg)!
Modern moonshine comes in a variety of flavors, including apple pie, strawberry, cinnamon, blackberry, and sweet tea. Depending on your preference, you can drink the moonshine straight or mix it into a cocktail. Some distilleries even make cherries soaked in moonshine that you can use to add a unique alcoholic kick to your drink of choice.
Some of the best places to buy moonshine in the area include:
The Apple Barn is one of the very best places to pick up Smoky Mountain foods and drinks for a party! Much like The Old Mill, this general store offers a wide selection of flours, mixes, sauces, condiments, and prepared foods. While The Old Mill is set apart by its freshly ground flour, the Apple Barn is special because its products are made from the store’s onsite apple orchard.
For your next party, we recommend having a few gallons of Apple Barn apple cider on hand for your guests to enjoy. Another excellent non-alcoholic drink option is the julep served at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in the Apple Barn Village. This special cocktail is a blend of apple, orange, pineapple, and lemon juice that you can easily make at home. Follow the link for the full Apple Barn Julep recipe!
For dessert or a sweet appetizer, fry up a batch of the Apple Barn’s signature apple fritters using a mix available in the general store. Be sure to also pick up a jar or two of the Apple Barn’s homemade apple butter to dip the fritters in!
4. Open a Bottle from a Local Winery
If moonshine isn’t the right type of drink for your party, consider serving another local speciality: wine! The Smokies are home to a number of excellent wineries, many of which are located along the Rocky Top Wine Trail. Here is a quick look at what you will find at each of the wineries on the trail:
- Mountain Valley Vineyards – French and German style wines
- Apple Barn Winery – apple based wines
- Hillside Winery – Italian style and sparkling wines
- Sugarland Cellars – wines related to the history of the Smoky Mountains
- Eagle Springs Winery – honey based wines
The best part of shopping for wines along the Rocky Top Wine Trail is that free samples are always encouraged. If you visit all five wineries, you’ll even walk away with a special gift.
As always, we want to hear from you! What types of Smoky Mountain foods and drinks would you serve at a party? Let us know in the comments below!