Photograph by Wier Stewart
EAT – Noble Jones
The name Noble Jones should be recognizable to native Augustans as that of the man who laid out the original streets of Augusta in the early 18th century. Per Gen. James Oglethorpe’s direction, the colonial downtown is designed to mimic that of Savannah. On Cotton Lane, one of those original streets, and thought to be the oldest, we find this modern city’s newest and most anticipated restaurant.
Noble Jones, or “NoJo,” as the name is often shortened, is the work of J.D. Wier, a native who brings to the new venture a wealth of national culinary experience. After completing both culinary and pastry school at Johnson & Wales in Charleston, South Carolina, he worked in top-tier restaurants with award-winning chefs across the South, from South Carolina to Texas. When the timing was right, he moved back to his hometown of Augusta, ready to bring everything together in what he likes to call a “Southern À La Carte” style. Menu items range from Clarks Hill catfish, fried pickled okra with Mississippi “comeback” sauce and oyster po’boy to smoked fried chicken and other traditional dishes with a twist, each one pulling inspiration from Wier’s travels and training.
The building itself has been beautifully restored to retain its historic attributes and make the most of the space. Wooden beams span the ceiling of the main dining room and bar. A rustic fireplace and its original mantel make the second dining room feel like home. And the patio between the two makes you want to come back every weekend to enjoy the autumn weather.
Pair your meal with an original selection of wines — carefully chosen to meet every expectation — creative cocktails or craft beer from both local breweries and from others in surrounding states. The unique Southern flair of the restaurant has worked its way into every nook and cranny of the historic building and modern menu. Sitting down in Noble Jones, with its proximity to the river and a carefully crafted menu of modern Southern cuisine, is like taking a step back in time to the days of the restaurant’s namesake, garnering an appreciation for this city and everything that makes it special.
There’s nothing better than watching someone discover a passion for something and having it blossom. When Zach McCabe, an engineer and Pennsylvania native, and his wife settled in the Augusta area in 2015, he never thought that creating craft cocktails would become his hobby. It started small — he was tired of moving around the few bottles that they had and figured he should learn how to create something with them. After all, what’s the point of having something if you don’t use it? So, he looked up a recipe for a classic Old Fashioned and got to work. Little did McCabe know that he had embarked on a journey that would lead to new connections, friends and opportunities.
McCabe began to create new cocktail recipes of his own whenever they had friends over, and he got really good at it. By February 2018, he was excited enough about creating cocktails, both classic and new, that he started an Instagram page, claiming “Delicious Drinks. Mediocre Photography.”
Since then his skills, following and creative acumen have grown by leaps and bounds. By the summer of 2019, he was collaborating with Craft and Vine to put a themed cocktail on its menu for the Fourth of July. He now writes a weekly sip column for Augusta Connection. He loves to use local products whenever available, like bourbon by 2nd City Distilling, coffee from Buona Caffe and Fruitland Augusta vodka.
It’s interesting to get a perspective on craft cocktails from someone who isn’t a bartender. As an engineer, things like ratios and numbers are important to McCabe and really aid in the creation of new recipes. His goal is to demystify cocktails for people who are afraid of them or intimidated by the process. “There’s an air of pretension around cocktails that I’m not a fan of,” he says. His philosophy? “Come as you are and have a great drink and hang out. It doesn’t have to be syrupy sweet, it doesn’t have to be crazy expensive, it doesn’t have to be pretentious. It can just be fun.”
And fun it is. Each of his Instagram posts at @all.equal.parts and Augusta Connection’s Weekly Sip articles come with a recipe and directions, much like the ones on the next page. If you have the ingredients and can follow directions, you can become a craft cocktail connoisseur in your own home.
TWO STRONG LEGS
Name taken from the Allman Brothers’ song Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More from the album Eat a Peach.
• 2 oz. 2nd City bourbon whiskey
• 1/2 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
• 1/2 oz. Amaro CioCiaro
• 1/4 oz. Mathilde Peche
Add everything to a mixing glass. Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Named after the street Buona Caffe is on.
• 1 oz. Buona Caffe Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate*
• 3/4 oz. Carolina Moon vodka
• 1/2 oz. Caffé Amaro
• 1/2 oz. coffee liqueur
• 1/4 oz. demerara syrup (2:1)
• 1/4 oz. crème de cacao
Add everything to a shaker with plenty of ice and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with some grated chocolate. Adjust the amount of demerara syrup based on the sweetness of the coffee liqueur.
*Combine 1 liter of filtered water and 250 grams of coarsely ground light roast coffee in a container. Stir and let sit for 20-24 hours at room temperature. Strain through a sieve and then a coffee filter and refrigerate. Use within a week or two.
Features pecans from the Saturday Market downtown.
• 1 oz. bourbon
• 1/2 oz. Brandy de Jerez
• 1/2 oz. apple brandy
• 1/2 oz. orange curacao
• 1/2 oz. pecan orgeat
• 1/2 oz. lemon juice
• Dash chocolate bitters
Add everything to a shaker with pebble ice. Shake and dump into a tall glass. Top with more ice and garnish with a lemon twist and some pecans. Serve with a straw.
Artisan – The Sweet Suite
Though I love a good movie, I’m always on the lookout for a unique date night or activity to do with the whole family that allows us to interact and build those relationships. So, I was excited to find out that tucked back in a cute shopping center off of Jimmy Dyess was The Sweet Suite Bakeshop. It has a slew of themed classes to choose from, whether you’re looking to entertain your kids or wanting to spend some time with your significant other.
Jamey Sprowls, the owner of The Sweet Suite, has been baking since she was a kid. Throughout high school and college she would take Wilton classes and bake for friends and family as a side gig. Even when she was working full time on an internship in London while completing her master’s in children’s literature, she worked at a bakery in the evenings, gaining international experience. She worked in her field for almost a decade, continuing to bake for networking meetings, kids’ birthdays, and just for fun. She even won a Duncan Hines cupcake contest and was awarded the opportunity to bake cupcakes and participate in the Emmy Awards that year. Everyone would ask when she was going to finally open her own business, and she eventually decided to go for it.
The Sweet Suite Bakeshop officially opened in 2015, and though she initially started out as a bakery, she soon realized that the space she had in the shop and her passion and experience working with kids provided the perfect opportunity to host classes. Though she still occasionally does cupcake pop-ups throughout the year (which sell out very quickly), she has built up a team of teachers and a calendar full of creative events that cater to all sorts of groups of people.
From parents and toddlers to couples ‘date nights there is truly something for everyone. Upcoming events include Frozen-inspired Toddler Tea, Bring Your BOO! Halloween Drip Cake Class, and Intro to Macaroons: Conquering One Tough Cookie. “We don’t just hand people a piping bag,” Sprowls says. “We actually teach technique.”
With an average of two classes per week and many private events like birthday parties, bachelorette parties and baby showers, the Bakeshop stays busy. The baking supplies part of the shop is open Thursday-Saturday as well and has an extensive selection for both home bakers and small business owners.
Signup is easy – all of its events are posted on their Facebook page, or you can call (706) 524-7866 for more information.
The Sweet Suite Bakeshop also does mini baking camps! The Thanksgiving Mini Camp will allow kids to learn how to make several treats leading up to the holiday to take home to their families. There is also a kid’s winter camp held at the beginning of the year, and additional events are added to the schedule regularly.
Appears in the October 2019 issue of Augusta Magazine.