In Good Spirits

All kinds of spirits at King’s Tavern of Natchez

By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of King’s Tavern

All kinds of spirits are floating around the historic King’s Tavern in Natchez, but you want to capture the one made with the tavern’s own Charboneau rum.

In the late 1700s, Richard King opened a tavern at the beginning of the Natchez Trace — or terminus, depending on how you look at the historic trail that runs from Mississippi to Nashville. The building at 619 Jefferson Street in Natchez witnessed your average visitors moving up and down the 444-mile Trace, but also the notorious Harp Brothers, considered “America’s first serial killers,” and other unsavory people.
It’s no wonder that King’s Tavern reports paranormal phenomenon, including doors opening and closing on their own, unexplained noises and voices and appliances being unplugged.
“We’ve had bottles fall off the shelves in the kitchen,” said Ricky Woolfolk, the tavern’s manager and bartender. “But fall off in the wrong way. They’d be leaning one way but fall the other way. One Worcestershire bottle was leaning against the side and fell eight feet away. Which means it fell with force. There’s no explanation for that.”
They checked the alarm system the night the Worcestershire bottle was discovered crashed upon the floor and found nothing.
Ask Woolfolk for more direct evidence and he’ll show you a video of the bar refrigerator opening on its own accord, taken after hours. It’s not a fridge easily opened.
Woolfolk believes the activity belongs to Madeline, the tavern’s barkeep and mistress of Richard King. The story passed down is that King’s wife found out about the tryst and hired two men to kill Madeline. In 1932, when work was being done on the tavern, a chimney wall collapsed and three skeleton remains were found inside, two men and a woman with a dagger in her side. Woolfolk thinks King discovered the two men murdering Madeline and killed them too, then placed all three bodies inside the wall to hide the crime.
Because of the tavern’s spooky history, Woolfolk offers a ghostly fall cocktail. It’s his take on the Manhattan, incorporating his homemade moonshine clove tincture and the tavern’s own Charboneau rum, which is distilled on the property. To capture smoke to use in the cocktail, he blowtorches orange blossom water on a cedar plank, then places an old fashion glass upside down on top. He produces the moonshine tincture by mixing Mississippi moonshine with a handful of cloves and leaves both simmering in a mason jar for a month. He adds rum, vermouth and a diluted maple syrup to the cocktail that smokes when it’s delivered.

“The flavor’s out of this world,” Woolfolk said.
Still want more spirits of the out-of-world kind? “Ghost Adventures” visited King’s Tavern and each member of the crew experienced paranormal activity. The videos are available at

Manhattan in the Fall
2 drops orange blossom water
Cedar Plank
Old Fashion glass
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash moonshine clove tincture
2 ounces Charboneau gold rum
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
1/2 ounce maple syrup diluted 50 percent by boiling water.
Candied cherry
Directions: Place two drops of orange blossom water on the cedar plank and heat with a blowtorch. Place an old fashion glass upside down over the spot and let the smoke enter the glass. Mix the bitters, moonshine, rum, vermouth and diluted maple syrup in a glass. Place a large ice cube in the old fashion glass and pour the mixture over the ice cube and allow the smoke to billow up. Garnish with the candied cherry.

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