Local Chris Maxwell

Name: Christopher Maxwell or “Maxie”

Family: My wife, Gina (Knight), and my son, Wesley. My wife grew up on Jekyll Island and went to Glynn Academy.

Years in the Golden Isles: 29

School: Westbrook in Dixie and Valdosta State University.

Occupation: Hospitality. Halyard Restaurant Group

A local you admire: Jonathan Havens. He’s a true local who is committed to his hometown. He introduced me to the Golden Isles and also gave me my nickname (Maxie) that many of you know me by. He and I went to college together at Valdosta State University and have remained friends ever since. In the spring of 1990, he brought me here to St. Simons Island for my first time. We brought our mountain bikes and basically rode every day all over the island. He is the one who really introduced me to the Golden Isles. After that trip, I didn’t know when, but I knew where I wanted to end up. About a year later I moved here full-time. I didn’t know it at the time, but that one random weekend trip to a small island beach town would have changed my life forever.

What are some of the preferred drinks you enjoy when you’re off duty? I have recently really enjoyed the Silver Bluff Brewery’s Hefeweizen. It is a German, wheat-style beer, similar to a Blue Moon. It is crisp and very refreshing and has become my go-to beer. Silver Bluff has many delicious beers that always hit the spot. Also this past year I was introduced to the Chattanooga Whiskey Tennessee High Malt. It is unlike any traditional bourbon you have ever had. It is made from four grains, including three select specialty malts that give it a rich and smooth profile, so people who like Scotch will really like this. There is a great story behind this company too and how they started so everyone should check them out.

In the holiday season, what are some of your favorite seasonal cocktails? The Old Fashion is an extremely popular cocktail that is traditionally made with bourbon or any other kind of whiskey. Apple brandy is a distilled spirit made from apples and a distiller out in California called Germaine Robin probably makes one of the best apple brandies you will ever drink. With the holiday season, you can combine the flavor of the apple brandy with orange, cherry, and bitters, and even add a little bit of cinnamon to give it that holiday feel. It makes for a great fireside cocktail and is talking Christmas. Another is a classic grasshopper, which one of my customers actually was talking about not too long ago. It has kind of fallen off to the wayside, as far as popularity goes, but it is a very simple drink that is consumed after dinner with dessert. It is simply equal parts white crème de cacao, crème de menthe, and half-and-half. Mix those three together and pour it over the rocks, or serve it straight up for a classic after dinner drink that pairs well with the holiday season.

What wines do you recommend with a seafood dinner at Halyards? Especially with seafood, you don’t want anything that overpowers the food, but something that compliments the food. It is almost like a cleansing of the palate between bites. When you use something like California sauvignon blanc or Oregon pinot gris, both of which are crisp, acetic, and cleansing and pair really well with any seafood, white fish, salads, and even with chicken or pork. When you are thinking light and healthy, that’s kind of the same thing when I think of California sauvignon blanc or Oregon pinot gris. It’s light, clean, and crisp and not heavy or overbearing; it just compliments the food, which is the most important thing.

What is one thing that every bar customer should know? There are always great local and regional produced spirit options for your next cocktail. Most of the time, small distilleries or wineries don’t have a large budget for advertising so people don’t hear about them as much as larger companies. A lot of our bars and restaurants will support these small companies but most customers have the big box brands in their minds. One thing every customer should know is that at Halyards we have many local options. People should even change the way they think about what they are ordering to drink and ask “what do you have locally,” whether that be vodka, gin, rum or bourbon. There is a tremendous amount of stuff being produced in the Southeast between Florida, South Carolina, Georgia. With products from just those three states alone, you can well stock your bar with local products. Also, most of those are made from fruits and grains that are grown within the state or region, so these are all made by local people which I think makes it more fun. Please support them all.

Perfect Saturday in the Golden Isles: Jekyll Island holds a special place for me and my wife. In the summertime, we cook a nice big breakfast and we head over to Jekyll Island. Whether it is sitting on the beach or visiting the local resorts, we will spend the entire day there. Then we will go home and make some margaritas to end the day!

What is one thing every visitor must do before leaving the Golden Isles? I would have to say that the one thing is that take a kayak trip with one of the many local companies. It really puts you in and shows you what this area is all about. We can all see what the beautiful Golden Isles has to offer when we drive over the causeway or throughout the island but this puts a different perspective on this special place and you get an even closer look.

Favorite landmark in the Golden Isles: St. Simons Lighthouse because of the museum and history aspect. It is also a place that I would visit when I first moved to St. Simons Island. I lived near the village, so I would walk past the lighthouse frequently and sometimes I would go to the top. It is such a cool place to get an aerial view of the island and take a moment to think about life and whatnot, so that’s why it is such a special place for me. It grounds anyone who comes here and is the center of ours and any other coastal communities.