Whiskey in a Teacup: An evening with Reese Witherspoon

Liz Youngs

What a sweet night with Reese Witherspoon!  The award-winning actor, producer, entrepreneur, and author graced the halls of the Gaillard Auditorium for her Whiskey in a Teacup book tour.  

Audience members were gifted with her new book, complimentary tastings of her special whiskey tea and chocolate cocktails, and the opportunity to purchase any of her special gingham print bags and tops.  The gorgeous book is loaded with tips on gracious southern living, fantastic recipes for all occasions, and beautiful photos from Witherspoon's life on her Tennessee farm.

As beautiful in person as she is on screen, Witherspoon shared her southern living revelations to the packed house and shared personal stories from her childhood in Tennessee. She talked about her mother’s influence, her grandmother’s recipes, and facing challenges in her career. She made it clear it was the strong southern women in her life that helped her become who she is today. 

The hour-long event brought Witherspoon on stage with world-renowned author Emily Giffen, who proved a fitting moderator for the evening.  The banter between the two women was fun, and it left the audience cheering and laughing. 

Dressed in a reddish-pink wrap dress, Witherspoon looked every bit “Elle Woods” – when the movie Legally Blonde was brought up, an audience member jumped up with her law degree in hand and pink pillbox hat – which prompted a loud applause, and Witherspoon called her on stage for a Twitter photo.  Witherspoon seemed very grateful each time the audience cheered and applauded at any mention of her movies, including Sweet Home Alabama, Walk the Line and Wild – and her recent TV series, Big Little Lies

It's important to point out that Witherspoon, at one point in her career, checked Hollywood studios for projects featuring a strong female lead.  To her dismay, not one of the studios had anything planned.  Taking matters into her own hands, she started her own production company - and then produced and starred in the highly acclaimed Wild - where she was nominated for an Academy Award.  This girl is fierce!

Poignant moments included Witherspoon mentioning she had a tough time in Hollywood when she first arrived there as a young aspiring actress.  Taking advice from her southern mother, she knocked on the door of the girl across the hall and asked to be friends.  To this day, according to Witherspoon, she and that young woman are still best friends, and they share recipes.

The crowd cheered when Witherspoon talked about southern women being known for their casserole dishes and how convenient and delicious they are, no matter what’s in them.  The audience broke out in loud laughter when she shared how the west coast has no idea what a casserole is.

She talked about being humbled and star struck and how she is so grateful to have met many fabulous women actresses in her lifetime. Witherspoon shared intimate memories of meeting Dolly Parton, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman and provided hilarious and touching details of each experience.  She also met Kate Middleton, and she shared a funny little story about meeting her. Witherspoon is so incredibly charming and it's clear she is grateful for every person she has met, no matter their walk of life.

Witherspoon is a joy to be near.  Her smile is constant, her laughter is contagious and her genuine love of the south is very endearing.  She is one of America's sweethearts. She makes you want to be her best friend.   

The evening was lovely, happy and joyful – it just wasn’t long enough.