The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2015

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Page 61 of 140

travels with jack  /  61 When we caught up with ET at Tales of the Cocktail, he happily reminisced about his NOLA wedding. BRINGING THE PAST TO LIFE Always the Jack Daniel's history buff, ET was combing through publication archives to uncover more about the company's past when he came across a reference to how Uncle Jack liked to drink his whiskey: with muddled tansy leaves—which grows wild near Lynchburg, Tennessee—and sugar. When he brought this tidbit up to his longtime friend and bartender, Michael Neff, currently opening Clifton's in Downtown Los Angeles, the duo conjured up an idea to whip up a bitters. The pair planted the tansy in their backyards; ET's crop quickly disappeared, but Neff's has been growing strong for over a year. Now, they are working to perfect their recipe for their Gold Button Bitters—the name of the flowers on the plant—and will unveil it in one of Neff's NYC bars, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, with hopes to bring it to the market in the near future. "I was drawn to the story and I already make bitters, so I was naturally intrigued," Neff remarks. "I enjoy historical drinking products and when we made our first batch, I knew we were onto something—it's great for cocktail geeks like myself!" As for the taste profile, ET likens it to a subtle minty, earthy flavor, while Neff describes it more as a beet leaf or dandelion—there is an astringent bitterness that flattens out in a nice way. ET concludes: "Bringing back a piece of lost history for a brand as iconic as Jack Daniel's makes this such an awesome project to work on, and collaborating with a friend makes it all the better." when you are a kid and you discover a band, and then call them a sellout as soon as they get popular and play Madison Square Garden. But if their sound hasn't changed, doesn't it just prove the point that they really are good?" An argument strengthened by the throngs of loyal customers, and since Jack Daniel's is a large distillery, it has the resources to do it the right way—the way that "Uncle Jack" did them. In an era when bartenders seek brands with a story to tell, it seems impossible that Jack Daniel's gets overlooked. Jack left home to help out a local reverend, who taught the pre-teen how to distill, and ultimately, his product won a gold medal for the best whiskey at the "Louisiana Purchase Exposition" 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The eponymous Jack also owned his own saloon, The White Rabbit, where he entertained guests with his band, the Silver Coronet Band. And today, every drop of Jack Daniel's is still made in Lynchburg, TN, in a dry county: "If Jack knew his little brand would be the biggest selling whiskey in the world, I'm sure he'd be proud, but I believe he would be more proud of the fact that its still made the same way today as it was all those years ago," comments ET. Michael Neff and Eric "ET" Tecosky bring Uncle Jack's favorite recipe to life with their Gold Button Bitters. Tansy plants in Michael Neff's back yard. Gold Button Bitters is a perfect pair- ing with Jack Daniel's. "People, including newer bartenders who didn't grow up with Jack Daniel's, don't really know the brand and its story," ET notes. For this reason, he travels across the country to tell its tale. During the height of July heat, ET made his way to the Big Easy for Tales of the Cocktail. The city holds a special place in his heart because it's where he married his wife; they wed in Jackson Square, and all the guests left in a Second Line parade with a classic Hurricane cocktail. This year, the guests of his pop-up cocktail event—held at his favorite bar in NOLA, The Chart Room—left with his Tall, Cool One cocktail that proved just how versatile Jack can be. PHOTOS BY DUSTIN DOWNING

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