The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2018

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Page 49 of 124

january/february 2018  /  the tasting panel  /  49 Motivated by the renewed inspira- tion bursting forth in Motor City, I was excited to create an innovation-themed brand immersion experience for the iconic American spirits brand Jack Daniel's and its luxury expression, Gentleman Jack whiskey. Jack Daniel's National Brand Ambassador Eric "ET" Tecosky regularly hosts bartender trips in various cities throughout the U.S., and the regional participants win these local immersion experiences by way of an online cocktail contest. During our three days together, the group learns about Tennessee whiskey and connects with the Jack Daniel's brand by delving into activities tied to both the trip's theme and locale. Once the bartenders arrived, we beelined straight to the newly-opened Detroit Foundation Hotel for a meal; formerly the Detroit Fire Department headquarters, the historic building now utilizes its three massive doorways once used for firetruck entrances as impressive, sun-filled windows in the restaurant and bar. Tecosky led our guests through a portfolio tast- ing including traditional Old No. 7, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel's Rye, Single Barrel Barrel Proof, and the ultra-premium Sinatra while peppering the presentation with details about the adventurous life of Jack Daniel himself. The highlight of each immersion experience is the cocktail lab, during which the bartenders wow us (and each other) with the creations that earned them a spot on the trip. They also conceptualize a new recipe reflect- ing the trip's theme, and the interactive talent showcase features local ingredi- ents as well as, of course, a whole lot of Gentleman Jack whiskey. Photographer Claire Barrett captures their drinks and bartender portraits, and the video crew interviews each bartender to create individual digital reels. By the end of the lab, everyone is tired, happy, and ready to celebrate— and like with any occasion worth remembering, cocktails and food play a central role in our trips. With new restaurants popping up each month in Detroit, we had some exciting options to choose from. For our dinner the first night, we went to Grey Ghost, where the welcoming staff had a big bowl of Gentleman Jack punch waiting on our table. A modern and swanky restaurant in an evolving neighborhood, Grey Ghost captures the electrifying spirit of today's Detroit. Our celebratory second-night dinner, meanwhile, unfolded at Cliff Bell's jazz supper club. Rumor has it that when the building was still in ruin, an investor saw photos of the dilapidated rooms and decided to restore them; the gold-leafed ceilings and banquettes, not to mention the talented musicians, certainly harken back to Detroit's golden era. Getting to know American cocktail and culinary culture through these activations has given me an even deeper appreciation for the talented bartenders in cities large and small, famed and still developing. As Carol Donovan, a respected bartender from Chicago who participated in our trip, puts it: "By showing me these parts of Detroit, Gentleman Jack inspired me to consider the past when I look to innovate in the future. Appreciating what came before and celebrating that even as I create something new is my favorite takeaway from the experience. My approach to cocktail creation has been forever tweaked because of my experiences on this trip!" Shared innovation keeps our cocktail community moving forward throughout the country, and I'm thrilled to be a cog in the wheel of Gentleman Jack's outreach. Bartenders who wish to be considered for future contests can contact Natalie Bovis at GENTLEMAN DILL-IVER Created by Jarmel Doss ◗ 1½ oz. Gentlemen's Jack ◗ ½ oz. The Peat Monster Malt Scotch Whisky ◗ ½ oz. Smith & Cross Rum ◗ ½ oz. petit shrub ◗ ½ oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao ◗ ½ oz. Pineapple Demerara ◗ 2 drops saline Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add one barspoon of lemon juice to a glass with one large ice cube. Pour cocktail over ice and top with four drops of dill tincture. The Gentleman Jack Detroit Bar Lab crew from left to right: Jarmel Doss, Adam Sarkis, Luke Nevin-Gattle, Carol Donovan, and Traci Czech. "By the end of the lab, everyone is tired, happy, and ready to celebrate— and like with any occasion worth remembering, cocktails and food play a central role in our trips."

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