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Meet Your Bartender: Alex

Meet Your Bartender: Alex

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We understand that sometimes it’s hard to remember your favorite bartender’s name or what their favorite drink is. So that’s why we decided to introduce you to some bartenders around the country who are interested in sharing a little more about their craft. Bartending isn’t easy — it’s long hours, busy nights, slow days, and sometimes the occasional rude customer or two. Take a step into a bartender’s shoes and get to know them a little better! Once you learn their favorite cocktail, maybe you can offer them a drink or two after their shift…

The Daily Meal: Where do you work?

Alex: In New York City's Lower East Side and Midtown East.

TDM: How long have you been bartending?

A: Two years.

TDM: What is your favorite drink to make for guests?

A: Sazerac

TDM: What is the worst thing that’s happened to you behind the bar?

A: I had an older gentleman order a Scotch from me. Apparently, he was not allowed to be drinking, so he was sipping secretly at the bar while his wife waited at the table. Eventually, he was caught and the gentleman then informed me (and the whole restaurant) that he was caught because of me — I was awful at my job and should be fired. All of this shouted loudly and peppered with some curse words. It was my first day.

TDM: What’s the best pickup line you’ve received from a guest while bartending?

A: I have a stack of phone numbers that people have written on their credit card receipts, all with a "call me," or "you're cute." But the best face-to-face moment was a younger guy who had been staring me down for a while and finally asked what my nationality was. Apparently, I reminded him of a girl he had spent a "magical night" with in Russia, which he described to me in detail, and he was under the impression that it was a sign that he met me and it was fate for us to be lovers.

TDM: What’s the worst part about being a bartender?

A: The hours can be long. And when you have sour and negative people sitting with you, it can be difficult to stay upbeat.

TDM: What’s the best part about being a bartender?

A: When really amazing people sit down with great energy and an amazing story. I've met so many cool people.

TDM: What’s your go-to cocktail when you’re out with friends?

A: I love a good Old-Fashioned. Sometimes a nice gimlet.

TDM: What’s your favorite alcohol to create cocktails with?

A: I like whiskey cocktails. The same cocktail can become new just by changing the whiskey.

TDM: What’s the most ridiculous bartending story you have?

A: I don't have a story so much as a series of ridiculous customers. Like the man who asked me to bite him, or the man who dresses like Shaft, or the couple who threw a drink at me because I wouldn't give them a to-go cup.

TDM: What else should we know about hitting up a bar and talking to bartenders?

A: Don't be cheap. We work on tips.

Is There a Better Way to Make a Martini?

In his book The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto, Bernard DeVoto praises a deftly executed dry gin Martini as a muse that promises no less than “art’s sunburst of imagined delights becoming real” (which is significant, since he trashes most other mixed drinks, even a barroom darling of such stature as the Manhattan).

Of course, achieving these results doesn’t come easy. DeVoto insists his revered cocktail must be spec’ed to an exacting 3.7-to-one, gin-to-vermouth ratio it should be crowned with oil expressed from a lemon peel (which does not go in the glass afterward) and never should more than one serving be made at a time.

Such is just one example of the peerless thicket of arcana that clings to the Martini. Can you think of another cocktail so widely embraced, yet so subjected to personal whim?

“It’s one of the few drinks out there that no one will ever agree on,” says Alex Day of Proprietors LLC. “Everyone has their version of it, and it seems to be a deeply personal thing for people.”

Consider the (misunderstood) story of Winston Churchill’s vermouth-less Martini, or of James Bond’s famous preference for vodka over gin. Ratios, garnishes, glassware, rocks or not, the ways we’ve found to bend a Martini to our will are as innumerable as our taste buds.

Even DeVoto, a stickler to be sure, makes a perhaps unintended nod to the malleability of the Martini through an uncharacteristic equivocation: He says a Martini can be either shaken or stirred. That part apparently doesn’t matter.

Or does it? Cocktail science has advanced a long way since the day of The Hour, which first appeared in 1948. We now know each technique for mixing a Martini possesses its own unique qualities, and can deliver tangible variations on the final product, while keeping all else equal. Below, a look at each preparation in detail, starting from a commonly accepted build: two parts to one, London dry gin to dry vermouth. According to Day, “That core assemblage is the essence of what a Martini is.”

1. Study

Whether it’s getting to know your bar’s food menu better or reading industry publications to keep up with the latest trends, there’s plenty you can learn to help you become better at your job. The vast array of spirits behind the bar can be a great place to start. “I take it as an opportunity to study bottle labels front and back,” says Jerome Sequeira, a bartender at The Confederation Lounge at Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, Canada. “There’s a lot of information provided on the labels, and this helps me sell premium products. It also helps me grow as an expert in my profession and offer suggestions to my guests.”

Cocktail books are an especially great tool for boning up on classic recipes and flavor combinations. “Reading influential books is a great way for me to make use of my time during slower parts of the day,” says Asadour Sheldjian, a bartender at BG Lounge in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I like “The Craft of the Cocktail” by Dale DeGroff and “The Canon Cocktail Book” by Jamie Boudreau.”

Build These Cocktails Directly in a Flask

Perhaps it’s simply a logical evolution in the trends towards batched and bottled cocktails, but flasks are having a moment.

At the newly-opened Shuka in New York, for example, a silver “fish flask” transports a Vesper-like cocktail to the table, inspired by a similar flask glimpsed at Bellboy in Tel Aviv at The Punch Room in Charlotte, N.C., “flask service” means that a pre-mixed punch arrives via a large, shiny silver flask, to pour tableside.

Flask Force

Night Tripper

The Pendergast

Di Pompelmo

Playful as they might be, there are practical reasons why the longtime tailgate standby is popping up cocktail bars. These are drinks that can be assembled ahead of time and pre-measured, served directly in the flask itself or poured over ice. Give it a quick swish up and down, and the flask is transformed into a cocktail shaker, mixing the drink. And, like whimsical tiki mugs, a decorative flask hides a drink that maybe isn’t much to look at otherwise.

That said, not all cocktails are flask-friendly. According to New Orleans bartender Chris Hannah, who regularly totes flasked cocktails to Mardi Gras, the Krewe du Vieux and other parades, spirit-forward, stirred-style drinks survive best in a flask. Hannah often relies on a standard, pre-chilled recipe template— one-and-a-half ounces of whiskey, a three-quarter ounce of a moderately bitter amaro and a quarter-ounce of a sweeter liqueur, such as orange liqueur or herbaceous Strega, finished with two dashes of NOLA’s own Peychaud’s bitters—and he often doubles or triples the serve.

His two flask go-tos, however, are slight variations on this boilerplate recipe: His Night Tripper, named for the nickname of New Orleans music legend Dr. John, combines bourbon, Averna and Strega, while the Rebbenack (Dr. John’s surname) swaps in rye for bourbon and Creole Shrubb for amaro. Once in the flask, both drinks are pre-chilled.

Of course, not every drink requires that last step. Some bartenders are fans of scaffas, an old drink style designed to be served at room temperature. That’s Kansas City bartender Ryan Maybee’s strategy for overnight camping trips: “You can’t take ice,” he explains. “So it winds up being a room temperature cocktail. That’s an interesting challenge.” Per Maybee, that often leads to a drink that’s essentially a spirit softened with a bit of vermouth or liqueur. His The Pendergast, for example, builds on a bourbon base with additions of sweet vermouth and Bénédictine, plus Angostura bitters.

Though it seems counterintuitive, it’s possible to build a bubbly, refreshing cocktail—at least partly—in a flask, too, depending on where you’re headed. For concerts or tailgating events, Los Angeles bartender Alex Day thinks of his flasked cocktails as the base of a drink intended to be mixed later with items that can be purchased or brought on site—like sparkling wine or soda water for a spritz, or beer for a shandy or radler—along with larger cups and ice.

“Just drop it into the mix and it’s delicious,” he says. “And it won’t get people too messed up.”

McLain Hedges – Beverage Director at Morin and Rosetta Hall and Owner of The Proper Pour

McLain Hedges. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Location: Morin is located at 1600 15th St., Denver. It is currently closed. Rosetta Hall is located at 1109 Walnut St., Boulder. The involved restaurants are currently in the process of figuring out to-go service. The Proper Pour is located in The Source at 3350 Brighton Blvd., Denver. It is open Wednesday – Sunday 12 – 6 p.m. It is closed Monday and Tuesday.

Recipe:Knuck If You Buck

In a nutshell, a shrub, is a combination of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. The sweet, acidic mixer gets its name from the Arabic word sharab, which means, “to drink.” A shrub can be consumed on its own with club soda, but added to cocktails it provides a distinct tangy bite that adds complexity and a bold depth of flavor. Bartenders have their own trade secrets when it comes to making shrubs. Here are few:

Combining two or more shrubs

At the Washington Marriott Georgetown, bartender Alex Munoz uses a Strawberry Dill Shrub made with strawberries, white vinegar, water, sugar, and fresh dill combined with a Hellfire Habanero Shrub made with Capitoline rosé, Drambuie, and lemon juice mixed with bone marrow rye (Sagamore Rye Whiskey infused with bone marrow) to create his Savor the Moment cocktail. “The combination of subtle habanero spice from the Hellfire Habanero Shrub mixed with the Strawberry Dill Shrub has a unique flavor,” explains Munoz. “A sweet front and sour and spicy finish with a hint of dill on the nose, which really allows the bone marrow rye to have a mellow finish, so drinkers can really savor the moment.”

Unlikely combinations

Juan Calderon, head bartender at Proof on Main at 21c Museum Hotel Louisville Kentucky combines unlikely ingredients in his shrub cocktail called Pacha, made with mezcal, fresh lime juice, Kale Apple Shrub, allspice dram, and a pinch of salt.

“I made this cocktail to highlight the bright shrub flavor profile of kale and apple combo,” he says. “The earthiness of the mezcal and the tartness of the lime intensify the drink and a little touch of allspice brings it all home.”

Juan Calderon, Head Bartender at Proof on Main

Delicate acidity

Clay bar director Andrea Needell Matteliano’s blend of mezcal, manzanilla sherry and chamomile tea is complemented by a bold, spicy house-made orange-ginger-cardamom shrub and finished with a bitter aperitif. “Shrubs are a great way to add acidity to a cocktail without the use of citrus juice. In the Midnight Sun, Chardonnay vinegar adds a delicate acidity, its fruity notes complementing the orange zest, while imparting the vibrant flavors of cardamom and ginger without adding too much viscosity and sweetness like syrup would. The chamomile tea balances the sharpness of the shrub with delicate tannins, mezcal adds vegetal smokiness, and manzanilla sherry gives an engaging salinity,” says Needell Matteliano.

Clay’s Midnight Sun Cocktail

“I especially like playing with shrubs in stirred cocktails, not only for the flavor profile, but also for the visual effect, since the end result remains translucent.”
– New York’s Clay bar director Andrea Needell Matteliano

Andrea Needell Matteliano

Seasoned shrubs

At Henley, head bartender Benjamin Rouse uses shrubs to highlight specific flavors from the base spirit. His G&T uses a seasoned shrub to complement the Tangueray No.Ten. “The shrub for our G&T gives us a great option to utilize seasonal fruits and vegetables in a fun and sustainable way. We highlight specific flavors from the gin and it adds both acidity and balance to the cocktail without using a citrus juice, i.e. the lemon or lime wedge. We also tend to season our shrubs with spices that are found in the base spirit we are using. This gives the drink that extra touch of complexity!”

“A shrub is essentially a vinegar syrup that has been lightly fermented–think kombucha without the bubbles.”
– Benjamin Rouse, Bartender at Henley, Nashville Tennessee

Seasonal shrubs

In Fort Worth, Texas, Jason Shelly of Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. says, “Cocktails with shrubs are a great way to add brightness, acidity, tartness, and depth of flavor. Also, shrubs are a fantastic way to keep all types of fruits in cocktails through the winter months. A simple version of a Bee’s Knees with our TX Whiskey and honey shrubs turns out fantastic!”

Jason Shelly – Firestone & Robertson Co.

How to Make a Shrub

There are basically two methods to making shrubs: the cold infusion method, and the hot syrup method. The hot way is quicker, but not the “true” way. The cold method, extracts much more flavor from the fruit and ends up tasting less jammy.

What You Will Need

Vinegar: The most common vinegar used in shrubs is apple cider because of its milder, fruitier taste. There are, however, lots of other options like good quality white wine vinegar a complex, aged balsamic combined with figs is heavenly, or Champagne vinegar combined with blackberries is elegant and delicious.

Sugar: White granulated sugar works perfectly, but experiment with different types. Turbinado, honey, and brown sugar will add their own flavor profiles.

Fruit: There is almost no limit here, you could literally work your way through the seasons: rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, plumbs, figs, apples, pears … anything.

Spices and Aromatics: Add fresh herbs and spices like thyme, rosemary, basil, rosehips, ginger, cardamom, whole pink peppercorns, star anise, sumac and cloves.

The Basics: 1:1:1 ratio of vinegar, sugar and fruit.



Discard any bruised or discolored fruit, wash and chop into pieces.

In a sterilized, medium sized jar, combine the sugar, fruit, and herbs. Place on the lid give it a good shake. Allow the sugar-fruit mix to sit and macerate for 24 hours. Give the jar a shake every few hours.

The sugar will withdraw the water from the fruit. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a bowl. Return the liquid to the jar and discard the fruit. Combine the syrup with the vinegar, mix and refrigerate. Shrubs will keep for several months refrigerated.

Try These Combinations

Strawberries + brown sugar + balsamic vinegar + thyme + vodka

Blackberries + white sugar + Champagne vinegar + gin

Pear + honey + ginger + apple cider vinegar + rum

Apples + rosehips + brown sugar + cinnamon + apple cider vinegar + whiskey

Meet Your Bartender: Alex - Recipes in conjunction with The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation will be searching for bartenders who are passionate about whiskey, and what it means to create a truly meaningful cocktail experience. Bartenders will be asked to share their best Gentleman Jack Whiskey Sour for a chance to win a cash grand prize of $10,000.

  1. A whiskey sour that showcases your skill as a bartender. This cocktail should highlight the attributes of Gentleman Jack and be a cocktail that you would proudly serve to guests in your own bar.
  2. The cocktail must feature Gentleman Jack as the base spirit.
  3. Submit your recipes at through August 9, 2020.
Regional Competition Breakout by State:
States Not Eligible for Participation:

Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Texas and Utah

Residence in any of the below states qualifies bartenders to compete within each region:
Midwest Region:
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
Mountain Region:
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Washington
West Region:
Southern Region:
  • Tennessee
  • Alabama
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Kentucky
  • Georgia
Northeast Region:
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Washington DC
Central Region:
Southeast Region:
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Florida

7 (Seven) contestants from each of the seven participating regions will advance to the regional video competitions.

Regional Event Dates are between: October 5 – 16. Exact date and time will be communicated to potential regional competitors. Winners must be able to attend and participate.

Regional contestants will be provided with bank gift cards which they can use to purchase any necessary recipe ingredients for the creation of their entries. Taxes are the sole responsibility of regional contestants. No substitution/transfer of gift cards are permitted (ARV $60).

Additionally, Gentleman Jack and will provide regional contestants certain Gentleman Jack branded POS materials. These items include, but not limited to, bar mats, caddies, Gentleman Jack swag, and similar point of sale items (ARV $150).

Certain items that will be considered “on loan” to assist contestants in the production of their competition video that are not returned to Gentleman Jack will involve additional taxing implications to the contestants.


One winner from each regional competition will move on to the finals.

  • The finale week is TBD.
  • Travel Value: Round trip airfare and four nights lodging not to exceed $4,000.
  • will handle airfare and lodging arrangements.
Grand Prize: and The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation will award one final competition winner a cash grand prize of $10,000.

Taxes are the sole responsibility of prize winners. A 1099 will be issued to the winner for the prize awarded. No substitution/transfer of prize permitted. Alcohol is not part of any prize. Approximate retail value of each prize will not exceed $10,000.

When awarding the grand prize (gift/reward) to the winner and the winner is currently receiving government issued unemployment benefits, there is a chance that by accepting the gift/reward through this competition the individual may not be able to claim one of their monthly unemployment checks.

Entry Period:
  • June 22, 2020 12:00:01 a.m. &mdash August 09, 2020 11:59:59 p.m. PST: Open for online recipe submissions
  • August 10, 2020 &mdash September 04, 2020: Blind Online Judging period
  • July 8, 2020 &mdash September 30, 2020: Educational Seminar Series
  • October 05, 2020 &mdash October 16, 2020: Video Regional Competitions
  • Dates TBD Finals

Exact date and time for regional finals will be communicated to potential regional competitors. Winners must be able to attend.

General Rules:
  1. This program is open to all working bartenders and The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation members that are not employed by liquor companies or distributors.
  2. Additionally, anyone who self identifies as a bartender is also allowed to participate.
  3. Competitors must be at least 21 years of age.
  4. Competitors must be legal United States residents, residing in one of the participating states. States not eligible to participate are: Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Texas and Utah. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary.

By entering this program, you are giving, The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation, Gentleman Jack, and its affiliates explicit rights to use your photo, an image of your drink, drink recipe name, and your drink recipe for publicity purposes, including but not limited to: press, social media, digital activation and promotional activation.

Selection Process:
Phase 1 &mdash Online Entries:

For the purposes of determining the regional finalists, entries will be assigned to the closest applicable market, as determined by the Sponsor/Administrators. All complete entries submitted to within the entry time frame will be judged against the below criteria based on the perceived qualities of the written recipes and essay entry. Entrants will be notified via email by if they have been selected as a top 7 regional finalist. All competitors proceeding to the regional competition event will be notified by August 21, 2020. The competitors proceeding to the finale will be notified at their video regional competition, taking place on a day between August 21 &mdash September 16, 2020.

Phase 2 &mdash Regional Competitions:

The regional finalists will participate in one (1) video regional competition as assigned by Sponsor/Administrators. There will be one Regional Competition in each region (see above). There will be one (1) Finalist selected from each Regional Competition.

Regional finalists will be asked to create their whiskey sour before a panel of judges over a video presentation. Details of the regional competition requirements, rules, a video how-to guide and how to access necessary materials will be communicated a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the competition.

Phase 3&mdashFinal Event:

The seven (7) FINALISTS will receive a trip to Nashville/Lynchburg, TN to compete in the FINAL event. The bartenders who win the video regional competitions will participate in the finals week. One Grand Prize Winner will be selected during the Final Event.

Details of the final competition requirements and rules will be communicated a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the competition.

Judging Criteria (Online Entries):

Initial scores will be based on the judges’ interpretation of the written description submitted. In some cases, judges may recreate the cocktails to settle closely ranked submissions.

Competitors will submit one original whiskey sour recipe, including description and a photo of the cocktail. Entries will be judged and scored based on the following criteria:

  • Balance and taste (perceived)
  • Presentation
  • Displayed knowledge of the classic serve (as seen through the recipe description)
Judging Criteria (Regional Finalist and Finalist):

Scores based on criteria below.

  • Taste and Balance (15pts.)
  • Creativity and Originality (15pts.)
  • Intelligent use of Gentleman Jack (10pts.)
  • Presentation and Appearance (5pts.)
  • Creativity, relevance and appeal of recipe name (5pts.)
Guidelines and Requirements:

The and The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation Gentleman Jack Whiskey Sour Classic is more than your typical cocktail competition. It’s an exploration of the sour as an important category of classic cocktails. At each stage, participants will be asked to explain and explore the origins of the sour. We want to understand the process and intent behind your version of the sour. You will also need to highlight how Gentleman Jack has influenced your creation and give context for the decisions you made when creating this drink.

  • Recipes must be original. An original recipe is the product of one's own mind and is not a copy or imitation.
  • Gentleman Jack Tennessee Whiskey must be listed as the primary ingredient in your cocktail recipe.
  • An entry may not contain more than 2 oz total of beverage alcohol.
  • All recipes must conform to any legal regulations.
  • All recipes must be stated in parts and not ounces. Drops and dashes are allowed.
  • Recipes must not exceed 7 ingredients including drops, dashes (This does not include garnish, sprays or citrus zests)
  • Limit one entry per person/email address.

Any entries attempted through the use of agencies or robotic, repetitive, automatic, programmed or similar methods will be void. Any attempt by a person to use multiple email accounts or identities to gain more entries than permitted by these Official Rules shall result in disqualification at the sole discretion of Sponsor/Administrators. In the event of a dispute regarding the identity of the person submitting an entry, the entry will be deemed to be submitted by the “authorized account holder” associated with the email address at the time of entry, which must comply with these Official Rules. The authorized account holder is defined as the natural person who is assigned an e-mail address by the service provider or other organization that is responsible for assigning email addresses. Potential winners may be required to provide evidence (to Sponsor’s/Administrators’ satisfaction) that they are the authorized account holder of the e-mail address associated with a winning entry. In the event a dispute regarding the identity of the person who actually submitted an entry cannot be resolved to Sponsor’s/Administrators’ satisfaction, the affected entry will be deemed ineligible. Entries and other submitted material become the property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. Refer to Additional rules below for more details regarding the requirements for your entry.

Additional Requirements for Entry:

Entries must be in English. Entries must not allude to the overconsumption or irresponsible consumption of beverage alcohol. Entries that do not include all required information and do not adhere to the foregoing and following requirements will be considered void and will not be considered in the judging of this contest. Entries that are deemed by Sponsor/Administrators in their sole discretion to be illegal, obscene, profane or not in keeping with Sponsor’s or Administrators’ image will be disqualified.

Entry Requirements:

By submitting an entry, you warrant that:

  • You are the creator of the entry
  • The entry does not infringe the intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights or any other legal or moral rights of any third party, including any current or former employer, and does not defame any person or identify any person by name other identifying information
  • The entry has not previously been entered in any other contest
  • The entry has not been previously published in any medium
  • The entry does not violate any law or regulation

Sponsor's/Administrators’ determination as to whether any entry potentially violates the rights of any third party is final.


Employees of Brown-Forman,, The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation, their affiliates, liquor wholesale licensees, as well as advertising/promotion agencies and their immediate family members and household members of each and retail license holders are not eligible. This promotion is void wherever prohibited, taxed or restricted by law. In the event that the contest is challenged by any legal or regulatory authority, Sponsor or Administrators reserve the right to discontinue or modify the Contest, or to disqualify participants residing in the affected geographic areas. In such an event, Sponsor and Administrators shall have no liability to any entrants who are disqualified due to such an action. You must be at least 21 years of age to be eligible. Contest void wherever prohibited or restricted by law.

By accepting a prize, any winner: (a) releases Brown-Forman/ Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation and their affiliated companies and licensed alcohol wholesalers and retailers from any/all liability claims, action or proceedings arising out of or for injuries or damages sustained while involved in any promotion activity or connection with the use of the prizes as well as (b) consents to the use by Brown-Forman/ Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation for promotional purposes in connection with this promotion, of his or her name and/or likeness and/or voice without further compensation where permitted. Winner must complete an affidavit of eligibility and liability release. A 1099 will be issued.

The Sponsor, Administrators and participating promotional companies are not in any way liable for damage, loss or injury resulting from computer malfunctions, misdirected or incomplete entries or acceptance and use of the prize. Brown-Forman/ Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation reserves the right in its sole discretion, to cancel or suspend this contest should virus, bugs or other causes beyond the control of Sponsor or Administrators corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the contest. The Sponsor/Administrators reserve the right at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel, terminate or suspend the contest. The Sponsor/Administrators assume no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communication line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. CAUTION: Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any website or undermine the legitimate operation of the game is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, the Sponsor/Administrators reserve the right to seek damages from any such attempt.

Entrants will be automatically opted-in to receive messages from (Entrants may unsubscribe from the list at any time.)

I acknowledge that I have read and understand the rules & regulations pertaining to The Gentleman Jack Whiskey Sour Classic.

For a list of prize winners, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: ATTN: Gentleman Jack Sour Classic, 1500 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Do NOT send entries to this address.

1500 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10036

The Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation is a 501c3 organization (EIN: 82-2737963) and all donations are tax-deductible.

Brown Forman Corporation
850 Dixie Highway, Louisville, KY 40210

Gentleman Jack is a registered trademark used with permission.

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Need to strain your drink? Riff on the mason jar trick above, but poke small holes in a second lid. Then swap out the lids after shaking and pour your cocktail into a glass. Voila!

If you don&apost have a shot glass handy, but need to measure out your liquor, measuring spoons are a great alternative. One tablespoon equals 0.5 ounces of liquid, so adjust accordingly (the average cocktail has about 1.5 of liquor). But, if you&aposd rather eyeball the alcohol, we&aposre not here to judge!

About this recipe

Until recently, if you asked people what they’d consider the perfect occasion to enjoy a well-made cocktail, they’d cite the cocktail party. This time-honoured event with a Martini served in the chilled v-shaped glass to a roomful of people, has been the default image. Sure enough, the first cocktail party is reputed to have been held by a Mrs Julius Walsh of St Louis, Missouri in 1917, with around 50 guests turning up before lunch to enjoy recent inventions like the Martini and Aviation at her colonial-style home, and it’s been styled on that moment ever since.

Until now that is. Thanks to the explosion of interest in cocktails, and the good work we’re doing here at, many people are realising that there’s no need for a major social event to prompt a proper cocktail. You can mix and stir at any time – whether relaxing at home with a great film on the TV, enjoying the match with a few mates, catching up with a friend or sharing dinner. There doesn’t have to be a formal backdrop, and your cocktails will be all the better for it.

Smirnoff No.21 vodka, Gordon’s gin, Captain Morgan rum and Johnnie Walker whisky can provide the base, with delicious fresh juices such as orange, cranberry and pineapple as mixers. Or you can top your spirit of choice with tonic, lemonade, cola or ginger ale for a tasty, fizzing blend.

The Screwdriver cocktail for example, is a 1960s creation where you just add tangy orange juice to vodka. It’s so called because oil workers in the US stirred it together with a screwdriver, but there’s no need to rifle through your toolbox – a spoon will do just fine.

Then there’s the inspiringly named Cuba Libre, symbol of this infamous tropical island in the Caribbean that’s the source of so much mythology and glamour. The Cuba Libre is just rum mixed with cola, plus a lime garnish. Meanwhile, a Highball describes any spirit plus mixer, in a long glass with ice – and it dates all the way back to the 1890s.

The oldest are often the best

Simple, right? A classic cocktail doesn’t involve major shaking, straining, blending or body contortion – in fact often the oldest ones are the simplest. Nor does it require you to have a backpack full of shakers, muddlers and sieves, ready to unleash on your unsuspecting guests at any moment. You can play your part in cocktail history with relative ease. That’s why we want to take you through some of the oldest cocktails out there as the calendar unfolds.

Wimbledon, for example, has adopted the Pimm’s and lemonade, and the Mint Julep is now the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in the US, so let’s follow their lead. With friends over to grab some sunshine and grilled food at your barbecue, pour together Pimm’s and lemonade over ice. Or mix up the intensely aromatic Mint Julep as the meat and veg sizzle. You don’t need a proper muddler to extract the delicious mint leaf oils. A little friction from the sugar granules with a rolling pin will do.

When you’re planning a wedding reception, birthday party or housewarming, jot down a range of delicious cocktails. A Martini, Moscow Mule, G&T and non-alcoholic Mustique Fizz will help you cater for a whole range of guests. You can liven up that glass of sparkling wine by adding Pimm’s plus a slice of orange to create a rich, subtly herb-tinged Pimm’s Royale.

Another option is the Rum Punch or Gin Punch, offering something for everyone to share. The Punch is the oldest-known cocktail in the world, brought over from India to England in the 17th century. The word ‘punch’ comes from the ancient Sanskrit word ‘pañc’. So to say that you’re mixing a tried and tested formula is an understatement.

The Punch even predates the term ‘cocktail’ itself. Nowadays a cocktail refers to any mixed drink, but back in 1804 the newly invented ‘cocktail’ was a ‘Sling’ – spirit, sugar, citrus and sparkling water – with added bitters. Hence at the time the cocktail was also known as a ‘Bittered Sling’.

You can see the Sling’s influence in the Collins and Rickey of today, as well as the early Sours (balancing citrus and sugar). These drinks are great on a summer’s day, adding zest and length. But the cocktail is also about big flavours, and these came in the form, chronologically speaking, of bitters, liqueurs (the Margarita and the Sidecar) and vermouth as with the Martini. Try them all, and see which you like the best.

But back to that a tasty, five-ingredient combination made from alcohol, water, sugar, lemon and tea or spices: the Punch is one old-timer that works. You’ll probably miss out the ‘tea’ part of the five ingredients, however lots of fresh fruit with top quality spirits can be truly delicious. A punch can also be mixed well ahead of time – a day or two before the party for a macerated flavour. Then just add the juices at the last minute for a fabulous party centrepiece. If you have a large, decorated bowl and ladle, that’s all the better, giving you time to meet and greet your guests.

Sloe down and serve up

As you stretch out your barbecuing to extract the very last drop of summer, Gordon’s Sloe gin is the option as the leaves begin falling, with sloe berries macerated in gin. It can be used in a delicious G&T, or the classic Bramble cocktail – that mid-1980s invention of bartender Dick Bradsell with a drizzle of crème de mûre for a taste of autumn.

Then there’s the Toddy, effectively a winter version of the Punch with its egg, spirit, sugar, cream and spice all brought together. We’re moving into winter now, with the rain pouring down and a cold wind blowing outside (although that’s not mandatory for enjoying this drink). The Toddy is probably the descendant of the ‘Lamb’s Wool’, an early 17th century cocktail that took fruit purée and then mixed it with beer, along with spices before heating, and has been revived at Hick’s bar and restaurant in London.

In fact, if it weren’t for a grain surplus from the 1688 harvest, many of our cocktails would be beer-based. Thanks to so much grain entering the market that year, the English king William of Orange dramatically reduced the tax on the commodity, which lead to the setting up of so many 18th century distilleries and the subsequent popularity of gin. You can add some ale or lager to your Toddy just for old times – or use cider as in our Harvest Spice, a cocktail created specially for which has Don Juilo Blanco tequila, lemon juice and the sweetness of agave syrup too.

Old Fashioned approach

But you don’t have to heat your drinks just because it’s winter. Although it seemed like everyone was putting their cocktails over the fire pre-20th century, there are some classics that come cold. The Old Fashioned is one example.

This fabulous cocktail was so named back in the 19th century because the new-fangled drinks were making customers nostalgic for simpler, more traditional drinks. They’d ask for cocktails ‘made the old-fashioned way’ – like this pour of whiskey and bitters. Another signal of its longevity is the use of a sugar cube – they didn’t have sugar syrup back in the early-to-mid 19th century, so the soaking and mashing in an Old Fashioned is one way to dissolve the granules and prevent them sticking in your teeth. Enjoy with Bulleit Bourbon in the classic, or use delicious Zacapa for a rum variation instead.

It’s how cocktails used to be mixed: with no fizzing, fruits or fancy flavours – and it’s delicious.

You can tell the Old Fashioned is a turbo-charged classic because it has a glass named after it. It’s one of the few cocktails, like the Martini and the Collins, to be so celebrated.

The Manhattan is another with the dark spirit look that fits the season, but it’s even more suited to parties than the Old Fashioned because essentially the Manhattan is a dark Martini. Like this classic drink, the Manhattan is a late 19th century combination of spirit and vermouth, and, like the Martini it’s served in an elegant v-shaped glass. The aromatics from the fortified wine escape into the nostrils as you drink, stem in hand. Most likely invented in the 1870s by a bartender on Broadway, it’s the number one New York cocktail – apart from, that is, the Cosmopolitan.

Unusual because it’s a classic of very recent times, the Cosmopolitan was refined by New York bartenders in the 1990s. It’s the epitome of the great three-part combination of spirit, liqueur and fruit juice. Cranberry and vodka mark it as a modern drink, with orange liqueur adding some traditional depth. The Cosmopolitan looks like a summer tipple, but those classic Christmas flavours of orange and cranberry give it a festive edge.

In fact you’ll be dazzled by a number of cocktails at this time of year. One of them is the Baileys Chocolate Orange. As the tinsel glitters on your tree, and the presents sit waiting to be opened, Baileys Chocolat Luxe, Grand Marnier and grated cinnamon has all the flavour to go perfectly with some mince pies. Or you might want go more Christmas cake in style. The Old Fashioned Christmas is a spicy, zesty treat with star anise, cinnamon, orange zest and cranberry, all mixed with 35ml of Smirnoff No.21. Or there’s a kind of Christmas Punch in the form of the delicious Baileys Eggnog, a comforting mixture of aromatic spices blended together with egg that dates back to medieval times.

But you don’t have to combine lots of ingredients to make a fine Christmas tipple. Malt whisky served neat works beautifully: pour your dram in a glass over ice and add water to taste. Mixing doesn’t get much easier than this! Talisker 10 year old or its brethren Talisker Storm come with a dash of peat and salt from the windswept distilleries on the Isle of Skye. There are lighter options from the classic Speyside region in Scotland: the rich and rounded Singleton of Dufftown, the smooth and silky Cardhu 12 year old or the fruity, spicy Cragganmore 12 year old. Or there are the floral, elegant Highland malts of Dalwhinnie and Oban. You can taste the years of experience and ageing that go into making these fine whiskies.

Eventually the snow must melt and the thermometer start to rise, so it’s time to look at another classic before the ice in the shaker goes too. The Flip was traditionally a winter recipe, made by dipping a red-hot iron poker into a rum, beer and sugar mixture. The poker frothed or ‘flipped’ the cocktail. However nowadays you don’t need to go to such alarming lengths by purchasing a poker and finding your nearest fire – the characteristic froth on a Flip can be obtained by shaking with egg. And that brings us to that festival of chocolate in March or April.

Try our delicious Easter Flip to celebrate the blooming of the daffodils, mixing Smirnoff No.21 with egg, cream and white crème de cacao, nutmeg and chocolate. After this year-long tour of cocktails, we’ve come full circle. Which just shows that it’s time to get mixing!

San Diego

Great Maple

Location: 1451 Washington Street, San Diego, CA
Bartender: Johnny Rivera
Cocktail: One-Armed Mary ($13.95) with 42 Below Vodka, house Mary mix, spices, salt and pepper rim, fresh lemon and a spicy grilled octopus tentacle.

Hangovers are the previous night's shenanigans holding onto you and not letting go. Great Maple owner Johnny Rivera understood this full well and how a hangover cure needs a combination of booze and protein to be truly effective. So, an octopus' extremity garnishing his Bloody Mary was the answer. "I caught fresh octopus in Sardinia, Italy and inspired me to put a fresh tentacle in my morning libation. After a night of drinking 'The night she still has one claw on ya,'" he says.

Watch the video: The Bartender Hates You (August 2022).