Jack Daniel’s Launches Tennessee Honey Whiskey in Las Vegas
When you’re in Las Vegas, forget about subtlety and go for the glitz. That’s what Caesars Palace mixologist Eddie Perales (pictured) did with his winning entry in a competitive cocktail competition last week at Tabu at the MGM, which pitted 14 of the city’s most talented bartenders against one another to create a drink that best articulated its theme ingredient: the newly-released Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey.
I was a guest of Jack Daniel’s, along with a handful of other journalists, at the official launch of the spirit, where we learned about the Lynchburg, Tennessee-based family of whiskeys from master taster Jeff Norman. Having tasted and enjoyed Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey before, I was happy to be there. It’s a smooth and well-balanced spirit made with traditional Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 and a proprietary honey liqueur, and while it’s a fine mixer in all kinds of cocktails, it’s delightful on its own as a chilled shot. Jack Daniel’s is the perfect thing to ask for at the bar when you’re not sure what to order, because it’s always mellow and easy to sip slowly. Tennessee Honey complements the Jack Daniel’s portfolio – which also includes Gentleman Jack and Single Barrel – nicely.
The events began with a tasting of all four of the brand’s “expressions” at a sky-high loft at the MGM, with Norman explaining how the barrels are charred and where the young spirits are stored in the warehouse to mature. We continued on to dinner at Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak (try the flatiron!), followed by drinks at Tabu, where violin-playing triplet sisters kept the crowd entertained until the wee hours.
But the main event occurred the next day, as we returned to Tabu to watch some of Sin City’s finest mixologists mix up creative cocktails using Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey as a base spirit. Several journalists from our group – though not me, sadly – were called upon to judge, and the cocktails started flying across the bar. There was all kinds of action to see, with chopping and shaking and stirring and funky glassware. This being Vegas, however, the eventual winner was big on the theatrics, bringing his own ice bar for the proceedings. Eddie Perales mixed up a punch he named “Honey I’m Off Sunday,” with a melange of fresh juices and syrups and even some edible flowers, and it was enough to get him the win. Second place went to Arto Nourijanian of the Bellagio, while Mark Kiyojima of ProgressiveBar took third.
If you’re up for trying to duplicate the winning cocktail for yourself, Eddie’s recipe is below. (Ice bar optional.)
Jack Daniel’s “Honey I’m Off Sunday” Punch
Recipe for 1 punch bowl: • 1/2 liter Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey • 1/2 liter fresh watermelon juice infused with strawberries • 1/2 liter fresh orange juice infused with blackberries • 1/2 liter fresh lemon sour and fresh cantaloupe juice • 1 1/2 ounces of rock melon Monin syrup • 1 1/2 ounces of watermelon Monin syrup • 1 tablespoon of orange marmalade • 15-20 large mint leaves • 3 ounce cup of edible flowers • Watermelon balls – small • Cantaloupe balls – small • Paper thin sliced oranges, blood orange, lemon, limes • 2 ounce cup of muddled fresh cranberries
Add all ingredients together in pitcher or bowl with ice. Mix, stir, and pour.