2017

Tennessee Calling 2017

Tennessee Calling II produced three talented winners - Charlotte Coyle (Filter + Fox, Liverpool), Josh Davies (Hedonist Project, Leeds) and Tatjana Titimova (Épernay Bar, Manchester). Each made a cocktail that I and my fellow judges considered delicious and special enough to serve at the world famous Dead Rabbit in New York.

And, importantly, we regarded their bartending talents to be of such a high standard that collectively they could run the bar themselves as a team and cope with orders for a couple of hundred of their complex cocktails over several very busy hours. Folk who only stand on the drinkers’ side of the stick might consider such an evening a nightmare rather than a prize, but for three talented and ambitious bartenders it was a hell of an opportunity and experience, and they relished it. And for those of us that looked on, including my fellow travelers, Erik Lorincz and JJ Goodman, it was great to see how well they coped, how much they enjoyed it, and how much the Dead Rabbit’s guests appreciated their cocktails and hosting skills.

Judging

Unusually, Tennessee Calling involves the judges travelling from bar to bar to sample cocktails presented by the competitors in the bar they work in. The judges go to the competitors rather than the competitors going to the judges. So, on a rainy freezing day in November, Erik Lorincz, Nathan Shearer, Nidal Ramini, Cam Dawson and myself trudged into our first bar, The Fizzy Tarte on Lake Windemere.

It proved a most uplifting experience and we set about the other stops on our tour around bars in the North of England, to meet bartenders and sample their cocktails, far more invigorated. The standard of bartending, along with the imaginative and tasty cocktails we encountered proved a potent antidote to the grim weather and train journeys endured along the way.

The prize

Having chosen our deserving three, we gave them just three days’ notice of their prize – to pack their bags and prepare for the trip of a lifetime to New York to present their cocktails during a guest shift at the Dead Rabbit, followed by a very special, access all areas, visit to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Tennessee.

While in New York our friends at Jack Daniel’s didn’t just take Tatjana, Charlotte and Josh to the Dead Rabbit – the stay lasted several days and encompassed some of New York’s best and most legendary bars. We also stayed, in some style, in Tennessee where we partied in many a country and western bar, enjoyed the very traditional hospitality and food at Miss Mary Bobo's and experienced the cocktails at the Nashville outpost of the legendary Attaboy. But the highlight was the day at the historic Jack Daniel’s distillery. This was my sixth such visit to Jack Daniels and every time I go it seems more of a magical place. Both the town and this distillery are like walking onto a film set but actors could never play the part of the folk you encounter and no set designer could recreate the experience of walking from Jack Daniel’s old office, complete with the safe that killed him, past the limestone cave, through the heat of the distillery on the way to a watch yeast multiply through an electron microscope in a state-of-the-art laboratory.

Three very talented bartenders will win Tennessee Calling III later in 2018 and once again I hope to join them on their trip of a lifetime. In the meantime, I congratulate Tatjana, Charlotte, and Josh, and present their winning cocktail recipes along with a film a film of each talking about their experience (click the photographs below), followed by the other seven finalist’s cocktails:

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Nearest & Dearest by Charlotte Coyle

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Leave A Message After The Beep by Josh Davies

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Meet Me At The Lynchburg Highway by Tatjana Titimova

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Oleo Sacrament by Alastair McCarroll

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For Peggy by Shane Kilgarriff

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Mai Suit & Tai by Nathan Larkin

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Apple-Jacked by Josh Allen

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Cool Smoke by Jo Last

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Crossroad Blues by Jeremiah "Toby" Boyce

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Coming Of Age by Jack Bishop

Tennessee Calling 2017 image 1
Jack Daniel's Rye image

Jack Daniel's Rye

Introduced in 2017, this Tennessee rye whiskey is made with the first new Jack Daniel's mashbill since 1866 comprising: 70% rye, 18% corn and 12% malted

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye image

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Rye

Introduced 2016, this is the Single Barrel Collection edition of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye whiskey, made using the first new Jack Daniel's mashbill since

Jack Daniel's Old No.7 Brand image

Jack Daniel's Old No.7 Brand

Jack Daniel's is a Tennessee whiskey and was named No.7 by Mr Jack himself in 1887 – no one knows why.

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey image

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey

Launched in 2010 and made by blending Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 with honey liqueur developed in Brown-Forman's Louisville plant to have a nutty flavour reminiscent

Gentleman Jack image

Gentleman Jack

As with Old No. 7, the distillate used to make Gentleman Jack is slow-dripped through 10 feet (3m) of densely packed hard sugar maple charcoal over 3 days

Jack Daniel's Green Label image

Jack Daniel's Green Label

Popular belief has it that Jack Daniel’s was originally sold with a green label at a lower age, the black label only launched after Jack’s death in

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel image

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel is made by the same process as Jack Daniel's Old No.7 but tends to be aged for 5½ to 6 years (certainly never less than 5

Jack Daniel's Maxwell House Commemorative Bottle image

Jack Daniel's Maxwell House Commemorative Bottle

The Maxwell House bottling is one in a range of commemorative bottles containing the same whiskey as the standard No.7 Black Label, although the alcoholic

Jack Daniel's Silver Select image

Jack Daniel's Silver Select

This line Jack extension was developed for the travel-retail (duty-free) market. Silver Select is basically Jack Daniel’s Single barrel but with better

Jack Daniel's Monogram image

Jack Daniel's Monogram

Released early in 2007 as a travel retail (duty free) exclusive, Monogram is now longer made so has become something of a collector’s piece. Comparable

Jack Daniel's Old No.7 Cola image

Jack Daniel's Old No.7 Cola

This black and white can with familiar Jack Daniel’s branding and red highlights proclaims its contents to be “A perfect mix of whiskey & cola”.

Jack Daniel's White Rabbit Saloon image

Jack Daniel's White Rabbit Saloon

This 2012 limited edition Jack Daniels bottling celebrates the 120 anniversary of the opening of the White Rabbit Saloon in 1892. One of two bars “Mr

Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select image

Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select

Launched December 2012, this special edition Jack Daniel’s whiskey honours Frank Sinatra, a devoted fan of the Tennessee Whiskey. It is matured in “Sinatra

Tennessee Fire image

Tennessee Fire

Launched in the U.S. April 2014, “Jack Fire” is made with Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 whiskey with a proprietary red hot cinnamon liqueur.

Jack Daniel's Unaged Tennessee Rye image

Jack Daniel's Unaged Tennessee Rye

Released late in 2012, this “white whiskey” is the first time since before Prohibition that the Jack Daniel Distillery has used a new grain recipe.