Meet the Bartenders of Jack's Black Book

Each year, we travel around the country with Jack Daniel's Brand Ambassador Eric "ET" Tecosky as he meets up with old and new friends and discovers how they are using Jack Daniel's in their mixology. He compiles his journey into a little black book; below are a few of the bartenders who will be gracing the pages of the upcoming Jack's Black Book.

ERIC HOBBIE
A Family Secret, Las Vegas



What's your favorite memory of Jack Daniel's?
A great memory I have is my dad making Jack Daniel's Manhattan's for my grandfather. When my grandparents would come to visit us, my pops would have to make a jug of pre-made Manhattans using Jack Daniel's of course, since it was Frank Sinatra's favorite whiskey and he was a God in our house. He would throw six to seven cherries in the jug and when my grandpa would finish his cocktail, I was allowed to eat the cherry. Catching my first buzz at an early age.

Favorite spot in the country to bartend?
My favorite spot to bartender in the country would be Vegas. Only because I get to meet new people every day from all over the world. 

Where's the most unlikely place you've had a great drink?
The most unlikely place I have had a great cocktail would be 30,000 feet in the air. Little secret: I batch cocktails in little shampoo and lotion containers and mix my own drinks in the sky. Been doing it for years.  


JULIO CABRERA 
The Regent,  Miami



What one bar tool would you take with you on a desert island? 
A shaker.

Molecular mixology: yay or nay? 
Nay.

Where's the most unlikely place you've had a great drink? 
On a hot air balloon.

What cocktail ingredient do you want to see used more often?
The smile.

What's the first drink you ever made? 
Ron Collins.

Where do you get your bartending inspiration? 
Smoking a cigar in my house terrace, close to a lake.


DARYL PRYOR
B and GC, Denver



Favorite cocktail garnish?
A well trimmed, well expressed citrus peel. It's simple, but when someone takes something that basic and perfects it, you know that the rest of your experience is going to be considerate and thorough. 

Either that or a plastic shark with a mouthful of Campari plunged into a cocktail on crushed ice. 
 
What bartender behavior drives you crazy?
When bartenders forget who they are bartending for. When I see a crew behind the bar that's more focused on talking among themselves, keeping their back to their patrons, and operating with a sort of generalized malaise, it really bums me out. And, for the love of all things Holy, stop taking Instagram photos of every single cocktail you churn out. Get it across the bar. It's not your first born child. 

Where do you get your bartending inspiration?
When it comes to cocktail creation, I look at classics, and I think about my culinary training. Pairing those two knowledge bases has helped me immensely behind the bar. When it comes to the whole other (and, in my opinion, more important) side of bartending, the interaction, the hospitality, I rely on empathy. Consider yourself in that seat, and consider what you'd want in that moment to feel satisfied. Then give your guest all of that and more. Unless it's drugs. Don't give them those. 


MARY KELLY
Graffiato, Washington, DC 


What's your favorite memory with ET?
Enjoying a rainy day drinking cocktails in DC! Not a common occurrence for a West Coaster!

What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's?
Rebellion-best place for a Sinatra on their amazing roof deck!!

If a tourist could only do one thing in your city, what would it be?
Come for the Cherry Blossoms bloom; it's when the spring breaks and DC is at it's most beautiful!

What can be found in your city that you have never seen anywhere else?
The restaurant and bar community we have built in DC. When we say #dcrising, we mean it and we rise together. In a business that is so often highly competitive, our chef and bar community always lends a hand to anyone who is trying to grow or support other ventures, charities and celebrations.

What do you wish stayed a secret in your town?
Living in the Nation's Capital, we are pretty used to sharing our city with the world. The diversity makes everyday working or playing super interesting. However, I think like anywhere, we all want to relax with our friends when service is over. So for my after work spot, I think I'll keep it secret. 

When you travel, what do you miss most about your city?
DC is a small town disguised as a major city.  We have world class restaurants, museums, music, and parks, but DC is only 10 miles wide. At the end of the day we all know each other, when I'm away I miss that connectivity.

What one bar tool would you take with you on a desert island?
A portable ice maker. More practically, I think a fine strainer would have the most uses.

TIFFANY CATALDO
Granary Tavern, Boston, MA



What's your favorite memory with ET?
My favorite memory of ET was learning that he was the guy who invented the Surfer on Acid! I was pretty star struck at that point. He was super easy to talk to and I loved hearing his stories about rescuing puppies!!

What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's?
I usually enjoy my Jack Daniels at Central Wharf Co. which is right next door to my bar so it's super easy to grab a drink after work. Also my boyfriend works there so that's a plus too!!

If a tourist could only do one thing in your city, what would it be?
As a tourist in my city, I would go to George's Island. It's been my favorite place since I was a kid and I recommend it to anybody that comes into the bar. The boat ride over is amazing and you get a perfect view of the city from the water. I love old war forts and Fort Warren is one of my all time favorites. 

What can be found in your city that you have never seen anywhere else?I've never seen anything like Lawn on D (a grassy outdoor space featuring seasonal live music, lawn games and other events) anywhere. I love playing cornhole outside and I love the light up swings! There aren't too many places in Boston where you can walk around and drink outside, so that mixed with lawn games is always a good time. 

When you travel, what do you miss most about your city?
When I travel, I miss the people most. The neighborhood I work in is such a tight knit group of people, so they're always what I'm most excited to get back home to. 

What do you wish stayed a secret in your town?
I would have to say the one after-hours spot that doesn't kick you out until 3 am (but I don't want to say where because you aren't exactly supposed to be there!), but sometimes some tourist find out about it!

NADINE RODRIGUEZ
Breeze Whiskey Lounge, Kissimmee, FL




Favorite memory with ET?
While walking towards a local bar in Orlando, we both stop in the middle of nowhere to realize we are lost. We looked up on the mural in front of us, and it has this one drawing. We instantly said let's send this to our partners. It was such a great find.

What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's? 
Breeze Whiskey Lounge, a quaint art bar located in historic downtown Kissimmee.

Favorite cocktail garnish?
Edible flowers. They make the drink look dainty. 

What bartender behavior drives you crazy?
When a bartender opens a beer and throws the cap on the floor, it drives me insane. 

Best cocktail name you've ever come up with? 
Zane's Key Lime Pie. Zane is my puppy I bring to work all the time, and I think it was funny.


AARON POLSKY
Harvard & Stone, Los Angeles, CA


What's your favorite memory with ET?  
We were in the Valley drinking with Michael Neff and I started to argue with him over whiskey proof.  We left, never seeing eye to eye on the particular point, but he took the high road and hit me with a massively graceful move the next day.  

What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's?  
Can I be biased? Harvard & Stone.

If a tourist could only do one thing in your city, what would it be? 
Go eat in KTOWN (Koreatown)!

What can be found in your city that you have never seen anywhere else? 
Boat Noodles.

What do you wish stayed a secret in your town? 
I'm all for sharing.

When you travel, what do you miss most about your city? 
Korean food.


BROCK SCHULTE
The Drum Room, Kansas City, MO



What one bar tool would you take with you on a desert island?
Definitely Ice!!

What is favorite Jack Daniels cocktail?
Whiskey neat.

Molecular mixology, yay, or nay?
Yay, when appropriate!

What bartender behavior drives you crazy?
Tie between being lazy and dirty.

Where do you get your bartending inspiration?
Constantly reading and learning from local chefs like Howard Hanna at The Rieger!

What's your favorite memory with ET?
It has to be the midnight hot tub party and learning to use a new piece of equipment I hadn't seen before. I don't even know the name of it, but basically you use it to extract juices from fruits like blueberries that might be difficult otherwise. 


RHIANNON ENLIL
Erin Rose, New Orleans, LA




What's your favorite memory with ET?
We spent a late evening in a pretty great bar in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The bartender at Evangelo's was this older gent, who kept pouring us shots of whiskey and told us about his father who was in WW2. It was one of those late nights where you lose complete track of time, just listening to a great bartender telling good stories, and the next thing you know, it's after 3 am and you've shared half of a bottle of Jack with a friend.

What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's?
I really love Sylvain, which has great cocktails and really friendly staff. Plus, the food is outstanding.

What one bar tool would you take with you on a desert island?
A desert island? Maybe the smartest answer is the Coco-Jack!

What drink reminds you of a great memory?
I once woke up with such a fierce hangover, I thought only a Ramos Gin Fizz would cure me. After brainstorming where I could get one at that hour, I realized my only option was to make it myself. My head ached so badly, I had to sit down to shake the drink. But every single sip brought me exponentially back to life, so now whenever I drink one, I remember its unworldly healing powers.

What is your favorite Jack Daniel's cocktail?
Where I work, we will always cheers with a shot of Jack Daniel's in memory of a great friend to the bar, Asa French.

Favorite spot in the country to bartend?
I still think New Orleans is a great city to work, because most people here are specifically looking to have a great time. We have a rich history of cocktails, but we also have a laissez-faire attitude and sincere warmth in service, so everyone is comfortable. We will serve you a shot of whiskey and a joke, or make you an expertly crafted Sazerac-no pretense, no pressure, just a true joie de vivre.

Favorite cocktail garnish?
Nothing beats a giant bundle of bright fresh mint to put your nose in when drinking a julep.


NATALIE BOVIS
The Liquid Muse, Santa Fe, NM



What's your favorite memory with ET?
My favorite memory with ET was at Tales of the Cocktail 2015. I was up early to lead the Mind Body Spirits bartender wellness program, and I was walking in the French Quarter to get a coffee. I ran into ET on the sidewalk, and he had an adorable Pit Bull puppy with him that he had rescued from some rough guys on the street who weren't treating it well. He'd been up all night taking care of the puppy and he looked pretty beat. I volunteer at animal shelters, so, of course, my heart melted, and I joined him on his quest to find a safe place for the dog. We called a shelter but didn't leave the puppy there because we didn't like the look of it when we got there. Meanwhile, we were posting photos and updates on Facebook. By the afternoon, a local bartender had seen our online pleas and she adopted the dog. We went to visit her at the bar where she worked, that evening, and she showed us photos of the pup happily hanging out with her other Pit Bull rescue at her house. That day isn't only my favorite memory with ET; it was also my best day in the ten years I've attended Tales of the Cocktail!

What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's?
Anywhere, really. I like whiskey. I especially like it with barbecue.

Molecular mixology, yay, or nay? 
I'm more into seasonal, fresh ingredients with a culinary slant. My third cocktail book Edible Cocktails: Garden To Glass focuses on that concept. I love shopping the Farmers Market for beets, carrot, stone fruits, honey, flowers, spices, roots and other items that I can use in my cocktail development. Basically, if I can cook with it, I can make cocktails with it!

Where's the most unlikely place you've had a great drink?
We have a dive bar, here in Santa Fe, called The Matador. It is dark, located in a basement, they blast punk rock music, and it's known as a late night shot-and-beer kind of place-popular with bartenders when they get off work. However, there are a couple of bartenders there who are passionate about mixology. If you go earlier in the evening, before it's packed, they can make classic cocktails that rival fancier places in town. 

What bartender behavior drives you crazy?
When someone talks down to me, or any customer. 

Best cocktail name you've ever come up with?
Flor de Maria. It's means "Mary's Flower" and made with tequila and hibiscus flowers. It is a tribute to Our Lady of Guadalupe, an iconic figure in Mexican culture, and a prominent one in New Mexico.


JESSICA WESTERGOM
The Sand Dollar Lounge, Las Vegas, NV



What's your favorite memory with ET?
My favorite ET memory is when we first met at a Women of Whiskey brunch last year, hosted at Giada, located inside The Cromwell. We bonded over our roots, both being from around the Philly area. We joked about how we pronounced words like "water" (or "woodier" as we say it).

What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's?
My favorite spot to enjoy Jack has to be at the Sand Dollar; I may seem biased because I work there, but it's the best local live music venue, and they have a Gentleman Jack program, where you can buy your own bottle and sip it while you listen to Rock 'n' Roll.

What drink reminds you of a great memory?
Jack neat or on the rocks reminds me of the average night hanging out with my friends, whether it be at home or at a great bar. Nothing better than just straight whiskey.

Favorite spot in the country to bartend?
I love bartending in Vegas. You get to see and meet so many new people every day. You get the locals and your regulars, but it's so special serving people from all around the world and giving them a memorable Vegas story or experience.

What bartender behavior drives you crazy?
I hate when bartenders preach about what YOU should have or try to school and educate the guest when they come to the bar. Guests come to relax and unwind, not hear the bartender's idea of what you should be enjoying. If they ask the bartender for advice or an opinion, that's one thing, but unwanted education bothers me. If I want a dirty martini, just make me a dirty martini.

What's the first drink you ever made?
The first cocktail I ever made was an Appletini at my first service job back in Philly. I was terrified and had no idea what was in it. Looking back, it's pretty funny that I was scared of a cocktail I've never actually had myself. 


ERIC ALPERIN
The Varnish, Half Step and Penny Pound Ice, Los Angeles, CA



What's your favorite memory with ET?
My engagement party at Jones Hollywood and 4 am burgers in New Orleans.

What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's?
Jones Hollywood.

Favorite cocktail garnish?
A long orange peel.

Where's the most unlikely place you've had a great drink?
I had a great Gin & Tonic at Monte Carlo, a bar in Los Angeles on 3rd by Vermont. It's an old epic dive joint.

What cocktail ingredient do you want to see used more often?
Crystal clear and dense block ice.

What bartender behavior drives you crazy?
Ignoring the guest. A guest will feel more at home if there is acknowledgement, even if the bartender is busy.

Molecular mixology: yay, or nay?
Anything that positively furthers the craft behind the bar is fine in my book. The act of tending bar is about people, so in my mind any molecular research needs to be experimented with and perfected in the back of house. If it makes sense in a particular bar program, then all systems go. Otherwise molecular mixology fan fare behind the bar just for the sake of it is risky to the guest experience and, additionally, a bar's bottom line.


VINCENZO MARIANELLA 
Copa d'Oro, Santa Monica, CA



What's your favorite local spot to enjoy Jack Daniel's? 
I still love The Well.

What drink reminds you of a great memory? 
I'm old . . . way too many.

Favorite spot in the country to bartend?  
Beside Copa d'Oro, I wish I was working at Employees Only in NYC or in a five-star hotel in London.

Molecular mixology, yay, or nay?  
It depends on the place. At a regular bar, no, but at a fine dining or Michelin Star restaurant, why not? 

What bartender behavior drives you crazy?  
The mixologist one.

What's the first drink you ever made?  
If I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning, how can I remember the first drink I ever made? I remember the first one I had, and it was a Bloody Mary.

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