Happy Birthday, Jack.

I’m going to Tennessee.  Hell-freakin’-yeah.

Yes.  So.  Little excited.  Yesterday, at the Raconteur in deepest darkest Stockbridge, I won the Scottish round of the 4th annual Jack Daniels birthday celebration cocktail competition.  Around 20 bartenders were competing on the day, some new faces, some hardened competitors, with a lot of interesting drinks and some major talent.  It was a day that saw Jack, rosemary and golden syrup combined.  Plums, peaches, apricots , and plenty Antica Formula – just not too much.  A round of Happy Birthday sung while Old Town Alchemy’s John Hughes shook up his drink.  Nick Reed of the Raconteur presented his creation inside a safe – same brand as Jack stubbed his toe on leading to the infection which killed him.  Some great drinks that had seen weeks of planning, others which had been thrown together on the day and sublimely flavoured.  Some strong, some smooth.  Lots of great chat, and a close enough run competition that I wasn’t sure if I was more nervous before, or after, I’d been up.

In the end it was clearly a very emotional day for everyone involved.  I honestly have to say it wasn’t until Nick placed second that I thought I might actually have done it this time, and even then there were a few other great bartenders who could have cinched it with a stellar drink.  I didn’t get a chance to taste most of them, so it was really hard to get a feel for the quality, though as the judges said, it was generally high.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about my drink until I get back from the final, out in Tennessee, for obvious reasons, but when I’m back I’ll bore you with the details and the gist of the concept behind it.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of a nice commemorative bottle of Jack, luggage tag and passport cover:

My ill-gotten gains
Goodies. Yay!

I think it’s fair to say I’m a bit stoked.

Of course, I celebrated this win with a round of drinks or three up at The Bon Vivant before heading on to Amicus Apple for the 42 Below End of Festival charity bash, where I got slightly toasted, having failed to recall the concept of ‘socially responsible drinking’.  With the help of a good deal of Jack, some Johnnie Walker, a dose of JC Traditional and muchos 42 Below in a variety of tasty martini-based forms (and a Vodka Laidback), I proceeded to enjoy myself a bit too much.  I may have taken my shirt off (Nick started it) and may have worn a Stetson for a good chunk of the night, looking not unlike Woody.  Rhinestone Cowboy, that’s me.  Personally, I blame the Mighty Morphin’ Vodka Rangers.

Suffice to say, my wallet was considerably lighter than I had intended for it to be when I roused from my slumbers, considerably later than I had intended to.

Good times.

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