Members of Punch’s Best New Bartenders class of 2023 Erika Flowers, Tammy Bouma, Kat Foster, and Kim Vo are no strangers to classic cocktail recipes: the classics are the foundation their careers were built upon. However, using their creativity and imagination to break age-old cocktail rules is what got them to where they are now. So we tasked them to make their version of a modern whiskey cocktail, using different versatile expressions of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Drawing inspiration from their roots, each bartender brought forth new, modern interpretations of cocktails like Old Fashioneds and Whiskey Sours to life. See below how they created their own pecan bitters, oleo caramel, and syrups to make entirely new renditions of old favorites.
By Kim Vo | Baltimore, MA
Kim Vo’s been working in the hospitality industry since she was allowed to work. She found her niche in craft cocktails, where she learned how to hone her technique. After nine years behind the bar, she’s learned that while she loves her industry, there are things she’d like to change. Now, she’s becoming the change she’d like to see in the industry by fostering a safe and inclusive work culture where she works.
Vo’s whiskey cocktail, Rush Into the Bay, is a twist on a whiskey sour with egg white, using Jack Daniel’s Bonded as its backbone. “The Jack Daniel’s Bonded has such bold oak and caramel notes,” she says. “The deep, rich flavors make for a really fun take on a cocktail that is classically bright and silky smooth. It’s a powerful whiskey that has no shortage of personality.” Vo took the structure of a classic whiskey sour and added deep fruity, caramel, and tropical flavors to complement its traditional bright citrus notes. “When it comes to cocktail making, I really enjoy subverting expectations in a playful way,” she says. “Adding fun little surprises keeps people engaged. This cocktail tastes like if a banana foster was made into a bright, lightly citrusy drink.”
1 1/2 ounces Jack Daniel’s Bonded
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
3/4 ounce toasted coconut-banana oleo-caramel
1 egg white
Garnish: mint sprig and banana chip
1. Combine the Jack Daniel’s Bonded, lemon juice, orange juice, caramel, and egg white in a shaker, and dry shake without ice until incorporated.
2. Add half a scoop of ice and wet shake vigorously until chilled.
3. Double strain into a large coupe glass.
4. Add a few drops of Angostura bitters to the top of the foam.
5. Use a cocktail pick to drag a line through each drop to create a heart.
6. Garnish with a clipped mint sprig and banana chip.
Toasted Coconut-Banana Oleo-Caramel
1 part banana peels
1 part granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lightly toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup caramel
Mix banana peels and sugar into a glass jar. Leave out at room temp overnight. The next day, add coconut flakes to the mixture. Over the next two days, leave the mixture out at room temperature and mix once a day. After two days, a natural syrup, or oleo, will have formed. Strain out the peels and coconut and set aside. Add two parts caramel and one part oleo to a glass jar and mix. Reserve the rest of the oleo in the fridge.
By Erika Flowers | New Orleans, LA
Erika Flowers is new to the bartending scene. She started her hospitality career eight years ago as a host and server before becoming a bartender in 2021. Now, she’s a Best New Bartender. “It’s no secret that my journey looks a lot different than my peers,” she says. “To be recognized for the work I’ve done within my two years behind the bar is really reassuring that I am on the right track and inspires me to continue to put my best foot forward in all that I do behind and beyond the bar.”
To commemorate her accomplishment, Flowers created this rich cocktail with notes of honey and vanilla, inspired by an Old Fashioned. It’s made with Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select, Madagascar vanilla rooibos tea syrup, cardamom and orange bitters, and a bar spoon of Pedro Ximénez Sherry. The syrup brings a sweet nutty flavor with notes of honey, caramel, and vanilla, and the sherry offers a burst of raisins and figs, perfectly complementing the rich flavors Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel pulls from toasted and charred oak.
Made to sip neat and slow, Southern Hospitali-Tea has a somewhat creamy texture, layered complexity, and a sweetness balanced with light acidity. “It’s a spirit-forward cocktail that I can sip slowly as I hear all about the latest ‘tea,’” she says. “Pun intended.”
2 ounces Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select
¼ ounce Madagascar vanilla rooibos tea syrup
1 barspoon Pedro Ximénez sherry
1 dash cardamom bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
Garnish: orange peel
1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
2. Stir until cold and strain over a large ice cube into an old-fashioned glass.
3. Express orange peel over cocktail and place in glass as a garnish.
Madagascar Vanilla Rooibos Tea Syrup
4 grams Madagascar vanilla rooibos loose-leaf tea
250 grams water
500 grams white sugar
Bring water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add tea leaves and steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the leaves and combine the hot tea mixture with sugar back into the saucepan. Turn heat to low and stir to incorporate. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to an airtight glass jar and store in the refrigerator.
By Tammy Bouma | Albuquerque, NM
Tammy Bouma is no stranger to taking a leap. She says she fell into bartending by accident, but once she did, she dove right in. “My career has been one of following and chasing opportunity when it shows up,” she says. Traveling from Dallas to Boston, Baltimore to Albuquerque, Bouma’s constantly chasing new bartending knowledge. “Around every corner, there is a new rabbit hole to go down,” she says.
The inspiration for her cocktail, Better with Time, surrounds flavors that were a part of her childhood — like South Texas pecans, which have an almost buttery and cream-like flavor. A combination of an Old Fashioned and Manhattan, the woody, nutty cocktail utilizes Gentleman Double Mellowed Tennessee Whiskey and homemade pecan bitters. The Gentleman Jack gives the drink body, and provides structure on which to build more delicate flavors, while the tobacco and oak are accented by the tannic and bitter wood components of a pecan. As for what to pair with it, Bouma recommends salty potato chips and a warm campfire.
2 ounces pecan-infused Gentleman Jack Double Mellowed Tennessee Whiskey
3/8 ounce oloroso sherry
1/8 ounce panela or piloncillo syrup
5 dashes pecan bitters
Garnish: lemon twist
1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.
2. Stir to combine.
3. Strain over ice.
4. Express with a lemon twist and discard.
Pecan-Infused Gentleman Jack Double Mellowed Tennessee Whiskey
500 milliliters Gentleman Jack Double Mellowed Tennessee Whiskey
100 grams chopped pecans
Combine ingredients in a glass jar. Allow to infuse for at least 24 hours, up to 2 weeks. Strain out pecans.
250 milliliters neutral grain spirit
125 milliliters water
125 milliliters simple syrup
75 grams finely chopped pecans
5 grams whole smoked black peppercorns
5 grams dried licorice root
2 grams whole green cardamom pods
2 grams juniper berries
2 grams dried gentian root
Combine all ingredients in a glass container and allow to steep for at least 48 hours, ideally about 2 weeks. Strain out solids.
Kat Foster began bartending in Richmond, Virginia, and years later was hired as the bartender at a high-end Scandinavian restaurant in New York. Her next job? Bartender at one of the best restaurants in the world — which she applied to as a joke. “I was shocked when I landed an interview, and even more shocked when I got hired on the spot,” she says. Now, she runs her own cocktail program at a restaurant in Brooklyn, where she uses ingredients like amontillado sherry and tropical fruits like soursop and passionfruit in custom cocktails. “I felt like if all of these incredible people had given me the benefit of the doubt so many times, maybe it was time to give myself the benefit of the doubt as well. So I went for it.” And now, she can also add Best New Bartender to her resume.
To celebrate the occasion, Foster created a stirred, spirit-forward reimagining of the Gold Rush. It retains the simplicity and overall flavor profile of the original, but adds a hint of salted maple as well — an homage to the sugar maple used in mellowing Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. It’s a modern Gold Rush: a more serious, contemplative cocktail that still retains some of the light, fun nature of the classic. In it, Jack Daniels No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey brings a complex depth, lemon brings brightness, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey brings a gentle sweetness, and it finishes off with a savory twist of salted maple. “I would drink this sitting on a front porch…while watching the sunset,” Foster says.
1 ½ ounces Jack Daniel’s No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey
½ ounce Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
¼ ounce salted maple lemon syrup
Garnish: lemon twist and honeycomb
1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.
2. Stir until chilled and syrup is integrated.
3. Strain over a large ice cube, and finish with a trimmed lemon twist and honeycomb.
Salted Maple Lemon Syrup
80 grams grade A maple syrup
30 grams fresh strained lemon juice
1 gram smoked salt
Combine ingredients in a small pot over low heat. Do not allow to simmer; only allow to get warm enough that the salt is incorporated. Still gently until the salt is dissolved and then remove from heat and allow to cool.
Art Director: Clara Shader-Seave
Food Stylist: Spencer Richards
Prop Stylist: Laura Woolf
Producer: Becca Solovay
Jack Daniel Distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee
Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s, Old No. 7, Single Barrel Select, Jack Bonded, and Tennessee Honey are registered trademarks.
©2023 Jack Daniel’s. All rights reserved.
To find out more about responsible consumption, visit Responsibility.org and OurThinkingAboutDrinking.com
All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.
Please do not share or forward this content with anyone under the legal drinking age.