How would you capture the essence of Dallas in a cocktail? That's what bartenders were tasked with doing at the Shaken and Stirred competition at the Statler hotel in downtown Dallas on Dec. 2.
Seven local mixologists created original libations using Jack Daniel's Tennessee Rye whiskey in hopes their creation would be named the Official Cocktail of Dallas. Drinks ranged from a smoky old-fashioned-inspired recipe to fruity concoctions using homemade mixers, such as grenadine.
The winner, determined by a panel of judges, was a cocktail called Hit the Road Jack, developed by bar maven Keisha Cooper of Shoals Sound and Service in Deep Ellum. She used Jack Daniel's Old No. 7, lemon, homemade aquafaba chickpea water, a flambé of clover honey, Benedictine and spices, a Jack Daniel's Rye simple syrup and a petite syrah float. The drink's complexity was not lost on the judges nor on attendees -- the Hit the Road Jack also won the people's vote as their favorite cocktail of the evening.
"It was by far the best experience that day from presentation to flavor," said judge and fellow mixologist Máté Hartai. "Kiesha went with a striking contrast of bold colors layered out by the texture and density of its components. The flavors were balanced and had depth if further explored, but did not need a trained palate to understand the intent."
Judge Eric Tecosky, national brand ambassador for Jack Daniel's, agreed.
"For me, any cocktail is about balance," he said. "When the whiskey can shine through and there's a balance of flavors, it's the winner."
When asked how she believed the cocktail represented Big D, Cooper said the cocktail is an ode to Dallas' diverse culture.
"Dallas is a melting pot, a mash-up of new and old which is constantly evolving, much like a storied cocktail such as the New York Sour," Cooper said.
"It is a beautifully sleek, culinarily simple yet complex drink; I couldn't think of a better description of Dallas."
Drinkers can find Hit the Road Jack, the Official Cocktail of Dallas for 2018, at Shoals Sound and Service (2614 Elm St., Suite 110, Dallas).