IN THE SPIRIT FEATURING: JASON PLUMMER
A designer by trade, I've always admired the culinary arts. My wife, a sous chef, expanded my palate and taught me about flavor profiles. This love affair with culinary inevitably carried over to craft cocktails when I had my first proper Old Fashioned. I quickly "fell prey" to the resurgence of classic cocktail culture sweeping the country. I loved how a good cocktail could bring people together and prompt conversation. My home bar went from 2 bottles to 20 as I tried to recreate amazing cocktails my wife and I had enjoyed at bars and restaurants. In the summer of 2016 I started an Instagram page called @BarrelAgedDad out of a love for craft beverages, innovation and photography. I thought it would be a good way to document cocktail experiments, share them with others and teach myself the ins and outs of photography. My admiration for the craft has grown tremendously while my pantry space, to my wife's dismay, continues to shrink. When I'm not slinging cocktails or playing with my kids, I wear all the hats in my one man creative services business, Jaybird Creative. Born and raised in Texas, I call a Phoenix suburb home with my wife and two young sons.
I still consider Barrel Aged Dad to be relatively new at just about 8 months old, but it's beginning to open up some great opportunities to collaborate with brands that I really admire (like AJC!) by helping them create content, try out new products and provide some exposure to fellow cocktail enthusiasts. Thanks in part to connections made through Barrel Aged Dad I've been able to parlay this into food and beverage photography jobs with some of my favorite local bars and restaurants. It's hard to complain when you get to eat and drink the work when you're done.
I'd have to say this one so far! The inspiration came from an experiment I did a while back, infusing bourbon with peaches and pecan – it was like fall in a glass. The peach, apple and vanilla in Harriet Peacher Stowe had me right back there with every sip. These are all great compliments to bourbon so I opted to go with a southern take on the Moscow Mule. Even though we're headed into spring (not fall), there's never a 'wrong' time for bourbon. Remove the alcohol and it's a refreshing mocktail for the kids.
1 oz Harriet Peacher Stowe
1.5 oz Bourbon
4-5 oz Ginger Beer
2 dashes Hella Aromatic Bitters
Three places usually, the first being the culinary world. Flavor profiles and combinations in successful dishes almost always work when carried over to cocktails (savory, sweet and spicy, etc). Second, through constraints frankly. Without constraints creativity cannot exist. Being a home bartender I don't have a full bar loaded with hard to find (or pricey) ingredients, so I challenge myself to use what's on hand. This forces me to keep it relatively simple and simple usually turns out best. Occasionally I have to sub in something for a missing ingredient and I've found some real winners this way. Third, through a great community of fellow "drinkstagrammers" online whom are constantly innovating and sharing their findings.
Currently I'd have to say Undertow in Phoenix. Tiki is experiencing a huge resurgence in popularity and bars like this are why. These aren't kitschy tourist traps, but world-class cocktails establishments that pay attention to every detail from house made ingredients to ornate glassware. My go to there is a stiff riff on the classic Jungle Bird called the Stirred Bird. It's small inside the hull of this clipper ship inspired bar, so make reservations ahead of time.
Fresh squeezed juices make the difference in your cocktail. Ice. Learn all about ice, which type to use and when. I'm not ashamed to say I'm a bit of an ice snob after learning how to make my own clear ice at home. Learn about dilution and how much is needed for different types of drinks. Glassware matters, learn what drink goes in what glass (tip: hit your local Goodwill store for awesome inexpensive finds.) Finally, mixers. In something like a gin and tonic, 3/4 of your cocktail is tonic so don't skimp on good top shelf mixers. And most importantly, have fun, experiment and break some rules! Cheers!