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11.12.11

Jack and Jill: Cocktails Inspired From Film

Inspired by the name of Adam Sandler’s male character, Jack, and the personality of Jack’s sister, Jill, Sandee Wright of The Whiskey Ward crafts a sweet and spicy old-fashioned cocktail—with Jack Daniel’s, naturally.

If you’re planning on catching Jack and Jill this weekend, what is it exactly that’s dragging you into the theater?

Are you just a huge Katie Holmes fan, dating back to the Dawson’s Creek days, and you won’t miss the opening weekend of any movie she’s in?

Maybe you’re a fervent devotee of the church of Saturday Night Live and delighted to see alums like Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows, Norm MacDonald, David Spade, and Dana Carvey come together again for one project?

One thing it certainly can’t be is that you’ve seen the previews and couldn’t be more jazzed to watch Sandler’s drag debut or see him play an enticingly attractive or convincing woman.

Because when it comes to “getting his girl on,” Sandler isn’t exactly breaking any molds for himself or others, as many might recall his turn playing “Gap Girls” with Spade and Farley on SNL.

Men doing drag in the movies has long ago lost its novelty or edginess, but when they appear almost as extreme clowns in women’s dress and makeup, are men supposed to induce a louder guffaw from us than women would? There certainly isn’t a dearth of female comedic talent in Hollywood at the moment, what with the Feys, Poehlers, Wiigs, and McCarthys helming and starring in their own television and movie projects. So is it supposed to be even funnier to us as viewers when we’ve spent many years staring at a star’s manly mug on the big screen and then see his womanly, awkward transformation?

Despite our concern with this mainstream cinematic conundrum, and with the exception of milk chocolate, Glee, and other movies, we normally try to eschew the mainstream. We boycott American Idol for no particular reason other than we love telling folks that we haven’t watched since “Justin Guarini got robbed” and we haven’t had a sip of regular Absolut in years, not because we object to the taste, but because we find it more “au courant” to loudly and snobbishly proclaim that regular vodka, and particularly, that vodka, are vestiges of a dark era in mixology circa the '90s. And if we were busted sipping something that mainstream and obvious, well we might get our hipster cards revoked.

But there are reasons things become mainstream, other than consumers’ laziness or lack of curiosity, and many reasons why we still enjoy drinking Jack Daniel’s, which, first bottled in 1866, is now the best-selling whiskey in the world.

One justification is that Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel was the real deal. Who learns how to make whiskey at the age of 13 and then dies at the age of 65 from an infection allegedly caused by an injury he got from kicking a safe he forgot the combination to? A firecracker, that’s who.

Then there is that relatively easy mixability and palate-pleasing flavor. Jack Daniel’s can be a nice choice when looking for something familiar and dependable, like a boyfriend you keep getting back together with, even if he might not be “marriage material,” or the sweater you wore in sixth grade that still fits and somehow is still in fashion. There won’t be any surprises when you open a new bottle and pour a bit over ice and it predictably serves its purpose when paired simply with a dark and syrupy cola or a light and fizzier ginger ale.

To be honest, one of the weaker and slightly illegitimate explanations we like the brand is because we feel like we’re talking about a popular uncle or old friend when we utter its name. There’s something a little Southern gentlemanly and wholly American about the way “Jack Daniel’s” sounds, and it doesn’t hurt that it shares half the name of our favorite 30 Rock character (Jack Donaghy), one of our most admired beat poets (Jack Kerouac), the standout star of several nursery rhymes (the Jack of the beanstalk, the quick and nimble Jack, Jack Sprat and the small-statured Jack Horner), our preferred dog breed (Jack Russell terrier), and favorite on-camera Helen Hunt love interest (Jack Nicholson).

(Sorry, we warned you that reason wasn’t entirely legitimate.)

This week, to herald the release of Jack and Jill, we decided to embrace the mainstream and create a drink using the spirit that shares half of its brand name with Adam Sandler’s male character in the film.

Sandee Wright, the owner of New York City’s The Whiskey Ward, says that though her bar offers a wide range of approximately 120 different whiskeys, they still sell “tons of Jack & Cokes and Jack & Gingers all the time.”

The Whiskey Ward will have been open 12 years this January, and Wright says that when they first opened, “the whiskey drinkers primarily were the guys. However, that has changed dramatically over the years, especially in the last couple of years, now that we have more and more women that are drinking it neat, the way it’s supposed to be drank. That’s also one of the reasons we offered the cocktails to sort of get women more on the lines of getting used to whiskey and they’ve tried the cocktails, they like them and they realize ‘this is really good;’ as opposed to having that stupid hangover you get when you drink vodka. And then they get a bit more adventurous and start taking it neat or just on the rocks.”

In her bar, Wright finds that those who typically request Jack are often “sort of the novices […] younger customers who haven’t been around for a while who are all about name recognition, or the die-hard Jack fans.”

But for those looking to go beyond faithful J.D. and try newer entrants in the whiskey category, Wright has a couple of recommendations to try out.

“Anything from the Michter’s line—[at The Whiskey Ward] we have their bourbon, their rye and their American whiskey which are all phenomenal. The products by Bulleit are very popular—we have both the bourbon and the rye—and even stuff like Woodford and Knob Creek and Blanton’s—whereas a few years ago they were kind of more exclusive, now most places are carrying them. I would also try anything from the Parker Heritage collection series, because I haven’t tasted one [of those] that I didn’t like.”

When they usually make their Old-Fashioneds at The Whiskey Ward, they muddle a bourbon cherry and orange piece, add bitters, Bernheim Wheat Whiskey—which isn’t very sweet—and homemade maple syrup.

But tasked with having to use Jack Daniel’s, which as a sour mash, Wright describes as “very sweet,” she removed the maple syrup and employed another ingredient to add a bit of spice, a characteristic shared by the gal Sandler plays as Jill.

Sweet, Spicy, But Still Old-Fashioned
Created by Sandee Wright of The Whiskey Ward

1 homemade bourbon cherry*
1/2 triangle of orange
2 dashes of bitters
2 oz. Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
3 oz. Fentimans Ginger Beer

Muddle cherry with orange. Add bitters, J.D. and ice. Pour into a shaker and transfer back and forth between shaker and cup several times. Pour over ice in a rocks glass and top off with Fentimans Ginger Beer.

*To make homemade bourbon cherries, Wright recommends soaking maraschino cherries in your favorite bourbon, for as long as possible.  One day, three or seven—it’s your choice and that easy.