Hundreds of submissions, seven regional semi-finals, and a grand finale at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery have all led to this moment: the crowning of a winner in the Sixth Annual Whiskey Sour Classic sponsored by Gentleman Jack. With $10,000 and bragging rights on the line, it was a competition that brought out the best and most imaginative Whiskey Sour riffs from around the country, with every recipe centered around the double-mellowed Tennessee whiskey.
Now, before we reveal the champion and their winning recipe, let’s take a moment to quickly recap how we got to this moment.
How It All Started
Executed by Sweet&Chilli, with charitable partner ARAR, this year’s Whiskey Sour Classic, sponsored by Gentleman Jack, offered mixologists in seven regions around the country a chance to create and digitally submit two cocktail variations of a Whiskey Sour. The first was a “Classic Whiskey Sour,” a cocktail consisting of whiskey, lemon, sugar, and (optional) egg white. The second was “The Modern,” their best rendition of the cocktail which could serve as a representation of who they were as a bartender, all while keeping the DNA of the Whiskey Sour intact. Submissions poured in and the judges got to work to determine regional semi-finalists.
Once all the submitted Whiskey Sours were tasted, seven semi-finalists from each of the participating markets (NYC, L.A., Nashville, Tampa, Denver, Chicago, and Seattle) were invited to in-person regional competitions. For three days, the semi-finalists experienced the best that Tennessee has to offer, from staying in Airstreams at the distillery to private curated dinners, an exclusive tour of the distillery’s grounds, barrel building, and visits to local sightseeing destinations like Jack Daniel’s grave and Motlow Cave, the origin of Jack Daniel’s water source. After all that, they presented their creations to a panel of local cocktail industry talent for the chance to represent their locale at the finale.
The 2022 Semi-Finalists:
- Stephen Wood – NYC
- Jesse Peterson – L.A.
- Amy Van Buren – Nashville
- Alana Barber – Tampa
- Austin Hay – Denver
- Josue Mancero – Chicago
- Jonathan D. Stanyard – Seattle
The Grand Finale
While the trip alone was worth the effort thus far, the competitors knew that this was the moment to impress the final judging panel with their creative riffs on the Gentleman Jack Whiskey Sour. The Grand Finale was held at Mother’s Ruin, a bartender-approved space, where the 2022 Whiskey Sour Classic Nashville mentor, Demi Natoli, was serving up drinks. One competitor walked away a winner, cementing their place among the Whiskey Sour Classic champions that have come before, offering up a tasteful new sour that will be enjoyed long into the future.
After the dust settled, one Whiskey Sour riff stood out among the rest: Jesse Peterson’s “An Apple a Day.” The L.A.-region winner’s cocktail played on Gentleman Jack’s notes of honey and caramel, adding a burst of green apple tartness with the inclusion of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple. The panel commended her on the execution, noting that the cocktail looked like a classic sour, while her twist made it simply impossible not to sample.
A San Diego native with over 20 years of experience in the service industry, Peterson could not be more elated. “Though my career and college life had various paths, coming back into service, making cocktails with intention — the goal of making people happy was always at the forefront.” It’s clear that her love for mixology was seen, felt, and tasted in her winning cocktail.
Grab a bottle of Gentleman Jack and shake up her amazing Whiskey Sour today.
An Apple a Day Recipe
- 1 ½ ounces Gentleman Jack
- ½ ounce Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce Applejack cordial*
- 1 egg white
- Pinch of salt
- Dry shake or wet shake.
- Double strain over a large rock.
- Garnish with a dried apple chip and grated cinnamon.
This article is sponsored by Gentleman Jack.