My very first whiskey dinner

I know, I know whiskey is all the rage right now… But I gotta admit, I am more of a wine and vodka drinker, in moderation of course. When I was invited to take part in a Jack Daniel’s Barrel Pairing Menu I cringed a little. Firstly, I am not a huge fan of Jack Daniel’s or any other brown liquor. Second, I had just ordered takeout from one of my favorite sandwich shops and was really looking forward to a mellow evening. But after a little arm twisting and a few sentences like “We will save a seat for you,” “I will pick you up,” and “the guy who invented The Surfer On Acid is going to be there,” I decided I didn’t want to miss it.

Hosted at The Pint & Cork in Wailea and paired by Young’s Market Company‘s Jodi Komine as a collaboration with Executive Chef Maka Kwon, this unique whiskey dinner was aimed at showcasing a variety of Jack Daniel’s Whiskeys including rare selections of Single Barrel pours along with four savory dinner courses. Inspiration for this special event was two-pronged… “Just giving our staff a chance to learn about new products, and allow for our chef to allow his creative side out a bit more. Plus, everyone needs an excuse to have a little wine or whiskey,” Scott Pacer Managing Partner at The Pint & Cork said.

It was eye-opening, delicious and changed my overall perspective on whiskey:

Welcome Cocktail crafted by ET from Jack Daniel’s: “Ms. Pamela” – welcome cocktail utilizing Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, Sour, Thai Basil and a dash of Soy Sauce.

What a delight, the welcome cocktail didn’t have an overwhelming whiskey flavor, instead it reminded me of li hing mui in a lemon drop after marrying a Moscow mule. Simply sublime this was a great way to cleanse the palate. You would never know there was a dash of soy sauce in the mix, this was both innovative, delicious and the perfect way to start the night.

Course 1 Dish: Pork Belly Slider braised in Chinese five-spice whiskey glaze. Course 1 Drink: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 4 yr Rye served neat with an ice back.

The first course was a sweet and savory combination utilizing a sweet bread bun and braised pork belly. The decadent pork belly was complimented by the Chinese five spice and subtle whiskey flavor. There was a hint of crunch and freshness added by slices of cucumber which added a nice textural component. The whiskey pairing really enhanced the flavors in this dish, especially the five-spice, and it was also fun to eat bar food that goes well with your hands and fingers. In fact, it was finger licking good.

Course 2 Drink: Gentleman Sling – Gentleman Jack (lemon juice, simple syrup and orange bitters).
Course 2 Dish: Strawberry Beet Salad- served with fresh arugula, goat cheese and walnut brittle.

Beets and creamy goat cheese are a combination made in heaven, add to that fresh sweet strawberries and a hint of leafy spice from arugula and you have a well rounded salad that is clean, vibrant and a bit whimsical. The Gentleman Sling was a combination of citrus and ever so slightly sweet which served to enhance the flavors of the strawberry and round out the overall impression of this salad pairing. It was also refreshing to have a cocktail on ice to brighten up the meal.

Course 3 Dish: Chimichurri New York Steak. Course 3 Drink: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Boulevardier – Single Barrel, Sweet Vermouth and St. George Bruto Americano.

Nearing the end of the meal Chef Maka presented perfectly cooked New York Strip Steak served pupu style on a bed of roasted bell pepper coulis and topped with chimichurri. The steak was moist, well seasoned and the use of onions, garlic and parsley brought out the earthiness of the strip and the pairing. With these strong flavors you need something that can stand up to the dishes aromatics and Jack Daniel’s did the trick.

Course 4 Dish: Pork Adobo Moco Course 4 Drink: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Proof (129pf) served neat with an ice back.

If you put an egg on something it’s going to be good, right? Well this imaginative take on the classic loco moco utilizing house made pork adobo was excellent. The adobo was full flavored, moist and this is local comfort food. The accompanying 129 proof Jack Daniel’s whiskey was a bit intimidating but went down easy. At this point it may have been the alcohol talking but I was sold on this pairing menu.

Eric Tecosky “ET” is a Brand Ambassador for Jack Daniel’s and yes, he looks like a rock star. In, fact he is a bit of one as he is the creator of The Surfer On Acid and the owner/creator of Dirty Sue premium olive juice.

 

Overall, this is a casual gastropub setting with elevated bar food. The menu is modern with Hawaii highlights and locally sourced ingredients. I can honestly say that pairing the whiskey with these dishes was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think perhaps because it wasn’t a fine dining, super stuffy restaurant, we could all relax, have fun, drink and eat.

Will The Pint & Cork do more of these pairing dinners and experiences in the future? Here’s what they had to say…

“Starting sometime in the New Year, we will be doing tastings very similar to this, calling it wine or whiskey Wednesdays, where we will try to feature a new wine or whiskey, and pair it with our chef’s menu,” Pacer said.

**Please note that if you plan to do a pairing dinner or imbibe alcohol with every course of your meal, I would recommend to have a designated driver, take a cab or something similar.
Promotional Considerations:

Inter-Island Travel for Olena is brought to you by Island Air.
Travel Accommodations provided by Maui Coast Hotel. 

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About Olena Heu

Olena is Executive Editor, Food & Lifestyle at MAUIWatch. The founder of Olena Heu Communications, a social media, digital marketing, consulting and freelance writing company, Olena holds a BA and MA in Communication and Speech from Hawaii Pacific University. An adjunct professor, lecturer and motivational speaker Olena is also an award winning journalist, writer, photographer and avid traveler.

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