Friday, July 27, 2012

Behind the Scenes with Jack From Brooklyn

Jackie Summers, founder of Jack From Brooklyn, has quite a story to tell. A few years ago, he was the director of new media and production for a well-known magazine, but his life changed completely when doctors discovered a large tumor in his spine. At first their diagnosis was grim, but thankfully, after receiving several treatments, Jackie was told that the tumor was benign. After being given a second chance, he knew he only wanted to spend the rest of his life doing what he loved with people he cared about... so he abandoned his successful career that spanned two decades to enter a field completely foreign to him - distilling.

Sorel Liqueur made it's official debut to the world on Monday, May 14th, 2012 at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and has been growing in popularity among both mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts. A modern twist on an exotic classic, Sorel is expertly handcrafted in small batches from Brazilian clove, Indonesian cassia, Nigerian ginger, Indonesian nutmeg, Moroccan hibiscus, pure cane sugar, and organic New York grain alcohol. We recently spoke with Jackie to learn more:

DrinkUpNY: What's the inspiration behind Jack From Brooklyn?

JS: In three words: Eendraght Maeckt Maght. It's the official Brooklyn motto, and the underlying motif behind everything we do at JFB. Translated from the original Dutch, it means "Unity Makes Strength." It reinforces the power of what the right team can accomplish.

DrinkUpNY: Why did you decide to produce Sorel instead of a different spirit? Tell us a bit more about this distinctive liqueur.

JS: Early on we noticed the liquor industry has a standard approach to line expansion: take a base spirit, and add flavor. This is why we have blueberry flavored vodka, habanero flavored tequila, etc. We reversed the approach: we start with flavor, and add alcohol. The delicate balance of spices that create Sorel was a flavor profile I'd spent years mastering, making it a natural point of entry.

DrinkUpNY: Sorel contains a wide array of exotic ingredients - how did you find the perfect recipe?

JS: Hibiscus is a difficult flavor to work with. It's more acidic than most citrus fruits, and the general response to cutting the acidity has been adding excessive sugar, which makes for a cloying syrup. I've been perfecting this recipe for almost fifteen years, combining the best parts of various indigenous Caribbean formulas. Using hibiscus as the heart of the flavor, I added clove on top for brightness, and cassia in the middle for warmth. The ginger registers on the same frequency as the alcohol–effectively masking it–and the woody note rounding out the bottom is nutmeg. The real trick though is getting the right proportion of each spice, as any one of those spices has a powerful enough individual profile to overwhelm the mix.

DrinkUpNY: What's your favorite way to enjoy Sorel?

JS: I wake up in the morning and put a jigger into the microwave for fifteen seconds. That's my morning coffee.

DrinkUpNY: What does the future hold for Jack From Brooklyn? Do you plan to create other spirits as well?

JS: We already have several other products in R&D. We want to stay true to our two core philosophies:
1) create unique flavors, and then add the finest quality spirits,
2) solve the technical and logistical barriers to manufacturing distinctive artisanal alcoholic beverages, retaining their authenticity, and simultaneously giving them mass-market appeal.

Enjoy Sorel Liqueur in a Sorel Submerge, a cocktail that is as visually stunning as it is delicious:


2 cubes Sorel
2 oz New York Distilling Company "Perry's Tot" Navy Strength Gin
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

1. Fill an ice cube tray with Sorel and freeze.
2. Place frozen cubes of Sorel into a highball glass.
3. Add gin & elderflower liqueur - as Sorel ice cubes don't float, they will sit at the bottom of the glass, dissolving slowly.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

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