Bartenders across the state interested in entering Garrison Brothers’ Bourbon Brawl cocktail competition are given a lot of creative freedom. The only essential rules stipulate that each drink must be an original recipe, and that recipe has to include Garrison Brothers Small Batch Bourbon. With five semi-final brawls held in five major cities around the state, as well as the finals held in Austin, judges were blown away by the innovative techniques and flavors that each competitor brought in. 

Jacob Peters, a 2019 finalist and bartender at Whiskey & Rye in Fort Worth, took inspiration from one of his favorite drinks, the Bramble, while using his non-Texas roots to his advantage in the competition.

“Being from New Orleans, I kind of have a Tiki background,” Peters said. “So, I used muddled blackberries, a little bit of basil, about half an ounce of Velvet Falernum, which was a tropical spirit from Barbados, a little bit of almond, ginger, and orange in there. And I really liked the way that blended with the Garrison Brothers Bourbon.” 

To finish, he added a bit of simple syrup, Demerara, and lemon juice, then strained it all over crushed ice and garnished it with a mint sprig. For his second libation, Peters dove even deeper into his roots by paying homage to one of his favorite places in the city.

“The inspiration came, I was visiting back home about a month ago, and one of my favorite spots to go to in New Orleans, there’s a little diner called Belle’s Diner. It’s one of these ‘30s- and ‘40s-style vintage diners. They’ve got a little jukebox in the corner that’s playing Elvis

Presley and Fats Domino and Little Richard. It’s a hopping place. Their bartenders are soda jerks and they’re back there making these boozy ice cream floats and sodas and boozy milkshakes,” said Peters.

In full soda jerk costume, Peters put a Texas spin on the floats from Belle’s by using classic, glass-bottled Dublin Dr. Pepper as his soda. He later remarked on how the unique techniques used by Garrison Brothers during the distillation process made their bourbon the perfect boozy base.

“Garrison Brothers is made with a sweet mash as opposed to a sour mash. I really like that about it. It’s got notes of nutmeg in there, and vanilla. It’s fresh. It’s rich. And I think it really goes well with that cocktail.”

In the end, the judges agreed, and Peters was named the winner of the Fort Worth semi-finals for 2019. Check out the video below to hear about Jacob’s experience in the 2019 Bourbon Brawl.

Video Credit: Side B Productions

Do you think your homemade whiskey cocktail can rival the pros? We’re giving you the chance to have your recipe highlighted at the Bourbon Brawl finals competition in Austin! The prize package also includes tickets to semi-finals and finals competition, lodging accommodations for the finals, and other Texas Monthly goodies. Click to enter. Happy mixing!