By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
I got my first taste of spring 2015 with a cocktail tasting at Jackson’s Bar and Bistro’s famous patio. We started with a refreshing warm weather drink, Jackson’s mojito. A traditional Cuban highball, Jackson’s mojito arrives in a low ball on the rocks. This cocktail of rum, turbinado sugar (a sugar cane-based sugar that is minimally processed), muddled mint, and limes is garnished with fresh mint. Jackson’s mojito achieves a balance of flavors. This drink has its own special night, “Mojito Mondays,” when from 5:00 until 10:00 p.m., you can sip for $5 each and pair with half-off pizzas and flatbreads.
Sangrias are always fun in spring and summer. But Jackson’s take on sangria is cooler than traditional ones. Bar manager Will Byrd and bartender Aaron Simpson achieve new heights in Jackson’s layers of color from a red bottom, golden center, and purple top by layering lime and grenadine, ice, range and pineapple juices, and then floating brandy, which acts as a separator, with red wine on the top. This is the prettiest sangria I have ever seen, and tastes as good as it looks, without being overly sweet.
Vodka martini verses gin martini tasting—both shaken—are our final sips of the day. But I really can’t choose between these two tasty ’tinis because Simpson had me at the olives. I am flipping over the house-made bleu cheese stuffing that he stuffs into these olives. He minces cocktail onions and rolls in bleu cheese by hand, along with jalapeno and garlic, and then overstuffs the large green olives. Pick your pleasure of vodka or gin, but definitely request these olives.