FRANK SINATRA’S DRINK OF CHOICE
The myths of the Rat Pack, headed by Legend Frank Sinatra run rampant. Who knows how many were true, what is fact and which is fictional, and which is overly embellished. We all know that Sinatra and his Rat Pack were drinkers and smokers with the exception of Joey Bishop. The question is, what did he actually drink? Us cocktail aficionados want to know! Especially of of us who are very much into vintage retro culture.
So, from a tweet from the daughter and retro icon herself, Nancy Sinatra informed me that he had “Jack Daniels, with water and 3 ice cubes”. Simple enough, so I tried it, 2 parts Jack Daniels, 1 part fresh cold spring water and about 3 ice cubes, I don’t know the size, but it was bout 50% of the space in the glass. Honestly, a bit bitter, the water takes away the sweetness from whiskey made from corn mash, or even any spirit in my opinion), and as much as I love bitter, I like my bourbon sweet, so for me, I’d drink it right over the rocks (or ice), even when it melts, its nice and cold but still sweet.
Sinatra called bourbon “The perfect gentleman’s drink” and I would agree, though I know he also loved Martinis. But to be clear, (and for all you idiots who call me an idiot), Jack Daniel’s is classified as a Tennessee Whiskey, not Bourbon. And, if I were bartender and Frank Sinatra came in and asked for Jack Daniel’s Bourbon, I wouldn’t dare correct him, and I would certainly have more interesting topics of conversation to discuss if he were willing. The truth is, what Jack Daniel’s made and what Frank Sinatra drank half a century ago probably is a very different product than today. Remember, it was actually Sinatra who popularized Jack Daniel’s. Years later, to keep up with production, they changed it from 90 proof to 80 proof and it became a more consistent controlled product, but from there, we can’t pretend to know what the distillery was producing then or how the batches of barrels were produced. Only they know, and I can promise you, Sinatra was just drinking, not not bickering about how to classify this whiskey.
Now Sammy Davis Junior liked Jack Daniels with Coca-Cola – this is also very delicious, and a bit sweeter and cut the taste of the bourbon but not so much you could not taste. The classic Jack & Ginger was of course JD and ginger ale. Not sure who drank that, but I am almost certain Dean Martin liked his whiskey straight, and it was not bourbon and did not have any mixer other than chilled and straight up.
It is said that the Legendary Frank Sinatra was actually buried after death with a small bottle of Jack Daniels with him. So no matter how you drink it, remember, its a classic, like Sinatra, and you should at least try it several different ways. By the time you empty the bottle, you will have had something you loved, and what is especially nice, is that you experience the very same things legends loved. They are simple, they are fine, and even if you hate it, its something that you have experienced and as close as you will get to walking in their shoes, even for just 1 happy hour.
Jack Daniel’s is more sweet than bourbon, but they make something even sweeter known as “Honey Jack”, which in my opinion is nothing even close to whisky. To me, it tastes like some caramel-sweetened liquor with a whiskey base. Last time I checked, it is ironically more expensive than Jack Daniels #7 – to each their own, however, either way, I am a purist and all for the original, especially if I am tasting the same thing other legends were drinking and tasting.
This Blog Entry was Re-edited April 23, 2014 – I never intended this to be a debate about whether it is a bourbon, a whiskey and/or a definition of anything else. It was simply what Frank Sinatra enjoyed drinking, not what he called it or what its officially classified as. For anyone who is a true Sinatra fan, they certainly know he would sooner entertain trivial terms like calling it pasta “sauce” or “gravy” a million times before ever ignoring or arguing if it’s Tennessee Whiskey or Bourbon.