Monday, November 10, 2008

Mixology Monday XXXIII: Gay Caballero, or Infused with Walnuts

The Jack Twist . . . a sweet, nutty Cowboy drink.

As bartenders, bar chefs, mixologists—call us anything you’d like—we like to tinker. Something deep inside prevents us from ever being satisfied with settling for labeled distilled spirits. So what do we do? We strive to create flavors that excite, challenge, and hopefully satiate our ever-exploring palates by changing a spirit’s flavor profile. Like Byrd searching for the South Pole, we bravely face adversity as we taste-taste and mix old reliable spirits with a dash of this and a pinch of that, wait a few days (or weeks . . . or months), and blammo, we’ve created a liqueur.

Enter walnuts. Walnuts are one of our favorite nuts. They add a perfect complement to chocolate in a Toll House Cookie. Their marriage with bananas are a classic to-die-for component in many breads, desserts, and breakfast fare. Why not go all walnut on some whiskey such as Jack Daniel’s? After all, Jack is filtered through sugar maple charcoal. Perhaps maple and walnut would do the two-step with some tasty results. Well, after toasting some walnuts in the oven, and then infusing the darkly aromatic bits in some Jack for three days, the whiskey acquired a pleasant viscosity that made for a more pleasurable mouthfeel. Add some walnut liqueur and a little bit o’ dark brown sugar, shake it all up, and strain into a very receptive rocks glass, eager to feel the pulse of your waiting lips. Don’t forget to throw in a tiny twist of lemon, so it’ll kiss you with every sip.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the drink was named after the character in Brokeback Mountain, as portrayed by the inestimable Jake Gyllenhaal. Add a little bit of advocaat to the mix (about a 1/2 ounce), and you’ve got yourself a Jack Nasty.

Jack Twist
(created by Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz)

2 ounces toasted walnut-infused Jack Daniel’s*
3/4 ounce walnut liqueur
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
small lemon twist (about 1/2 inch)

Shake vigorously with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with the twist.

* Walnut-infused Jack Daniel’s
2 cups Jack Daniel’s whiskey
1/4 cup walnuts

Pour Jack Daniel’s into an airtight container. Toast walnuts in 350°F oven, or on stove top in skillet, for up to 12 minutes, careful not to burn (shake skillet occasionally). When walnuts have started to brown and you can smell their oils being released, remove from heat and add to Jack Daniel’s. Cover. Infuse for 4 days, shaking occasionally from day to day. After four days, strain Jack Daniel’s into a clean container, and discard walnuts.

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz


  1. At Tailor in Manhattan, Eben serves a drink called the Nutty Monk, which mixes a walnut cognac with Benedictine and bitters. Very tasty. I'm going to have to give your walnut infusions a shot.

  2. Its 2014 and I'm just NOW reading THIS? where have you been all my llfe? I can't remember the bourbon that I tasted a couple years ago but it had a slight walnut(y) finish that I could never forget, was so warm and inviting. I will definitely be roasting some walnuts for the infusion and make some different variations on an old fashioned with either maple or a brown sugar syrup. And lemon of course.

    1. Enjoy. This just reminded us that we need to make another batch of Walnut Jack. Peace.


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