When it comes to Jameson, the cocktail that first comes to mind is Irish Coffee. But that drink wasn’t on the menu at the Jameson paired dinner at Citrus. Instead, I was treated to five unique cocktails that packed a citrus punch at my first event of the 2016 San Antonio Cocktail Conference.
The various restaurants that put on paired dinners leading up to the Opening Party are may be the best-kept secret of the conference. These dinners showcase both the chef and bartenders prowess alongside an entertaining education of a spirit from the brand reps. I’ve enjoyed the paired dinners with Macallan and Patron in years past.
This year, I chose the paired dinner at Citrus and it didn’t disappoint. Not only was the food and cocktails amazing, the environment was quite posh—dimly lit, fresh flowers, real towels in the men’s room—while retaining that sense of South Texas friendliness and hospitality of the staff.
As we were seated, I noticed a couple that attended last year’s paired dinner at Ruth’s Chris. This automatically put me at ease because these small dinners are often intimidating. And the welcome cocktail, called the Citrus Splash, certainly helped. Mixed with Jameson Caskmates, pomegranate, grapefruit bitters, lemon and club soda, it was a refreshing cocktail that made us all fast friends.
The first course was a delightful salad of hydroponic greens that was served with candied pecans and ruby red grapefruit. It was paired with the Irish Peach—Jameson, peach, lemon, simple syrup and Sprite—a peach drink that I actually found I liked.
We saw a bit of savory and sweet in the second course—a cube of pork belly skewered with a sugar cane. It was sitting in a bowl of coconut broth that was very sweet, almost like condensed milk, alongside several smoked mussels. This was paired with a cocktail called Black Blood—Jameson Black, blood orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup and club soda—that was very tart from the fresh squeezed juice.
My favorite part of the meal was the third course, the Citrus Short Rib. This doesn’t seem to be on their menu currently, but I hope that the chef adds it soon. The tender braised short rib was served on top of freshly made pappardelle noodles that had a very slight lemony taste. The cocktail that the dish was paired with was the Lucky Man, a cocktail that someone resembled an Old Fashioned made with Jameson Caskmates, muddled Fabri cherry, cherry bitters, Brandy and ginger ale.
The final course was a lemon ricotta cheesecake with cocoa nib and blackberries served with a Black Clover—Jameson Black, Drambuie, amaretto, Sprite and club soda. This was a fantastic way to end an exceptional meal.
Throughout the meal, Chef Anthony Mesa and bartender Jennifer Banda were fantastic. They each were personable in their own way, Mesa a little shy talking to the group and Banda offered a detailed description of her cocktails. But both the food and drinks were top-notch. In fact, those two outshined the brand rep for Jameson, helping Citrus become the far more memorable piece of the experience and a place I would suggest for an elegant night out on the town.
Don’t miss the 7 things you should do at the 2016 Cocktail Conference. And check out all of the SA Flavor Cocktail Conference coverage from this year and year’s past.