Jack Daniel's Frank Sinatra Dinner at The Florentine

Monday, June 23, 2014 - 1:09am

Frank Sinatra was buried with a bottle of Jack Daniel’s so it’s fitting that in anticipation of Sinatra’s 100th birthday next year Jack Daniel’s has introduced Sinatra Select, 90 proof whiskey.

Sinatra Select was just one of the whiskeys served during the recent Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Dinner at The Florentine, the Italian restaurant inside the JW Marriott in the Loop. Good thing for all diners, the other whiskeys – Jack Daniel’s Rested Rye, Jack Daniel’s Honey, Jack Daniel’s No. 7, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, and Gentleman Jack – were a mere 80 proof.

It's also good that we were served five courses with the drinks – drinking that much alcohol on an empty stomach isn’t pretty. The food, on the other hand, was lovely. Chef Chris Macchia created an entire meal, each course of which incorporated a Jack Daniel’s whiskey in its preparation.

We began with duck liver mousse crostini with roasted figs topped with Jack Daniel’s Honey gelée and beef tartare with Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel sabayon. These were served with an R&R, the Florentine’s take on a Sazerac, and The Classic, which was simply Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select with a giant, crystal-clear ice cube. The meal was off to a tasty start.

Throughout the meal, Armando Zapata, Jack Daniel’s Brand Ambassador, told us about all things Jack Daniel’s. For example, Jack Daniel was a real, diminutive (5”) man. And that tidbit about the contents of Frank Sinatra’s coffin: Armando.

The antipasto course was next. A skewer of grilled prawn and sea scallop was topped with Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 glaze and served with traditional panzanella ingredients including tomato, cucumber, and grilled bread. This course was served with the Florentine’s Lynchburg Cello that had Jack Daniel’s Honey and a locally produced lemon cello. The drink was deceptively light, and would be perfect on a hot, muggy day.

The third course was my favorite for the use of corn shoots. I had never before had corn shoots, the first growth of a corn plant, and am delighted by them. The leaves taste just like corn kernels. The dish also had wonderfully tender gnocchi, Gentleman Jack braised pulled pork, a nice broth, and shaved aged cheese. With this we had a Southern Beau, Jack Daniels No. 7 with amaretto, spiced simple syrup, and orange blossom water.

The main course was a favorite of mine, duck breast. This was smoked and served with bitter chicories, sweet dried cherries with faro, fresh Michigan cherries and Jack Daniel’s Rested Rye vinaigrette. The duck was perfectly medium rare. The drink was Signore, a “martini” with Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel.

Dessert was a delicious raspberry crostata with a flaky crust served with Lynchburg Lemonade sorbet. The drink, Blackberry Smash, was a take on my favorite whiskey cocktail, the whiskey smash.

Chef Chris Macchia introduced himself and received much deserved accolades for a wonderfully prepared, delicious meal.

All the varieties of Jack Daniel’s can be found at Binny’s.

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