Whisky Magazine Issue 121
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Recalibration of the palate at the Caledonian with a Caesar cocktail
Standing among the sweater-clad Canadians who have just disembarked at Louis Armstrong airport on this sweaty July afternoon in New Orleans, I spot a familiar face; whisky chef, Matt Jones in shorts, flip-flops, and tropical shirt. He's the only one dressed for this destination.
Several years back, fleeing Toronto's frigid winter, Jones pointed his car toward Peru and started driving. Reaching Mexico and into Belize, his winter excursion became semi-permanent. “With money running out I decided to take a mini holiday on an island along the coast,” explains Jones. What does a bartender do on vacation? If you're Matt Jones, you find a short-staffed bar and start juggling bottles. When the bar manager recognises your flair and offers you a job, you say, “Yes!” His Belize side trip turned into a three-year stint on a tropical beach. “I didn't wear shoes even once for two of those years,” he tells me.
But those shoeless feet eventually became restless and he was off to Kyoto where he counseled bar owners and trained their staff. “The dedication of the bartender in Japan is down to a science. I learned how to taste my cocktails making sure I wasn't serving anything that wasn't perfectly balanced. The whisky culture in Japan is huge and that's also where I fell in love with bourbon.”
Now based in Canada, Jones is Beam's bourbon ambassador, which is why he's representing them in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail, the Tour de France of cocktail shows. We ta...