Jack Daniel’s Rye Launch Party at Sub Rosa YYC

I’m pretty sure I scored the title of Coolest Wife Ever (temporarily until my next hangry meltdown) when I dragged Matt through last night’s blizzard to the official Canadian launch of Jack Daniel’s Rye at Sub Rosa YYC, the literal underground lounge tucked underneath the Guild on Stephen Ave.

Hungry in Calgary | Jack Daniel's Escape
One of many displays set up in the Jack Daniel’s escape room!

The event was organized by Evangeline PR and Jack Daniel’s themselves and it was an absolute blast! In addition to a station for sampling straight Jack Daniel’s rye, seven talented Alberta bartenders were on hand mixing signature cocktails and guests were asked to sample each one and vote on a favourite. There were also tons of hearty hors d’oeuvres being passed around and you could test your skills in a quick escape room challenge.

Hungry in Calgary | Jack Daniel's Lights
So many beautiful design elements at Sub Rosa, but these light fixtures had me mesmerized

Apparently it’s quite a big deal that Jack Daniel’s is releasing this rye – they have been exclusively distilling their Tennessee whiskey for over 150 years (with some offshoots of this, but following the same basic recipe) so this rye is their first “new” recipe in all this time. I’m not one to drink rye straight, but Jack Daniel’s insists this one is “sippin’ smooth”.

Hungry in Calgary | Jack Daniel's Cigarettes
Some of the drink stations took their ambiance and displays seriously!

People often compliment me on how seriously I take my job and last night my job was to try cocktails, so we got to work right away! Each participant was assigned a different category of cocktail to conceive using the new rye. I know extremely little about mixology so I had to take each bartender’s word for it as they explained their drink and the process behind it. Drinks ranged from the tiki-inspired Monkey Do with fruit and coconut milk all the way to the nog-like Flip the Tonka Truck, which contained egg whites and was dusted with grated tonka bean.

The two big hits of the night for Matt and I were the Prairie Town Ritual representing the Bourbon Room as well as a drink called Coffee and Cigarettes from Sub Rosa itself.

Hungry in Calgary | Jack Daniel's Prairie
A few Prairie Town Rituals being spritzed with “rye spray”

The Prairie Town Ritual had a pretty unassuming look to it, but the flavour was everything. The mixologist spritzed his drink with a “rye spray” that he had infused with the flavour of buttered rye toast. That velvety, buttery flavour really smoothed out the rye, which has quite a bite to it. Served over ice, this was my ideal drink.

Coffee and Cigarettes was a big hit too with quite a large crowd gathered around the bar to watch as each drink came with a freshly extinguished match to help add an extra sense to what was already an incredible experience. The drink contained lemon juice, cherry pipe tobacco syrup (!!!), espresso, pineapple juice and a bit of Aperol. With all of those flavours mingling with the rye, it tasted like breakfast, hair of the dog and a morning-after smoke all in one sip. This might just be the perfect hangover cure! Matt and I have enjoyed some pretty smoky drinks at the Guild in the past, so I’m loving the style they have going on with the cool uses of tobacco and espresso in their drinks.

We didn’t stick around long enough to hear who won the contest, but we did try a few of the snacks being passed around the event! Honestly, my photos turned out pretty blurry for the most part – it was so weird, it was like the more I started to enjoy myself, the less my camera would cooperate. 

Hungry in Calgary | Jack Daniel's Prawn
Poached Prawn with Dill Mascarpone and Shallots

Poached prawns with crispy shallots and a dill mascarpone came next – very delicious. Dill is something I used to be ambivalent about, but it keeps sneaking its way into my heart in delightful ways. Like on a delightful prawn! Sorry, Sub Rosa – all those scattered bits of shallot on the floor were totally from me.

Hungry in Calgary | Jack Daniel's Mac
Fried Mac and Cheese with Truffle Ranch

Based on this experience, I’m definitely keen to return to Sub Rosa YYC (200 8 Ave SW) for an event or drinks and snacks with friends and I had to add a bunch of places in Calgary and Edmonton to my must-try list after chatting with all of those talented bartenders. Thanks so much to Evangeline PR and to Jack Daniel’s for hosting us – it was a time!

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