Think back, for just a second, about the drinks you made when you were 23. For me, it probably involved a red plastic cup, copious amounts of gin, a splash or two of tonic, and a lime wedge squeezed in to prevent scurvy, of course.
Now meet The Blind Pig’s Josh Davey, a bright-eyed 23-year-old bartender who looks like he could be a character on the TV show “Friday Night Lights.” He just won $10,000 and a barrel of bourbon for his whiskey sour creation in the 2021 Garrison Brothers Bourbon Brawl competition. Impressed? I am. I sat across from him at his bar in Rancho Santa Margarita to get a taste of this delicious creation: The Texas Rose, a gorgeous whiskey sour with rich citrus, sage, and vanilla notes on the nose, following with a bright and quaffable finish.
What do you love about bartending?
I love the creativity behind it, especially here with the discipline we put behind it … a few dashes of this, a half spoon of that. All these tiny decisions add different dimensions to a drink. When I was a kicker in high school football, starting out I was horrible; but making small tweaks to technique here and there made all the difference. I think the same thing about making drinks.
How did you come up with this recipe?
Certain things I worked on for months, like the blackberry lemon bergamot cordial. I started off with a base template, then made small changes every week. I tried making a version of it in the past with different bourbons, and Garrison Brothers really spoke up for itself in the glass. The drink also doesn’t use egg white, but the froth from the syrup creates a nice fluffy layer to add the sage leaf garnish on top.
I noticed you used Amaro Montenegro in it, what do you like about Amaro in a whiskey cocktail?
I love how any Amaro can uplift a drink. It’s herbal, sweet, bitter, floral. … I ended up with Montenegro because it plays off the barrel character so much, lifting the vanilla characters. I also use bergamot bitters, which are orange and floral that play off the Amaro in the best way. Basically, everything in the drink complements each other, lifting the other parts.
What are you going to do with the $10,000?
The Blind Pig
31431 Santa Margarita Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita; 4975 Lakeview Ave, Yorba Linda theblindpigoc.com