Located at The Prado in Sandy Springs, Under the Cork Tree generally features Mediterranean-inspired flavors, most specifically in their tapas plates. But for their monthly special dinners, Chef William Sigley and his team add a little more whimsy into their food, and so for our recent experience at the Jack Daniels Single Barrel Dinner, Erica and I were dazzled by some beautiful food and some of Tennessee’s finest.
Instead of an amuse bouche, we began the evening with the Jack Daniels version of a Manhattan. Sweet and spicy, it was a clear signal the Jack Daniels I remember from college was a far cry from the sophisticated whiskey I was enjoying. Our first course featured Jack Daniels glazed lamb ribs with pickled cucumbers and lime, with Jack Daniels Old #7 to accompany. The char on the ribs and the acidity of the lime and pickles perfectly balanced the sweet fatiness of the lamb. With the Old # 7, it was Southern barbecue, but a sprinkling of upscale Mediterranean to stay true to the restaurant.
Necessarily sandwiched between rich first and third courses, the salad course featured apricots, arugula, pistachios, goat cheese, and a cardamom-honey dressing. It was light, creamy, and crunchy– basically all of the things a well-made salad should be. The Gentleman Jack served with the course is double-charcoal mellowed and finishes with a nice smoky sweetness, and this would be the perfect whiskey for sipping on the patio during the summer months.
The third course was definitely the most solidly Mediterranean entry of the night. The Duck Confit Basteeya finds its roots in Moroccan cuisine. Wrapped in filo pastry, duck confit is reminiscent of empanadas, and with its accompanying Marcona almonds and orange-blossom yogurt, it was elevated street food, a truly good thing. Like many of their whiskeys, the Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select has notes of caramel but also features some robust fruit notes that were much-needed to pair with the duck.
To accompany the first new mash release Jack Daniels has had since 1866, Chef Sigley opted to pair the Single Barrel Four-Year Rye with one of Atlanta’s most iconic creations with his Coca-Cola Marinated Hanger Steak. The assertiveness of the steak and the rye were a match made in Heaven, and the Dauphine potatoes were airy and crispy, and I could have eaten them by the basketful.
With a proof ranging anywhere from 125 to 145, the Jack Daniels Single Barrel Proof made a surprisingly smooth pairing to the Cherries Jubilee and Vanilla Bean Gelato we were served for dessert. The creaminess of the gelato and tartness of the cherries made a great match for the vanilla notes of this whiskey and while I’m not entirely convinced whiskey, on the whole, will push dessert wines out of the market, this particular Single Barrel Proof is a fantastic way to end a meal.
Rachel Boyd is an Atlanta native, holds degrees from the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University, and is a reformed picky eater (still trying to overcome an irrational shrimp-phobia). Non-cooking-related passions include her Great Dane-Bulldog mix, volunteer work, and half marathons with the Atlanta Track Club, bourbon, binge-watching detective shows, reading all the books, learning French, cute bearded dudes, and spending time on her best friend’s farm.