The bar + lounge at Lockbox is the perfect place to quench your thirst, entertain important clients, or grab a casual bite with friends. Earlier this year, we welcomed Jake Parry to lead our beverage program as Beverage Director at Lockbox. Jake’s passion for spirits and concocting new cocktails perfectly compliments our expansive spirits selection and creative menu at Lockbox. Interested in talking about spirits from production all the way to how its used in our cocktails – consider Jake your expert! We recently sat down with Jake to talk all things beverage and what he’s most looking forward to sharing with our Lexington community and beyond in the coming months.
21c: What’s your favorite drink to make at home?
JP: My favorite drink to make at home is usually simple. I like to mess around with new and interesting cocktails, but I’m usually just drinking a gin and soda or a new wine to help with my sommelier studies.
21c: What’s your favorite drink at a local restaurant?
JP: I love tasting a bartender’s take on a classic Boulevardier cocktail. It’s the bourbon-based negroni riff and I love tasting all different vermouths and amari to elevate a classic.
21c: Favorite type of spirit?
JP: I do love a good whiskey, especially when it comes to bourbon; but gin has stolen my heart from the start. I love the creativity that gin allows from a dry to sweet, simple to complex flavor profile. There are not too many boundaries to what a gin can be!
21c: Ingredients you can’t live without?
JP: I have to go back to the basics here: juniper, corn, barley, wheat, and rye. Without these ingredients, we would not have our favorite spirits today. Sure, you can distill from potato and grapes and so many other great naturally grown products, but nothing compares to the flavor you get from those core five ingredients. If I had to answer for a cocktail, I would say citrus in general to allow for the balance that so many delicious syrups desire.
21c: What 3 things are always stocked in your bar at home?
JP: Gin, but not just any gin. There’s nothing I love more than inviting a guest into my home or restaurant and having them tell you that they don’t like gin. I will always tell them that there is a gin out there for them; but I also understand their hatred as bad gin is the worst! So, I always keep around good gin. From Monkey 47 to Castle and Key to McClintock or even Bluecoat, just having a great gin on hand allows me to open palates to new flavors that work.
Second, I always keep some kind of wine on hand. This can be anything from a fortified wine/vermouth for cocktailing to a new bottle that I am using to learn. I hope to be a sommelier soon and the more I can taste, the more I can learn!
Finally, I always have a bitter element in stock. Almost always, it is some type of amaro with a wide variety of bitters. Amaro is so incredible because it showcases the terroir of the manufacturing more than any other spirit on the market. Each amari consists of locally grown ingredients and brings an incredibly complex flavor profile. Amaro being the Italian word for “bitter,” it fits perfectly into my bitter preferences. I could drink amaro neat or on the rocks.
21c: What inspires you when creating a new cocktail?
JP: My inspiration for a new cocktail always comes from a certain flavor profile. This can be from typical flavors or specific flavors in a spirit. There are times that I can taste a spirit and immediately know what will accompany it to perfection. Blending flavor profiles is the most fun in the world to me, but blending spirit flavor profiles cannot be beat. It is incredibly satisfying to find a spirit that works perfectly with another.
21c: What is an example of a Kentucky cocktail?
JP: My Kentucky cocktail example is the Seelbach, created in Louisville around 20 years ago at the Seelbach hotel. This cocktail is delicious as it is a play on a classic Manhattan, topped with champagne. You toss out the vermouth, dial back on the bourbon, and add dry curacao and a ton of bitters to make a refreshing, booze forward cocktail. Please try it!
21c: What’s your favorite food/drink city (to visit) and why? What 3 words would you use to describe the current dining scene in Lexington?
JP: My favorite city to visit for food/drink is actually still Baltimore. I moved from there over a year ago to Lexington and they just have an incredible scene. I always joke that they try to keep up with their big brother, Washington D.C. Tons of great chefs and restaurant concepts, an incredible amount of classically trained bartenders, you can’t go wrong pretty much anywhere you go!
Coming from a larger market, Lexington’s current dining scene is not what I’m typically used to. I would call it local, rising, and classic. I would say that a lot of our fine restaurants around here do dining properly. Fresh ingredients and menu items that typify dining in the Midwest/South. We have a lot of great chefs that have not gained their proper recognition yet, and plenty of new operations opening. I am looking forward to the future of dining in Lexington!
21c: Favorite thing to do in Lexington on your day off?
JP: My favorite day off in Lexington is simple. I love taking my dog over to Wellington Park. I live near there so it is nice to be able to take a step back and hang out. He’s a dachshund/cattle dog mix that just loves to run!
21c: What drink starts your day? Ends your night?
JP: The drink that starts my day is always water. After that, probably some cold brew coffee! Love the taste and it gets me going! I usually end my night with either a dessert cocktail (booze forward) or simply an amaro on the rocks. I often eat late for dinner so it’s nice to have a digestif on hand!
21c: Any new activations happening at Lockbox this year?
JP: We have a lot of big plans for Lockbox this year and moving into 2022! My main focus recently has been on concocting a new Mocktail menu. We always want to make sure we have a drink for everyone at our bar. We have a new menu rolling out in September and we are hoping to have fully non-alcoholic spirits for cocktails by mid September!