What is it about tequila that says party? Is it the earthy aroma and complex taste? Is it the fiery burn in the back of your throat that reminds you that you are teetering on the razors edge that separates euphoria from delirium? Or is it the reputation for its mythical ability to dissolve all worldly worries and forge bonds of brotherhood among those who drink it together?
Judging by the arms thrown around shoulders, broad grins and belly laughs ricocheting around the patio of Jack Allen’s Kitchen during the Second Annual Tequila Bash, I’d say Jack Allen tapped into tequila’s ability to bend strangers into friends.
"I could have done an event with beer, or with vodka. But I chose tequila to go after the guys who are willing to spend $200 a person to go to a fund raising event," says Jack Gilmore, chef and proprietor, Jack Allen’s Kitchen.
Gilmore has been an ardent supporter of the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation for eight years. When he opened Jack Allen’s Kitchen, he made it standard operating procedure to give back to community and made the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation the primary beneficiary. This is one of the charities Gilmore knows that really works. He relishes the moments when he sees previously wheel-chair bound people who are able to walk again.
Gilmore is a regular supporter of the Foundation’s annual gala and raises money throughout the year by donating $1 for every order of Carl Miller’s Layered Chunky Queso sold at the restaurant. In 2011, the restaurant was able to donate more than $9,000 and presented a check for more than $3,600 to foundation executive director, Mike Haynes, and president, Doug English, at the Tequila bash for the past quarter’s sales.
The first Tequila Bash raised more than $15,000 and this year’s event is expected to net around $18,000. Between the queso sales, the gala auction and the Tequila Bash, Jack Allen’s Kitchen raises about $40,000 to $50,000 a year for the Foundation.
Proceeds will be used to advance the foundations mission of curing “spinal cord paralysis through funding research, advanced recovery and community outreach.” With the funding, the foundation will be able to continue to offer recovery programs that use therapies and equipment for spinal recovery.
Jack Allen’s Kitchen has a serious bent on featuring fresh Texas ingredients straight on its menu. Gilmore gathered like-minded chef’s to pair locally-sourced dishes with locally owned tequila for the Bash. “All of the tequila distillers are locally owned except Don Julio, and they are five of the finest tequilas out there,” he says. Beyond a local focus, there weren’t many rules for the food and tequila pairing: “Make it great is the only directive.”
It was obvious that the chef’s adopted the same easy-going attitude of the bash, relishing the tail-gate-like atmosphere. The food selections were scrumptious bite-sized nibbles and completely unpretentious.
Albert Benitez, chef at Cover 3, served Black and Blue Crostinis, made with rare beef tenderloin slices, blue cheese and onion marmalade served on toasted bread slices. The substantial, yet bite-sized nibble is a mainstay on the restaurant’s party menu and paired well with the cocktail from Dulce Vida Organic Tequila.
Ben Craven, the beverage manager at Perla’s created a Fleur de Paloma made with Dulce Vida Organic Tequila.
- 1.5 ounces Dulce Vida Blanco
- .5 ounces St. Germaine
- 2 dashes of Lavender Spice Bitters
- 2 ounces of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
- Topped with club soda
Bryce Gilmore, chef at Barley Swine, prepared farm fresh deviled eggs with eggs from Milagro Farms. He topped them with nutty, crispy kale. The rich, creamy eggs and bitter greens were a good match with the cocktail made with Ambhar Tequila.
Marcelo Nascimento, award winning mixologist from Ambhar Tequila, prepared a classic concoction.
- 2 ounces of Ambhar Añejo
- .5 ounces St. Germaine
- Orange bitters
- Aromatic bitters
- Orange peel set ablaze
Chris TenEyck, sous chef at Jack Allen’s Kitchen, prepared grilled and braised pork ribs with Texas orange and sweet chili barbecue sauce and served with coleslaw. Ridiculously good. He selected this to pair well with the citrus flavors in the cocktail from Z Tequila.
Dana Wakley of Pepe Zevada’s Z Tequila mixed the Spaniard for the crowd. This Jack Allen’s Kitchen menu staple was a sweet accompaniment with the ribs.
- 1.5 ounces Z Tequila Añejo
- .5 ounces Orange Sherry
- Splash of fresh-squeezed Texas orange juice
- Dash of agave nectar
- Squeeze of lime
The man himself, Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, made ancho crusted crispy tacos filled with local lamb braised with garlic and Republic Tequila Anejo.
Brittany Meador and Chanze Hoover Republic Tequila served a Jack Allen’s staple, the refreshing Agave Cocktail.
- 2 ounce of Republic Tequila Reposado
- 2 ounces fresh lime juice
- 1 ounce Agave nectar
- Shaken over ice
Don Julio Tequila, the only non-locally owned tequila, brought a twist to the pairings. Roxanne Santos mixed the 70th Anniversary Anejo Blanco with Grand Marnier, orange juice and a squeeze of lime for a distinctive margarita. This Jalisco Highlands tequila is filtered after aging to remove the signature caramel coloring of añejo. The taste is silky smooth and smoky and was served with Beef Street Tacos by John Zamora to pair with the margaritas.
Rebecca Rather, pastry chef and cookbook author, made a variation of her Good Luck chocolate truffles with a ganache made with Patron XO — a heavenly dessert accompaniment.
Stephanie Vasquez prepared a simple dessert drink with Patrón XO shaken with ice. The silver tequila blended with coffee liquor was smooth, sweet and sexy.
Texas grown ingredients, Texas owned tequila and Texas-sized hospitality made for a warm, jovial fundraiser that never lost sight of the cause; Jack Gilmore is certainly onto something in using tequila to open wallets for a good cause. I'll venture to bet they raise even more money for the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation next year.