Tennessee vs. Kentucky: Make these whiskey cocktails for marquee rival showdown
Since his NFL career ended, Peyton Manning misses being on a team. That's part of the reason he entered the bourbon production space, a tight-knit club of forward-thinking people who still have one foot in tradition.
Manning is now part of the Sweetens Cove team, which also includes tennis great Andy Roddick. Sweetens Cove, which started as an award-winning golf course, also has a distillery arm. The distillery recently released Kennessee, a blend of Kentucky and Tennessee bourbons aged in toasted sugar maple wood and blended by distiller Marianne Eaves.
"Andy Roddick reached out to me wanting me to come play the golf course," said Manning, who formerly played with the Colts and the Broncos. He also played college football with the University of Tennessee. For a veteran of a sport steeped in tradition, it was hard not to notice a new one at the Sweetens Cove Golf Course: the celebratory shot of whiskey first-timers downed on the first tee.
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"This was a real authentic kind of organic tradition," Manning said. "So that's how we started Sweetens Cove, and we were fortunate to bring Marianne Eaves onto the team. She’s been the quarterback, as I like to say."
With the release of Kennessee, Manning said, he's entering a new role: peacemaker between long-time rivals.
"The rivalry between Tennessee and Kentucky is certainly a rivalry I’m very familiar with from my college football playing days," he said. "And with Kennessee, we’re trying to have everybody get along and all play in the sandbox together."
Distiller Eaves said creating a harmonious blend wasn't hard, though it still required thinking outside of the box.
"I have a lot of experience on both sides of the border and enjoyed having the opportunity to match them together while doing it our way," she said. "The sugar maple finish is almost like a Kentucky expression of the Lincoln County process doing the toasted sugar maple as opposed to the charred sugar maple to really emphasize the flavors that that that wood can contribute."
While Kennessee is intended as a sipper, it's also well-suited for an Old Fashioned or any other classic cocktail that allows both whiskey-making regions to shine.
"They marry really well together and I hope that this continues to get people on board with not only Tennessee bourbon, but bourbon across the U.S.," she said.
In what's being considered the biggest game between these border rivals in 71 years, the Kentucky Wildcats and Tennessee Volunteers face off against one another in Knoxville on Oct. 29.
To celebrate the occasion, Matt Tocco, beverage director for Strategic Hospitality and The Patterson House and a UT graduate, designed these two cocktails using Kennessee bourbon. They're both riffs on the sidecar.
The GBO (Go Big Orange)
- 2 ounces Kennessee bourbon
- 3/4 ounce Cointreau
- 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 ounce Demerara Syrup (2 to 1 Demerara sugar to water)
Stir sugar into boiling water until it dissolves, then cool completely. In a shaker, combine bourbon, Cointreau, lemon juice, syrup and ice. Shake, then strain, into a glass of your choice.
You're My Boy, Blue!
- 2 ounces Kennessee bourbon
- 3/4 ounce Giffard Blue Curacao
- 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 ounce Demerara Syrup
- (2 to 1 Demerara sugar to water)
Stir sugar into boiling water until it dissolves, then cool completely. In a shaker, combine bourbon, Blue Curacao, lemon juice, syrup and ice. Shake, then strain, into a glass of your choice.