Dave Pickerell at Far Bar presenting “Whisk(e)y , Rye, and Otherwise”

By Richard Foss

The Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) continued its "Touring the Cocktail" series on April 5th at Far Bar, the historic cocktail spot in Little Tokyo. Guests had an interesting experience from the moment they arrived, as most had never visited this historic Chinese restaurant and bar that still retains the look and style of the Roaring 20’s. We had the cozy rear bar and patio to ourselves for a program featuring master distiller Dave Pickerell, former distiller at Maker’s Mark and creator of the Whistle Pig products.

After attendees enjoyed a welcome punch and Chinese-style appetizers before MOTAC Director Philip Dobard introduced Pickerell. The distiller and raconteur launched into an explanation of the different styles of Irish, Japanese, Scots, and American whiskey before conducting a tasting that featured short pours of almost twenty different varieties. In the process of doing this he taught the tricks that experts use in nosing and tasting, including an odd-looking but effective technique called the “Kentucky Chew.”                                                                 

Pickerell wasn’t the only distiller in attendance, and Stephen Gertman from Ascendant Spirits gave a short explanation of Breaker Bourbon, their California product made in a traditional style. Other brand representatives also contributed to the two hour plus program, and all were available afterward for socializing over cocktails.

Thanks and congratulations are due to Far Bar Director Sean Brennan Naughton, whose hard-working staff performed the extraordinary feat of keeping the glassware coming through the many courses of tastes and remaining cheerful about it. Mr. Brennan created an Asian-inspired punch that was served at the beginning of the evening, the recipe of which is as follows:


  • 4 parts Green Tea Infused White Whiskey
  • 1 part grapefruit
  • 1 part lemon
  • 1 part Sage liqueur
  • 2 parts simple syrup
  • Add soda water to taste

 Combine all ingredients in a punchbowl with a large block of ice.

All images courtesy Tom Caltabiano