Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Holiday Cheer(s)

The holidays are Joe Peppercorn’s time to show off.

This month, he and his ever-evolving band will take the Bluestone stage for one of the city’s most massive holiday events—the sixth annual Beatles Marathon. By the end of the night on December 26, he and hundreds of Fab Four fanatics will have blasted through all 211 songs in the legendary catalog—in chronological order, all in one full concert.

But it’s not the only impressive feat he’s pulled off in a month’s time, after the part-time bartender also brought home the title at (614)’s annual Holiday Cocktail Competition, presented by Pernod Ricard, and held at Gallerie Bar & Bistro. His winning drink, Positively North Fourth Street, was inspired by the first cocktail he ever made (a Sazerac), the address of his home bar (Little Rock), and a dash of Bob Dylan.

The drink, which took top honors over the other 23 competitors, was also a tribute to Little Rock owner Quinn Fallon—an unabashed fan of Natty Light for going on three decades.

Positively North Fourth Street

1.5 oz. Redbreast 12-year

.5 oz. Jameson Black Barrel

1/2 oz. pomegranate winter spice syrup

Dash of Peychaud’s bitters

Natural Light glass rinse

“Quinn is the man who taught me to bartend and who I am proud to work for still today. He only drinks Natty and insists it be in every holiday drink we make,” Peppercorn said.

Beyond that, the drink paired the booze and barley malt of the Irish whiskey with the earthiness of the pomegranate fruit flavor, with the syrup making up for the lack of absinthe. Balanced, light, and served with a lemon zest and in a glass rinsed with a splash of college beer, the cocktail is a good representation of the Columbus cocktail scene—sophisticated flavor, served with a lack of self-seriousness.

“The Natty is obviously a clue that we are not taking ourselves too seriously, but we are also proud of our drink and hope it is an indicator of how much fun we like to have making drinks—as well as imbibing them,” Peppercorn said.

To that end, Peppercorn even recommended musical pairings for his cocktail—a blend of his two passions. “The song you should listen to while drinking this drink is ‘Fairytale of New York’ [by The Pogues]. Irish whiskey, Irish band—Christmas drink, Christmas song.”

Runner-up honors went to Sean P. Ward (also fan favorite) of Giuseppe’s Ritrovo, for his Affair with the Neighbor, and third-place went to Colt Runion and Tyler Wood of Mouton for their Welcome to the Jungle.