This September, Jack Daniel’s has been bringing a taste of Tennessee to the UK, with top secret pop-up event, The Meeting Place, across the country. To get in, you had to head to a participating venue, buy a Jack Daniel’s drink, and post an entry form into a postbox. Lucky winners would get entry to the secret location of the party. I managed to get myself onto the guest list for the Birmingham event, at the Rainbow Venues.
From up the street, we could hear classic American tunes thumping, and walked into the Rainbow to find it had been given a makeover to look like the bars and honky-tonks of Tennessee. Barrels for tables, packing crates, lots of wood and Jack Daniel’s posters covered the space.
I’m actually quite sad this was just a pop-up, as the atmosphere was relaxed, and cool. The DJ was playing some classic tracks, and all very much to my taste, with lots of indie rock. According to Dave, who has spent time in the real country bars in America, this pop-up was actually pretty spot on. Someone needs to open a permanent one of these for sure!
We headed to the bar for some drinks. I tried the Red Dog Smash, which had Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, Benedictine, lemon juice, apricot jam and Angostura Bitters. It was very strong, which I how I like my cocktails, and with a nice mix of sweetness from the jam, and some sour from the lemon. I don’t think the jam had been mixed in as well as it could have been, and the huge amount of ice made it set a little, and I kept getting chunks of jam caught in the straw. Despite this, it was very enjoyable. Dave had an Apple Jack ( Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 and apple juice) which is a favourite of his. I thought it tasted too much like apple juice and not enough like whiskey, but Dave was happy and enjoyed his choice.
For our second round, I tried a Frozen Lynchburg Lemonade (Jack Daniel’s Old No.7, triple sec, fresh lemon, lemonade) which was like an excellent boozy slushie. It was strong, and sour, and basically perfect for me. The frozen twist was nice too, as the bar was pretty warm. An excellent summer drink. Dave chose the Tennessee Cooler (Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, apple juice and ginger ale) which we both liked a lot. It had a gentle kick of ginger, but was well balanced with sweetness from the fruit juice and honey.
We needed something to soak up the whiskey, and luckily Jack Daniel’s had invited along two of Birmingham’s finest to feed us; Low ‘N’ Slow and Flying Cows. Dave is crazy for american barbecue, so I knew I had to take him to see the fabulous Andy at Low ‘N’ Slow. Andy suggested we order one of each dish he was serving that night, and share. It was a great idea. The ribs were gorgeous, even for me who can usually take or leave ribs. Dave loves rib, so he devoured most of these. The meat was tender and just fell off the bone, and was complemented well by the rich sauce, which had some good kick to it. The pulled pork burger was equally gorgeous, with a huge pile of juicy pork and tangy slaw. One of the things I like best about Low ‘N” Slow is that they have actually thought about the fact that you’re probably going to eat the food standing up. The burger is a sensible size, so you can hold it with one hand and not lose most of the filling back into the box. This is surprisingly rare for a street food burger!
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Tennessee experience without some live music. Performing on the night were The Americas, a West Midlands based rock & roll group, and Broken Witt Rebels, who play blues and rock. We caught The Americas and we could quickly see why they’re causing such a storm on the music scene lately. Tipped for greatness by BBC Introducing‘s Jack Parker, Gigslutz and many more, the band are high energy performers with a bit of a 70s feel. Look out for them gigging around Birmingham, and you’re definitely in for a good night.
After my night in Tennessee, I definitely feel like a proper ‘country’ bar in Birmingham would a brilliant permanent fixture. In the mean time, I’ll be following Low ‘N’ Slow around and sipping on some whiskey cocktails.
I was given a media pass with a plus one for this event. Our food and drinks were complementary but I was not obliged to write a blog post. All words, photos and opinions are honest and my own.