Jeremy Corn’s recipe for a spectacular cocktail: take classic ingredients, mix in some culinary history, shake well, and enjoy!
Jeremy Corn splashed the different liquids into the cocktail shaker before quartering two limes. His guests watched closely as he crafted the classic beverage; curious, someone wondered aloud where it came from. “It dates back to the 1890s,” Jeremy began. “A young bartender entered a beverage competition the day after his girlfriend, Daisy, broke up with him.”
Jeremy garnished glasses with lime and salt and continued. “The bartender was so preoccupied with his soured relationship that he couldn’t keep his tears from spilling over into his sweet mixed drink.” Ice clinked against steel as Jeremy began shaking the ingredients; his guests leaned closer to hear the story’s ending. “Impressed with his formula of salt, subtly combined with sweet and sour flavors, the judges announced him winner of the competition. When they asked what he called his drink, he told them ‘margarita.’” Jeremy’s guests grinned as he poured their drinks. “Margarita,” he explained, “is Spanish for daisy.”
After finishing his story, Jeremy added that the more accurate origin of the margarita’s name is probably found in the tequila variation of a family of cocktails called “daisies,” also popular in the 1890s. Jeremy is an eighteen-year veteran of the restaurant industry; he’s well versed in the colloquial and factual histories of wine, spirits, brews, and mixed beverages. A history buff and English language and literature enthusiast, Jeremy interweaves his love of liberal arts and his passion for his profession.
Jeremy, now beverage director at El Monumento, enjoys being behind the bar. “I’ve found that bartending is the best amalgamation of all the things I love about the restaurant business: I make something, but I also get to meet guests, hang out, make friends, and entertain people. I find those two things are what drive me the most.”
A Culinary Career
An Austin native, Jeremy cut his teeth in Nashville’s food and beverage industry shortly after graduating from high school. He later completed sommelier training at the Art Institute of Colorado. While majoring in English with a creative writing focus and a minor in fine arts at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Jeremy ran the bar at an upscale Italian restaurant for five years. He left to finish his MBA at the University of Colorado and later moved to Washington, D.C., to accept a teaching position.
As a Professor of Culinary Arts at Stratford University, he introduced a new minor to the program, the study of gastronomy. Jeremy describes gastronomy as the art, experience, study, and focus of gourmet food. Using French writer Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Transcendental Gastronomy and the Physiology of Taste (published in 1825) as a textbook, Jeremy constructed classes on the “insight into food as art and the creation of dishes and drinks as an art form.”
The minor incorporated several components, including anthropology, film studies, and English literature, all centered on gastronomy. To challenge his class, Jeremy “brought in information on what Roman banquets looked like in 200 C.E. and taught about all of the different kinds of food and drink and the crazy stuff they would do at these events.” His students considered the lavish meals served at these public feasts, as well as the vessels, utensils, and entertainment. Jeremy challenged them to envision ways that human interactions with food are portrayed in different disciplines and to apply their findings to their future professions.
After four years in D.C., Jeremy and his wife returned to Texas, and once again Jeremy found his niche behind the bar. He joined the team at a well-known tavern in West Austin and quickly moved from bar tender to assistant general manager before coming to Georgetown. Today, he uses his creative reign over the bar to invent stunning cocktails.
Start with a Poem; Stir in some Science
Jeremy compares creating recipes to writing a villanelle poem. “The reason the villanelle is an interesting poem to work on,” Jeremy says, “is because you have a tightly controlled structure of repeated words and line lengths, so it kind of forces creativity.” Jeremy applies the same idea to any classic cocktail formulas. “I like to work within those tightly controlled structures because I think it makes you better,” he explains.
For example, take the Old Fashioned, Jeremy’s favorite drink. The formula for an Old Fashioned is two and a half ounces of any spirit, half an ounce of a sweetener (sugar, honey, even a liqueur), and four dashes of bitters. “I like to apply well thought-out methods that are controllable to a problem,” Jeremy says. By working within the formula for an Old Fashioned and determining taste preferences, Jeremy can almost always find a drink his guest will enjoy.
Along with inventing new recipes, Jeremy also spends hours poring over research to learn new techniques. Lately, he’s been experimenting with infusions using a technique called nitrogen cavitation. He explains, “You take a stainless steel whipped cream maker, put liquid in it, add a porous surface flavoring ingredient, and charge it with nitrous oxide.” This procedure allows him to create incredibly intense and stable flavors in mere minutes, instead of infusing the flavors over several weeks. Then he can take guests’ requests and make infusions based on their specific palette preferences; he can build what they imagine to be their perfect drink. The flavors Jeremy could customize are almost limitless. Imagine an orange and blueberry vodka tonic or jalapeño tequila served over freshly-squeezed limeade!
Jeremy has also mastered the science behind his eight-hour margarita. “It’s not really a margarita,” he says. “It’s like if a martini and a margarita had a kid.” To create his eight-hour margaritas, Jeremy filters the ingredients through a three-hour cold brew coffee maker. He reformatted the machine to diffuse the liquid so that it soaks up the ingredients, rather than letting them simply drip through the mixture. Jeremy explains that the coffee maker works because “it’s not the slow infusion process that a lot of people use, which, first, has sanitation issues, and, second, has quality control issues. It’s a way to get this process done faster than other methods yet slow enough that you really get this incredible flavor.”
Jeremy is open to sharing his extensive knowledge. He says, “I don’t feel like recipes should be held tight to the chest—I don’t see any value in that. The way I make a cocktail is not the same way you make a cocktail. Every drink is going to be an expression of bartender who makes it.”