Chef Jason Dady on the Magic of Sauv Blanc and the Best Gin There Is

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There’s plenty of food and drink action going down in San Antonio, so we chatted with Jason Dady, the chef and owner behind six concepts ranging from Italian to barbecue to oysters, including Tre Trattoria, Tre Enoteca, Two Bros. BBQ Market, The DUK Truck, B&D Ice House and Shuck Shack, to get the inside scoop.

What do you like to drink when you get off work?

Currently I’m on this big sauvignon blanc kick, and my other go-to is a Gin and Tonic. If you think about palate fatigue in the kitchen, you need something bright, vibrant and effervescent to clear the palate.

Two Bros. BBQ Market

What’s your choice for sauvignon blanc, and do you have a favorite gin?

I’ve been drinking Emmolo sauvignon blanc from Napa. It’s not too acidic or too much grapefruit but not a big grassy citrus bomb. It’s balanced and drinks like a grüner [veltliner]. I burned out on sauvignon blanc about a decade ago, and this has brought me back around. For gin, I’m a sucker for Hendrick’s.

Do you usually stay at one of your places or like to get out and explore?

It’s a little bit of both. I definitely might crush a glass of wine here before I leave. I like Bohanan’s. It’s old-school with big leather couches, wood and a jazz band. It’s a badass put-together bar. We have Mezcalería Mixtli that I love. I love mezcal. It has kick-ass traditional Mexican food with great cocktails.

Shuck Shack

Where else locally do you like to drink?

Park Social is small, intimate and attached to a restaurant, so you can get great food. It’s a nice chill place for chefs late at night. And also Paramour, which is kind of the new big daddy in town. It’s super swanky but not douchey. They have a great bar team there.

What inspires you these days cocktail-wise?

I care a lot about balance more than anything. I know that sounds elementary, but matching savory and sweet and sour sometimes can get lost in the bar world. And just making something that tastes great. Using flavors from around the world is really important.

Dady and The DUK Truck

What do you like to serve to kick off a dinner party?

Rosé or grüner, but I also like a good Margarita to kick off a party. It’s acidic, refreshing and comfortable. It helps people let their guard down. And I like to end the night with a good Negroni.

What’s a go-to spring cocktail?

A favorite drink we make is a gin-inspired Old Fashioned: gin, grapefruit and rhubarb bitters served on a large-format rock. It’s so fucking delicious and refreshing. It’s light and it’s perfect for spring.

Shuck Shack’s Old Fashioned

How does spring produce play into your cocktailing?

We’re really big into using herbs—the fresh herbaceousness of mint, basil or thyme in syrups. I like tarragon and fennel for an anise profile, which can be used as an undertone if done right.

Is there a quintessential San Antonio drink you like?

It would have to be a Margarita. We’re in South Texas, and we have a huge Hispanic and Mexican food scene. I think that mezcal is quickly starting to reshape things, because you have these bar teams who give a shit. They can travel throughout Mexico and visit the agave fields and learn more about it.

Any guilty pleasures?

I’m a huge fan of high-proof bourbons, like bottle proof in the 136 to140 range that would be called the one-hitter quitter. One nice two-ounce pour at the end of the night, and that’s all you need. George T. Stagg or Thomas Handy—those are just fucking delicious knock-you-in-the-face, but they’re so great. You can’t have them all the time.

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