Advertisement
  1. Arts & Entertainment

Pabst Blue Ribbon Whiskey is out, and Tampa is playing a big part

From crafting cocktails with the spirit to designing the label, Tampa locals have been involved in launching the legendary brewery’s first spirit.
Kierstyn Breaux pours some old fashioneds she helped craft as part of the PBR Whiskey launch event in Tampa on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. [Daniel Figueroa IV]
Published Oct. 2

Pabst Blue Ribbon, the longstanding lager of choice for the frugal and hip, has been making some big moves this year.

The 175-year-old company has recently introduced hard coffee, hard seltzer, low calorie and extra-strength options to its beer line and is now entering the spirit world with Pabst Blue Ribbon Whiskey.

To market the new white whiskey, PBR turned to Tampa. Local artist David Cabassa designed one of three limited edition labels and Bricks bartender Kierstyn Breaux was tapped to craft specialty cocktails for the launch event.

Tampa artist David Cabassa designed a limited edition label for PBR's new whiskey [Daniel Figueroa IV]

“Right now Tampa is a great market for everything we’re putting out brand-wise," PBR marketing representative Kat Mara said. “Our demographic is mainly 21-25-year-olds involved in anything that is art and music, and I think there’s a lot of pockets in Tampa and St. Pete that really fall in the right category that PBR can support."

The new whiskey was released last week and is already sold out in all available markets.

One of the more interesting aspects of PBR’s whiskey is its aging. Most whiskey brands pride themselves on aging. Jack Daniel’s gets seven years and Jim Beam gets four years. A $100 bottle of the Islay Scotch Lagavulin gets 16 years.

PBR’s whiskey? Five seconds.

PBR's new product lineup includes a higher proof beer, hard coffee and low-calorie beer. A hard seltzer is also coming. [Daniel Figueroa IV]

The story goes that Pabst founder Jacob Best was distilling whiskey before he got into beer, but according to his notes, he was bottling straight from the still, more like a moonshine than a whiskey. So, when Pabst wanted to make its own whiskey, they wanted to do it like the founder.

The only issue was the United States Government said it couldn’t be called whiskey without being aged. And while some forms of whiskey have specific aging regulations, the rule for regular ole American Whiskey is that as long as it touches wood, it’s whiskey. So that’s what PBR did. And they proudly put it right on the label.

Since it’s not aged, PBR Whiskey is clear, not brown. Known as white whiskeys, younger, unaged whiskeys are generally considered more of a craft spirit. Breaux said un-aging gives the whiskey a lighter, smoother and more versatile taste, making it more of a cocktail whiskey than a sipping whiskey.

Frank Zollo finishes pouring some tiki cocktails made using PBR Whiskey during a launch event in Tampa on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2019. [Daniel Figueroa IV]

“I really like the flavor profile on it because, as I did with my cocktails, you can mix it with anything and it works,” she said. “Whiskey normally doesn’t work with everything.”

For the whiskey’s launch, Breaux created a tiki drink with a banana-soaked cinnamon simple syrup, a whiskey sour made with lavender bitters and an elder flower cordial. Her most popular, though, was a take on the classic, old-fashioned cocktail. For that one she added lapsang tea for a smokier flavor.

Guests gather around the bar at Red Door No. 5 in Tampa Heights for the PBR Whiskey launch. [Daniel Figueroa IV]

Breaux said the reception was positive, surprising many at the Tampa Launch. She’s even looking forward to getting some bottles in at the Bricks — once its back in stock, that is.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Whiskey is 80-proof and 40-percent alcohol. A 750 ml bottle retails for around $23.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. On Sunday, the Festival of Jewish Books & Conversations will feature "Have I Got a Cartoon for You!" author Bob Mankoff. Moment Books
    The Gulf Coast chapter of the Authors Guild will also present a free workshop at South Pasadena City Hall.
  2. 40 minutes ago• Arts & Entertainment
    The Hillsborough County Fair, shown here in 2012, will continue in Dover with the popular demolition derby on Sunday. Times (2012)
    Big Halloween parties, the second weekend of the Hillsborough County Fair, a rodeo and the return of the SPIFFS folk fair.
  3. Chefs Ricardo Castro, left, and Rosana Rivera in Kitchen Stadium for their episode of "Beat Bobby Flay." STEPHEN DAVIS PHILLIPS  |  Food Network
    Here’s when, and where, to tune in.
  4. On Saturday, visit Artpool Gallery to find a costume and stay for the Halloween Bash featuring visual art, burlesque, a runway show and music. Courtesy of Marc Anthony Smith
    Check out the Halloween ComicFest at Emerald City and meet the artist behind the Furrybones dolls at Busch Gardens, too.
  5. It’s an ideal meal for those lazy Sunday cooking days.
  6. Corgi dogs, shown here in a 2018 race, will run the dirt track at Tampa Bay Downs during Oktoberfest on Saturday. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times (2018)
    Enjoy corgi races at Oktoberfest, Tampa Riverwalk trick-or-treating, a free Opera Tampa concert and Henry Plant’s 200 birthday.
  7. "The Current War" stars Benedict Cumberbatch. DEAN ROGERS  |  101 Studios
    ‘Countdown,’ ‘One Piece: Stampede,’ ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ and ‘The Great Alaskan Race’ also open, plus three horror screenings.
  8. Cooters Crab Fest will return to the Clearwater Beach restaurant and bar for its 26th year on Thursday. Courtesy of Cooters
    Cooters Crab Fest and stone crab weekend at Frenchy’s and Palm Pavilion, plus when to watch local chefs on ‘Beat Bobby Flay.’
  9. Muralists Blaine Fontana and Jeremy Nichols, both of Portland, OR., are creating this piece for the Shine Mural Festival that features Florida sea creatures with a grant from NOAA. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Plus, you can take a ride through the Terror Tent at the Pinellas Art Villages’ Spookfest.
  10. Bill Engvall will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Thursday. Marleah Leslie and Associates
    Plus, the Florida Orchestra, Funny Women of a Certain Age, ‘The Thanksgiving Play,’ Phantasmagoria and a roundup of dance performances.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement