The Legacy of Jack Rudy
"The typefaces on the menu, what the servers are wearing, the glassware, it all tells a story." —Brooks Reitz
He once flew a plane under a bridge on a dare. One time he repurposed a city bus as a houseboat. Add these heroics to the fact that the man knew his way around a cocktail shaker and it's easy to see why Brooks Reitz saw his grandfather Jack Rudy as an inspiring figure. Brooks's own rise in the food and beverage scene of Charleston is no less of a dazzling feat.
Early on, he served as General Manager of local hotspot The Ordinary, where his painstaking attention to detail caught the attention and respect of industry insiders. All the while, Brooks was developing and tinkering with cocktail mixers under the moniker of Jack Rudy. First came a recipe for tonic water with such a rabid fanbase it ended up behind the bar at Sean Brock's Husk.
More concoctions came next and as Jack Rudy became a national sensation, Brooks parlayed that success into restaurants of his own — first Leon's Oyster Shop, then Little Jack's Tavern, and soon Melfi's. Looking around Leon's, you'd be forgiven for assuming the place had been in business for the better part of a century. It has the well-worn decor and lived-in feel that's characteristic of a neighborhood institution. With Brooks at the helm, that's no surprise. It's all by design.
"I could tell you where every piece of every little thing comes from. It’s because we enjoy the process of telling a story through design, through the typefaces on the menu, what the servers are wearing, the glassware, it all tells a story." Turns out grandpa Jack Rudy wasn't the only one in the family with a knack for spinning a yarn.
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“The drink is a riff on a sort of classic southern drink called The Icepick which is just vodka and sweet tea. I used to work at a restaurant in college and all the servers working on the patio would make themselves these massive cups of vodka and sweet tea because our bosses couldn’t smell the alcohol. This cocktail’s an homage to that."
• 1 1/2 oz Vodka
• 3/4 oz Jack Rudy Sweet Tea Syrup
• 3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
• About 5 drops of Jack Rudy Lavender Bitters
Pick up Jack Rudy Sweet Tea Syrup and Lavender Bitters here:
“Add the ingredients and ice to a shaker, shake it, and double strain it into a coupe glass. That’s it. We don’t garnish it.”
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