Jess Sanchez McClary is introducing the world to drinking vinegars one delicious bottle at a time. Well, technically, the folks back in the Colonial era had her beat, but Jess is reviving the long forgotten cocktail companion while bringing the flavors into the modern day.
The Chicago raised, but now Farmington, Mich.-based entrepreneur, started McClary Bros. as a bakery in her home. Flash forward three years later and McClary Bros. still uses seasonal Michigan-produce, but the end product is a little more liquid. Craft cocktail enthusiasts and soda fans alike are slurping up the small batch shrubs, another name for the concoction, in flavors like Michigan Apple Pie, Pineapple and Fennel Seed, and Beat and Carrot. We’ve covered the ins and outs of her unique mixers on Modern Midwest before, but now, it’s all about Jess.
We put the shrubbist extraordinaire through our 18-question ringer to see where her Midwest roots (and tastes) lie
Favorite place in the Midwest?
The Albanese Candy Factory in Merrillville, IN. I wish I had a more grown-up answer. Wait, no I don’t.
What temperature is considered warm enough for no coat?
Unless I’m wearing a sweater, then 48.
Favorite meal to cook?
Brats with caramelized sweet onions. I do it twice a year—Memorial Day and Labor Day. They’re seared, then braised, then grilled. It takes hours and every bite is worth the wait.
What’s a hidden gem in your city?
The Keep Growing Detroit market garden. Their produce is sold under the “Grown in Detroit” name at Eastern Market every Saturday, but industry insiders in Detroit get invited to their u-pick days. Strawberries? Gooseberries? Heirloom Tomatoes? Yes, please!
Local coffee shop of choice?
Always Brewing. In the Grandmont Rosedale neighborhood, Amanda Brewington’s Always Brewing is the quintessential neighborhood coffee shop.
Go-to pizza toppings?
So my go to is a quality Margherita, but left to my own devices, I’ll go with artichokes and fresh tomato.
Soda or Pop?
I’m more of a ginger beer kinda gal. But for the record, pop.
Duck Duck Goose or Duck Duck Grey Duck?
Grey Duck? What kind of malarkey is this?
BBQ sauce. I’d eat a good BBQ sauce with a spoon.
Favorite local brewery?
Jolly Pumpkin. I’m all about a quality sour beer.
Can you name all the ingredients in puppy chow?
No, my aunt was the dessert maker. But I can assemble a mean walking taco. Now where’s that bag of Fritos?
How many shovels do you own?
Four, maybe? Unless I’m including broken snow shovels. Then like 15.
Favorite food on a stick?
Easy, hands down its Eli’s Frozen Cheesecake on a stick from the Taste of Chicago.
Skiing or wakeboarding?
Wakeboarding, why would I go find *more* snow in the winter? Pass.
Signature drink order?
A Kentucky Shrub Mule: bourbon, ginger beer and drinking vinegar with a squeeze of lemon. Good times.
Mississippi River or Great Lakes?
Great Lakes. I hear they got sharks in the Mississippi.
Favorite Midwestern artist?
Daniel Burnham. I geek out hard on classical architecture.
Favorite building in the Midwest?
To look at: The Rookery Building in Chicago (see aforementioned Daniel Burnham-ness), but on principle the correct answer is The Sears Tower.