Morgan DeKight is the bartender in Jackson’s. If you haven’t yet discovered, he mixes one hell-of-a-fine drink and I’m absolutely convinced that — at this particular point in time — he’s forgotten more facts about whiskey than any other Enumclaw bartender knows.
Morgan spent his childhood in Topeka, Kansas, and graduated from high school there. Sometime during his junior or senior years, he tasted whiskey for the first time — some real “rot-gut” stuff and, over the years, he’s refined his tastes considerably — and he likes to think that’s when he first decided to make his living as a bartender.
A few years later, he found himself bartending in Daytona Beach, Florida. One fateful evening, while working in a dive-bar on the “other side of the tracks”, he got into a serious disagreement with the drunken son of a local police lieutenant — I mean, if you have to get in hassle you should pick an opponent with less family credentials — and, in the course of their fisticuffs, Morgan’s cheek was sliced open with a broken beer bottle. He still bears the scar near his left eye.
Following that fiasco, he joined the Army and spent a year in Afghanistan, where a roadside, improvised explosion flipped his truck, giving him a rather severe concussion. Indeed, he was awarded a purple heart.
When he was discharged (he’s still in the inactive reserves) he returned to Daytona Beach, but then decided he’d had enough of that place. So he jumped in his truck and started driving. He had no particular destination in mind; he just felt like moving. After several stops at many byways and highways all across America, he eventually ended up exploring several communities in our general area — Auburn, Buckley, Bonnie Lake, etc. — and finally decided, for any number of reasons, Enumclaw was the most attractive. He’s been bartending in Jackson’s for more than three years and has been the restaurant’s general manager for the last couple years.
Now Morgan has always felt you should make a living doing something you enjoy and devote a lot of time and energy learning the intimate details about whatever trade or profession you choose. This being the case, he delved deeply into the history and science of whiskey. (Though he also has considerable knowledge about gin, vodka, tequila, or whatever, whiskey is his specialty.) Rest assured, the variables involved in the brewing of whiskey are many; i.e., the temperature at which it is distilled and aged, whether its aged in wooden barrels or aluminum barrels, what ingredients are fermented, how finely distilled it is, etc. Morgan claims there are actually a few — very few — select bottles of whiskey that sell for a million bucks! (I assume George Washington brewed these.)
However, the most extravagant whiskey Morgan serves is Pappy Van Winkles. It’s one of the most expensive drinks in the world and Jackson’s is one of only 25 dealers who carry it in Washington State. Morgan sells it at $200 dollars a shot — and believe it or not, he’s sold a few shots to Jackson’s customers!
Morgan’s knowledge about whiskey works well in his current position. In case you haven’t heard, Jackson’s has recently revamped its entire menu and is now a certified “steak house”—and, traditionally speaking, you can’t have a first-class steak house without a first-class selection of whiskey.
Of course, wine also plays a central role and, make no mistake about it, Morgan knows his wines as well. I mean, a splendid filet mignon isn’t absolute perfection without a splendid glass of merlot.