On any given day when you walk into La Goulue in Palm Beach you will likely find Jente “Goose” Gees behind the bar.
Cocktail creation is both an art and a science. Understanding the flavor profile, determining the nuances of each liquor, spice and fruit and blending them together into one iconic, award-winning beverage is a skill all its own, and Goose is not afraid to push boundaries.
The craftsman behind La Goulue’s delicious cocktails, Goose recently won the $10,000 grand prize in the Gentleman Jack Daniels Whiskey Sour Classic in Tennessee with a Monchito Sour, a blend of Gentleman Jack, coconut milk and pineapple peppercorn syrup. He refers to it as an enticing fusion of the classic Whiskey Sour and a Pina Colada.
“Goose loves what he does and that’s evident to all of our guests who have spent time at our bar,” said La Goulue general manager Luke Bjoin. “The same energy he brings to La Goulue, he brings to his competitions. We are so proud of him.”
There is a strategy to entering competitions. For Goose it involves taking in his surroundings to get a feel for how to create a cocktail. “My inspiration came from my move to Florida,” said Goose.
The tropical atmosphere and walks along the beach amid swaying palm trees led him to add coconut and pineapple. The secret sauce, or rather flavor, was a subtle amount of chocolate. “I’m from Belgium, and that’s what we Belgians do,” he said.
Without sharing his secrets to incredible cocktail recipes, Goose says that sours are the undeniable king of cocktail builds. He says it’s about balancing one spirit, one sour component and one sweet element to create a remarkable cocktail.
Goose has been in the hospitality business since he was 16 and a bartender since 2010. He came to La Goulue in May 2021, perfecting his craft in his native Belgium before moving to Florida.
Goose has also won the Belgian Nikka Whiskey Challenge in 2018, Belgian Tio Pepe Challenge in 2019 and the Belgian Bacardi Legacy Competition in 2020.
Although he’s a veteran of competitions internationally, Goose says this title, his first in the U.S., was different. “My mom called me from Belgium so happy for my win but also surprised at how I forgot to tell her about my first-ever win in America,” said Goose.
Goose loves the freedom he has at La Goulue. To him, his job is more of a hobby. “Not a lot of people are as lucky as I am,” Goose said. “The power of helping people to forget about everything outside of my bar space is something I’m extremely grateful for.”