What Are You Drinking at the Austin City Limits Music Festival?

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary for one of the biggest and best destination music festivals in the country, the 2011 Austin City Limits Music Festival. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to all but the first one and have even been fortunate enough to do PR for it. Yeah, I have a love affair with my hometown party. It’s fair to say that I like to party like a rock star.

Have you ever wondered what all of the rock stars drink back-stage? Luckily for you, I’ve got the inside track. Lisa Hickey, marketing director, reminisced about the early days of the ACL Fest. “The concoction of sweet tea and vodka was made widely popular at the first ACL Festival.  Tito’s Vodka and Sweet Leaf Tea joined forces and created the Sweet-o-Tito.   We didn’t have many mixer options, but thanks to these two sponsors we had plenty of both.  It was a match made in heaven… and the rest is history!  We still serve up tons of these drinks each year at the festival in the VIP and Artist Lounges.”

They will be serving the Sweet-o-Tito again this year in the VIP and Artist Lounges along with a Tito’s bloody Mary happy hour every morning. A big hit last year was the Ambhar Tequila margarita and it will be back again this year.

We all know that the rock stars don’t stay at Zilker Park all night after the music ends. What are they drinking around town? I asked a couple of prominent bartenders at local hot-spots what they would make for artists that mosey into their bar. What does their persona inspire in a craft cocktail?

Shane Fischer at the whisky den, tenOak, has created signature cocktails for a smattering of artists playing at the festival this weekend. Here are the drinks he’s inspired to prepare.

Arcade Fire

  • 1 1/4 oz Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
  • top with redbull and splash of grenadine
  • serve on the rocks in a short glass

Foster the People

  • 1 1/2 oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz raspberry liquor
  • splash navan vanilla liquor
  • top with sprite
  • rocks, tall glass


  • 1 1/4 rumplemintz
  • 3/4 oz cool swan cream liquor
  • 1/2 oz chocolate liquor
  • serve on the rocks in a short frozen glass

Kanye West

  • 1 1/4 oz Remy Martin V.S.O.P
  • 1/2 oz Grand  Marnier
  • dash lemon grass extract
  • serve in snifter, natural sugar rim torch sugar, heat glass slightly

Stevie Wonder

  • 1 1/2 oz Fourty Creek Canadian Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Heering Cherry liquor
  • top with half soda water and half pineapple
  • Serve in a short glass over crushed ice
  • garnish with a cherry


  • 1 1/2 oz Jack Daniel’s Honey
  • 1/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • dash orange bitters
  • splash honey simple syrup
  • shaken vigorously, frozen martini glass

TV on the Radio

  • 1 1/4 oz Hendricks Gin
  • 1/2 oz Veev Acai liquor
  • dash Hibiscus lime simple syrup
  • top with jack fruit juice
  • on the rocks in a tall skinny glass
  • garnish with 2 floating blue berries

Fleet Foxes

  • 1 1/2 oz Vincent Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka
  • 1/2 oz cointreau
  • splash cream
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • Shake and strain into a martini glass
  • Garnish glass with chocolate shavings

Social Distortion

  • 1 oz Jack Daniel’s
  • 1 oz Jagermeister
  • shake and top with splash of coke
  • serve as a shot

Asleep at the Wheel

  • 1 1/4 oz Woodford reserve
  • 1/2 oz Amarula (Marula Cream liquor)
  • splash Paula’s Texas orange
  • Splash Sprite
  • Garnish with an orange wheel
  • on the rock, short glass

Houston Eaves, the bar manager at East-side destination, Contigo, said he would make Stevie Wonder “any damn thing he wanted.” He has more specific ideas for Jim James from Louisville-based My Morning Jacket. He would make his version of a Louisville Cocktail with Black Maple Hill Bourbon, sweet vermouth and house aromatic herbs.

What will I be drinking at this year’s ACL Fest? You can find me ducking into the hospitality area behind the AMD stage between sets to cool off with the cold beer they have on tap under the tent.

Do you have a favorite drink at the ACL Fest? If you were going to make a drink for any of the musicians, what would you make?

This story first appeared on Austin CultureMap.

What are you drinking?

Published by

Matt McGinnis

As a marketing strategist for Pen & Tell Us, Matt McGinnis provides marketing, branding and communications counsel to food and beverage as well as other clients globally. He is also an avid beverage enthusiast, chronicling his interests as a Food & Drink contributing writer for CultureMap, as the Food & Drink columnist for Austin Man Magazine, and as a blogger for What Are You Drinking?. He is passionate about the wine industry having previously worked at a winery in Oregon and in wine sales. He has served as Guest Host of Sommelier Cinema at the Alamo Drafthouse, and is a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. His writing has been recognized as a Top 10 Food Blog by the Austin Chronicle in 2013 and 2014, with a 2011 Texas Social Media Award from the Austin American-Statesman.

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