Winning Cocktails at Edible Austin Drink Local Night

Edible Austin held the fifth annual Drink Local night as part of its Eat Drink Local Week on Thursday night at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. Guests milled about the Grand Ballroom sipping vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, tequila, mezcal and cocktails from 14 Texas-based distillers. That sounds like one step away from Heaven for local spirits fans, but that was just the start.

The highlight of the event was the “Official Drink of Austin Cocktail Contest” presented by Tipsy Texan and the “Crowd Favorite Award” sponsored by Google Places. Judges David Alan, the host from the Tipsy Texan, Bill Norris, last year’s winner, Lara Nixon, the 2009 winner, Emma Janzen, Austin 360 Liquid Blogger, Joe Eifler, of the Tipsy Texan, and Jeret Pena, of the Esquire Tavern, struggled to pick a winner among seven talented finalists.

Here are the fantastic craft cocktails made with local spirits and ingredients that the judges and the crowd eagerly sampled.

Madelyn Kay, Péché, made Lie to Me

  • 1 egg
  • 2 ounces Tito’s,
  • 3/4 ounces Amaro Nonino
  • 3/4 ounces Maple Pecan Syrup a

This was like Christmas eggnog, all creamy, sweet and smooth. She was inspired by Texas pecans, and made her own syrup. She used Tito’s because it is her mom’s favorite spirit and chose Amaro Nonino because it is an Italian bitter just like her. Madelyn is a busy UT student and dreamt this one up just under the deadline for the submission to the contest. I’m glad she did. Deelish. Oh, now I know why so many men spend hours at the Péché bar. She’s damn good looking.

Houston Eaves, Contigo, made Smokin Gypsy

  • 1.75 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  • .75 ounces Benedictine
  • .5 ounces Balcones Brimstone
  • Dash of Bad dog Smoke and Damnation bitters
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Zest of Rio Valley Red grapefruit

He got his inspiration from a pre-prohibition cocktail, the Gypsy. He loves Balcones Brimstone and was eager to make a cocktail featuring it. Houston displayed great showmanship, dropping a chip of dry ice into a beaker to mix his drink, letting it smoke mysteriously. The ladies swooned.

Chauncey James, east Side Showroom, made Kinship

  • Dripping Springs Vodka
  • Mathilde peche liqueur
  • Local aromatics
  • Orange oil, cinnamon, Texas wild flower honey, lemon and peach, sarsaparilla

The cocktail had a nice crème after vigorous shaking and oodles of aromatics. He double strained it to get the spice, but none of the veggie and herb bits. It was garnished with orange letting orange oil brighten the flavors, and finished with micro-planned cinnamon over the top. This was by far the most visually appealing presentation of the evening. Chauncey is a master presenter, describing how each element of his potion and how they influence the scent and flavor. I have a man crush.

Justin Chamberlin, Sagra, made The Pinetop

  • Start with a rinse of Balcones Brimstone to prep the glass
  • 1.5 ounces Balcones Rumbles
  • .25 ounces Paula’s Texas Orange Liqueor
  • .5 ounces house made Sagra greenhouse grown rosemary fig syrup
  • .75 ounces Rio Grande Red grapefruit juice
  • Garnish with rosemary

Justin honed his craft in Chicago before moving to a new home in Austin, just like Pinetop Perkins did. He mixed this drink with flair. I loved the rinse to give the drink just a hint of smokiness. Justin, we’re glad you made Austin home.

Marcelo Nascimento, Lucky 13 Cocktail Co. , made Texas Cup #9

  • 1.5 ounces Waterloo #9 Gin
  • .5 ounces domain de Canton
  • .75 ounces Fresh Lemon juice
  • .5 Texas honey syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon Texas balsamic
  • Garnished with Texas cucumber

Marcelo made a modern, Texan twist on the ever popular British cocktail, the Pimms Cup. I’m a sucker for gin and a big fan of Waterloo Gin, so Marcelo only needed to bat his eyes at me to get me to sample this fantastic concoction. Crowd favorite indeed! He was so busy all night, I didn’t even get a chance to talk him until the event ended. It was worth the wait.

Jessica Sanders from Drink.Well, made Hippie Harvest

  • 1.5 ounces Rosemary infused Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  • .75 ounces Paula’s Texas Lemon Liqueur
  • .5 ounces apple cider reduction
  • .5 ounces local grapefruit juice
  • Shaken over ice and then strained into rocks filled glass
  • Topped with Argus Cider
  • Garnish with rosemary 

The fresh apple cider reduction and local alcoholic Argus Cider gave this the taste of a fall harvest. Jessica’s husband, Mike, mixed one for me as Jessica competed on stage. The spritz of Argus Cider made this come alive. I can’t wait for Drink.Well to open this winter. This talented husband and wife team are going to make a lot of people happy.

Josh Loving, FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar, made Baby’s First Punch

  • 750ml Balcones Baby Blue
  • Two 12 ounces bottles Real Pale Moon Rye
  • 24 ounces bergamot blossom tea from Tea Embassy
  • 6 ounces lemon juice
  • ~8 ounces of Round Rock honey
  • Muddled lemon peel with turbinado sugar (oleo saccharum))
  • .75 ounces Angostura Bitters
  • Topped with grated nutmeg

Upscale punch is definitely a hot trend. Josh was inspired by reading Punch by David Wondrich, and realized that necessity really is the mother of invention. He had never used beer as a cocktail ingredient and wanted to challenge himself. Big thumbs up to Josh for serving a low alcohol cocktail at an event where people are tasting multiple drinks. This is a perfect approach to serving cocktails at a party.

I chose not to vote in the Crowd Favorite submissions because I loved them all so much.  

Envelope please! And the winners are:

  • The Crowd Favorite Award was won by Marcelo Nascimento, Lucky 13 Cocktail Co., for the Texas Cup #9
  • The second place Official Drink of Austin Cocktail Contest prize went to Justin Chamberlin, of Sagra for his The Pinetop
  • And the first place award, scoring 253 points out of 300, went to Houston Eves of Contigo for his Smokin Gypsy.

Now you have each of the award winning recipes. If you think you are as good as the top mixologist in the state, go ahead and try and replicate these drinks at home. If you are more realistic, go on out and order these fantastic drinks. You’ll be glad you can drink local.

The photo of Houston receiving the award is courtesy of  Dustin Meyer, www.dustinmeyer.com. This article was also published on CultureMap Austin.

What are you drinking?

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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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