Win tickets to Toast and Roast Texas wine event

toast and roast

Some of you love Texas wine. Some of you are skeptical about its quality. Here is your chance to taste the 20 Best Texas Wines all in one place and all for free. That’s right, What Are You Drinking is giving away a pair of tickets to the The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas‘s inaugural Toast & Roast event being held this Sunday, March 1, at Rancho Cuernavaca.

Why am I giving these away? Because its my birthday and this is my birthday party. You better be there.

This is going to be an incredibly fun party and the only place where you can taste all 20 of Texas Monthly Magazine Best Texas Wines of 2014 selected by wine editor, Jessica Dupuy. Whether you love Texas wine or are curious about it, Toast & Roast is the perfect opportunity to try some of Texas’ finest wines. From 2:00 to 3:00 pm you’ll be able to try 20 wines and learn more about them from  the winemakers themselves. Pretty damn cool.


After that, the festivities switch to the roast, with a feast of grilled pig, goat, and lamb prepared by Chef Bates of Noble Sandwich. Wines from Fall Creek Vineyards and Pedernales Cellars will be poured to go well with that roasty goodness. Rain or shine, it will be a ton of fun hanging out at the stunningly beautiful ranch while dancing to “brown-grass” music from the Austin-based band, Sour Bridges. I’ll save you a dance.

Its a party with a cause. Over the last 29 years, the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas has donated almost $2 million to charitable causes to support vineyard research, educational grants and scholarships, and other deserving causes. Beneficiaries include Austin Food for Life, Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, The Sustainable Food Center, The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Viticulture & Fruit Lab, and Texas Sommelier Association (TEXSOM).

Tickets are $100 for non-members (on sale today for $80), but here is your chance to win a pair. All you have to do is answer the following question:

“What is one wine that has been recognized on the Texas Monthly 2014 Best Texas Wine list?”

Submit your answer in the comment section below. One winner will be chosen at random from all correct submissions at 6pm CT today.

Come out and celebrate my birthday, Texas Independence Day and Texas wine.

What Ya Need to Know:

  • When: Sunday, March 1st, 2015
  • Where: Rancho Cuernavaca, 1803 N. Cuernavaca Dr, Austin, TX
  • 2:00-3:00 p.m. — Toast with Texas Monthly’s Best Texas Wines of 2014
  • 3:00-5:00 p.m. — Roast by Chef John Bates, Music by Sour Bridges, and wine by the glass provided by Fall Creek Vineyards and Pedernales Cellars


Updated Thursday, 2/26/2015 at 6:00 pm: Congratulations to Nancy Marr who correctly named Fall Creek Vineyards GSM, 2012 as one of the Best Texas Wines. Her comment was selected at random among 14 correct answers. We’re happy to have you at our event!

 What are you drinking? 

Win tickets to “The Official Drink of Austin” cocktail competition

official drink of austin

What are you doing on Thursday night? Do you want to go watch some of the most talented bartenders in Austin mix amazing cocktails in hopes that their concoction is crowed “The Official Drink of Austin”? Do you want to taste everything they make? Do you want to do it for free?

Hell yeah!

Here is your chance. What are You Drinking is giving away a pair of tickets to this bad-ass event.

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance is once again in bed with Tipsy Texan to host the crazy fun Official Drink of Austin cocktail competition on Thursday, February 26 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Fair Market.  The insanely talented  bar teams from drink.well., Half Step, Odd Duck, Garage, Licha’s Cantina, and VOX Table will strut their stuff to see who is best.

Now, this’ll be a straight cocktail-off, old school rules. First bartender mixes; second bartender duplicates, then elaborates. Okay, boys – let’s go to work! … or something like that.

It won’t be David Bowie judging this competition. Nope. The esteemed judges include Jason Kosmas, co-founder of The 86 Company; Jack Gilmore, chef and owner of Jack Allen’s Kitchen; Justin Elliott, last year’s Official Drink of Austin winner and bartender at qui restaurant; Dan Gentile, writer for Thrillist; and Austin singer/songwriter Gina Chavez. Like Bowie, many of the judges will be wearing leather pants and excessive makeup and trying to make it with David Alan.

Did I mention the drinks? There will be gallons of delicious Texas booze poured from the generous distillers at Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Treaty Oak Distilling, Balcones Distilling, Garrison Brothers, Deep Eddy Vodka, White Hat Rum, Dripping Springs Gin, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Genius Gin, Revolution Spirits, Paula’s Texas Spirits,Tequila 512, and more. Plus you can wiggle your tushy to the groovy cuts spun by DJ ulovei.

Its not just for braggin’ rights. These selfless bar heroes are raising money for culinary grants too. The Austin Food and Wine Alliance raises fat sacks of cash for culinary grants, giving away $75,000 since 2012.

Tickets are $55, but here is your chance to win a pair. All you have to do is answer the following question:

“What Texas spirit was included in the winning cocktail recipe from the 2014 Official Drink of Austin?”

Submit your answer in the comment section below. One winner will be chosen at random from all correct submissions.


Updated Tuesday, Feb 24, 7:40 pm: Thanks to everyone who entered! Bryce Boltjes had the correct answer, Balcones Rumbles was the Texas spirit used in the Tepache. Many of you had the right answer, and Bryce’s response was chosen by drawing a random number. I hope to see you there on Thursday!

 What Are You Drinking? 

Real Ale Brewing has Extreme Makeover

Real Ale Brewing New Bottles

Just in time for Texas Independence Day, my birthday and SXSW, Real Ale Brewing Company, will unveil a completely new look for its logo, packaging, and website. After 19 years of brewing craft beer and selling it in somewhat miss-matched bottles and cans, the brewery has made the bold move to update its image while retaining  elements of the brand’s heritage. Starting the first week in march, new bottles, cans tap handles and swag will start hitting stores, bars and restaurants all over Texas.

Out with the old
Out with the old

The new packaging ties the entire family of beers together with a consistent look, unlike the disparate designs currently available. At a party thrown to unveil the shiny new persona to industry types and press, Tim Schwartz and Erik Ogershok, were clearly pleased with the new design. With big grins they talked about plans to introduce the shiny new labels with the same tasty beers.

Ogershok says they have some new stuff up their sleeves with three heavyweight beers coming in April in 22 ounce bombers. Real Heavy Scotch Ale, Red King Imperial Red Ale and Commissar Russian Imperial Stout will move off the Seasonal and Special release list to become year-round brews. In addition, new seasonal beers will hit the shelves in the fall.

The new logo includes a stylized image of hops borrowed from the original logo, the sprocket from Firemans #4, and the characters “TX 96”which is a reference to the company’s Texas roots and the year it was founded, 1996. The new brand was designed by Butler Bros, a creative communication company based in Austin.

Real Ale is on heavy rotation in my beer fridge and I’m glad they are sticking with the same brewing philosophy. .I’m a fan of its new brand identity. The swag they handed out at the party looks pretty damn good. What do you think?

In with the new


What are you drinking? 

3 whiskey cocktails guaranteed to keep you warm this winter

Late winter weather in Texas calls for whiskey to warm you up. But instead of heading to a bar for a beverage, What Are You Drinking brings you three winter warmer whiskey cocktail recipes to make at home.

A Texas take on Irish Coffee

Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey

Amanda and Nick Swift both love Scotch whisky. Amanda was born to love it.

“My family is Irish Catholic,” she said. “If you’re not drunk by noon, you’re not doin’ it right.”

Rather than feed that passion at the local pub, Amanda and Nick traveled extensively to whiskey meccas like Kentucky, Ireland and Scotland to research production methods and learn the business. They used that knowledge to start the Swift Distillery, which makes Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey, in Dripping Springs in 2012 and had cranked out their first batch by August 2013.

“We tried a couple hundred recipes before settling on the one we use,” said Nick. “We kept refining it to find just the right two-row barley that when malted is sweet but not too sweet. We want a slight musty flavor with the right amount of subtlety.”

The Swifts also worked hard to match the mineral content in the water they use to the profile of water used to make whisky in Speyside, in the Scottish Lowlands. Amanda put her science education to work to analyze the water and add back minerals after filtering it.

“We are very particular about our water,” said Nick. “We like the water from just outside Elgin, Scotland and just outside Bushmills, Ireland, which are similar in ion content. We want to replicate that.”

They took the same care in selecting copper stills that were handmade in Portugal, and the aging barrels from a Kentucky bourbon distillery and the Sandeman Sherry bodega in Spain. The Swifts do every step of production by hand. They hand mill 1,200 pounds of grain a week and ferment it on site. It is then distilled one bucket at a time. Each bucket is poured through a copper funnel lined with cheese cloth right into a barrel for aging.

After distillation, the first batch of Swift Single Malt lazed about for year in bourbon barrels and another three months in Sherry casks before it was bottled. The second batch — the batch that is on shelves now — also aged for a year in bourbon barrels, but matured for six months in the Sherry casks. Swift plans to make about 39 bourbon barrels or the equivalent of 15,000 bottles a year.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Amanda. “We hand bottle every one right down to putting the hand numbered label on each one. My dad stuffs every cork into the bottles.” The finished whiskey is golden amber in color and regularly compared to The MaCallan in flavor. It’s fantastic neat or with a cube of ice, but Amanda’s dad loves it in Irish Coffee. Pick up a bottle of Swift Single Malt Texas Whiskey at Wine & Spirits on South Lamar Boulevard or Austin Wine Merchant for $50; or order it by the glass at Péché, Black Heart or Lamberts.

Swift Irish Coffee

  • Equal parts Swift Single Malt and Bailey’s Irish cream
  • 5 ounces strong coffee

Top with homemade whipped cream.

Prohibition Scotch

Cutty Sark Boulevardier
The dreaded Dark Age for alcohol started January 17, 1920 and spread its gloom until December 5, 1933, spanning the time when Cutty Sark, the blended Scotch whisky was introduced to the world in 1923. The UK-based whisky maker has just released a Prohibition Edition commemorating the end of prohibition 90 years ago.

Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition is made in small batches in Scotland, aged in American oak casks and sold in black bottles that harken back to the bottle style of the 1920s. It is a lighter style whisky with vanilla, toffee and citrus flavors. What could be better than mixing a Prohibition era cocktail with it? The Boulevardier, a cousin of the gin-based Negroni, came to prominence in print in 1927. The Bouldevardier swaps the gin in Negroni for a good pour of whiskey (typically bourbon) which is mixed with equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth. For a smokier, nuttier version, swap the bourbon for Scotch and replace the vermouth with Madeira. It’s delightful. Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition is available at Specs for $30 a bottle.

Bastard Boulevardier

  • 1.5 ounces Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Madeira

Combine the ingredients in a glass filled with ice and strain into a rocks glass with ice.

Garnish with a twist of lemon.

The Capone cocktail  

Capone with Templeton Rye
While we certainly don’t celebrate the murderous crime of infamous gangster Al Capone we can get behind his love for whiskey. January 17 marked what would have been his 116 birthday, which is a fun excuse to make a cocktail with another Prohibition era whiskey, Templeton Rye.

Templeton Rye is distilled in Indiana and bottled in Templeton, Iowa, giving it the Mid-West roots any Chicago mobster could admire. Reportedly this whiskey was Capone’s rye of choice. In fact, it is said that he had bottles smuggled into Alcatraz and that he’s buried with a bottle. We can’t vouch for that, but we can tell you his namesake cocktail is badass. Templeton Rye is available at Twin Liquors for $40.

The Capone

  • 3 ounces Templeton Rye Whiskey
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • Splash of Champagne
  • Dash of bitters

Combine Templeton Rye, bitters and Grand Marnier in a shaker. Shake well, strain in martini glass. Float champagne and garnish with lemon twist.

This story was originally published on CultureMap.

Disclosure: I received samples of each of the three whiskeys to taste for this story.

What are you drinking?