Thanksgiving cocktails with Dripping Springs Texas Orange

ach Thanksgiving we stuff ourselves with fantastic beer in preparation for the big rivalry game, The University of Texas vs. Texas A&M. Each year we get so full of beer and fried-gooey-crunchy snacks we find it too difficult to jump off of the couch to yell at the TV. This year, why not try a light, refreshing cocktail while watching the game to avoid that over-stuffed feeling.

Never fear, Gary Kelleher, the man behind Dripping Springs Vodka, has introduced a new specialty spirit just for Texans and just in time for Thanksgiving: Dripping Springs Texas Orange Vodka.  To make this flavored vodka, Dripping Springs selected Segovia oranges from the Rio Grande Valley. Gary says, “These are the best oranges around. They have deeper, orange-ier flavor. We wanted to capture the flavor of the Valley as if you had poured Dripping Springs Vodka straight over a fresh Rio Grande Orange.”

This new flavored vodka starts off with the same 20 times micro-distillation process is that Dripping Springs Vodka goes through. Then they zest the oranges, hand select the very best bits of zest and steep it like a cup of tea in the vodka in a 100 percent copper pot still. It then goes through 20 more micro-distillations to give it clean, pure flavor.  Its 100% Texan and 100% fresh with nothing artificial and no additives.

Not everything in Texas is big. This specialty vodka is made in 50 gallon batches, which are the smallest commercial batches in the world. Dripping Springs has 10 little stills running all day and all night. For this limited edition first run, they produced only 1,000 cases. That’s not a heck of a lot to keep thirsty Texas football fans happy, so they better start making more in a hurry.

The challenge with that is that Rio Grande Oranges aren’t available year round.  Dripping Springs bought all the oranges they could, made the first batch and then oranges went out of season. The oranges are just now coming back into season, so we may not run into any unseemly shortages.

Time for some recipes. Gary likes to drink his new Texas Orange chilled with a little Topo Chico Agua Mineral. The slightly sweet vodka goes well with the crisp mineral water. When he’s kickin’ back for game time, he has another favorite recipe.

Burnt Orange (Gary Kelleher’s original recipe)

  • 1 ½ ounces Dripping Springs Texas Orange
  • ¾ ounce Aperol
  • ¾ ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce tonic water

Pour all ingredients in a tall iced glass and stir.

Garnish with an orange twist and serve.

Hook ‘em!

For the fans that prefer a shade of maroon, try a Texas twist on the Sea Breeze.

Texas A&M Breeze

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake it like an offensive lineman.

Serve in in a large wine goblet with ice.

Garnish with a slice of orange, and serve.

At the end of the game, why not celebrate your team’s victory with a little bubbly?

French Orange Martini

  • 1 ½ ounces Dripping Springs Texas Orange
  • 1 ½ ounces St. Germain liqueur
  • Champagne
  • super-fine sugar for rimming

Rim a martini glass with confectioner sugar.

Shake liquors in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

Strain into the prepared martini glass.

Top with Champagne.

The Thanksgiving weekend isn’t just all about football. Let’s not forget the shopping extravaganza the next day. Bargain hunting can be every bit as stressful as a fourth-and-goal. Here’s a little shopper’s helper to get you through.

The Black Friday

  • 2 ounces Dripping Springs Texas Orange
  • 1 ½ ounces creme de cacao, white
  • Hershey Kiss for garnish
  • powdered cocoa for rimming

Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice cubes.

Shake vigorously.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with cocoa.

I tried it chilled, straight up in a stone-cold martini glass to experience the unadulterated flavor.

Look Crystal clear with enough heft to cling to the glass like a hungry lover.
Smell Gentle scent of orange blossom, glycerin and slate.
Taste This is a lazy summer afternoon in bottle. The orange is bright, mildly sweet and slightly tart without being overpowering. It balances well with vanilla and wood flavors and is present from the first sip all the way through the long, silky finish.
Price $16


Dripping Springs Texas Orange was recently released and is available in like Twin Liquors and Specs in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. I found my bottle at Twin Liquors. Dripping Springs plans to distribute the orange sunshine statewide in the future.

This may be the last Thanksgiving for the storied University of Texas vs. Texas A&M rivalry. We man need new cocktails for a new rivalry next season. We’re in luck. Dripping Springs Texas Orange was born out of playful experimentation. According to Gary, the best part of having Dripping Springs Vodka is indulging in his passion of trying different recipes and different flavors. They may come out with other Texas seasonal fruits like Ruby Red Grapefruit and Fredericksburg Peaches. Do we need something purple for a Horn Frogs rivalry game? I’ll be on the watch for it.

This article also appears on CultureMap Austin.

What are you drinking?


Booze and bawdiness. Intoxication and innuendo. Sauce and sex. The two are inextricably linked. It’s not that you can’t have one without the other, but let’s face it alcohol and action are hot bedfellows.

Not only is drink used as a social lubricant, but we also give drinks provocative names like Sex on the Beach, the Screaming Orgasm and the Buttery Nipple. These drinks might sound clever when you first sneak into a bar when you are 19, but they are a bit hard to order with a straight face once you pass the age of 25.

There is one drink that has managed to subtly invoke notions of nooky without compromising its sophistication: the Dirty Martini. Martinis are the epitome of an erudite drink, but give it the name “dirty” and it opens the door to intimation. So, what is it?

A classic martini has two main ingredients: chilled vodka or gin, and dry vermouth. The International Bartenders Association specifies that a martini has 2 ounces of gin, half an ounce of dry vermouth. I’m not going to get into the whole gin vs. vodka debate because they both have their own merits. Because I live in Texas I often choose Tito’s Handmade Vodka or Dripping Springs Vodka. Here are some tips on making a damned fine martini.

  • Start off by misting the outside of the glasses with water, and put them in the freezer until frosty
  • Pour gin or vodka into a cocktail shaker with cracked ice
  • Shake the hell out of the liquor until it feels like your hands are going to freeze to the shaker like Ralphie’s friend Flick’s tongue froze to the pole in a Christmas Story
  • Rinse the inside of the glass with the vermouth by swirling it around a few times. Then toss the majority of it down the drain
  • Pour the shaken vodka or gin into the chilled and vermouth bathed glass through the shaker strainer to remove any chunks of ice, but allow it to get a fine sheen of frozen crystalline glamour  

So what makes it dirty? Pop in 2 large, firm olives and a measure of olive brine. How dirty do you want it? Some recipes call for a tablespoon, but you can get downright filthy if you like. Now it’s sophisticated and sexy.

The conversion to dirty happens right from the start. Drinking from a martini glass is putting your lips on the hem of an inverted A-line skirt. Next the salty brine mixes with the alkaline alcohol like the sweat on a lover’s lip. Fleshy olives stand their ground for a moment, and then yield to the bite. I don’t know who bit whose lip, but I taste a little blood. And I like it. A good dirty martini is as cloudy as you are when you are finished, relaxing in the warmth of its memory. Ready for a second round?  

What are you drinking?