Tequila with a purpose: Jack Allen’s Kitchen Tequila Bash benefits Lone Star Paralysis Foundation

LuAnn, Bryce, Molly and Jack Gilmore gathered for the Tequila Bash

What is it about tequila that says party? Is it the earthy aroma and complex taste? Is it the fiery burn in the back of your throat that reminds you that you are teetering on the razors edge that separates euphoria from delirium? Or is it the reputation for its mythical ability to dissolve all worldly worries and forge bonds of brotherhood among those who drink it together?  

Judging by the arms thrown around shoulders, broad grins and belly laughs ricocheting around the patio of Jack Allen’s Kitchen during the Second Annual Tequila Bash, I’d say Jack Allen tapped into tequila’s ability to bend strangers into friends.

“I could have done an event with beer, or with vodka. But I chose tequila to go after the guys who are willing to spend $200 a person to go to a fund raising event,” says Jack Gilmore, chef and proprietor, Jack Allen’s Kitchen.

Gilmore has been an ardent supporter of the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation for eight years. When he opened Jack Allen’s Kitchen, he made it standard operating procedure to give back to community and made the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation the primary beneficiary. This is one of the charities Gilmore knows that really works. He relishes the moments when he sees previously wheel-chair bound people who are able to walk again.   

Gilmore is a regular supporter of the Foundation’s annual gala and raises money throughout the year by donating $1 for every order of Carl Miller’s Layered Chunky Queso sold at the restaurant. In 2011, the restaurant was able to donate more than $9,000 and presented a check for more than $3,600 to foundation executive director, Mike Haynes, and president, Doug English, at the Tequila bash for the past quarter’s sales.

The first Tequila Bash raised more than $15,000 and this year’s event is expected to net around $18,000. Between the queso sales, the gala auction and the Tequila Bash, Jack Allen’s Kitchen raises about $40,000 to $50,000 a year for the Foundation.  

Proceeds will be used to advance the foundations mission of curing “spinal cord paralysis through funding research, advanced recovery and community outreach.” With the funding, the foundation will be able to continue to offer recovery programs that use therapies and equipment for spinal recovery.

Jack Allen’s Kitchen has a serious bent on featuring fresh Texas ingredients straight on its menu. Gilmore gathered like-minded chef’s to pair locally-sourced dishes with locally owned tequila for the Bash. “All of the tequila distillers are locally owned except Don Julio, and they are five of the finest tequilas out there,” he says. Beyond a local focus, there weren’t many rules for the food and tequila pairing: “Make it great is the only directive.”

Featured pairings

It was obvious that the chef’s adopted the same easy-going attitude of the bash, relishing the tail-gate-like atmosphere. The food selections were scrumptious bite-sized nibbles and completely unpretentious.

Albert Benitez, chef at Cover 3, served Black and Blue Crostinis, made with rare beef tenderloin slices, blue cheese and onion marmalade served on toasted bread slices. The substantial, yet bite-sized nibble is a mainstay on the restaurant’s party menu and paired well with the cocktail from Dulce Vida Organic Tequila.

Ben Craven, the beverage manager at Perla’s created a Fleur de Paloma made with Dulce Vida Organic Tequila.

  • 1.5 ounces Dulce Vida Blanco
  • .5 ounces St. Germaine
  • 2 dashes of Lavender Spice Bitters
  • 2 ounces of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Topped with club soda

Bryce Gilmore, chef at Barley Swine, prepared farm fresh deviled eggs with eggs from Milagro Farms. He topped them with nutty, crispy kale. The rich, creamy eggs and bitter greens were a good match with the cocktail made with Ambhar Tequila.

Marcelo Nascimento, award winning mixologist from Ambhar Tequila, prepared a classic concoction.

  • 2 ounces of Ambhar Añejo
  • .5 ounces St. Germaine
  • Orange bitters
  • Aromatic bitters
  • Orange peel set ablaze

Chris TenEyck, sous chef at Jack Allen’s Kitchen, prepared grilled and braised pork ribs with Texas orange and sweet chili barbecue sauce and served with coleslaw. Ridiculously good. He selected this to pair well with the citrus flavors in the cocktail from Z Tequila.

Dana Wakley of Pepe Zevada’s Z Tequila mixed the Spaniard for the crowd. This Jack Allen’s Kitchen menu staple was a sweet accompaniment with the ribs.

  • 1.5 ounces Z Tequila Añejo
  • .5 ounces Orange Sherry
  • Splash of fresh-squeezed Texas orange juice
  • Dash of agave nectar
  • Squeeze of lime

The man himself, Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, made ancho crusted crispy tacos filled with local lamb braised with garlic and Republic Tequila Anejo.  

Brittany Meador and Chanze Hoover Republic Tequila served a Jack Allen’s staple, the refreshing Agave Cocktail.

  • 2 ounce of Republic Tequila Reposado
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce Agave nectar
  • Shaken over ice

Don Julio Tequila, the only non-locally owned tequila, brought a twist to the pairings. Roxanne Santos mixed the 70th Anniversary Anejo Blanco with Grand Marnier, orange juice and a squeeze of lime for a distinctive margarita. This Jalisco Highlands tequila is filtered after aging to remove the signature caramel coloring of añejo. The taste is silky smooth and smoky and was served with Beef Street Tacos by John Zamora to pair with the margaritas.

Rebecca Rather, pastry chef and cookbook author, made a variation of her Good Luck chocolate truffles with a ganache made with Patron XO — a heavenly dessert accompaniment.

Stephanie Vasquez prepared a simple dessert drink with Patrón XO shaken with ice. The silver tequila blended with coffee liquor was smooth, sweet and sexy.

Texas grown ingredients, Texas owned tequila and Texas-sized hospitality made for a warm, jovial fundraiser that never lost sight of the cause; Jack Gilmore is certainly onto something in using tequila to open wallets for a good cause. I’ll venture to bet they raise even more money for the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation next year.

This email also appeared CultureMap.

What are you drinking?

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

Coldplay

  • 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

Santigold

  • 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?