5 favorite holiday cocktails of Austin movers and shakers

Ruby Jule and Coco LectricIn between the office parties, your neighbors’ holiday parties and your friends’ crazy Christmas parties, there are bound to be a few times during the holidays when you find yourself without an invitation for an evening out. That’s no reason to bypass holiday cheer. Five prominent Austinites share recipes for their go-to seasonal drinks to order at a favorite bar or to mix at home.

Booze and Burlesque

Ruby Joule and Coco Lectric, co-founders and headliners of The Jigglewatts Burlesque troupe, keep a busy schedule with performances every Friday at theGibson Lounge in Maggie Mae’s on Sixth Street, at private events, as well as in other singing and acting gigs. They also take the show on the road, with performances in places such as Las Vegas and Montreal, where burlesque is see a high art.

All of that work is paying off for the electric duo, with accolades piling up. Joule, a classically trained ballet dancer, has been named “Crown Princess of Burlesque,” at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival 2013. Lectric, a classically trained dancer, actor and vocalist, has landed the No. 5 spot on the “Burlesque Top 50” list compiled by 21st Century Burlesque Magazine.

It’s not all silky long gloves and twirling tassels. Joule and Lectric like to sip and enjoy an occasional cocktail at home or in quiet bars where they can linger over a conversation. The Gibson Lounge, where they have a Friday-night residency, fits the bill with cozy furniture. “I like the Gibson because the serve all-fresh squeezed juices here,” says Joule.

Her go-to holiday potion is a twist on the Cherry Frost, a combination of black cherry liqueur, brandy and crushed ice, topped off with sparkling white wine that is at home at any Christmas party. Joule says, “The brandy has a warming effect for cold days, the champagne makes it fancy and cherry liqueur gives it that little pizzazz. Of course, it’s gluten-free and vegan.”

Ruby Frost

  • 3 ounces champagne
  • .25 ounce Cherry Herring liqueur
  • .25 ounce brandy

Pour all ingredients together and garnish with a cherry.

Lectric likes to imagine escaping the chill of December to soak in the sun on a tropical island. She says, “I prefer an escapist drink that is light and tart. I like to indulge over the holidays with extra treats, so a crisp drink made with fresh-squeezed lemon juice and tequila hits the spot for me. Besides it’s Paleo friendly and gluten free.”

Coco’s Island Getaway

  • 1.25 ounce Tequila Avión Silver
  • .75 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Fill with club soda

Shake and strain over ice and serve in a tumbler with a lemon garnish.

If they fully gave in to the mood of these drinks, Joule and Lectric would dance on stage together inside a dueling duo of oversized margarita glass and champagne tulip with sugared rims. Lectric purrs, “I love Latin dances, and tequila makes everyone want to dance extremely sultry dances with a lot of hips.”

Joule counters, “I would have a lot of rhinestones on in my dance, because I need to sparkle like the champagne. The music would be a dirty, bluesy swing. Underneath the glitter, I like a little grit.”

I’ll drink to that.

Keith KreegerThe Old Fashioned Potter

Keith Kreeger, the creative hands behind the art flowing forth from the Kreeger Pottery studio, is enjoying a rocket ride of success, with his art showing up in such swank restaurants as Pearl & Ash in New York and the ultrahot Qui here in Austin. He’s come a long way from his humble beginnings as a summer-school pottery student at Skidmore College.

Kreeger recalls, “I took one potter class in college and completely fell in love with the process. I was in the studio 14 hours a day and made a ton of ugly pots that I thought were great.”

After completing school, he owned a craft gallery on Cape Cod for a dozen years. The gorgeous Texas weather and his wife’s family’s ties to the state eventually brought him to Austin. “When you marry a Texan, you tacitly agree that someday you, too, will be a Texan,” he says.

It turns out that becoming a Texan is a really good thing for Kreeger.

“Austin has been really good to me,” he says. “I thrive in this creative community. I’ve always had my pottery followers, and I really appreciate those craft lovers. The past couple of years, the trend of people being deeply interested in the origin of their food and wine has carried over into people caring about the kind of plates the food is served on. I’ve been fortunate to be in some good places, and things have grown really well.”

His days at Skidmore in the bitterly cold winters of Saratoga Springs, New York, influenced his taste in cocktails, too. When he was a senior, a professor took him to the cool, grown-up whiskey bar 9 Maple Ave and introduced him to the Old Fashioned. “It felt cool ordering it, because none of the other students were in that dark, mahogany-paneled bar,” said Kreeger. “It became my cocktail. Now I drink it when it gets cold outside.”

Kreeger’s Old Fashioned

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 healthy dashes orange bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura
  • 2 ounces Angel’s Envy  Bourbon

Muddle the sugar cube with the bitters in the bottom of a rocks glass. Stir in one ounce of the bourbon over two big ice cubes until the sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining bourbon and stir with two more ice cubes. Garnish with an orange twist.

Kreeger makes a mean cocktail at home because he is drawn to process of making them, just as he is with cooking and in the studio. He believes in following the right steps to get the right result. He is just as happy to order an Old Fashioned at Whistler’sor Weather Up, as he enjoys the experience, the craft and the process that goes into those places.

Kate Hersch Cocktail Napkin Queen’s Morning Crush

Even if Kate Hersch didn’t display her wry wit on linen cocktail napkins, the twinkle in her eye would reveal the cleverness bubbling under the surface. Hersch, owner of August Morgan, started the company seven years ago by repurposing vintage needle point pillows and selling them at stores like Barneys and One Kings Lane. She is now branching out into other home accessories, such as acrylic trays, blankets and those whimsical napkins.

Like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice trying to find a place to contain all of the water, Hersch uses August Morgan as a place to try to capture her overflowing creativity. She seems to be a never-ending fount of droll cocktail humor splashed across tidy white cloth napkins.

“My inspiration comes when I drink,” muses Hersch. She started creating the cocktail napkins two years ago with four patterns and has been continually adding designs ever since.

For Hersch, the holidays are an excuse to start her inspiration engine early in the day. She said, “My holiday cocktail of choice is a Bloody Mary to start the morning off right. I like them spicy with a lot of olives. I like to keep it local with Deep Eddy VodkaDripping Springs Vodka or Tito’s Vodka.”

To keep things going, there is no reason to mix just one at a time.

August Morgan cocktail napkinsHersch Bloody Mary

  • 12 ounces Deep Eddy Vodka
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • .5 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1.5 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press
  • .25 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. steak sauce
  • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. celery salt
  • 2 tsp. Tabasco
  • 1 tsp. wasabi
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger powder
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • Several speared olives to garnish

Excluding the vodka and garnishes, marry the ingredients in a blender. Fill a glass pitcher with ice, add the vodka and stir in the tomato mixture. Pour into ice-filled pint glasses, then garnish with a totem pole of olives and a stalk of celery. Makes 10 drinks.

When I asked her what new cocktail napkin design this Bloody Mary would inspire, she barely paused before she quipped, “Do you know those Chinese Crested Dogs? You know the ones that are bald except for a flowing tuft on its head, paws and tail? I’d have a picture of one of those with its paw perched on a tipped over bottle with a caption underneath saying, ‘hair of the dog.’”

I think we may see several new cocktail napkin designs from August Morgan after this holiday season.

Tim League Alamo Movie Mogul’s Midnight Run

Tim League, the founder and CEO of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the theater chain known for its indie films, quote-alongs, film festivals and in theater dining, has a deep appreciation for good movies, food and cocktails. When League gets a hankerin’ for holiday hooch, he doesn’t have to go outside the bars in his theaters. However, he prefers to head to Midnight Cowboy, a former brothel turned cozy cocktail lounge that he opened across the street from the Alamo Ritz along with Alamo Drafthouse beverage director Bill Norris and bar manager Brian Dressel.

League would rather head to the Cowboy for a cocktail than go through the machinations on his own. “At home,” he says, “I don’t make too many complicated cocktails.  I usually drink beer or wine. My dad and I built a wine cellar a couple of years ago, so I tend to open a bottle rather than stir a cocktail. I go to Midnight Cowboy regularly for my cocktails. I love their creations, and I can justify regular visits by calling it quality control assurance work.”

For his Christmasy cocktails, League leans toward classic whiskey drinks, such as twists on an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan or a Vieux Carre. “This year, though, I’ve been quite smitten with a riff on the Vieux Carre that is built with rum instead of whiskey,” he says. “They [the crew at Midnight Cowboy] call it the Navesink Towers, named after the Navesink Lighthouses in New Jersey, home of Laird’s Distillery, the producers of the Bonded Apple Brandy in the drink. Javier and Brian from Midnight Cowboy perfected the drink, and it has become my 2013 favorite holiday cocktail.”

The Navesink Towers

  • .75 ounce Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
  • .75 ounce Smith and Cross Navy-Strength Rum
  • .75 ounce Cocchi Americano
  • .25 ounce Apfelkorn
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes Josh Loving’s 5-spice bitters

Stirred and served over a large ice cube in an old fashioned glass and garnished with an orange twist.

When asked which film he would to watch to pair his holiday drink, League replied, “The Vieux Carre is a New Orleans cocktail, so if I were to watch a movie while sipping a Navesink Towers, I would have to go with the greatest New Orleans film of all time: Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant.” Damn, that’s a good choice.

Whether you head to your favorite bar or make these drinks at home, these Christmas cocktails are sure to make your eyes twinkle and your cheeks rosy.

What are you drinking?

Texas-flavored Bloody Mary recipes for your Sunday Funday

The perfect Bloody MaryThere are billions of reasons for day drinking on a Sunday: you need a little hair of the dog, your NFL team is winning, you’re thirsty in church, it’s the holidays and you have a house full of family drama, to name a few. And there is no better concoction for a Sunday Funday than a Bloody Mary. Brunch says to it, “You complete me.”

We owe a debt of gratitude to the French for our pervasive Sunday elixir. Legend has it that the Bloody Mary was created by Fernand “Pete” Petiot at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in the early 1920s and after the end of that ghastly period known as Prohibition, he imported his basic recipe to the King Cole Bar in New York.

Over the years the Bloody Mary has taken on a myriad of styles while staying true to its core ingredients. The basic backbone of a bloody — vodka and tomato juice — gives it an ideal frame for an immeasurable variety of spices and garnishes to customize it to suit your mood.

Recently I stumbled across a wonderful book by Judy Bennett, Bloody Marys: Sanguine Solutions for a Slew of Situations, that has dozens of scrumptious recipes to fit any reason you have for drinking a cocktail. In her book, Bennett mixes wit and wisdom as deftly as she mixes booze and bitters. It’s full of clever anecdotes to accompany each recipe.

As a food and drink writer, I felt it was my duty to work my way through the book, finding the recipes I like best for conjuring a mid-day haze on a lazy afternoon. We are fortunate to have several excellent hand-crafted vodkas made right here in Texas like newcomers 1876 Vodka and Starlite Vodka from Treaty Oak Distilling Co.; and stalwarts like Deep Eddy VodkaDripping Springs VodkaSavvy Vodka and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. I substituted all of the recommended vodkas in Bennett’s book Texas vodka to give them a local flair. Give these a try.

Bloody Mary made with Texas Vodka

Go Packers
This is the official tailgate recipe of the Green Bay Packers, but you can make it suitable for a Longhorns, Cowboys or Texans game by mixing it with local Deep Eddy Vodka.

  • Generous amounts of Worcestershire sauce, 4-5 dashes
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • 3 dashes celery salt
  • Juice from 1 lemon wedge
  • 2 fingers Deep Eddy Vodka
  • 2-3 fingers tomato juice
  • Dill pickle spear, to serve (optional)
  • Garlic-stuffed green olives, to serve (optional)
  • Pepperoncini, to serve (optional)

Add ice to a 12-ounce plastic cup and set aside. Put the first four ingredients in a second plastic cup and add the vodka and tomato juice. Pour the mixture into the first cup, then pour everything back into the second cup. Keep pouring back and forth until it is well blended. Squeeze a little lemon, garnish and serve.

My Kids Found My “Private Drawer”
For those times you just want to forget what just happened, try this tangy and spicy Mary.

  • 1 shot Dripping Springs Texas Orange Vodka
  • 1 shot sake
  • 1 tsp. wasabi
  • 6 ounces tomato juice
  • 1 tsp. dried ginger powder
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro to serve

Shake and strain all the ingredients (except the cilantro) into a Collins glass with ice. Garnish with cilantro and drink way the memory of what just happened.

This is My First Really Healthy Relationship
When your heart is going pitter patter for someone special, here is a classic recipe for two.

  •  Several dashes salt and black pepper
  • 1 jigger Starlite Vodka
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp. horseradish
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 ounces high-quality tomato juice
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut in wedges, to serve
  • Several pickled asparagus spears, to serve

Rim two Old Fashioned glasses with the salt and pepper in equal measure. Combine the remaining ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Strain and pour over ice in the prepared glasses and garnish with lemon wedges and asparagus.

The Way to a Man’s Heart is Through His Stomach, But That’s Not Where I’m Headed
When you’ve conquered the early phases of romance and are ready for the power of time tested aphrodisiacs for a real Sunday Funday, this recipe is for you.

  • 46 ounce bottle of tomato juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  •  ½ avocado
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 ounces lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. steak sauce
  • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. celery salt
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. horseradish
  • 1 750ml bottle of 1876 Vodka

Excluding the vodka and garnishes, whirl the ingredients together in a blender. Fill pint glasses with ice and 2 shots of vodka each. Top with the tomato mixture, then garnish with an asparagus spear and a stalk of celery.

Whether you are looking for a Bloody suitable for Queen Mary or for something appropriate for a Roman circus, there is a recipe for you in Bennett’s Bloody Mary bible. I know which one I’m mixing next.

Samples were provided by 1876, Deep Eddy Vodka, Savvy Vodka, Starlite Vodka and Tito’s. I still have some left if you want to come over and mix up a few more batches with me. Cheers!

This story was originally published on CultureMap

What are you drinking? 

Brazil vs. Netherlands

Brazilian and Dutch fans celebrate together after the Netherlands victory
Paying respect to the national anthem before the match

A sea of yellow and orange jerseys swells in Fado Irish pub getting ready for the 9am start of the match pitting Brasil against Netherlands in the World Cup. A quick scan of the tables at 8:30 and most people are drinking coffee and water so far. Only a few pints and bloody marys.

As the game kicks in, the drinks start coming out en masse. Bloodies, mimosas, pints and pints and pints. Brazil takes an early 1-0 lead, but both teams look strong in the first half. I’m joining the crowd with a bloody. It’s spicy magic is loosening the grips of the vicious hangover brought on by my beer binge last night. Gentle vibrations tingle the angry nerves to sleep. The alcohol dances with its contrarian cousin, caffeine, to give me that precious morning buzz that can’t quite be matched any other time of the day.

Remember when you were a teenager just starting to drink? Remember how you could actually feel the effects of alcohol as it started to take control? That sweet numbness that tickled your cheeks and lips? What happened to that? Why is it the – now sober, now drunk paradigm is in effect now that we are older? Why can’t we appreciate the creeping in between stages as much as we did when we were kids? Well, the coffee, vodka, beer buzz in the morning gives an approximation. A lovely, delicious approximation of youth.

Here’s what Fado puts in a bloody mary:

  • Well vodka – no surprise
  • Mister P’s bloody mary mix – never heard of it
  • HP sauce – cause it’s an Irish pub, and the Brits love that shit
  • Tabasco – standard
  • Guinness – again, Irish pub and a nice touch
  • Miscellaneous spices that you would expect
  • Garnished with a lime and an olive

Tasty. Down right respectable.

Second half of the match was a vicious fight. The Dutch dominated and ultimately prevailed. Brazil had to finish with a man down onna accounta a red card gettin thrown. The Netherlands deserved this one. They looked fantastic.

The crowd here is insane! The entire match was raucous. Absolutely packed pub almost equally split between orange and yellow. (As an aside, Brazilian women are frickin gorgeous.)  Vuvuzelas blaring, screaming, chanting, singing, jumping, high-fives, hugs. Public camaraderie. We’re sharing this moment in an exuberant, joyful way. Fans on both signs respectfully cheering and enjoying the battle. No animosity, just the pure pleasure that sport brings. Well, alcohol fueled  to boot. At the end of stoppage time the Brazilian fans embraced the Dutch with flags wrapped around shoulders. Conga lines sprouted and Jack and the Beanstock vined through the pub. Absolute jubilation.

Here it is. My prediction – Netherlands vs. Germany in the final. Germany wins 3-2. Yep. I said it. Mark it down.

As lovely as the bloody was, I had to move on to Smithwick. A fine Irish ale. I’ll keep these going until the Ghana v. Uruguay match at 1:30. God bless the World Cup. God bless the fans tht make this soooooo fun. God bless the drink the lubricates the soul and sings along with our happiness for competition. Long live sport. Long live drink.

What do you drink watchin the World Cup?