10 Austin Cocktails to Warm Your Autumn Nights

Recently the mercury has been plummeting to a chilly 60 degrees, and frostbitten Austinites are scrambling to find their woolen sweaters and scarves. It’s that time of year. Now that the sun is going down earlier in the evening and that nip is in the air, it’s time to switch out of the light and breezy and slip into something more substantial.

Bars and restaurants around Austin are rolling out their autumn cocktail menus, featuring bolder, boozier and spicier drinks. Stop suffering through the merciless chill and fortify yourself against the shivers with these hearty drinks.

Bar Congress

Bar manager Jason Stevens welcomes the chance to pour bourbon, rye and applejack into seasonal drinks despite the limited cold spells that we get in Austin. He likes playing around with eaux-de-vie and stone fruits to create a little fall magic, and he just updated the Bar Congress menu with three autumn drinks on the menu.

Stevens gets a little misty and nostalgic while preparing his fall menu. “When I look to make a new autumn cocktail, I try to capture elements of my autumns growing up in Oregon and combine them with flavors I’ve grown to love in Texas. Maple, date and winter spice combine with port and molé, rounded out by bourbon’s heat and age.” He sees the Roundabout as a straightforward fall cocktail.

The Roundabout

  • 1.25 oz. Eagle Rare 10 year Bourbon
  • 1.5 oz. Dows 10 year Port
  • .5 oz. house made date syrup
  • .5 oz. fresh squeezed lemon
  • 2 heavy dashes Bittermans Molé Bitters
  • Egg white

Shake it vigorously with little to no ice.  Final touch is five drops of Angostura on the egg-white froth and garnish with a cherry.

This is a complex drink that isn’t fussy. It’s sweet and spicy in a smooth, cuddly way. It makes me want to light a fire and snuggle on a bearskin rug.

BungalowDeviled Apple

This drink is great for fall in Austin; it’s warm but with a nice kick.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Blue Nectar Silver Tequila
  • 1/2 oz. Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. Sour Apple Schnapps
  • 4 oz. cider

Drink.Well.

Drink.well. owner Jessica Sanders and bartender Dennis Gobis are retiring the tiki section of their menu and replacing it with cocktails more suited for the ski lodge than the beach. The autumn menu has six new boozy cocktails with spices that include cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. They are shooting for cocktails that stick with you with you, creating lush, velvety textures by swapping out simple syrup for gomme syrup in drinks like the Sazerac.

 A Shephard’s Holiday

Gobis created a simple, delicious negroni-style drink suited for chillier weather. It has a lovely layering of orange, cinnamon and clove to warm your heart.

  • 1 ounces Blanco Tequila (Siembra Azul)
  • 1 ounces Amaro CioCiaro
  • 1 ounces Punt e Mes
  • 2 dashes Old Fashioned Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice and pour over a large-format ice cube in a rocks glass or serve up in a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an expressed orange peel.

Jack Allen’s KitchenRound Rock Bee Keeper

In shaker tin, add the following:

  • 1 small scoop of ice
  • 1.5 oz. Rebecca Creek Texas Spirit Whiskey
  • .25 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
  • 1 oz. house made Round Rock Honey-Fig syrup
  • 2 dashes of apple bitters

Shake and strain over ice in a 9-ounce rocks glass, add straw and garnish with sliced dried fig.

Lucy’s Fried ChickenGone a’Rye

Courtesy of William Schulte

  • 1.5 oz. Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
  • .5 oz. Campari
  • .25 oz. Luxardo Cherry Liqueur
  • .25 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake well. Stir until well chilled and strain into a cocktail (or highball) glass.

No Va Kitchen & Bar

Lead bartender Tacy Rowland is introducing six new autumn cocktails to the NoVa menu. The new upscale restaurant and bar is fitting in with its Rainey Street location by introducing a cocktail menu that uses beer, wine and cider. While the wine-based sangria is a top seller, Rowland is excited to create drinks with beer, too. She finds it an approachable way to introduce new ingredients.

One of the signature cocktails, Thunderstruck, mixes Austin Beerworks Black Thunder, which recently won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival and coffee. Rowland says, “I’m a huge coffee lover. I’ve been playing around with coffee infusions at home and came up with this delicious Cynar coffee infusion.”

Thunderstruck

  • 1.5 oz. coffee Cynar
  • 1 oz. coconut milk
  • .5 oz. Chameleon cold brew
  • .5 oz. five spice syrup
  • 2-3 oz. Austin Beerworks Black Thunder

Shake all ingredients except beer, fine strain into glass and top with beer. Garnish with three coffee beans and serve it in a coupe.

This drink is dangerously delicious. It’s both sweet and bitter, with a sneaky punch. It is perfect for after dinner, brunch or end of the night.

Searsucker, Jack Manhattan

The bar crew at Searsucker has created a Jack-o-Lantern play on the classic Manhattan cocktail, using housemade pumpkin, all-spice, Clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla-bean-infused whiskey.

  • 2.5 oz. infused whiskey
  • .5 oz. Cocci
  • 5 dashes Jerry Thomas Own Decanter Bitters

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Sullivan’sSalted Caramel Apple Martini

  • 1.5 oz. Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
  • 1.5 oz. DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker
  • 2 oz.  Caramel Lemon Sour (dash of lemon sour in caramel sauce)

Place all ingredients into a Boston Shaker and shake approximately 10-15 times to combine. Strain into a chilled martini glass with a lightly salted rim.

Qui

Celebrity chef Paul Qui has a talented bar crew that has created six signature cocktails for autumn.

Compadre

  • 1 ounce Rittenhouse Rye
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Amontillado sherry
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s

Stir the ingredients and serve it straight up in a coupe glass garnished with a lemon peel.

W Austin

Libationist Joyce Garrison believes whiskey drinks are great in the fall and has created one with a shadow of summer with the honey bourbon syrup, made with the just-released Red Handed Bourbon from the Treaty Oak Distillery.

Nefariously Red Handed

  • 1.5 oz. Red Handed Bourbon
  • 4 basil leaves
  • .5 oz.  blackberry honey syrup
  • .5 oz. blood orange bitters

Shaken and strained into a coupe glass and garnished with a flamed orange peel.

No matter what part of town you are in, you can take the edge off of those cold autumn nights with a bracing cocktail.

This story was originally published on CultureMap.

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6 tequila cocktails to try for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo tequila cocktailsCinco de Mayo is often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, but the date actually marks the Mexican army’s improbable trouncing of the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Similar to St. Patrick’s Day, most people aren’t concerned with the reason why it’s celebrated, and see it as a great excuse to down alcoholic concoctions inspired by the country. And what’s more appropriate to drink than tequila?

With nearly 1,000 brands of tequila to choose from in the U.S. (not too long ago, not that many could be found), we’ve gathered a few stand-out tequilas and recipes that are bound to tilt your sombrero.

Drinking in the area code

Tequila 512 hit town last November and is quickly gaining notoriety. It picked up a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in March and was recognized as “Best Blanco Tequila in Austin” by the Austin Tequila Society last fall. Not bad for a tequila created by one man, Scott Willis, who has boot-strapped the entire operation on his own.

Willis was inspired by the local distilling trail-blazer, Tito Beverage, and decided to follow his passion for the art of craft tequila. He has spent six years perfecting a specific recipe that has a prominent agave flavor, and is smooth enough to be accessible to the American palate. Tequila 512 is made with 24 hour filtration to mellow it out and an oxygenation process for a silky mouth feel.

While Willis named after Austin’s area code, it is made at the La Cofradia distillery in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico.

“I traveled to Mexico to find a distiller that would make my tequila. Most distilleries won’t do custom recipes,” said Willins. “I was also interested in finding a distillery that sourced its agave from a specific region. Where the agave is grown matters a lot to the flavor.”

Tequila 512 is starting on a small scale and Willis hopes to sell 1,000 cases in the first year. You can find it at retail shops for under $30 and at restaurants like Shady Grove.

Willis prefers to drink his tequila straight, but when he is in the mood for a cocktail he mixes a classic skinny margarita.

Organic 512 Skinny Margarita

  • 2 ounces Tequila 512 Blanco
  • 1.5 ounces orange juice
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce agave nectar (light)

Shake well and serve over ice in a brandy snifter.

Keep it in la Famila

The Camarena’s have been making Familia Camarena Tequila in the Los Altos Highlands of Jalisco Mexico for six generations and entered the U.S. market in 2010. The approachable, easy drinking tequila is made from 100 percent blue agave and is one of the better value tequila’s around for $20 or under. This tequila is a solid base for excellent cocktails. The website has a huge list of recipes and they sell a nice “Tipple Toolkit” with everything you need to make them at home. Here is a delicious drink from mixologist Joel Black, of Tinga in Los Angeles, CA.

Camarena Grand Slam

  • 1.5 ounces Camarena Reposado Tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .75 ounce  agave nectar
  • 1-2 slices fresh jalapeño
  • 2 cubes fresh pineapple
  • 1 pinch fresh cilantro

Muddle all ingredients, except tequila in a shaker tin. Add tequila and ice, shake nice & easy and strain over fresh ice in a double old fashioned glass. Garnish with a pineapple square, jalapeno slice and fresh cilantro.

See unicorns with Sparkle Donkey  

Legend has it that people have been drinking Sparkle Donkey Tequila in Mexico for more than 100 years, but it just found its way into the U.S. last fall.  Made in the Jalisco region, Sparkle Donkey Silver, which won a Gold Medal at the 2012 BTI International Spirits Competition and  the Reposado tequilas are available around Austin for just north of $20. Try this simple mix with a kick, but don’t have too many or you may be seeing unicorns.

The Mule Driver

  • 1 part Sparkle Donkey Silver
  • 3 parts orange juice

Combine in a shaker over ice, shake well, and strain into a rocks glass.

Spice it up

If you like a little zip in each sip, Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila is worth a try. This 100 percent Blue Weber Agave blanco tequila is infused with locally grown organic jalapeños. It will put a fire in your eye straight up, or you can try it in a tangy twist on the margarita.

Mexican Spiced Apples

  • 1.5 ounce Tanteo  Jalapeño Tequila
  • 2 ounces apple juice
  • .5 ounce fresh lime jice
  • .25 ounce agave nectar

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice Shake well and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with an apple slice.

Get out of the house

There are several bars in Austin restaurants celebrating Cinco de Mayo, with excellent tequila-based cocktails. The energetic matron of Drink.Well, Jessica Sanders, will convert the bar from Derby Day festivities to Cinco de Mayo overnight. In addition to their creative cocktails, their standard margarita will knock your socks off.

Drink.Well. House Margarita

  • 1.5 ounce Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila
  • .75 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • .5 ounce Paula’s Texas Orange

Add all ingredients to a cocktail tin with a scoop of ice. Shake well. Strain into a glass with ice. Garnish with Lime. *For those who like a little extra oomph, Jessica recommends adding four drops of Bittermens Hellfire Shrub, which makes the drink nice and smoky/spicy.

Here is what Jessica suggests for those who want to celebrate in a more “elegant” manner.

Agave Old Fashioned 

2 oz Siembra Azul Anejo Tequila
.5 oz Cacao-Chai Infused Agave Syrup (I use cacao-chai tea from ZHI tea)
2 dashes of orange bitters
2 orange peels

Add the infused agave syrup and bitters with ice to a double old-fashioned glass. Add the tequila and stir until chilled and properly diluted. Express an orange peel over the cocktail and garnish with the expressed peel.

Libationist Joyce Garrison at the W Austin is mixing up a few amazing specialty cocktails for Cinco de Mayo including a classic Paloma.

W Austin Paloma for Cinco de Mayo Paloma from Joyce Garrison at W Austin

  • 1.5 ounces Don Julio Reposado
  • 3 ounces grapefruit soda
  • 1.5 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • .5 ounces lime juice

Build in a tall glass and garnish with lime.

Whether you stay in or head out on the town to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, you won’t go wrong with these ideas.

Disclosure: Samples were provided by Tequila 512, Familia Camarena Tequila, Sparkle Donkey and Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila

This story was previously published on CultureMap.

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Trick-or-treat for adults: The spookiest Halloween cocktails in Austin

The older I’ve gotten, the more selective my sweet tooth has gotten. Gone are the days when I can plunder an overflowing candy bowl with the reckless abandon of Charlie Sheen in a hot tub full of hotties. Don’t get me wrong. I still like a treat every now and again. This Halloween I’ll opt for Halloween Cocktails.

Grab your trick-or-treat sack and traipse around Austin’s to try out some spooky libations at the bars that are in the ghoulish spirit. Let’s start our do it yourself haunted bar hop downtown.

Péché: Corpse Reviver #2Halloween Cocktails Corpse Reviver #2

Our first stop is Péché on West Fourth St. for a classic cocktail that is rumored to have the ability to bring the dead (or at least the hungover zombies) back to life.

Corpse Reviver #2

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 dash absinthe
  • ice cubes
  • Shake all ingredients in a shaker, strain into a chilled glass and garnish.

Sullivan’s Steakhouse: Dracula’s Kiss

Next we’ll walk around the corner to Sullivan’s Steakhouse on Colorado St. for a vampire drink that doesn’t suck.

Dracula’s Kiss  

  • Halloween Cocktails Dracula's Kiss.5 ounce Grenadine
  • 1.5 ounce Effen Black Cherry Vodka
  • Fill with Coke
  • In a highball glass add grenadine then ice, vodka and Coke in order to create a distinct red layer at the bottom of the glass

W Austin: Pumpkin Spice Martini 

Down the street, Joyce Garrison at W Austin Hotel just released her new fall cocktail menu with updates on classics and a little something that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Pumpkin Spice Martini

  • 1.5 ounce vanilla vodka
  • .5 ounce Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka
  • .5 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • .5 ounce pumpkin spice liqueur
  • 1 tsp vodka whipped cream

HandleBar’s Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie

Now we’re going to walk a little bit east to try another jack-o-lantern-inspired cocktail at HandleBar on Fifth St.

Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie

 

  • House-made simple syrup — made with pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, sugar and vanilla extract
  • Halloween Cocktails Candy Corn Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine, a corn-based, un-aged whiskey with hints of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon

Icenhauer’s: Infused Candy Corn

Let’s continue heading east to Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street for a completely adult approach to candy.

Infused Candy Corn

  • A shot of vodka (or mixed with club soda) infused with house-made candy corn

drink.well.: The Devils Tritone

We’ll end the night at North Loop’s drink.well. with a devilish nightcap.

The Devil’s Tritone

Named for an unstable musical interval between two pitches that is a full three “whole tones” apart, this cocktail mixed by Michael Sanders is alchemy of smoke, sweet, spice flavors.

Halloween Cocktails the Devil's Tritone

  • 2 ounce Balcones Brimstone Smoked TX whiskey
  • 1 ounce Jester King Black Metal syrup fortified with mezcal
  • 1 dash Bitterman’s Hellfire Bitters
  • This bad boy is set on fire with a spray of Bad Dog Fire and Brimstone bitters, Lemonhart 151 and an orange twist.

Despite being far too old to actually go trick-or-treating, you now have a viable Halloween treat option. Whether or not you wear a sexy costume is totally up to you.

A version of this story previously appeared on CultureMap.

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