Raucous rita party with the Tipsy Texan

David Allan

Taking a long drink from his margarita, David Alan, founder of the Tipsy Texan consultancy, cooed, “Tastes like childhood.” In one of the most spirited sessions of the 2015 Austin Food & Wine Festival, Alan described the history, ways to mess up and proper ways to make a margarita in “Rescue the Rita.”

A proper margarita has only three ingredients: tequila, orange liqueur such as Cointreau and lime juice. Oh, and perhaps a touch of sugar. According to Alan, there are “five ways to fuck up a margarita:”

  1. Bad tequila. Avoid anything that says “gold” or is does not say 100 percent agave on the label.
  2. Sweeten it. The trend of “skinny” margaritas takes out the sweetness of the classic by adding lots of water. Skip it.
  3. Margarita mix. The premade mixes are loaded with all kinds of unpronounceable ingredients, but absolutely no lime juice. Yuck.
  4. Not cold or diluted enough. Put it on ice and shake it like you mean it. Make sure that shaker makes noise.
  5. Crappy lime garnish. There is nothing worse than a hard lime that is brown around the edges. Throw it out.

The crowd was provided with a shaker, a juicer and all the ingredients to make their own classic rita. While they were shaking things up, a spirited mariachi band marched onto stage to end the festivities in style.


Related 2015 Austin Food & Wine Festival Articles: 

What are you drinking? 

What Are You Drinking in Spring? 31 Spring Drink Ideas

Spring is a time of renewal and the rebirth of all things that are shiny and new. That means a rebirth in my interest in light, crisp drinks. I often reach for rosé, white wine and icy cocktails like caipirinhas at El Arbol or “The Passenger” at Perla’s.

I sometimes get stuck in a rut, drinking the same old thing day after day,  so I asked a bunch of wine and cocktail experts and friends what they like to drink in the warm spring weather. I got some great suggestions and cocktail recipes to pass on to you. Let me know what you think of these:

  •  “ROSÉ, ROSÉ AND ROSÉ, AND ALIGOTE at the terrasse of a sidewalk cafe with tones of friends if possible.” – Peter Wasserman, global wine consultant for Selection Becky Wasserman  
  •  “El Cubico is one of my favorite cocktails at La Condesa, and bar manager Nate Wales was sweet enough to give us a few. I can’t say enough good things to say about this drink. This cocktail is a great Spring drink — the smoky mezcal and tobacco contrast with the bright sweet pineapple, achieving a refreshing balance. If you need more convincing, I will take you out for one. Or seven.” – Emma Janzen, Liquid Austin blogger at  Austin360.com and Multimedia Producer at the Austin American-Statesman
  •  “The Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal with Honey Liqueur, cream, and house-made Froberg Farm strawberry soda at La Condesa.” – Jennie Chen, food aficionado and MisoHungry blogger, as described in her post “Sustainable Food Center’s Spring Bounty Dinner 2011
  • “Though there are several places I like to visit for casual sipping during the beautiful spring months, nothing beats relaxing on my own back deck in the open breeze with a drink prepared exactly as I like it. I prefer my Mojito with lots of fresh mint. Too many bars skimp by using just a token two or three leaves. Then they drown it with too much club soda or Sprite. I like my Mojito without the topper. It’s just easy breezy sipping.

 Minty MojitoCheri Loughlin version

  • 20 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 1/2 to 3/4 ounce Simple Syrup
  • Half Fresh Lime – Squeezed
  • 2 ounces Light Rum
  • Mint Sprig Garnish

Muddle mint leaves, simple syrup and lime in mixing glass. Add ice and rum. Shake thoroughly to blend. Strain into tall glass over fresh ice. Garnish with fresh mint sprig.” – Respected cocktail resource for drink enthusiasts, Cheri Loughlin, The Intoxicologist

  •  “My favorite springtime drink is the Z Tequila Margarita served at Trace at the W Hotel Austin.  I especially like it during their S.I.P. happy hour and enjoy it out on their patio.   A very close second is Perla’s daily frozen cocktail on their outdoor deck.” – Nicole Carbon, Writer Cocktails. Travel. All Things Fabulous. Fabulous Drinks Austin
  •  “The Austintini at the Hula Hut – made with Republic Tequila and Paula’s Texas Orange. Any margaritas made with our Spirit Blends – Classic Lime, Prickly Pear, Pineapple Basil or Jalapeño Lime. Republic Spirit Blends are now available in the dairy section of Central Market stores.

 Republic Rancho Ancho – this uses our Classic Lime Spirit Blends as a base with muddled watermelon and ancho chili powder!

  • 1.5 oz Republic Plata Tequila
  • 1/3  cup cubed seedless organic watermelon
  • 3 oz Republic Classic Lime Spirit Blends
  • 3 pinches of ancho chili powder

Add the watermelon and chili powder to a pint glass and muddle into juice. Add the tequila and Spirit Blends and top with ice. Cover and shake well. Strain over fresh ice in a pint glass and garnish with a slice of lime and a pinch of chili powder.” – Theresa Gebhardt, Brand Manager, Republic Tequila

  • Duchman Vermentino (TX), Chateau Bonnet, Chateau Magence and Inwood’s (TX) Segundo Palomino and Chardonnay blend are favorites now. I like drinking the Duchman Vermentino at Whole Foods Market’s Bar Lamar where it’s on tap, or at the beautiful Duchman winery across from Salt Lick. The Chateau Bonnet and Chateau Magence are beautiful white Bordeaux from Whole Foods…..under $20 and delicious. I enjoy sipping them in my backyard. The Inwood Segundo Palomino and Chardonnay is really lovely. Great Texas winemaker and the wine is a blend from TX and other American vineyards.” – Denise Fraser, Texas wine gal who loves wine and is a PR consultant for Texas wines and Whole Foods Market’s wine program
  •  “Spring drink ideas from the past. The first 2 are from Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide, 1947:

Spring Cocktail

  • 3/4 oz dry gin
  • 1/4 oz quinquina (modern form: Lillet Blanc)
  • 1/4 oz Benedictine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake with cracked ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass. Serve with an olive.

Spring Feeling Cocktail

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz green chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice

Shake with cracked ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass.

This one is from Difford’s Guide #6

April Shower

  • 2 shots cognac
  • 1/2 shot Benedictine
  • 2 shots Orange Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with and orange twist.” – Greg Priebe, Spirits and Cocktail Editor, A History of Drinking

  • “The Heirloom at The Highball. One of my favorite smells is an on the vine fresh tomato and this grabs that, shakes it up with some smoked salt and sets it down right where i want it — in my mouth!” – Kelly Stocker, Yelp Austin Community Manager
  •  “TNT has this REEDONCULOUS drink called the Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita. Seriously. It’s like napping in a hammock with the aroma of freshly cut grass. Seriously. Before you know it, you’ve had 10 of them.” –  Jeff McMillioan, Design Director at Dialog Studio
  • “Shitty Lemonade at The Hole in the Wall :-)” – Leslie Nichols, bad-ass producer for Austin City Limits
  • “My dad made pitchers of whiskey sours on hot spring days when I was a kid, so I have a soft spot in my heart and in my tummy for those. I also absolutely adore the frozen mojitos that my friend Hili blends to enjoy under her sprawling Live Oak trees in her yard.” – Beautiful Wife, creative director and partner ThreeDefined
  •  “A delicious, crisp champassion (or three) under the blooming wisteria at the Hotel San Jose around 5 on a lovely Saturday afternoon.  Love saving the raspberry drink accessories for last, after they’re nice and marinated by the bubbles.” – Cotton Candy, my favorite drinking buddy
  •  “Just finished mowing. Having a Glissade Golden Bock from Sierra Nevada. On the front porch. Shoes off, feet up. Miles Davis on the stereo. It doesn’t get much better than this. It’s my new favorite beer.” – William Price, the professor
  •  “Bacardi Dragon Berry rum.” – Chris Christian, technical marketing dude, gamer, kitty lover
  •   “At the moment I am sipping a Maker’s Mark with muddled ginger and soda with a little raw sugar. Spin on the Maker’s Mark Press. Try it! The ginger gives it some nice heat.” – Cliff Hieronymus
  •  “What spring sun?” – Kim Ponto, Grumpy Graphic Designer, TenFour in Portland
  •  “A classic: a Tall Tanqueray & Tonic made by my dear friend, Teresa.” –  Abbie McCarthy Kendall, PR genius
  •  “Mojito” Laura Pevehouse Thomas, social media smarty  
  •  “Sangria!” – Lindsey Weinberg Tishgart, Strategic PR and Communications Consultant at FOLIO Communications
  •  “Bulleit bourbon over crushed ice.” – John Wade Moody, not to be confused with a temperamental Western film star  
  •  “French rose, mojito, or Mexican beer… kinda depends on the vibe and if there is food.” – Garrett Beauvais, money guy and bon vivant
  •  “Skinny Margaritas: Marg minus about 500 of the calories…so good & fresh. (Calorie reduction claim not validated, but it’s what I like to think)” – Stacy Hower, marketing genius

This is an incredible list of drink that will keep me busy for several spring nights in the backyard and gorgeous patio bars around Austin. Thanks so much to all the contributors for sharing your favorite spring drinks.

Try a few of these and let me know what you think. What is your new favorite spring drink?  

What are you drinking?

Drinking for a Cause: Moonlight Margarita Run

At 8:00 on Thursday evening, August 5, approximately 1,000 people will get together in the gathering dusk to run 3.2 miles along Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. With the sticky air searing their lungs and scorching asphalt blistering their feet, they’ll line up for this 5k dash with one goal in mind: an ice cold margarita greeting them at the finish line.

That seems like a lot of work for a margarita. Of course there is more to it. This 5k raises money for The Trail Foundation, the venerable organization whose mission is to protect and enhance the Trail at Lady Bird Lake. In particular, the Moonlight Margarita Run will raise money to improve the popular gathering spot known as The Rock, under the MoPac bridge adjacent to Austin High School. Now that’s worth a run on a hot summer night.

The slogan: “There are plenty of chances to run on the Trail, but only one chance to run for it.”

Following the run, there will be a swanky gala under the stars on the great lawn of the American Legion Hall. Maudie’s Tex Mex will provide the food and requisite margaritas. Luke Olson will entertain the runners with his Texas-styled songs. Amy’s Ice Cream will debut a new flavor to commemorate the opening of Maudie’s sixth restaurant in the Hill Country. Now its starting to sound like its worth the silly run in the heat for all of this.

This is the sixth year for the event and organizers hope to raise $60,000 through event fees and sponsorship. Trail Foundation Executive Director, Susan Rankin, tells me that event sponsors make the Moonlight Margarita Run a success. Long-term sponsors like Freescale, Roger Beasley Mazda, LRCA, HEB, Run Tex and Whole Foods get behind it because they see the value of the Trail at Lady Bird Lake to Austin and to their employees. While many of us see the trail as the city’s living room and its athletic training center, some sponsors see it as a lure to recruit top talent to Austin.

Maudie’s Tex Mex has been the title sponsor for five years now. Maudie’s owner, Joe Draker, thinks of his time on the trail as a way to connect with the city and to keep values in check. A walk along the lake reinforces a conscious lifestyle, a connectedness with the environment and the passion to preserve it. He sees the Moonlight Margarita Run as an excellent way to help maintain this jewel of Austin. Joe was a long-time family friend of Roberta Crenshaw, the Austin philanthropist responsible for donating much of the land surrounding Lady Bird Lake. Lady Bird Johnson helped raise awareness and funds to beautify the like, but it was Crenshaw that established the trail and spearheaded the construction of the pedestrian bridge at The Rock. That relationship and Joe’s experiences on the trail running and walking his dogs over the years have cemented a deep passion for it.

Susan Rankin and Race Director, Katie Moran, graciously took a little time away from a registration happy hour to talk with me. Here is what they had to say.

There are a lot of experiences in life that go well with a cold drink. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Thursday night than running with 1,000 friends to support The Trail Foundation. And, yeah, having a margarita or two. Come out and join me.

Tacos and Tequila

There are a lot of classic flavor combinations; you know two great tastes that go great together like chocolate and peanut butter, coffee and Krispy Kremes and Gin & Tonics. Tonight I’m trying out a true Texas combo, Tacos and Tequilla with my friend @ShowMeYourTaco (Nelson) at a new taco place Tacos and Tequila (TnT) on west 5th street in Austin. You can follow them on Twitter @TnTacosTequila.

Nelson is chronicling our adventure in video and reviewing the food on his blog ShowMeYourTaco.com. Check out his post to hear about the food. I’m going to focus on, you guessed it, the tequila.

This urban taco spot recently opened by the good folks at Blue Mesa Grill in Dallas and it has been in business for nine weeks now. Rumor has it that TnT has the 5th largest tequila list in the country with 95varieties and that list keeps growing. This massive list is organized by tequila types  designated by stlye of aging: Blanco, Reposado and Añejo.

It offers more than variety. TnT has a staff that is steeped in tequila knowledge and a passion to share that knowledge with the likes of you and me. If you want to sample a variety of tequila, they offer four different tequila flights to compare three types of tequila. TnT also has cold tequilas on tap – Milagros Silver, 1800 Silver and Cazadores Silver – have you ever seen tequila on tap? If your tastes skew to the higher end, there are currently seven extra ultra premiums ranging from $30 to $65 a shot.

If you like mixed drinks, this is your place. TnT bartenders have a fabulous bent for making creative, delicious drinks with this venerated liquor. And the drink menu changes on a monthly basis. They mix signature recipes with fresh, hand squeezed juices and organic, locally sourced produce. Bar manager and assistant GM, Shelby Lynne, loves her job and it shows. Her favorite thing about working at TnT is exercising her creative genius and artistry in cocktails, surrounded by like-minded people. She aims to dazzle guests with inventive drinks made up on the fly.  

Our waiter recommended that we start off with a flight of infused tequila shots. Shelby dreams up all the infusions herself and the team makes up all the concoctions fresh daily. Here is what they brought us:

  1. Corzo Reposado infused with Mexican chocolate and guajillo peppers
  2. 1800 infused with peach, apricot and organic green tea
  3. Cazadores Reposado infused with cantaloupe


With the preamble complete, it’s time to start the margaritas.

Watermelon Smash

This refreshing summer of love is made with Milagro silver, fresh smashed up watermelon and lime juice. The watermelon pulp is fleshy in the glass and satisfying.

Look The aftermath of a July picnic. Abused watermelon takes solace in a pint glass.    
Smell Sweet like a watermelon Jolly Rancher on a bender.   
Taste  Well, hello fruit smoothie in dominatrix leather. I wasn’t expecting you, but now that you are here. . . I’m going to have to chew your melons. The lime may make you perky, but that tequila shows you who’s really in charge.
Price $9


Dirty Margarita

Dirty is the operative word for this margarita made with Cazadores Reposado, house-made caramelized simple sugar roasted fresh on the stove, tamarind nectar and fresh-squeezed lime juice. While it’s dirty, Shelby tells me it’s nowhere near as dirty as her thoughts. Oh how I’d like to keep talking to her on the subject. This is one of Shelby’s favorites because she likes the duality of sweet and dirty. It’s how she envisions herself. She wants you to tell her how pretty she is while spanking her.

Look Masquerading as a golden brown Hefeweizen with a thin head of creamy mousse.
Smell Understated honey and a lime mist at sunset.
Taste This is the bad kid on the playground that you think is your friend. “Oh come on. It’s only Coke with lime.” Don’t believe him. This drink might be sweet and tangy on the surface, but deep inside, he’s out to pick up your mom.
Price $10

 Cucumber jalapeño margarita

This one is made with 1800 Silver chopped fresh cucumber, jalapeño slivers and lime.

Look Lemon grass green with a salad swimming about.
Smell Agave, cucumber and lime hanging out at the spa.   
Taste Cool as a cucumber right from the start, accompanied by fruity lime tang followed by acidic  heat. The spice is enough to keep me in line, but not too much to spoil the mood. I was a little disappointed by the amount of floating jalapeño seeds. They detracted from the overall experience. I didn’t need to chew this drink beyond the actual pepper and cucumber slices and the seeds added more kick than needed on each chew.
Price $9.50


Shelby Lynne’s Special

This one isn’t on a menu. All we had to do was ask and Shelby was extremely happy to show off her creative skills. Watch the video clip to hear what she mixes.

Look Raucous laughter lemon yellow with orange and lime wedges skinny dipping below the salt snow pack rim.
Smell Perky citrus with a wry smile.
Taste A provocative come-on that’s not going to get you slapped in the face. The smoky, oaky tequila runs this show without being domineering or rude. Mellow orange and laid back lime in a ménage a trois with caramel steals the show midway through, but steps out of the way to let the guest of honor close out this party in style. Thank you. Thank you tequila. You are awesome.    
Price $13


Nelson and I had a fantastic experience at TnT. The food was delicious – read about that on ShowMeYourTaco.com – the drinks were tasty and the service was stellar. We acknowledge that we were writing  a review, which in part accounts for the highly attentive service. However, this was actually my second visit and Beautiful Wife and I had an equally enjoyable time with prompt and helpful service. I’ll definitely go back.

To close out this post, the one thing I really want is a good tequila song. There’s that one instrumental that PeeWee Herman dances to, but that doesn’t quite cut it for me. Maybe we could alter the Doors song:

Well, show me the way
To the next tequila bar
Oh, don’t ask why
Oh, don’t ask why

 Nah. A friend on twitter suggests M.I.A. Teqkilla. Here it is.