Daniel Barnes of Treaty Oak Distilling Awarded Distiller of the Year

Daniel Barnes, Distiller of the YearI had the privilege of hosting Treaty Oak Distilling’s first ever media event to announce that Daniel Barnes has received the prestigious 2014 Distiller of the Year award by MicroLiquor. He was selected among a field of more than 400 distinguished craft distiller entrants in the United States.

The event felt like a party with friends as a group of bloggers and journalists were greeted on the front porch with a refreshing La Mariquita cocktail made with Graham’s Texas Tea mixed by David Alan, the Tipsy Texan. The group then gathered in the cozy Lenoir dining room to nibble on incredible charcuterie, like octopus pastrami, prepared by Chef Todd Duplechan.

Barnes shared the news of a few more awards that Treaty Oak has collected. It has won:

1. Triple Gold medal in the MicroLiquor Spirit Awards competition for Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum. Treaty Oak Rum is made with molasses sourced from the last sugar mill in Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley that is brewed into rum beer with an initial fermentation that takes four days and then distilled. The Platinum Rum is aged for two years in 60 gallon new American white oak barrels to make the Barrel Reserve Rum.

2. Triple Gold medal in the MicroLiquor Spirit Awards for Waterloo Antique Gin, a barrel aged gin. Waterloo gin was one of the first modern Texas-made gins when it was released at the end of 2011. It’s made with 11 botanicals including juniper, lavender, rosemary, pecans, grapefruit, lemon, and orange zest, coriander, ginger root, licorice root and anise in is a juniper-forward London Dry style gin with a Texas twist. Waterloo Antique Gin is made by aging the original product for a full year in a first-use heavy-charred barrel, giving it rich whisky notes of cinnamon, clove and anise flavors, while letting the juniper and floral flavors come through.

3. The Fifty Best awarded a Double-Gold medal to Graham’s Texas Tea Vodka in the “Best Flavored Vodka” awards for 2014. Graham’s Texas Tea is made with premium Nilgiri tea blended with turbinado sugar, Hill Country water and vodka. Barnes tasted around 50 different teas before picking and Nilgiri because of its intense flavors, strong fragrance and balanced body. It’s starkly different from the American and English breakfast teas.

After describing the awards and how the spirits are made, we all had the opportunity to sip both the Platinum and Barrel Aged Rum side-by-side, followed by  the Waterloo Gin and the Waterloo Antique Gin. Good stuff.

Taste test of Treaty Oak Rum and Waterloo Gin


David Alan showed off his cocktail acumen by preparing a classic daiquiri with Treaty Oak Barrel Aged Rum and a twist on the Old Fashioned made with Waterloo Antique Gin. Both were fantastic.

Treaty Oak Distilling partner, Nate Powell, ended the evening by sharing a little glimpse at what’s next for the distillery.  The current Treaty Oak distillery in north Austin is bursting at the seams. To keep up with demand, Treaty Oak needs a lot more space and a lot more capacity. The company recently broke ground on new facilities that will be located on the 30-acre Ghost Hill Ranch near Dripping Springs right up the road from Jester King Brewery.  Its going to be quite the booze tourism destination featuring a state-of-the-art distillery capable of increasing production allowing the brand to continue to expand nationally, along with a brewery, tasting room and cocktail house.

Thanks Treaty Oak for a fun night of cocktails, nibbles and news.

Disclosure: Treaty Oak Distillery hired me to organize the media event and to provide PR consulting. They did not request this post and are not sponsoring it. 

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Celebrate National Rum Day in a style that would have pleased Hemingway

Jungle Bird at Pleasant Storage RoomEat Drink Celebrate National Rum Day

Blame Christopher Columbus. He is credited with introducing sugar cane throughout the West Indies, spurring the birth of rum as the first distilled spirit in the Americas. The tropical climate of the Caribbean is perfect for growing sugar cane. It is the lifeblood of rum, which is made by distilling the derivatives of sugar cane, like molasses.

Dark and sticky as tar, molasses is fermented with yeast to make rum beer, which is then distilled and filtered. Un-aged rum, known as white, light or silver, is great in cocktails like the daiquiri, mai tai or mojito. Rum aged in charred barrels, known as gold and dark, glows its namesake deep hue and flaunts its sweetness in cocktails or when sipped alone.

Rum smells of linen dresses, ocean breezes early in the evening, crushed strawberries and vacation romances in open-air cafés. Rum has an unspoken agreement with Caribbean memories to always play a role, either as the starring actor or as an extra setting the scene. It is such a fantastic drink, it even has its own day. National Rum Day is Aug. 16.

Pleasant Storage Room is the brainchild of Paul Hargrove and John Kelly O’Hare, who worked together at East Side Show Room. The two share an affinity for rum and wanted to develop a bar that focuses on rum punch and rum cocktails. Fellow East Side Show Room veteran Alfonso Hernandez-Nicolai was brought on as bar manager and given the reigns to design the bar and visual identity. He put industrial-design graduate school on hold and threw himself headlong into his love affair with rum.

“Rum has so much diversity and is great in so many fun cocktails,” Hernandez-Nicolai says. “It’s a dynamic spirit that has been made for hundreds of years and not restricted to one style. It draws its personality from the cultural backdrop of the Caribbean, with colonialism influences on distilling from the English, Spanish, Dutch and French. In the 1950s and ’60s, rum was all about escapism. We want to recapture that feeling of paradise at home.”

Whether your heart yearns for dry-style rum from Venezuela or Panama, or heavily oaked aged rum from the U.S., you’ll find it at Pleasant Storage Room. With more than 60 labels of rum from throughout the Caribbean, you’ll find almost anything, except Bacardi. For a change of pace, try rhum agricole made with fresh sugar-cane juice instead of molasses in Martinique. This style of rum is unique because its production is regulated by the French government as coming from a certified geographic designation, or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. Rhum agricole is great in ’Ti Punch (short for Petite Punch), made with a squeeze of lime, petite cane syrup, simple syrup and rhum agricole.

“Zaya 12-Year-Old Estate Rum from Trinidad is popular,” Hernandez-Nicolai says, commenting on the hottest rums in Austin. “It’s a really accessible rum that is beautiful to drink on the rocks. Another rum that people love is Neisson rhum agricole de Martinique. It is less sweet, extremely floral and earthy like humus-rich soil, fresh cut straw. If you like scotch, try this.”

Rum punch is a specialty at the Pleasant Storage Room. Share a bowl with friends. Or try a fun tiki cocktail like Na Pali Death Toll, which is made with añejo rum, passion fruit, lime, lemon liqueur and herb salt, served with a flaming coconut for a great spectacle. Pleasant Storage Room also has a full kitchen. The menu features island street food like fried conch hushpuppies, four styles of ceviche jerk chicken and a Cubano sandwich that is out of this world.

208 W. Fourth St., 512.322.9921 pleasantrumbar.com. Open daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.




Rum Punch at Pleasant Storage Room


Commodore Punch

  • 750-millileter bottle V.S.O.P. Clement Rhum Agricole
  • 750-millileter bottle Decourtet V.S.O.P. Cognac
  • 750-millileter bottle Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 750-milileters black tea 1 14 ounces raw sugar
  • 18 lemons

Directions: First, make an oleo saccharum. Start by peeling the golden yellow skin without any pith off all 18 lemons. In a large bowl, layer the peels in the sugar, then muddle until the sugar and lemon peels create a thick, oily substance without breaking the peels apart. Let it sit for at least one hour. Juice all 18 lemons and pour the juice over the oleo saccharum. Add the caramelized black tea and let sit for 30 minutes. Add all other spirits and stir for 30 minutes. Strain the punch into bottles. Once the bottles are full, add a shot of argon before they are recapped. Let them sit for a day.

Where to Celebrate Rum Day


While rum has its roots in the Caribbean, it’s made throughout the world, including in Texas. Here are a few local rums to put on your summer sipping list:

This story was originally published in the August issue of Austin Woman Magazine. It looks great in print. Pick it up on your local news stand.

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Texas Tiki Week returns to 10 Austin bars this week

Texas Tiki Week

Break out your coconut bras and Hawaiian shirts, it’s time for the Third Annual Texas Tiki Week taking place Tuesday, June 24 through Monday, June 30.

The world owes a debt of gratitude to Donn Beach (a.k.a. Don the Beachcomber) who established the first Polynesian-themed tiki bar shortly after the end of Prohibition in 1934 in Hollywood, California. The former bootlegger single-handedly created this tropical drink genre in an attempt to bolster interest in lowly rum. He introduced 70 original cocktails, such as the Scorpion and the Zombie, using the recipe for the Jamaican Planter’s Punch as a starting point.

During Texas Tiki Week, bars in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will pour special tiki cocktails and feature tiki seminars led by cocktail experts from around the country. Participating bars in Austin include Bar Congress, Contigo, Drink.Well., East Side Show Room, Half Step, Péché, Pleasant Storage Room, Red7, The Tigress and Whisler’s.

“Texas Tiki Week was initially designed to be Austin’s contribution to all of the many cocktail weeks that are popping across the country,” says Jessica Sanders of Drink.Well., who is also co-founder Texas Tiki Week and president of the Austin chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG).

“Austin is a bit eccentric and quirky, which makes it ripe for a week that celebrates Tiki, which is also a bit left of center in the cocktail world. Tiki is fun, whimsical and there is an elevated level of theater watching a tiki cocktail come together. You can’t help but smile.”

This year’s festivities start on Monday, June 23 with the Official Kick-Off Party at Pleasant Storage Room with renowned New York barman and tiki master Brian Miller mixing classic and contemporary tiki cocktails. The event is open to USBG members and invited guests only, but Pleasant Storage Room will reprise the cocktail menu for the public through Sunday. Don’t look for a tired mai thai. The menu will include more interesting classics like Don the Beachcomber’s original Pearl Diver Punch and new drinks like the Na Poli Death Toll.

Here are just a few of the most anticipated Tiki Week events.

Tuesday, June 24
Tuesday, June 24: Drink.Well. will host the Grease 2-inspired “Rock a Hula Luau” with five tiki cocktails, including a tiki twist on the classic Pink Lady and the “T-Bird,” variation of the classic Jungle Bird with rhum agricole, pineapple gomme syrup and aperol. Mindy Kucan from the Hale Pele tiki lounge in Portland will be the guest bartender.

Wednesday, June 25
Bar Congress‘ Tiki Night will feature modern twists and tiki classics including the Flaming Bowl of Cong’s Navy Grog and the Baba Yaga tiki amuse booze’ shot featuring rums, spices and Amaro.

Thursday, June 26
The Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter will host a “Cinema Cocktails” screening of the Elvis Presley classic Blue Hawaii with a tiki menu created by Bill Norris, Alamo Drafthouse beverage director, and the cocktail team at 400 Rabbits.

Saturday, June 28
Red 7 presents V2, a special live performance by Leon Taylor and Bob Spalding of “The Ventures,” one of the most iconic surf rock bands in history. Cocktails from the Red 7 team will feature Sailor Jerry rum. Opening acts will include the Del-Vipers and King Pelican.

If you’d rather sip a tiki-inspired drink at home, Pleasant Storage Room has provided the classic Pearl Diver Punch and Jungle Bird recipes.

Pearl Diver Punch (Don the Beachcomber from the 1930s)
The Pearl Diver screams exotic: spicy, refreshing with a lovely balance of tart with a hint of sweet. The booze isn’t afraid to let you know it’s steering this sailboat. Dive in.

  • .75 ounce El Dorado 8 year Demerara Rum
  • 1.5 ounce Puerto Rican Rum
  • .5 ounce Jamacian Smith and Cross N.S. Rum
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • .75 fresh lime juice
  • 1 dash house-made falernum
  • 1 ounce pearl diver mix – an elaborate mix of sweet butter, nutmeg, allspice and other awesome ingredients

Blended and served over pebble ice in a tiki mug, garnished with mint and lime

The screams exotic. Spicy, refreshing with a lovely balance of tart with a hint of sweet. The booze isn’t afraid to let you know its steering this sailboat. Dive in.

Jungle Bird (Aviary Bar at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton 1978)

  • 1.5 ounces Hamilton’s Jamaican  pot-still blackstrap rum
  • .75 ounces Campari
  • 3  ounces pineapple juice
  • .5 ounce lime juice
  • .5 ounce roasted pineapple juice
  • 1 pinch black salt

Shake ingredients hard over ice. Strain into a tiki mug and garnish with a pineapple frond.

This drink is no joke. While you could try to make it at home, its better to go see an expert during Tiki Week to get the full experience.

This story was originally published on CultureMap.

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