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. 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.”


  • 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.


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


  • 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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Hendrick’s Gin’s exclusive new cordial is available in only three cities — and Austin is one of them

Lesley Gracie, Hendrick’s Gin‘s master distiller, and a couple brand ambassadors are barnstorming a few U.S. cities, including New York, Austin and San Francisco to introduce a new quinine-based cordial called Quinetum (sorry Portland and Seattle — apparently your bar culture simply isn’t cool enough).

Here’s the kicker: Gracie distilled only 4,000 small bottles of the stuff and is bringing only 2,400 bottles to the States. With that limited supply, Hendricks isn’t even selling it — they’re just giving it away to two dozen of the coolest bars in these select cities.

In her first ever visit to Austin, Gracie recounted how she spent five years testing various recipes of herbal distillates. “I built this to find the right flavor to make delicious cocktails based on Hendrick’s Gin. We tested out tiny batches with local bartenders in Scotland to get it right.”

Now Hendrick’s is looking to top bartenders to create dazzling cocktails with Quinetum to pair with its cucumber- and rose-kissed gin. It’s a genius marketing ploy to gin up prestige for Hendrick’s by adding in an ultraexclusive lover to tease us.

Since you can’t buy it, your job is to track down where Quinetum is served and give it a taste before it all runs out. Here is your insider tip — NoVa Kitchen & Bar on Rainey Street has secured a coveted bottle and plans to start making cocktails with it very soon.

Tacy Rowland, lead bartender at NoVa, is thrilled to land a bottle, saying, “Hendricks Quinetum was expertly created with the bartender in mind. It’s complex without being overpowering: floral, slightly sweet and balanced with a lovely little bite from the cinchona bark. It’s very friendly in playing with a variety of spirits. I plan on using it in a gin, green tea and cinnamon toddy throughout the fall.”

Quinine made from cinchona succirubra bark has been used for centuries as a cure for malaria and a way to calm a nasty fever. In the 1630s, the Spanish brought it from South America to Europe, where it evolved over the years from being used just for medicinal purposes to become a nice bittering agent to pair with alcohol in cocktails. It’s a bit of an ironic twist that Hendrick’s chose to package Quinetum in a container fashioned after an antique poison bottle that they found in an old London shop.

Gracie’s tinkering with the Quinetum recipe eventually landed on a blend of quinine, lavender and orange distillates with extracts of orange blossom, wormwood and holy thistle, blended with glycerol to for a silky texture and a nip of sucrose to give it a sweetness (and to satisfy Alcohol Tobacco and Trade Bureau laws). The base distillate has four percent alcohol, which puts it in the cordial category, rather than syrup.

The result is a concentrated elixir with a rich, honeyed flavor. It’s potent enough to go a long way in a cocktail. As Gracie lovingly described it, “What most bartenders will immediately pick up on is the orange nose, giving way to subtle lavender notes. The taste has a deep green, bitter flavor from the wormwood, holy thistle and, of course, quinine. Bartenders should find this combination amiable for crafting into cocktails with Hendrick’s characteristic floral notes and spicy bitterness, which comes from the caraway seed and cubeb berries.”

While the intent is to find some of the best bartenders to create new cocktails with Quinetum, the Hendrick’s crew mixed up a couple concoctions to get the creative juices flowing.

Whiffen’s Wonderful Wibble

  • 2 parts Hendrick’s
  • ½ part fresh lemon juice
  • ½ part fresh pink grapefruit juice
  • ½ part Quinetum
  • ½ part tamarind syrup

Serve chilled or on the rocks in a coupe or martini glass.

Warburg’s Buck

  • 2 parts Hendrick’s
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • ½ part Quinetum
  • ½ Rooibos Syrup
  • Topped with ginger ale

Serve over ice in a Collins glass.  Garnish with cucumber slice.

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a small sample of Quinetum and plan to test a cocktail with it, gin, Fino Sherry and sparkling water. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

If you want to try it, head to NoVa or conduct a foraging expedition at likely bars around town, including Bar Congress,ContigoDrink.well.Eastside Showroom and Whistler’s. One of them is bound to have a batch.

This story was originally published on CultureMap.

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Austin mixologists compete in Manhattan Cocktail Classic

Jessica Sanders, owner of drink.well

It’s not exactly a completely male-dominated profession like NFL football or Chippendales dancing, but if you look at the most celebrated mixologists in town you’ll note that most are men. The tide is turning in Austin.

Two talented classic cocktail creators, drink.well owner Jessica Sanders and bartender Tacy Rowland, competed in the third annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic this weekend in New York. I guess we are maturing from a town with only tied t-shirt and Daisy Duke wearin’ bartenders slinging a shot and a beer to a town that embraces both genders making creative craft drinks.

To get a spot behind the bar in the national competition, both Jessica and Tacy won preliminary regional challenges. Contestants in in 29 local chapters of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) battled for a spot in the Manhattan Cocktail Classic mixing drinks with specific main ingredients. Participants are judge not only on the quality of their cocktails, but on service and elegant presentation as well.

Jessica competed in the search for the best aperitivo cocktail hosted Campari. The test was to create a before-dinner drink that contains at least one ounce of Campari and to use spirits from the company’s brand portfolio.

To add to the challenge, USBG guidelines forbid the use of house-made ingredients or anything that isn’t replicable. That removed several creative twists from the contestants’ bag of tricks and made them rely on other methods to make the spirits play well together.

Jessica relished the challenge of working with a bitter and sometimes intimidating spirit like Campari and upped the ante by choosing Scotch as the base spirit for her drink called the Civetta in Islay.

She said, “Both Campari and Scotch have overwhelming flavor profiles, so I added sherry to restrain the peatiness of Scotch and bitterness of Campari while allowing the integrity of the spirit to come across. My preference for cocktails is to have it so balanced that you can’t tell what’s in there. I think of this one as a twist on the classic pre-dinner drink, the Negroni. This is a sexy and alluring cocktail that will impress your date on a romantic night out.”

Did she succeed? Hell yes! This is no pre-dinner drink. It’s a pre-danger drink. I took one sip of the Civetta in Islay and muttered, “I have dirty thoughts,” when Jessica asked me what I thought. I could only give her a mischievous smile as I savored the smooth bitter sweetness. The Burlesque Bitters has a pepperiness that wakes up the palate and plays well with the orange sherry. I needed a moment. The drink isn’t on the menu, but drink.well offers it as a special for $12. Order it just to see Jessica in action — oh and to get that feeling you shouldn’t have in polite company.

Tacy tested her skills in Don Q Rum competition challenging USBG members to mix an island cocktail that embodies the spirit of Puerto Rico. About 20 bartenders competed locally to go on to the national competition in Manhattan and the top five finals winners will go to Puerto Rico to tour the distillery.

Tacy was eager to gauge her bartending skills in the Don Q 2012 Mix It Up Ultimate Mixology Challenge. She said, “I like to compete. It’s a great way to learn more about the cocktail scene and grow my skills.”

With strong competition, Tacy wanted to create a grown-up variation on a classic tiki drink with plenty of spice, which she called Espirita de Vida. She said, “The easiest way to make an island rum drink is put fruit and juice in a glass and call it fun. I wanted more depth and flavor, so I start with a Don Q Gran Anejo base. I then add two more types of rum and simple ingredients. The result is a balanced drink with an earthy tone from aged rum that you can enjoy outside on a summer day.”

Tacy’s drink is no sugar bomb with fruit flavors that boost the rum rather than obscuring it. It’s both elegant and clean and with the smoky caramel gusto that will appeal to whiskey drinkers. Tacy whipped the mint, ground the cinnamon and sprayed the Absinth for absolute freshness of flavors. The drink is served over crushed ice in frosted glass that brings the refreshing and clean cocktail to life. I was immediately transported to a beach, listening to the surf and feeling the sea spray. Can you put a little lotion on my back?

While Jessica and Tacy won the regional shows, neither placed in the national competition. Despite that, they showed that there are top-notch female bartenders in Austin worthy of the national stage. They also learned a lot about the importance of “Bring It On” style at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and can’t wait to bring it next year.

Here are the recipes so for you to try your hand at making the regional winning cocktails.

Civetta in Islay: Jessica Sanders, Winner of Campari regional competition

  • 1 oz. Bowmore 12 Year Single Malt Scotch
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Duque de Carmona Orange Sherry
  • 2 drops/dashes Bittermen’s Burlesque Bitters

Espirita de Vida: Tacy Rowland, Winner of Don Q Rum regional competition

  • 1 oz Don Q Gran Anejo
  • 1/2 oz Don Q Anejo
  • 1/2 oz Don Q Cristal
  • 1/2 oz Maraschino Liquour
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • Fresh grated cinnamon
  • 2 dashes Bitterman’s Tiki bitters
  • Spray of Tenneyson Absinthe Royale

This article first appeared on CultureMap.

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