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. 

What Are You Drinking?

Texas talent shines at the 2014 Austin Food & Wine Festival

In its third year, the Austin Food & Wine Festival drew some of the biggest names in the culinary world to demonstrate their talents. It wasn’t just the national celebrity chefs who drew applause. Homegrown beverage experts had the juice to attract crowds in Butler Park.

True Texas Spirits

David Alan Tipsy TexanAt mid-day Sunday, cocktail expert and author David Alan, aka the Tipsy Texan, hobbled on stage with a crutch and his foot in a medical boot. He swore the injury was from a skiing accident rather than a drink-induced mishap. A likely story.

He quickly changed the subject by offering a birthday toast to his sister with a mixed shot made with Treaty Oak barrel-aged gin for the crowd. It was a fantastic way to start his session.

Alan shared anecdotes about Texas spirits pioneers and cocktail recipes from his recently published book, Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State. The Texas spirits industry is just a baby. Despite prohibition ending in 1933, the state did not have a legal distillery until Tito Beveridge started Tito’s Handmade Vodka in 1996. When he applied for a distilling permit, there wasn’t even a process in place to get one. Beveridge had to work with state and federal regulatory bodies to get it going. Alan lauded Beveridge for inspiring other distilleries to follow.

“He is the one that got the industry started,” Alan said. “He is the reason we are here today. Independent distilling is one of the biggest movements in the beverage industry. There are now more than 50 licensed distilleries in Texas and business is booming. In 2013, Tito’s hit a milestone that few independents will ever hit. The distillery sold more than a million cases of vodka.”

Tito's Vodka, Treaty Oak RumTito’s was the lone distiller in the state for a decade. In 2006, Daniel Barnes started a distillery to make Treaty Oak Rum, which Alan described as “quintessentially Texan” because it is completely made in Texas, starting with the raw materials. Treaty Oak Distilling now makes rum, aged rum, Waterloo Gin and barrel-aged gin, and bottles of Red Handed Texas Bourbon.

With the rapidly growing thirst for local, independent distilleries, there are bound to be some corners cut to meet consumer demand.

“Some Texas spirits are all hat and no cattle,” Alan said in an impassioned discussion of the virtues of authenticity versus marketing shenanigans. “How many people believe that when you buy a product, you should know what the hell it is? Nobody wants to be misled.

“If a bottle says ‘Texas whiskey,’ we expect it to be from Texas. The problem is that about half the whiskeys on the shelf that say Texas aren’t from Texas. Balcones, Garrison Brothers and Ranger Creek are all made right here with Texas ingredients. We need to support the folks who are actually making a product here. To make sure its Texan, check the bottle to make sure it says ‘distilled in Texas’ rather than just ‘produced’ or ‘bottled.’ ”

Alan describes the cocktail culture in Texas as being very similar to our culinary influences in that it is a melting pot of Tex-Mex and Southern, with bold flavors, spice and smoke. He encouraged the crowd to be adventurous in their choice of drinks and to use local ingredients in season like grapefruit, homegrown mint and watermelon.

“You wouldn’t eat the same food every day or listen to the same music every day,” Alan said. “So why would you drink the same thing every day?”

To demonstrate fresh approaches to cocktails that feature Texas spirits and seasonably appropriate local ingredients, Alan created two refreshing summer cocktails.

Sangria Rosa

Ingredients:

  • 2 750-milileter bottles of sparkling rosé wine
  • 1/2 bottle Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  • 2 cups St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1 quart cut up melons (watermelon, honeydew) and seasonal fruit
  • Large block of ice
  • 1 cup of carbonated water

Directions:

Marinate the fruit in the booze for several hours, then it’s ready to serve.

Texas Watermelon MojitoWatermelon Mojito

Ingredients:

  • 4 large sprigs fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup cubed and seeded watermelon
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1.5 ounces Treaty Oak Rum
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce carbonated water
  • Watermelon wedge for garnish

Directions:

Gently muddle three of the mint springs and the watermelon with the simple syrup. Add the rum and lime juice, and shake the hell out of it. Strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with carbonated water and garnish with mint and watermelon.

CALIFORNIA DREAMING

Devon Broglie, Vilma Mazaite, Craig CollinsThe final wine seminar of the Austin Food & Wine Festival featured Austin’s only Master Sommeliers, Devon Broglie and Craig Collins. In their third year presenting at the festival, the renowned wine experts chose to showcase a wine region that they feel is experimenting with non-traditional grapes and new methods in winemaking: California.

“California is one of the regions leading the charge for a new revolution in wine,” said Collins, the beverage director for Arro and ELM Restaurant Group. “In the 1960s and ’70s, Robert Mondavi and others were experimenting with making new wines but retaining European influences for making wine with balance and quality. In the 1990s, the region gained notoriety for pursing big, bold, fruity wines with high alcohol. Now we have pioneers in the industry making sophisticated wine with less prominent grapes with lower alcohol.”

The sweaty and slightly intoxicated crowd at the California Enlightenment session was treated to a tasting of six wines that were selected for new approaches to a well-known grape variety or unheralded grapes. There was one other factor in the wines’ selection.

“The criteria for wines in this tasting is they had to be wines that are loveable,” said Broglie, the Whole Foods Markets associate global beverage buyer. “We’re talking about wines that after you have slammed back half a glass, you stop and realize, holy shit, I love this wine. We wanted to present wines that are enjoyable and that are drinkable with food.”

California Enlightenment wine lineup2010 Seghesio Arneis

The Seghesio family settled in California from Italy in 1895 and has been producing wine ever since. Seghesio is well known as a pioneer and major producer of Sonoma County Zinfandel, but less known for its Italian white wine varieties. Arneis is a white grape from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy that makes clean, crisp wine that is high in minerals. Seghesio grows its grapes on small acreage in the Russian River Valley, which has a cool climate. The result is fresh, bright, medium-bodied wine with guava and tropical flavors that is perfect for a summer picnic. It’s available for about $23 at Austin Wine Merchant or Whole Foods Markets.

2012 Lioco Sonoma County Chardonnay

In 2008, Matt Licklider, a wine importer, and Kevin O’Connor, wine director at Spago Beverly Hills, partnered to start an urban winery to make pinot noir and chardonnay that reflect the terroir of California. They chose to break the mold of California wineries making overblown wines. Rather than age the wine with new oak barrels that can hide the flavor of the wine with vanilla flavors, Lioco uses stainless steel and neutral barrels to create a full yet crisp wine that lets fruit and acid shine through, for a citrusy wine with grapefruit and lemon flavors that pairs well with shellfish. The Sonoma County chardonnay is available for $22 on the Lioco website.

2012 Chappellet Chenin Blanc

“Cappellet is one of the founding fathers of the Napa Valley, starting the winery in 1967 in storied Pritchard Hill vineyards,” Collins said. “The area is considered a grand cru of Napa because the magical mountain makes the cream-of-the-crop wines.”

The volcanic soils stress the grape vines, and the high elevation allows for a large swing between nighttime versus daytime temperatures, which helps grapes ripen better. Not only is Chappellet making wine with a less popular grape, chenin blanc, it is also taking a non-traditional route to make the wine. It is fermented in a combination of neutral French oak barrels, stainless steel tanks and a concrete “egg” that gives the wine extra weight and richness while retaining high acid levels that give it massive zippiness. It has vivacious floral scents and honeydew, lemon zest and hazelnut flavors that bring roast quail to life. It goes for about $30 a bottle.

2012 Donkey and Goat Grenache Noir – El Dorado

Everything about Donkey and Goat is non-traditional. The winery got its start when Tracy and Jared Brandt decided to make natural, Rhône-style wines with minimal intervention.

“They put 50,000 miles on their Toyota Prius looking for the right grapes to make wine in an urban winery in a warehouse in Berkeley,” Broglie said. “This is an example of a new trend in California winemaking where the winery doesn’t need vineyards or a fancy château.”

The grenache was made with grapes grown in El Dorado County using natural yeast to ferment them, and it was left unfiltered, giving it a slight haze. The red berry flavors and earthiness will go well with grilled meat.

“This wine makes me want to bury a goat in the yard and roast it in the pit,” Broglie said.

The Food & Wine Festival was fortunate to land a handful of cases to serve, but the 246 cases made have sold out immediately.

2012 Broc Cellars Vine Starr Zinfandel

California zinfandel has earned a reputation for being inky dark with enough alcohol to give you a buzz by just smelling it. Broc Cellars throws that playbook out the window. The Vine Starr zinfandel is true to its intended character, a gorgeous translucent ruby color, bold aromas of ripe fruit, cream strawberry flavors and the zip of black pepper on the finish. And its only 12 percent alcohol.

“It’s all of the things I like about zin without the things I hate,” Collins said. “I like the bold aromatics and ripe fruit, but not the high alcohol.”

Broc is another one of the small-production urban wineries and only 800 cases of this juice were produced. It sells for about $30.


2010 Stony Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

The last taste of the day, which I’m sure some of the drunks in the tent downed in one lustful gulp, was Stony Hill Napa Valley cabernet 2010 from Spring Mountain. Stony Hill Vineyard has been making wine since 1952. They are predominantly a chardonnay producer. No matter the type of wine, they have not chased the big scores of some wine reviewers by making wines with big flavors, and instead have stayed true to their heritage of making refined, balanced wine. The 2010 cabernet is only the second vintage of cab Stony Hill has produced. It has blackberry, ripe, juicy red fruit, green pepper and herb flavors with a subtle earthiness. Less than 400 cases of this wine were made and only six of those cases made their way to Texas, one of which was poured at the festival. This was my favorite wine of the entire festival.

Whether you are in to obscure grapes, natural wine or inventive approaches to winemaking, Collins summed up a solid maxim for drinking wine (and maybe for life).

“What do you want to put into your mouth now?” he asked. “It’s not about what is right. It’s about what is going to make you happy.”

 

This story was originally published on Austin Man Magazine.

Disclosure: I was provided a media pass to attend the Festival at no charge. 

What are you drinking?

GIN CITY: Refreshing drinks from three local gin distillers

Summer calls for a cocktail as light and sassy as the skimpy sundress hugging the shape of the hottie sitting on the barstool next to you. What you need is a cocktail with flavors as complex as the floral pattern on that sundress. You need a cocktail made with gin. Yes, gin. It’s like vodka, but with flavor.

Gin is the stuff that Bond drinks. Gin is the stuff that bootleggers surreptitiously made to thumb their nose at the absurdity of Prohibition. Gin is the stuff that has captured the imagination of a whole new wave of craft distillers. Gin is the stuff that is both bold and elegant enough to capture the attention of that lady in the sundress. Fortunately there are new Texas-made gins being introduced just in time for summer. Let’s declare it the “Summer of Gin.”

Waterloo Gin WITH WATERLOO, OLD IS NEW

The man behind Treaty Oak Distilling, Daniel Barnes, decided to dis till gin two years ago because he wants to make spirits that intrigue him.

“Gin shows off the craft ability of a distiller with playfulness and uniqueness,” Barnes says. “Distillers have the ability to control the flavors and display their personalities. That, and we really like gin.”

Waterloo gin was one of the first modern Texas-made gins when it was released at the end of 2011. It is made with a neutral base spirit made from corn and wheat—sort of like vodka. The base liquor is then put back into a copper pot still to go through another round of distillation, but this time with a stainless-steel basket crammed full of 11 botanicals in the column of the still above the vaporizing pot. The alcohol vapors circulate in botanicals six to eight times, grabbing the intricate flavors of each ingredient.

Daniel Barnes Waterloo gin Barnes and his head distiller, Chris Lamb, experimented with almost 50 different recipes before they found the exact flavor profile they liked. Waterloo is made with a mix of Texas-grown botanicals such as lavender, rosemary, pecans, citrus from the Rio Grande Valley grapefruit, lemon, and orange zest along with juniper, coriander, ginger root, licorice root and anise. That mix of botanicals gives Waterloo the up-front juniper punch of a traditional London Dry style with a little Texas on the palate.

The very name, Waterloo, ties London and Austin together. After that smack of juniper it eases into a long lick of honey from the lavender, piney bitterness, nutshell and mischievous citrus. Some people compare it to Hendrix in style, but with less citrus and cucumber. The folks at Treaty Oak have a fantastic treat up their sleeve: aged gin. The Waterloo Antique series will be available in July. While barrel-aged gins have been a hot trend with some craft distillers, this will be the first one made in Texas.

Barnes had a gleam in his eye when he Daniel Barnes, of Treaty Oak Distilling described Antique while showing me around the barrel room.

“What happens when you give a bold gin a full year in a first-use heavy-charred barrel?” he asks me. “It gets rich whisky notes of cinnamon, clove, anise flavors. The juniper and floral still come through, but it has a nice round, caramelly finish. We are bottling it at 94 proof, so it has heft but is approachable straight out of the bottle. It also makes an amazing old-fashioned with quality orange and grapefruit bitters.”

Moonshine makes a fantastic cocktail to highlight the classic flavors of the un-aged Waterloo gin, which is the namesake of the original structure, the Waterloo Compound. Waterloo Gin is sold for around $25 a bottle in retail shops in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Illinois and Texas. It will soon be available in New York and California. It’s also poured in bars and restaurants around Austin, including Lucy’s Fried Chicken, Moonshine, the Four Seasons, Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Bartlett’s and Hopdoddy.

THE GENIUS BEHIND THE GIN

The newest gin to hit the market in Texas this June is Genius Gin. CEO and President Mike Groener and his partner, Charles Cheung, started the development of Genius in April 2012 because, as he put it, they “really, really love gin.” That’s one hell of a good reason to make it. Groener is passionate about aesthetics and has an engineer’s attention to detail. He established the flavor profile over the course of a year, experimenting with various ingredients.

“Being a craft distiller, I had a chance to show my style in the taste profile. It’s a way to both create an experience for the customer and put my distinct mark on the brand,” he says.

Despite the tinkering, the original recipe just wasn’t right. He visited several distilleries including Aviation in Portland for inspiration and realized that they had a similar characteristic to his recipe—a characteristic he didn’t like.

“There was a low note to some of them that tasted too rustic,” Groener says. “It wasn’t beautiful. The gins didn’t go well in cocktails. When I returned from Portland, I revamped my recipe and was done with it in about a week.”

Groener prides himself on the handmade qualities of his gin and fastidiously makes a flavor-neutral base spirit from sugar to let the botanicals do the talking. He uses a cold steep in the base for some of the heat-sensitive botanicals like lavender, angelica root, elder flower and lime leaf for a highly aromatic flavor. Other ingredients like juniper, cardamom and coriander (and two secret ones) are meant to be heated up —and even toasted, to impart flavor. Groener distills the heat-loving botanicals and the steeped spirits to make both a standard 94 gin and a 114-proof Navy Strength gin (Navy Strength gets its name from the practice that the British Royal Navy employed of taking gin of at least 57 percent alcohol on its boats, because if it were spilled on gun powder, the gun powder was still useable).

That attention to detail resulted in well-integrated flavors with the juniper sliding smoothly across the entire palate accompanied by a subtle sweetness. The Navy Strength has a slight nuttiness from the roasted coriander, and the higher alcohol gives it the vibrancy of sucking on a fistful of gin-flavored Altoids. While it can be appreciated straight up in a martini, it’s also versatile enough to go into a variety of cocktails. Groener mixed two cocktails using fresh-squeezed juices to taste cocktails and homemade simple syrups.

When Genius is released in June, it will be available in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio at retail stores such as The Austin Wine Merchant, Specs and Twin Liquors, as well as bars and restaurants such as Drink.Well, Midnight Cowboy, Volstead, Grackle, Tigress Pub, the Four Seasons and Vespaio.
Revolution Gin

IT’S A TEXAS GIN REVOLUTION

After nearly five years of dreaming, scheming, planning and experimenting, Revolution Gin cofounders Aaron Day and Mark Shilling are nearly ready to introduce their craft distilled gin to Texas.

“Aaron and I had been talking about our desire to make a spirit for awhile, and one thing led to another and we decided to stop talking about it and do it,” Shilling says. “Gin is what we want to do first. Craft distilling is wide open to experimentation, with flavors and styles that the big guys can’t do.”

“We were inspired by what we are seeing in the craft distilling industry,” Day quickly adds. “Tito [Beveridge, of Tito’s Handmade Vodka] showed it can be done. [Dan Garrison, of Garrison Brothers Whiskey] showed that it can be done in a craft way.”

The two choose to seek the counsel of other distillers and found an eager group of mentors willing to share advice. (In fact, the meetings and conversations led to the formation of the Texas Craft Distillers trade association, of which Daniel Barnes is president.)

“The mentorship we’ve received has helped us get off the ground,” Shilling says. “We had many productive conversations, and now it’s off to the races.”

Revolution Gin has secured a site for its distillery near Dripping Springs, in the same neighborhood as Argus Hard Cidery, Jester King Brewery and Thirty Planet Brewing Company. They see the area as a cultural corridor leading from Austin to the wineries near Fredericksburg. They aren’t alone in thinking that the area has appeal for day-trippers and tourists alike. Treaty Oak Distilling plans to move its operations to the neighborhood this fall. The gin is in the planning stages as Revolution works on getting its license.

The intent is to make a neutral base spirit with red wheat—or may even use non-GMO corn to make a gluten-free base that is consistent and reliable so they can focus on the botanicals. To gather inspiration for the flavor profile, Revolution has met with bartenders and opinion makers, including the folks at Bar Congress and Bobby Huegle of Anvil Bar in Houston to better understand the specific style of gin that is wanted in Texas.

“Simple is sometimes better. We are looking at using seven botanicals in our gin,” Shilling says. The focus will be on Texas-sourced botanicals such as citrus, lavender, rosemary and Ashe juniper berries. Revolution is shooting for a continental style, rather than a London dry, that brings complexity to cocktails. The star of the botanical show will be rosemary.

“Rosemary is distinct and has real legs,” Day says. “We’re excited to see what that brings.”

Revolution expects to release its gin in area restaurants, bars and stores in early fall for about $30. To get the word out to prominent mixologists, they hired an experienced spirits broker, Jennifer Querbes, as partner and COO. What are you waiting for? Let the Summer of Gin begin.

Summer Teeth
While Revolution Gin isn’t yet available to taste, Jason Stevens, the bar manager at Bar Congress, created a special gin-based summer cocktail that he’ll mix for you using any Texas-made gin.

  • 1 1/2 ounces local gin
  • 1/2 ounce Gran Classico
  • 1/2 ounce dry Sherry (like Fino, Manzanilla or Amontillado)
  • 1 barspoon simple syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed Rio Star Grapefruit Juice
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice
  • few drops Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
  • 1 ½ ounces soda water (optional)

Combine all in a shaker filled with ice, and shake briefly to integrate.

*For a boozier cocktail, double strain into an old -fashioned glass filled with cubed ice. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
*For a lighter, more refreshing cocktail, single-strain shaken cocktail into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice and top with soda, then stir to integrate. Garnish with grapefruit peel and fresh mint.

Strawberry-lime Rickey
Waterloo Gin goes well in a refreshing twist on a classic Rickey. Try it with fresh strawberry.

  • 3 large, ripe strawberries
  • half a lime cut into quarters
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces Waterloo Gin
  • lime wheel, for garnish
  • strawberry slice, for garnish

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the strawberries, lime wedges and simple syrup. Add the gin and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice. Garnish with the lime wheel and strawberry slice.

 

Gin Fitzgerald
This classic cocktail is light, fresh and tasty. The gin flavor is a little bit up front so you can appreciate it, but it is as delicate as a first kiss. This could be the drink of the summer.

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (no more!)

Shake over ice and serve it up with a lemon garnish.

 

Bergstrom

Liberty Tavern in the Hilton Austin has a keen eye for local beer and spirits. They have introduced new summer cocktails, including the Bergstrom made with Waterloo Gin.

  • Lime Juice – 1 oz
  • Waterloo Gin – 2 oz
  • Maraschino Cherries – 3
  • Simple Syrup – ½ teaspoon

Shake and serve on ice.

This story was originally published in the Summer issue of Austin Man magazine. Photos by Jojo Marion.

What are you drinking? 

 

 

Raising a glass to fight cancer, LIVESTRONG!

There is nothing light-hearted about cancer. However, even the most serious subjects deserve a serious party. Sometimes gathering like-minded souls together to fight a shared villain is the right thing to do. This weekend we hosted our third annual Mellow Yellow Benefit to raise a glass, and raise money and awareness for the LIVESTRONG Challenge for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We set out to raise $5,000 by inviting people to attend our party and make a donation to LIVESTRONG as their ticket to entry. We asked for donations of services and food and beverages to keep our costs down and to be able to donate all proceeds to the Foundation. I am moved by the outpouring of generosity I found every time I asked. To date we have raised $6,000!

Three Texas spirits companies — Republic Tequila, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Treaty Oak Distilling Company —  gladly donated for a third year in a row. Heck, Republic Tequila also sent two beautiful bartenders and Republic Spirit Blends to set up and staff a margarita bar! They made Twisted Margaritas. Here is the recipe:

Twisted Margarita

  • 1 ½ ounces Republic Tequila
  • 1 ½ ounces Republic Jalapeño-Lime Spirit Blend
  • 1 ½ ounces Republic Prickly Pear Spirit Blend
  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice Shake and pour into a rocks glass

Josh Hare, brewer at Hops & Grain, sent over 10 cases of beer on the eve of his brewery’s first anniversary.

Ed and Susan Auler of Fall Creek Vineyards donated wine for a second year in a row and came to the party to wish us well and enjoy the fun. Miguel Lecuona of Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 was a tour de force gathering four cases of donated wine from seven Texas wineries and delivered them with a smile.

The house and yard looked glamorous and the food fast fantastic thanks to Suzanne Court Catering & Events, who hustled favors to get donations of goods and services. Our photography sponsor, Steve Rogers Photography, donated his time and talent to capture the fun in our LIVESTRONG photo booth (the well lit photo booth pictures below are from Steve and the candids are fom me). Chris Brewer from the Lance Armstrong Foundation made the photo booth look official by loaning us an amazing LIVESTRONG backdrop.
I appreciate the help of Stephen Moser spreading the word about the Mellow Yellow Benefit in the Austin Chronicle and Michael Barnes for sharing the love in the Austin American Statesman.
Much of the thanks for creating a memorable event yet again this year goes to Beautiful Wife. She was instrumental in converting our home in to a fun event venue.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the cause and who came to the event. You are making a difference in the lives of the more than 28 million people living with cancer. THANK YOU! 

Special thanks to all of our beverage sponsors: