Austin’s drinking events calendar, May 2016

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a margarita at parties around Austin.
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a margarita at parties around Austin.

Barks for Beers, ongoing from Sunday, May 1 through Tuesday, May 31. The fundraiser for Divine Canines returns for a third year. Just purchase the Barks for Beers pint glass at one of the participating breweries and you’ll get a free pour at each of them in return. $20.

Bringing Alsace to Austin at Easy Tiger, 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Party Alsatian-style with food and wine served by the glass from this fabled region of France.

Hotel Van Zandt’s On Deck, 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Live DJ music, tiki-themed cocktails and beautiful views of the city while you relax on the pool deck at Hotel Van Zandt.

Alcomar’s Uno de Mayo One-Year Anniversary Party, 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Drink specials include $1 oyster shooters, mimosas and cervezas, as well as a peek at the new bar menu.

Flight Night with Pappy Van Winkle at Easy Tiger, 5 p.m. Monday, May 2 and Tuesday, May 3. Just 30 flights of this very special whiskey are available for each of the two days. $50.

Mt. Beautiful Wine Dinner at Jenna’s Asian Kitchen, 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 3. The restaurant is throwing a four-course dinner featuring New Zealand wine to benefit Texas ProStart. $60.

Ay, chihuhua! Cinco de Mayo at Yard Bar, 11 a.m. Thursday, May 5. Food and drinks specials, plus dogs in sombreros. Need we say more?

Cinco de Mayo at Z’Tejas, 11 a.m. Thursday, May 5. $5 Dulce Vida margaritas, $3 Corona beers and a Habanero Inferno Taco Challenge that will get you $5 off the meal — if you can finish it.

Cinco de Mayo Party at Pelons Tex-Mex Restaurant, 2 p.m. Thursday, May 5. 10 different tequila producers will have tastings throughout the day, plus mariachis from 2 to 5 p.m. and a DJ after that.

Cinco de Mayo at Whisler’s, 4 p.m. Thursday, May 5. Celebrate with El Silencio Mezcal and Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, as well as live music from Luis Banuelos.

First Thursday: Cinco de Mayo at South Congress Hotel, 5 p.m. Thursday, May 5. $6 margaritas, music from El Tule, an extended happy hour and festive treats from an ice cream truck.

Tacos & Tequila at the Belmont, 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5. Enjoy tequila samples, margaritas and live music from Grupo Fantasma at this party hosted by Mix 94.7, Majic 95.5 and others. $30.

Liberty Kitchen’s 1st Anniversary Party, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 7. Live music, local beers, a crawfish boil and Derby Day cocktails make this celebration hard to miss. Call for reservations: 512-840-1333.

Rogness Brewing’s 4th Anniversary Party, 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 7. Twelve beers on tap and two food trucks to celebrate the milestone; $12 tickets get you up to 10 pours in a Rogness glass you can keep.

Derby Day at the Four Seasons, 3 p.m. Saturday, May 7. Get dressed up for this party with a Build-Your-Own-Mint-Julep bar, fun giveaways and costume contests and food specials.

Photo by Chisum Pierce. Don your elegant hat and join Drink.Well to watch the Kentucky Derby, mint julep in hand.
Photo by Chisum Pierce. Don your elegant hat and join Drink.Well to watch the Kentucky Derby, mint julep in hand.

Drink.Well’s 5th Annual Derby Day Celebration, 3 p.m. Saturday, May 7. In addition to a menu of mint juleps, the North Loop bar will have bourbon punches, Kentucky hot browns and other southern specialties.

Opal Divine’s American Whiskey Festival, 6 p.m. Saturday, May 7. A live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby will play while you can try bourbons and ryes from Kentucky and beyond. $43.19.

The Craft Series at the Driskill One-Year Anniversary Celebration, 6 p.m. Monday, May 9. A four-course feast paired with Live Oak Brewing beers to commemorate a year of this culinary series at the 1886 Café & Bakery. $40.

Austin Eastciders Pineapple Cider Launch Party, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 10. Get a first taste of this new cider at Easy Tiger, where there will be cider flights, food specials and goody bags.

Official Drink of Austin, 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday, May 12. Try the boozy creations of local bar teams as they duke it out to make the winning cocktail. The event benefits the Austin Food & Wine Alliance. $55-$65.

Book & Beer at in.gredients, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 13. The Austin Public Library’s brilliant mix of literature with libations returns with discounted beer specials and an unveiling of in.gredients’ Little Free Library.

Craftsman 1-Year Anniversary Party, 11 a.m. Saturday, May 14. $1 prosecco on tap, Goose Island samples and giveaways, and live music to celebrate one year of this east side bar.

Spec’s Fest, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 14. Live music, food samplings, fun door prizes, expert advice on pairings and store-wide specials will be offered during this free event at the 4970 W. Hwy. 290 location.

Off-Centered Film Fest, 12 to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 14. The film and beer festival from the Alamo Drafthouse and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has returned with a boat party and film screening.

“United Tastes of Texas” signing at Treaty Oak Distilling, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14. Cookbook author Jessica Dupuy will be on hand with copies of her book and cocktails from Treaty Oak.

Untapped Festival Austin, 2 p.m. Saturday, May 14. More than 300 beers from more than 75 breweries are ready for sampling at this beer fest that will also have great live music. $37-$135.

Brewery District Bike Tour, 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday, May 15. Start at Adelbert’s and bike your way to 4th Tap Brewing Co-op and Circle Brewing for an afternoon of both beer and exercise.

Whip In’s 5th Annual Pink Mahal Party, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 21. Welcome rosé season with rosés from all over the world, paired with an appetizer bar. $25 gets you three glasses of wine, as well as access to the bites.

Barrel-Aged Beer Party at Craft Pride, 1 p.m. Saturday, May 21. More than a dozen Texas-made barrel-aged brews will be tapped for this wrap-up to American Craft Beer Week.

Texas Keeper Cider’s Grafter Rosé Picnic, 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 21. The second batch of this popular cider-wine blend debuts at the cidery with a picnic lunch and live music. $15 tickets include a special souvenir glass and the picnic.

Barton Springs Full Moon Swim with Uncle Billy’s, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 21. Beer specials and plenty of spicy barbecue await after your chilly swim through Austin’s favorite watering hole.

“Bridesmaids” Pub Run & Screening, 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 24. Don your ugliest bridesmaid’s dress and meet at the Paramount Theatre for this pub run and screening of the Kristen Wiig comedy.

National Wine Day at St. Genevieve, 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25. Whether you prefer red, white, rosé, or sparkling, you’ll be able to enjoy $2 off all wine by the glass in celebration of this important holiday.

Real Ale Mysterium Verum Beer Dinner, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26. There isn’t much information about this pairing dinner — or many tickets left — but the words “Mysterium Verum” are all you need to know.

First look: East Sixth Street’s Lazarus Brewing

East Sixth Street continues to boom with nightlife options — including the upcoming Lazarus Brewing, the brainchild of pastor Christian Cryder.

Lazarus Brewing is open on East Sixth Street later this year, if the planning process stays on schedule.
Lazarus Brewing is open on East Sixth Street later this year, if the planning process stays on schedule.

He’s found two buildings at the corner of East Sixth and Chicon streets, across from Whisler’s and down the road from fellow urban brewery Zilker Brewing, to transform into a veritable beer haven. Because he has so much space to work with, he wants Lazarus to brew up a range of styles, from IPAs to wild ales.

Most notable about Lazarus is that it’s going to be what Cryder calls a “pints-on-premise operation,” a brewery that isn’t so concerned about having its beers in stores or bars.

“Our focus is not on distribution or trying to get our beer into as many places as possible,” Cryder said. “Instead, our focus is on creating a space where people really want to hang out, all through the day multiple times a week… This is the kind of brewery we fell in love with when we discovered craft beer, and we felt like it hadn’t really caught on yet in a place like Austin.”

Lazarus Brewing will have a lot to lure you in and keep you there, too, once it opens by what Cryder hopes will be October. In addition to the beer, produced from a 10-barrel system, the brewery will have house-made root beer, kombucha and espresso, as well as Topo Chico, Mexican Coke and even a selection of wines.

“We’re kind of saying, ‘What kind of beverages play a big part of people’s lives? and let’s create a space that brings all of those together under one roof,'” he said. “With street tacos. You can’t go wrong with great tacos.”

The benefit of having two buildings — one the former Bike Texas space, the other the old Cool Store — means that in addition to the more accessible beer styles Lazarus will have, the brewery also has room to make rarer styles that take time to come to life.

“We have a unique opportunity to create specialty beers that are much more challenging and interesting,” Cryder said. “Think sours, wilds and barrel fermented beers — almost like a mini-Jester King right in the heart of Austin. And some of these will be high-gravity seasonals that we package in 750s and sell on premise for people to take home. ”

Cryder developed his love for beer in much the same way other professional brewers have: after having an unsatisfying career in another industry. He worked in software for 14 years, he said, before deciding to change course and become a pastor. That’s around when he began homebrewing using the hops he planted in his garden — and, after partnering up with Missoula, Montana’s Big Sky Brewing to make a beer called All Souls Ale for a charity event, he realized he might be ready for another career change.

“And now it’s finally becoming a reality: the funds are raised, we have an incredible location, an even more incredible brewer, and all systems are go,” he said, adding that Lazarus is waiting another couple of weeks to announce who the brewer will be.

The name of Cryder’s brewery pays homage to his second profession — one that historically has deep roots in Old World brewing.

“It comes from the Bible — Lazarus was a guy that Jesus raised from the dead,” Cryder said. “I like the imagery of death to life. I like the irony (modern brewing has Christian roots; I’m a pastor starting a brewery), but mostly I just think it’s a great, strong name that feels like it fits my own story. So we ran with it.”

For more information, visit lazarusbrewing.com.

First look: South Austin’s St. Elmo Brewing

Photo by Heather Gallagher. Bryan Winslow and Tim Bullock, the founders of St. Elmo Brewing, are currently building it in South Austin.
Photo by Heather Gallagher. Bryan Winslow and Tim Bullock, the founders of St. Elmo Brewing, are currently building it in South Austin.

Two Austin Beerworks alums — after learning from some of the best brewers in town — have decided to open a brewery of their own in South Austin.

St. Elmo Brewing is one of the businesses opening at the Yard, an in-the-works collection of creative spaces, including offices, a recording studio, a restaurant, artist studios and a distillery, all off South Congress Avenue. Like the bulk of the Yard, the brewery is currently under construction, with tentative plans to open this summer.

Founded by Tim Bullock and Bryan Winslow, St. Elmo Brewing “strives to be a positive contribution to the cultural growth of Austin and its beer scene,” Bullock said.

He and Winslow have a trio of beers already planned out: a clean kolsch called Carl, a hoppy pale ale called Chico and a dry stout called Angus. Ultimately, though, the duo is open to brewing just about any style of beer and will offer a wide range at the brewpub.

“There’s not a style that we don’t like, and we really want to dip our feet into all the beer styles out there,” Bullock, who will be St. Elmo’s front-of-house-manager, said. “We’ll have three awesome, easy-drinking house beers. Our go-to beers. Beers you always want to drink. Beers you don’t have to think about, but if you do, there’s a lot to think about.”

The kolsch is full-flavored, taking “the best parts of the ale and lager worlds and (putting) them into one amazing sip,” according to the St. Elmo Brewing website. In the pale ale, “moderate bitterness tees up the citrus and bright-fruit blast of hops in your nostrils.” And the dry, balanced stout goes against its usual style by being low ABV — so you can have more than one.

At St. Elmo, visitors will be able to relax in a beer hall, with views of the 15 barrel brewhouse, or outside in a beer garden where a food trailer will serve southeast Asian street food.

That’s something Bullock is especially excited about. The new food truck, called Soursop, was founded by Teddy Bricker, who “started cooking at 2 Michelin-starred restaurant Gilt in New York and moved to Austin a few years ago, where he worked alongside Paul Qui at East Side King… We’ve already done some tastings of sample menus, and we’re super pumped about pairing the food and the beer in our beer garden.”

But St. Elmo Brewing plans to be much more than a brewery. Bullock and Winslow will have coffee, house-made sodas and mineral water called Wholly Water, to offer “something for everyone.”

“We also plan to incorporate a diverse events calendar at our space to include music, storytelling and brewers panels,” Bullock said. “Our hope is to engage our neighborhood and break down the barrier between brewer and drinker.”

St. Elmo Brewing is opening in the Yard at 440 E. St. Elmo Rd. For more information, visit www.stelmobrewing.com.

Craft beer-focused Yard House to open in Domain May 14

A newcomer to Austin’s beer scene might soon be able to claim the record for the most number of beers on tap.

Contributed from Yard House's Facebook page. A new location of Yard House opens in Austin at the Domain with 130 beers on tap.
Contributed from Yard House’s Facebook page. A new location of Yard House opens in Austin at the Domain with 130 beers on tap.

The California-based craft beer chain Yard House is opening a location at the Domain on May 14 with 130 draft brews — 44 of those from Texas breweries and another five reserved for special, small-batch offerings.

Each new location of the bar and restaurant — which now boasts more than 60 locations across the U.S. — aims to fit in locally, which is why the Domain Yard House, located on Century Oaks Terrace just off the MoPac Expressway, will have so many beers from Austin and Texas at large. It’ll also have Texas spirits like Balcones Baby Blue, Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka and Rebecca Creek Whiskey, according to a news release.

The beer list is the biggest source of pride for Yard House employees, however, whose first big day of work is next Tuesday, when all of the kegs for the grand opening are rolled in as part of a company ritual called Keg Day.

Having 130 running taps, after all, is no small feat, something the bar and restaurant makes a point of celebrating. That’s why the room where each of the kegs are stored is designed as “one of Yard House’s signature architectural features,” according to the release. “The glass-enclosed keg room… will contain some 4,000 gallons of beer,” as well as “five miles of individual beer lines encased in stainless steel.”

Yard House, at 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, will celebrate its grand opening starting at 11 a.m. on May 14, a Saturday, and will be opened daily for lunch, happy hour and dinner through 1 a.m.

Austin beers offered initially at Yard House include the following:

  • 4th Tap Co-Op Long Walk Grapefruit
  • (512) Nitro Pecan Porter
  • (512) Wit
  • Adelbert’s Travelin’ Man
  • Austin Beerworks Black Thunder
  • Austin Beerworks Fire Eagle
  • Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap
  • Austin Beerworks Seasonal
  • Austin Eastciders Texas Honey
  • Blue Owl Little Boss
  • Hops & Grain The One They Call Zoe
  • Hops & Grain A Pale Mosaic
  • Independence Austin Amber
  • Independence Stash
  • Infamous Sweep The Leg Nitro
  • Live Oak Big Bark
  • Live Oak Hefeweizen
  • Live Oak Pilz
  • Lone Pint Yellow Rose
  • Pedernales Robert Earl Keen
  • Pinthouse Electric Jellyfish
  • Oasis, Texas MetaModern
  • South Austin Kol’Beer
  • Thirsty Planet Thirsty Goat

For more information, visit www.yardhouse.com/locations/tx/austin/austin-the-domain/8366.

Relax on the pool decks at Hotel Van Zandt and the Westin Austin

Photo by John Kim. Hotel Van Zandt is offering guests and locals alike the chance to relax poolside with a tiki cocktail at the monthly On Deck event.
Photo by John Kim. Hotel Van Zandt is offering guests and locals alike the chance to relax poolside with a tiki cocktail at the monthly On Deck event.

It’s almost the season for sunning ourselves by the pool — and two local hotels, Hotel Van Zandt and the Westin Austin, are offering the chance to kick it off this week. Both opened last year, so locals are just now getting the chance to check out their luxurious outdoor decks.

Hotel Van Zandt

In the Rainey Street district, Hotel Van Zandt is launching a monthly pool deck party called On Deck. Although the first On Deck was washed out last weekend because of weather, the hotel has moved it to this Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m., with all the same elements that were originally planned: live DJ music, tiki-themed beverages and stunning views of the city from the pool deck, located just outside of the live music-focused Geraldine’s on the fourth floor.

Jen Keyser, the chief of bar operations at Geraldine’s, is pouring up different themed cocktails for On Deck each month. The drink menu for this debut event includes the Jungle Bird, with Cruzan Black Strap rum, Campari, pineapple and lime; the Beachcomber with Bacardi Silver rum, Cointreau, lime and maraschino liqueur; and the frozen Blue Hawaiian, with Cruzan Gold rum, blue curacao, pineapple and coconut.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information — including any changes due to the weather — visit geraldinesaustin.com.

The Westin Austin

Azul, the Westin’s rooftop pool bar, recently opened in a limited capacity to locals and others who aren’t guests of the hotel. They can lay out with a drink from noon to 9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

The cocktail list for Azul is tailored for Austin’s hot summer days ahead, with plenty of refreshing sippers available for $12. These include the Bubbly Bees Knees with Aviation Gin, honey, lemon and Prosecco; the Strawberry Sour with Plymouth Gin, strawberries, sherry and tiki bitters; and the Sunbathing Sour with rye, lemon, simple and bubbly red wine. The Bubbly Bees Knees is one of four cocktails on draft. Azul also has beers and wines available and snacks from the hotel’s restaurant Stella San Jac.

For more information, visit westinaustindowntown.com/austin-rooftop-pool.

With bigger facility, Balcones Distilling set to make four times more whiskey

Balcones Distilling moved into a more than 65,000 sq. ft. building in downtown Waco.
Photo by Jade Magalhaes. Balcones Distilling moved into a more than 65,000 sq. ft. building in downtown Waco.

In Waco, Balcones Distilling is more ready than ever for your business.

The whiskey — or, as the distillers there spell it, whisky — producers officially opened a $14.5 million facility yesterday that will allow them to make four times the amount of whisky than their old location, at 3,000 sq. ft., allowed.

“After many years of laboring in a cramped, old welding shop under a bridge, we are finally ready to expand our operations and cement Balcones’ place in downtown Waco’s promising future,” the distillers wrote in a blog post at the end of last year. “Balcones’ new home awaits just a few blocks away from our current distillery, inside the Texas Fireproof Storage Co. building, a historic landmark on 11th Street. With more space for bigger and better equipment, our craft will no longer be restricted by size.”

That’s been a problem for Balcones, which has experienced astronomical demand after establishing itself as a powerhouse in the spirits industry. Balcones makes a variety of different spirits, primarily whisky, including the vibrant Baby Blue, the robust Brimstone and the silky Texas Single-Malt Whisky — all of which tend to fly off shelves as soon as they arrive.

Balcones' Texas Single-Malt is just one of the brand's award-winning whiskies.
Balcones’ Texas Single-Malt is just one of the brand’s award-winning whiskies.

But Balcones’ new 65,000 sq. ft. facility promises quadrupled capacity and the chance to play around with additional spirits.

“The biggest change is capacity, but even more so than that, there’s a lot of control that we just didn’t have at the old place that’s going to allow for fine-tuning and, honestly, some experimentation we were just never able to do,” head distiller Jared Himstedt said in a video produced by the Waco Tribune-Herald. “(We’ll) accentuate things we’ve always loved, see if we can bring some of those things forward. See what kind of new things we get.”

One new product to look out for soon, he said in the video, is a 100 percent rye recipe. (No surprise: Rye is one of the hottest spirits on the market right now.)

Himstedt and others at Balcones celebrated the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday that included guests like Waco Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. and Baylor and former Pittsburgh Steelers player Walter Abercrombie, according to a press release.

The ceremony highlighted another big change coming for the distillery: Balcones will be able “to welcome whisky fans to the site with features like our tasting room,” Balcones president Keith Ballinger said in the release. According to the Tribune-Herald, public tours of the steel, concrete and brick space will start in June.

And Balcones fans worried about a dip in quality because of a surge in scale needn’t worry: Himstedt has stressed that quality and the use of good ingredients remains a top priority. The distillery has already weathered enormous change before — coming out the other side with whiskies as solid as ever.

For more information about Balcones Distilling, visit www.balconesdistilling.com.

Try a Moontower Comedy Fest cocktail at the Townsend

Although the Austin Food & Wine Festival was canceled today because of soggy grounds on Auditorium Shores, one festival will lift your spirits up this weekend in its place: the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival.

The fifth annual celebration of live comedy, from Wednesday to Saturday this year, even has a cocktail that you can drink in Moontower’s honor — it was created especially for the festival from one of Austin’s best cocktail bars.

The Townsend's Justin Elliott has created this refreshing drink in honor of the Moontower Comedy Festival.
The Townsend’s Justin Elliott has created this refreshing drink in honor of the Moontower Comedy Festival.

Across the street from the Paramount Theatre, the main Moontower venue, is the Townsend, where Justin Elliott will be offering the Artist’s Lament for $8 starting Thursday through Saturday. The Townsend is serving as another festival venue, with comedians vying for laughs in the bar’s intimate live music room.

The Artist’s Lament, which features Dolin Dry Vermouth, Bigallet Amer China-China, simple syrup, lemon juice and Scotch whisky, is a swizzle drink full of crushed ice and garnished with a mint sprig. Proving he’s got a sense of humor of his own, Elliott created it as a bitter twist on a classic cocktail.

“Loosely based on the classic Artist’s Special, I present — in honor of the miserable lot that we all know comedians to be — the Artist’s Lament,” he said in a press release. “Basically it has a lot of the tasting notes of an Artist’s Special, but it’s way more bitter and it’s definitely smoking about a pack a day.”

Won’t be able to make it to the Moontower Comedy Festival this weekend? Comfort yourself by making the Artist’s Lament using the recipe below.

The Artist’s Lament 

1 oz. Dolin Vermouth Dry

1 oz. Bigallet Amer China-China (a liqueur made from sweet and bitter orange peels)

1/2 oz. simple syrup (which you’ll get by bringing equal parts water and sugar to a boil)

3/4 oz. lemon juice

1/4 oz. Port Charlotte Islay Scotch Whisky

Swizzle ingredients together with crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

— The Townsend’s Justin Elliott

Tickets, including four-day passes, are still available for Moontower, which you can purchase at www.austintheatre.org/moontower-comedy/.

More Texas whiskeys, from Yellow Rose Distilling, to add to your collection

In one of my December columns, I suggested a handful of different Texas whiskeys that people could consider as holiday gifts for their loved ones (or, hey, for themselves since that’s such a stressful time of year).

Already, new ones are appearing on local retail shelves, including three from a Houston distillery. I don’t have a good reason this time for you to go out and buy them — but with whiskey, do you really need one?

Yellow Rose Distilling’s Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey has won a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which is no small feat. Along with Yellow Rose’s two other whiskeys, the bourbon is becoming more available outside of Houston.
Yellow Rose Distilling’s Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey has won a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which is no small feat.

Yellow Rose Distilling (with a name, let’s be honest, that tugs on the hearts of Texans everywhere) has grown significantly in the six years since it opened as a small-batch operation in Houston. Now, Yellow Rose’s three whiskeys are available in bars and stores statewide, including many in Austin.

The distillery, which was launched by neighbors Troy Smith and Ryan Baird in 2010, was able to expand after moving into a 10,000 sq. ft. production facility in the fall of 2014. Now, Smith, Baird and their business partner Randy Whitaker are planning to release additional spirits beyond the trio of award-winning whiskeys that have proven so successful, according to a press release. Look for them within the next six months.

In the meantime, enjoy these: the Outlaw Bourbon Whiskey, a 100-percent corn recipe with a sweet, full-flavored finish; the limited-release Straight Rye Whiskey with subtle pepper notes; and the Blended Whiskey, with a robust body that makes it ideal for spirit-forward cocktails.

(Only the bourbon, for what it’s worth, has been completely distilled and aged at the distillery. The others have been partially or fully distilled at other places.)

Find the Yellow Rose whiskeys at Spec’s and Twin Liquors, as well as in bars and restaurants like North Italia at the Domain, Shiner’s Saloon and the South Congress Cafe.  For more information, visit yellowrosedistilling.com.

Austin Food & Wine Festival continues focus on wine, cocktails

The fifth Austin Food & Wine Festival kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday with more swanky food and drink-centric events, including the usual panels and tastings at Auditorium Shores.

Wine expert Vilma Mazaite is returning to the Austin Food & Wine Festival with a talk about Burgundy wines.
Wine expert Vilma Mazaite is returning to the Austin Food & Wine Festival with a talk about Burgundy wines.

Although the focus tends to be on food, there are always panels and events that wet our whistles, too. Here is some of the boozier programming that’s not yet sold out.

Night events

These include Cheers to 130 Years, a pre-festival celebration between the Driskill Hotel and Trefethen Family Vineyards on Wednesday. They will toast to 130 years of hospitality and wine with an intimate dinner. The $300 tickets get diners a multi-course meal made by executive chef Troy Knapp and, in a special one-night return, executive chef David Bull. Each course will be paired with award-winning wines from Trefethen.

There is also the big Taste of Texas event on Friday night. The party will bring in “an all-star lineup of talent from the Texas culinary scene… serving up dishes that reflect their signature style,” according to the festival website. Plus, you’ll be able to sip on drinks from Hendrick’s Gin, Tequila 512 and Stella Artois. Taking place in Republic Square Park, the bash is included in the price of an all-in ticket, which are still available for $625.

Daytime panels

Saturday:

  • Popular Austin Food & Wine Fest panelists Ray Isle and Mark Oldman are returning with more of their expert advice on reds, whites and bubbly wines. Isle, the executive wine editor at Food & Wine magazine, is revealing the secrets of wine pairing, while Oldman, an author and wine columnist for the Food Network, is opening up about how to break the rules of wine and how to drink like a billionaire. Both are good for the wine novice looking to get more in-depth about the beverage.
  • The festival is continuing its focus on alcoholic options beyond wine with a couple of panels about two beloved spirits: tequila and whiskey. “Wild Turkey: A Russell Family Tradition” spotlights the bourbon and rye whiskeys that have been produced from the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky; before that, “A Noble Pursuit: Tequila Tasting with Casa Noble Tequila” offers an in-depth look at the certified organic spirits.

Sunday:

  • The other dynamic wine duo typically at the Austin Food & Wine Festival is Devon Broglie and Craig Collins, two Austin-based master sommeliers who often collaborate on one festival panel. This year, they’re teaching how you can sample wine like a pro with a blind-tasting class.
  • Another wine expert returning to the fest is Vilma Mazaite, a veteran of Little Nell in Aspen and the shuttered La V in Austin. She’s presenting a talk on “Offbeat Burgundy” for all the French wine lovers present.
  • Two more spirits-related panels (for the second year in a row, I’m wondering where the beer love went) round out the weekend. First up is “Hendrick’s Gin: A Most Curious and Peculiar Cocktail Academy.” Following that one is a talk that diverges slightly from the other offerings by looking at a very different — but common — ingredient in cocktails: bitters. Specifically, “Angostura Bitters: Not So Old-Fashioned.”

Wedding Oak Winery opens new location at a farm in Fredericksburg

Photo by Matt McGinnis. Wedding Oak winemaker Penny Adams is planting grapes among the wildflowers at Wildseed Farms, in Fredericksburg, the newest location of the winery.
Photo by Miguel Lecuona. Wedding Oak winemaker Penny Adams is taking care of wine grapes among the wildflowers at Wildseed Farms, in Fredericksburg, the newest location of the winery.

It’s now become a little easier for Texas wine lovers to get their hands on bottles of Wedding Oak Winery, an operation out of San Saba in the northern Hill Country.

Wedding Oak wines, which had been available primarily at the winery and through the Wedding Oak wine club, are also found at a second location of the winery that opened up earlier this week: Wedding Oak at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, a town in the heart of Texas wine country.

The new location isn’t just a single tasting room, either — it’s a full-fledged, 4,570 sq. ft. facility complete with a tank and barrel room and vineyards where Wedding Oak winemaker Penny Adams will be able to expand the amount of Hill Country-grown grapes that go into her wines, according to a press release. Most of the winemaking, however, will continue to take place at the San Saba spot.

But that tasting room will certainly be a big draw for tourists traveling west on Highway 290 to visit many of the wineries in Fredericksburg and surrounding small towns. They’ll be able to choose from four different flights of five wines each, or from a total of 13 wines for sipping by the glass or bottle. Plus, although the tasting room has a bar, tourists and locals alike will probably be drawn outside to the covered patio or to the picturesque grounds of Wildseed Farms.

One look at the beauty surrounding Wildseed Farms, a working wildflower farm that has attracted visitors since 1983, and it’s easy to understand why Wedding Oak Winery founder Mike McHenry chose to expand there.

A visit promises “unique wine experiences that are intertwined with 200 acres of lush bluebonnets, poppies, Mexican hats and other wildflowers,” according to the press release. Wildseed Farms also has a sprawling outdoor marketplace and entertainment space, gardens and a gift shop and café.

Another big part of the appeal of Wildseed is that as a working farm, it’s equipped to “plant new vineyards and grape varieties that thrive in Texas,” according to the release. Last year, the first acreage of Albariño grapes began fledgling life there; this year, “additional Tempranillo and Mourvèdre vines will be planted, pushing more deep roots into the incredible soils of the Pedernales River basin.”

Working together, both the farm and the winery will plant up to 35 acres of vines through 2018.

“From the top of the Hill Country appellation in San Saba to the iconic wildflower fields of Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, it is now easier for people to enjoy a Wedding Oak Winery experience,” McHenry said in the release.

Wildseed Farms is located at 100 Legacy Dr., Fredericksburg. For more information, visit weddingoakwinery.com.