Starting Monday, Austinites will start noticing drinks with a literary theme in some of their favorite local bars. Places like Weather Up, Backbeat and the Wheel are offering these cocktails on special as part of Literary Libations Week, which benefits the Texas Book Festival’s Lit Crawl event in the fall.
Each of the participating bars made drinks inspired by books — a diverse range of tomes, from Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” to Gabriel García Márquez’ “Love in the Time of Cholera.” The cocktails are similarly wide-ranging. And it’s not just Austin bars participating, either: Houston and San Antonio spots, such as Mongoose Versus Cobra and the Esquire Tavern, have also mixed up some booze for the love of books.
“Nothing complements summer reading better than a summer cocktail,” Julie Wernersbach, literary director of the Texas Book Festival, said in a press release. “As a team that lives and breathes books and that celebrates the end of every week with a regular Friday wine-down, we’re excited to take our literary conversations to some of the state’s finest bars.”
Among them is the Townsend on Congress Avenue, where beverage director Justin Elliott crafted the Samizdat, with Scotch, Topo Chico and Cointreau Liqueur de Camomille, after a long winter reading David Foster Wallace’s hefty tome “Infinite Jest.”
The Samizdat (in reference to the Soviet act of dissidence that disseminated banned books in a censored state) “provides an electric, almost Technicolor edge to the Scotch, and the salinity of the Topo Chico amplifies everything,” according to the release. Elliott chose to make it because of the powerful pull of reading.
“It’s transportive in much the same way that many of the world’s finest spirits are transportive,” he said in the release. “I think about books I’ve read, and I can recall being transported to the world of the book while reading. And in the same moment, I’m transported to where I was in life when I was reading the book. And then I think about what I was drinking while I was reading it.”
Here’s the list of Austin bars participating in Literary Libations Week and the cocktails they are making for it. A portion of the proceeds go toward the Texas Book Festival in November.
Backbeat: A Farewell to Armagnac, with Tariquet VS Armagnac, Batavia Arrack, Averna, Pierre Ferand Dry Curaçao and Angostura bitters
Freedmen’s: Life Finds a Way, with rye whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse and sweet vermouth, topped with orange bitters and garnished with T-Rex-shaped orange swath. Inspired by “Jurassic Park.”
Gibson Street Bar: No Good Deed, with Bar Hill Tom Cat Aged Gin, Tempus Fugit Alessio Vino Chinato Vermouth, blue curaçao, Lightning Rod Adobo bitters, lime juice and an edible flower. Inspired by “Wicked.”
Nightcap: Tequila Mockingbird, with Don Julio Blanco, chartreuse, lime juice, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur and pineapple
Searsucker: Cachaça on a Hot Tin Roof, with Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça, Aperol and cinnamon syrup
Small Victory: Love in the Tom of Collins, with lemon, simple syrup and Old Tom Gin
The Dogwood: A Cocktail of Two Cities, with Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lemon juice, Bar Keep Lavender bitters and champagne
The Roosevelt Room: Ahab’s Odyssey, with Bombay Sapphire Gin, white grapefruit-lime cordial, Cubeb berry-infused manzanilla sherry, Capillaire syrup, Bolivian rose salt water and wine tannins. Inspired by “Moby Dick.”
The Townsend: The Samizdat, with Bruichladdich Rockside Farm Islay Barley 2007 Vintage, Cointreau Liqueur de Camomille and Topo Chico
Weather Up: Our Man in Havana, with Cuban rum, maraschino, Pimm’s, grapefruit, lime, strawberry and a cucumber slice
The Wheel: Around the World in Eighty Proof, made with Tullamore DEW, Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Aperol, Lillet Blanc and Peychaud’s bitters
Each of these cocktails will be available through Aug. 19 next week.