If Austin’s wacky essence could be embodied by a cocktail, what would it taste like? That’s the basic premise behind the Official Drink of Austin competition, which returns May 4 this year at Fair Market.
Early bird tickets for the boozy event are on sale now for $55; wait a little while, and the price will jump to $65 online, $75 at the door. You can buy them at the website of the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, the organization behind the Official Drink of Austin.
As in past iterations, the Official Drink of Austin competition involves eight bar teams from local bars and restaurants going shaker to shaker against each other — with each team preparing Austin-inspired cocktails, using at least one local ingredient, that attendees and a small group of judges will taste and evaluate.
The teams this time around are from Drink.Well, Frank, Javelina, Clive, Firehouse Lounge, Alcomar, Kuneho and the Driskill (having all been selected through a previous showdown). Drink.Well, the first local bar from husband-and-wife owners Michael and Jessica Sanders, has participated as a finalist in the competition since the Austin Food & Wine Alliance resurrected it in 2014.
Each of the eight teams will set up a bar representing their establishment. Attendees will be able to taste the drinks at their leisure and pair them with bar snacks from local chefs.
“With the talent and innovation here, Austin deserves a competition like this, and it’s one of the best events in the city,” David Alan, the original organizer of the event, said in a press release.
A professional bartender and author, as well as one of the very first movers and shakers behind Austin’s talented cocktail scene, he helped to create the Official Drink of Austin contest in 2006.
Last year’s winner was the bar team from Geraldine’s, led by Jen Keyser, whose Far from the Tree used Treaty Oak Rum and Paula’s Texas Orange, two local products. Previous winners have included Garage with its Dripping Springs Vodka Indian Paintbrush cocktail and Qui with its Balcones whisky Tepache drink.
Although the restaurant Qui, owned by the James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Qui, closed following his arrest, he returned to the kitchen early this year with new project Kuneho — one of the participants in the upcoming Official Drink of Austin.
Additionally, competitor the Driskill was recently voted the best bar in the state by Southern Living magazine.
Official Drink of Austin runs from 7 to 10 p.m. on May 4 at Fair Market, 1100 E. Fifth St. New this year is a VIP Industry After Party that you can attend in addition to the competition for $125.
For more information, visit austinfoodwinealliance.org.