Austin’s drinking events calendar, June 2017

Contributed by Olive & June. Negroni Week returns to participating Austin bars and restaurants from June 5-11. Proceeds from Negroni purchases, like this Frozen Show Pony Negroni from Olive & June, go toward good causes chosen by each place.

Thursday, June 1

Banger’s Summer Love Luau with Victory Brewing, 6 to 10 p.m. Summery outfits are encouraged at this party featuring a variety of Victory beers, including Summer Love Blonde Ale.

Boots & Bourbon at the Driskill Grill, 7 to 9 p.m.The Driskill restaurant is pairing meats from Austin’s Ranger Cattle with whiskey from Fort Worth’s Firestone & Robertson Distilling. $79.

Friday, June 2

Blue Owl Brewing Saison Puede Release, 12 p.m. Don’t miss this limited run of bottles filled with Blue Owl’s sour, spicy and fruity spring seasonal.

Uncle Billy’s June First Friday Firkin, 5 p.m. This month’s firkin is a Coffee IPA: the Green Room IPA with lightly roasted Puerto Rican Arabica coffee beans.

Saturday, June 3

Craftsman’s 2nd Anniversary Luau, 4 p.m. Pau Maui Vodka cocktails, a pig roast, hula girls and fire dancers will mark the birthday of this East Cesar Chavez bar.

Crystal Creek Distillery’s Grand Re-Opening Bash, 5 p.m. The Spicewood spirits maker has a new distillery and tasting room and wants to show it off with live music, giveaways and more.

Monday, June 5

Friends & Allies Can Release, 4 to 10 p.m. Friends & Allies Brewing is releasing its beers in cans for the first time. Pick up a six pack, but first, enjoy a draft pint of one of its limited seasonal options.

Gin Class at Bullfight, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Parkside Projects’ beverage classes continue with this study of gin, featuring gin cocktails and tapas from the Spanish-inspired restaurant. $32.50.

Astronomy on Tap, 7:30 p.m. This special edition of the monthly talks about the cosmos over beers brings in astronomers from the American Astronomical Society.

Thursday, June 8

South Lamar Negroni Stroll, 6 pm. Sip Negroni cocktails from Backbeat, Vox Table, El Burro and the Highball as part of the charity-focused Negroni Week.

Friday, June 9

Kings of Craft Series: Meet David Walker of Firestone Walker, 6 p.m. Flying Saucer is hosting a Firestone Walker tap takeover with the founder and lots of Parabola variations.

“Trappist Beer Travels” Book Release at WhichCraft Taproom, 6 to 10 p.m. The locally based authors of the new book about Trappist breweries will officially share the combination beer journal, history book and travelogue.

Saturday, June 10

Now That’s What I Call a ’90s Party at Hops & Grain, 1 p.m. Come dressed as your favorite Nickelodeon character or in straight-up ’90s garb for this old-school party at the brewery.

Reinheitsgebot Party at Orf Brewing, 2 p.m. No, Austin’s newest brewery isn’t celebrating the German purity law — just the German way of partying with beer.

National Rosé Day at Backbeat, 4 p.m. Say yes way to rosé with Backbeat, which is expanding its summer rosé list with 7 incredible rosé wines from around the world.

Sunday, June 11

Austin’s First Tequila ‘n’ Tacos Crawl, 1 p.m. Enjoy helpings of Austin’s favorite food with cocktails while exploring West Sixth bars like Star Bar and Parlor & Yard. $35.

Whisler’s 4th Anniversary Party, 1 p.m. To celebrate this boozy birthday, on-site food truck Thai Kun is whipping up something special. Plus, there will be live music, drink specials and prizes.

Monday, June 12

They’re Back! Celis Re-Launch at Whip In, 5 p.m. Celis’ iconic Celis White and new Citrus Grandis IPA will be on tap in advance of the brewery’s reopening in North Austin.

The Craft Series at 1886 Cafe & Bakery, 6 to 9 p.m. The Driskill Hotel’s beer pairing dinner series continues, this time with Blue Owl Brewing’s sour-mashed beers. $40.

Tuesday, June 13

Easy Tiger’s Celis Launch Party, 5 p.m. Raise a glass of Celis White or Celis Citrus Grandis IPA with Christine Celis, the daughter of Celis Brewery’s original founder Pierre.

Wednesday, June 14

National Bourbon Day at Easy Tiger, 5 p.m. Celebrate this most important day with a special flight of Basil Hayden’s, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek & Booker’s for $12.

Vox Table’s Shacksbury Cider & WhistlePig Whiskey Dinner, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Chef Joe Anguiano has prepared a special four-course menu to pair with the cider and whiskey. $65.

Thursday, June 15

Cannon + Belle’s Texas Winemaker Dinner Series, 7 p.m. This month’s multi-course feast will feature wines from Lubbock’s McPherson Cellars as well as the founder, Kim McPherson.

Saturday, June 17

Hi Sign Brewing’s New IPA Release Party, 12 to 10 p.m. The brewery is making its lucky number seven beer and wants to celebrate the milestone with you. Relax in Hi Sign’s on-site hammocks.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Hi Sign is releasing a new IPA at the brewery, the seventh beer it has made.

Off Flavor Tasting at B.B. Rover’s, 3 to 6 p.m. Train your palate to recognize off flavors in your beer with the help of this workshop led by a certified cicerone (beer expert). $25.

Garrison Brothers’ Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner. The Hill Country whiskey distillery is hosting a dinner to celebrate filling its 10,000th barrel with booze. $25-$40

Sunday, June 18

Father’s Day BrewBCruise, 2 p.m. Feast on Uncle Billy’s barbecue and beers while enjoying a relaxing cruise down Lady Bird Lake with your old man. $40.

Central Market Cooking School: Father’s Day Beef & Beer Dinner, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Spend the evening with Dad while learning to make beefed-up dishes paired with craft beer. $140.

Monday, June 19

St. Elmo Brewing, Soursop and Lewis & LeRoy Beer Dinner, 6 p.m. This collaborative dinner between two Austin food trucks and a brewery will feature a special beer, a Sichaun Saison. $78.

Saturday, June 24

Meet the Founder of Avery Brewing, 12 p.m. Banger’s is hosting Adam Avery of the Colorado brewery and will have a variety of Avery beers on tap like Liliko’i Kepolo.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, 5 to 9 p.m. Beer Camp on Tour comes to Austin and will feature both Beer Camp collaborations and other beers from U.S. breweries. $40-$75.

Austin bar makes Esquire’s list of 24 best cocktail bars in America

Laura Skelding / American-Statesman. Half Step specializes in making classic cocktails like the Old-Fashioned. Its attention to detail has earned it a spot on Esquire’s best bars of America list.

According to Esquire, Half Step is a whole leap ahead of the rest of Austin’s watering holes.

Esquire has once again released its list of America’s best cocktail bars, and the powder blue bungalow bar on Rainey Street is at the top of it.

“Prop an elbow on the padded bar and watch your cocktail materialize from the fresh ingredients cooling on ice. Pick the bartender’s choice. Or call for the Medicina Latina, which mixes tequila, mezcal, ginger, and lime to cure what ails you,” according to the list put together by Esquire editors.

Half Step opened in early 2014 as the Texas outpost from the masterminds of the venerated Los Angeles bar the Varnish. Although there’s a menu of cocktails, Esquire is sure correct about one thing: Go with bartender’s choice for something truly tailored to your tastes. The bar team knows its booze and has a wide arsenal of drinks, both classics and modern riffs alike, from which to pull.

Once you’ve had a drink or two at Half Step, don’t call it a night: Esquire recommends heading over to fellow Rainey Street bar Craft Pride, where Texas beers and Detroit-style pizza reign supreme.

The men’s publication organized the list by city in alphabetical order, which made Half Step the first item you read. Some cities, like New York, have multiple bars featured. And Austin isn’t the only Texas city to impress: Houston also made the cut with the Southern-inspired bar Julep from cocktail maven Alba Huerta.

Agree with the publication’s recommendations? Sound off in the comments or share your opinion with me on Twitter or Instagram. My handle on both platforms is @ariauber.

Three of Austin’s best Bloody Mary mixes to create your own boozy brunch at home

Many summer weekends ahead mean relaxing with a drink during a long, leisurely brunch.

To that end, we’ve rounded up several Austin restaurants that serve delicious brunch cocktails — whether it’s a classic mimosa you’re seeking or something a little more off-the-wall, like Snooze’s Bacon & Eggs whiskey sour.

But you might be like me: staying in close proximity to your bed. So, if you’d rather not venture far but still want a little morning buzz (no judgment here, OK), we’ve got you covered there, too. Here are three locally made Bloody Mary mixes that you can add a little vodka to and snuggle up with.

Contributed by Barbecue Wife. Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix is made locally by Catherine Stiles, who uses Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew’s special house sauce in it.

Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix

The wife of Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew owner Shane Stiles, Catherine Stiles uses the restaurant’s house sauce, a light tomato-based mixture of smoked black pepper and other spices, as the not-so-secret ingredient in the mix she spent a year-and-a-half perfecting. Now, the all-natural, preservative-free Barbecue Wife is easy to find in local stores like Whole Foods and Royal Blue Grocery.

Grab this one if you want a savory punch of smoke and heat in your Bloody Mary. (Needless to say, it’s the right kind of pick-me-up the morning after a night out.)

There’s another good reason to love the product: Stiles has packed a lot of heart into it, sticking a double-sided label on the bottles that are illustrated on the inside with a picture of a “barbecue wife,” a series of strong women she feels don’t get enough representation for their hard work. You’ll have to finish the bottle to see the full image, as if you needed more incentive.

For more information, visit barbecuewife.com.

Lauren’s Garden Craft Cocktail Juice

The tagline that accompanies this local potion is “From garden to glass,” and it’s not wrong. Lauren Kelleher was inspired to make a Bloody Mary mix created from freshly squeezed tomatoes after her neighbors in Travis Heights would throw “tomato parties” during their harvests of the juicy red vegetable. At the parties, the Bloody Marys with just-squeezed juice were unlike any she’s had before.

That’s what you’ll notice with Lauren’s Garden’s four varieties of Bloody Mary mix, including Original, Texican, Lightly Seasoned Tomato Juice and Serrano Lime. They’ve all got different flavors, but their essence is the same. Lauren’s Garden Craft Cocktail Juice tastes, as one Facebook reviewer put it, like actual tomatoes were added to her Bloody Mary. Fancy that.

Bottles of each are made with three pounds of Texas tomatoes sourced from Marfa and are all-natural, vegan and non-GMO. They’re also low-calorie, so you won’t have to feel too guilty about adding just a little extra vodka (although I’d suggest a blanco tequila with the Original — the interplay of the agave and tomato is really something magical).

Find Lauren’s Garden mixes at a variety of local HEBs, Royal Blue Grocery, and Central Markets and Whole Foods statewide. For more information, visit laurensgardenmix.com/.

The Bloody Buddy

This Bloody Mary mix, from former Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse bartender Buddy Jordan, is perhaps the most conducive to a lazy day — it comes with the vodka already in it, so all you have to do is shake it and add it to a glass with some ice.

Jordan created it after noticing that there were hardly any ready-to-drink Bloody Mary mixes on the market, despite the popularity of ready-to-drink options as a whole. There also weren’t any with a boozy infusion in them. But Bloody Buddy covers that niche with a special blend of chili peppers that are infused with the vodka and then combined with juices and seasonings in a recipe he’s taken several years to get just right.

You can find bottles (in small four-packs or single large-format) at most Spec’s locations. For more information, visit thebloodybuddy.com.

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Buddy Jordan, the creator of the Bloody Buddy, infuses his ready-to-mix vodka product with chili peppers.

Isla, the sister bar to Peche, has now closed in Austin’s Warehouse District

Laura Skelding / American-Statesman. Isla, once home to Caribbean-style cocktails, is closing down.

Once a rum bar and restaurant serving up Caribbean-style food to patrons, Isla made the switch late last year to Peruvian cuisine and cocktails but couldn’t seem to find its groove. The sister spot to French-focused Peche announced this morning on social media that Isla has closed.

The announcement came through Chef Julio-Cesar Flórez, a Peruvian native who helped the restaurant redirect its culinary program to the flavors of South America.

“Isla closed,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was then re-posted on Isla’s Facebook and Instagram. “It was my pleasure and honor to bring Peruvian food of this quality to this city. I hope to do it again soon, it has always been my mission, and I know I won a lot of hearts during this short period.”

Owner Rob Pate, who opened the city’s first absinthe bar with Peche, took over the short-lived Pleasant Storage Room next door to Peche in late 2014, when the rum bar styled after a popular Cuban watering hole abruptly closed. He decided not to change the focus of Isla from its former incarnation, creating a menu of tropical drinks and food.

Isla became the place to go for almost exclusively tiki-style cocktails paired with island fare. It then transitioned to more of a Caribbean cantina until Flórez’ Peruvian influence. And for Pate, through all of his project’s changes, Isla remained a special place because of the people who worked there to make it what it needed to be.

“It is never an easy thing to close something that so many people have put a great deal of effort into,” he said in an emailed statement. “We were blessed at Isla to have a great core of employees, and I think that is what hurts the most. We will take a couple of weeks to figure out our next step and go from there.”

Isla’s last day was Sunday, when it hosted a final brunch.

Austin’s drinking events calendar, May 2017

 

The Barks for Beers fundraiser runs through the month of May for dog and beer lovers alike.

Monday, May 1

Barks for Beers, ongoing through May 31. The fundraiser for Divine Canines officially kicks off with 30 participating breweries. Buy a pint glass for $20 and get a free pour at each one.

Cannon + Belle’s Texas Winemaker Dinner with Duchman Family Winery, 6:30 p.m. The first in this new culinary series will feature bites from the Hilton Austin’s new restaurant with accompanying Italian-centric wines from Duchman.

Tuesday, May 2

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Riverboat Dram Cruise, 7 to 9 p.m. Hop aboard for a tasting of 10 sublime casks from Speyside, Highlands and Islay, with Ruby’s BBQ offering the bites. $100.

Wednesday, May 3

Run for the Rosé with Twin Liquors, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Derby Day doesn’t have to be all about mint juleps. Twin Liquors’ Hancock location will have up to 20 different rosés featured to celebrate the upcoming Kentucky Derby.

Central Standard Wine Dinner with Mondavi, 7 to 10 p.m. The five-course dinner will feature wine pairings curated by special guest Dina Mondavi, co-founder of the Michael Mondavi Family Estate known for its Napa Valley wines. $160.

Easy Tiger’s Meet the Brewer Night will offer a special chance to try the sought-after Founders KBS.

Thursday, May 4

Founders’ Meet the Brewers Night at Easy Tiger, 5 p.m. Meet Founders brewer Jeremy Kosmicki while pairing beers like Frootwood and KBS with snacks from Easy Tiger. $10-$15.

Wine and Chocolate Pairing at Lenoir, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Relax in Lenoir’s outdoor wine garden while pairing Chocolaterie Tessa chocolates with fine wines. $50.

Official Drink of Austin, 7 to 10 p.m. Find out which Austin bar team will take the boozy title at this year’s competition, held at Fair Market. $65.

Opal Divines’ North American Whiskey Festival, 7 p.m. American and Canadian whiskey, from rye to bourbon to single-malt and more, will be available for sampling along with passed appetizers. $40.

Friday, May 5

Pinthouse Pizza’s 2017 Burro’s Breakfast Release Party, 11 a.m. Pinthouse’s Mexican lager is going on tap at this all-day celebration, timed with Cinco de Mayo, that will have mariachi music and limited-edition shirts.

Cinco de Elmo at St. Elmo Brewing, 12 p.m. The South Austin brewery is celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a new beer, Señor Bueno Mexican Lager with lime, and will have $3 micheladas from 4 to 6 p.m.

Oskar Blues’ Fugli IPA Release Party, 12 to 10 p.m. The Austin brewery is sending up a new summer seasonal, an IPA made with yuzu and ugli fruit infusions, with cans to come.

Cinco de Meow at Mean Eyed Cat, 5 p.m. Celebrate America’s favorite Mexican holiday with margarita, tequila and beer specials, along with piñatas.

Uncle Billy’s 11th Anniversary First Friday Firkin, 5 p.m. In celebration of 11 years in business, Uncle Billy’s will have two casks of a new saison available, along with a special of moules-frites.

Meridian Hive Meadery’s Fandango Release Party, 5 p.m. Austin’s only meadery is releasing an agave and lime mead and will have $2 tacos and a screening of the road trip movie “Fandango.”

Cinco de Mayo at Guero’s Taco Bar, 6 to 9:30 p.m. Where else to spend this Mexican holiday but at a Mexican restaurant? Guero’s garden will have Tequila Cazadores cocktails and live music from Peligrosa.

Saturday, May 6

19th Annual Becker Vineyards’ Lavender Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Sip and swirl with live music, artisans and nearby lavender fields in bloom. $85 for luncheon.

Inaugural Crawfish Boil at Twisted X Brewing, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. $20 gets you unlimited crawfish, a commemorative cup with complimentary pour, live music and more.

2nd Annual Cider Fest at Whip In, 1 to 9 p.m. Whip In is tapping some of the rarest and best ciders, including many locally based ones like Texas Keeper and Argus.

Derby Day at the Four Seasons, 2 to 6 p.m. Pull out your seersucker suit for an afternoon of Kentucky Derby watching, Maker’s Mark mint juleps, a costume contest and a derby hat pop-up shop. $20.

Irene’s Kentucky Derby Party, 3 to 7 p.m. The patio at this downtown bar will have full race coverage and traditional Kentucky treats, including mint juleps and hot brown sandwiches.

Revelry Kitchen + Bar’s Kentucky Derby Viewing Party, 3 p.m. Dress your derby best – including the hat – to try and win a costume contest. Plus, draft mint juleps, Kentucky mules, boozy lemonade and more.

Monday, May 8

The Craft Series at 1886 Café & Bakery, 6 to 8 p.m. The Driskill Hotel’s beer pairing series is bringing back Independence Brewing beers for its four-course feast. $40.

Hops & Helado Pairing, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Didn’t think beer and ice cream could pair? Think again. The $35-$40 tickets get you 5 beer samples at Lazarus Brewing with 5 ice creams, all seasonal flavors.

Tuesday, May 9

Thirsty Planet Buckethead IPA Launch Party, 7 to 10 p.m. Thirsty Planet’s Buckethead IPA and Yellow Armadillo Wheat are finally in bottles, and Black Sheep Lodge is celebrating with free bites, a photo booth and more.

Slow and Low Whiskey Pop-Up Gallery, 7 to 10 p.m. Photographer Asher Moss is showing off his work at Byron & Blue with whiskey cocktails and music from Kalu and the Electric Joint.

Wednesday, May 10

Adelbert’s Beer Tasting at the Carillon, 5:30 to 7 p.m. The Carillon’s chef, Dan Bressler, will present delicious bar bites to go with your cold beer. $20; reservations required.

Saturday, May 13

The Austin Winery Grand Opening, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The urban winery has moved into its South Austin location and is ready to celebrate with new wine releases.

Index Fest, 12 p.m. Previously Untapped, the rebranded festival continues its focus on live music and craft beer, while also offering art and food components. $25-$119.

Fall Creek Vineyards’ A Toast to Mothers Luncheon, 12 to 1:30 p.m. Treat Mom (or any other special woman in your life) to this multi-course lunch paired with Fall Creek wines. $40.

New Braunfels Brewing’s 4th Anniversary Party, 1 to 7 p.m. More than 20 beers will be on tap for this birthday bash, including Bier No. 217, Very Seldom Naughty and more.

Sunday, May 14

Mother’s Day at Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling, 12 to 9 p.m. Celebrate Mom with a special Mother’s Day brunch and cocktails, along with live music.

Mother’s Day Maifest at Live Oak Brewing, 1 to 6 p.m. A petting zoo, live music, food from Kick Drum Burgers and beer from Live Oak will make Mom feel special indeed.

Half Step’s Alabama Bug Boil, 2 to 10 pm. Enjoy bourbon punch, a crawfish boil and live music from the Pine Hill Haints of Mobile for only a $10 suggested donation.

Mother’s Day Champagne Class at Backbeat, 3:30 to 5 p.m. What better way to celebrate your mom than treating her to this guided tasting flight of bubbly wines? Light bites will be included. $55.

Monday, May 15

Mega-Mutt Monday at Banger’s, 6 p.m. This month’s beneficiary of the dog-friendly event is Greyhound Pets of America-Central Texas. There will also be other pet-related vendors and live music.

Tuesday, May 16

Astronomy on Tap, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The out-of-this-world bar talk returns to the North Door with explorations about ice on Mars, merging galaxies and more.

Wednesday, May 17

Central Market Cooking School: Southern Cheeses, Southern Wines, 4:30 p.m. Central Market’s “Taste the South” promotion kicks off with a class pairing cheese and wine from the South. $40.

Donkey & Goat Wine Dinner at Olamaie, 6 to 8 p.m. The five-course dinner is being paired with the wines of Jared and Tracey Brandt, who take a hands-off approach to natural winemaking. $100.

Thursday, May 18

Chocolate & Spirits Tasting at Backbeat, 6 to 8 p.m. Want a little booze to go with your bon bon? Chocolaterie Tessa is teaming up with the cocktail bar to show what a divine pairing spirits and chocolate can be. $45.

St. Genevieve’s Champagne Social, 9 p.m. The Rock Rose wine lounge’s new monthly event kicks off with a champagne fountain and a free dessert bar. Your weekend starts now.

Friday, May 19

Blueberry Sour Release at Adelbert’s, 3 p.m. The latest in Adelbert’s taproom-only fruited sour series will go on sale, $4 for 5 oz. pours and $15 per bottle.

Circle Brewing’s Fanny Pack Kolsch Release Party, 4 p.m. Head to Cheer Up Charlies for the debut of Circle’s refreshing summer seasonal. Free fanny packs while supplies last.

Central Market Cooking School: Lazy Magnolia Beer Pairing, 4:30 p.m. This time, Central Market is pairing regional cheese with beers from Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia Brewing. $40.

Saturday, May 20

Whip In’s 6th Annual Pink Mahal, 1 to 5 p.m. It’s officially rosé season, and Whip In boasts one of the largest rosé selections in the country. The wine bar will have 100 rosés from all over the world available for tasting. $35.

Orf Brewing Open House, 1 to 6 p.m. Austin’s newest brewery is open for business for the first time. Tour the space and taste the beers, like an Asian white ale, that will be on tap.

6th Annual Pup Crawl for Austin Humane Society, 2 to 8 p.m. Drink specials will be available for participants in the charity bar crawl along Rainey Street. $25 wristbands.

Barrel-Aged Beer Party at Craft Pride, 3 to 11 p.m. Just because it’s almost summertime and already hot outside doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy barrel-aged brews like Austin Beerworks Midnight Swordfight.

Sunday, May 21

Whisler’s Crawfish Boil, 1 p.m. $15 will get you a pound-and-a-half of crawfish, a beer and a raffle ticket. There will also be Bloody Marys, sangria and mules.

Tuesday, May 23

Drink Beer, Save Turtles on World Turtle Day, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Hops & Grain is teaming up with the Turtle Survival Alliance to host a night of awareness at the County Line on the Lake.

Wednesday, May 24

Hops & Grain’s River Beer Can Launch, 5 to 8 p.m. Eat some barbecue at the Salt Lick and discover how well the new light lager from Hops & Grain pairs with the summer months to come.

Saturday, May 27

Forager Fest at Zilker Brewing, 12 to 4 p.m. Celebrate local, wild and cultivated ingredients with different versions of Zilker’s saison made with foraged items.

Texas Keeper Cider’s Grafter Rosé Release Picnic, 2 to 6 p.m. The return of this tart, dry cider and wine blend will be hailed with barbecue from the new LeRoy and Lewis.

Monday, May 29

Austin Beerworks’ Memorial Day Einhorn Release, 12 to 8 p.m. The beloved Einhorn Berliner Weisse is making its debut for summer with Mr. Sparkle German Pilsner.

Wednesday, May 31

Freedmen’s May Whiskey Dinner, 7 to 9 p.m. Taste whiskeys from Firestone & Robertson Distilling in Fort Worth with three courses of paired bites. $36.

From stage to bar: “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails now unmasked

A new staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” will keep Austin audiences in suspense this week while it performs through April 30 at Bass Concert Hall.

Try “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails at El Chile Group restaurants through April 30. Pictured is the Night Rose from El Chile.

Plus, cocktails inspired by the mysterious masked man at the opera house will keep the thirst of the musical’s biggest fans at bay. The show’s sponsors have teamed up with El Chile Group to provide “Phantom”-inspired cocktails at all of the company’s Austin restaurants: El Chile and El Sapo on Manor Road, Alcomar on South First Street and El Alma on Barton Springs Road.

The drinks will be available for as long as the production is in town, through the end of April.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh, who first created “Phantom” with Webber, has reimagined the musical — about a masked man who haunts the halls of an opera house where singer Christine tries to make her big debut — to have vastly different staging, while keeping the music and the script mostly the same. Read our story about the dazzling production ahead of going to see it.

Here are the four “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails that you can try during the respective opening hours of the restaurants.

  • El Alma: El Fantasma (The Phantom) with La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila, Jimador Silver Tequila, hand-squeezed lime juice, blood orange, agave simple, and a black and white salt rim.
  • El Chile: The Night Rose with blueberry and juniper-infused Jimador Reposado Tequila, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, rose water, agave simple, lemon juice and a pink salt rim.
  • El Sapo: Phantom of the Sapo-ra with strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry-infused Tito’s Vodka; lemon juice; house-made ginger beer; and Chambord
  • Alcomar: Midnight Masquerade with Jimador Reposado Tequila, house blackberry puree, lime juice, triple sec, mint-infused agave simple, pink rock salt rim and candied blackberry

Want to make one of your own at home while watching Joel Schumacher’s extravagant cinematic take on the “Phantom,” with Gerard Butler in the title role and Emmy Rossum as Christine? Here’s one of the recipes.

El Fantasma

1 1/4 oz. La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila

1/4 oz. El Jimador Silver Tequila

1/4 oz. blood orange pureé

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

3/4 oz. agave simple syrup

Shake all ingredients together and strain into a chilled coup glass garnished with a half white salt, half volcanic black salt rim. (To make the agave simple beforehand, combine 1 cup agave nectar, 1 cup hot water in a pan and stir to dissolve.)

— El Alma

Second Bar + Kitchen launches happy hour at revamped downtown bar

When fine-dining restaurant Congress closed at the end of 2015, making way for an expansion of sister spot Second Bar + Kitchen, the bar that connected them, Bar Congress, shut down, too.

But the recently renovated space is back as the Second Bar and has begun offering happy hour every weekday from 4 to 6 p.m., with a small selection of cocktails that you can only order during that time.

Photo by Jody Horton. Second Bar + Kitchen’s famous black truffle pomme frites are on offer during the new Second Bar’s happy hour.

The cocktails range between $5 to $7, and happy hour specials also include a $1 off draft beer and half-off select bottles of wine. Pair those with snacks like black truffle pomme frites, bacon-wrapped dates and flank steak satay while you sit in the bar or on the outdoor patio that faces the bustling Congress Avenue.

Here are those happy hour-only cocktails. Thirsty yet?

  • Bennett: choice of gin, vodka or tequila with lime juice and peel, turbinado and Angostura bitters
  • Sidewinder’s Fang: Kong’s Island Spice Rum, passionfruit, orange and citrus with tiki preparations
  • Brown Derby: Kentucky bourbon, honey, grapefruit and lemon
  • Normandy Sidecar: Cognac & Calvados, Cointreau, lemon and a fine sugar rim
  • Shandy: Miller High Life pony with lemonade

Second Bar + Kitchen and the adjacent Second Bar are located at 200 Congress Ave. The former Congress is now Congress Hall, a private dining and events area with an airy, modern design aesthetic that mirrors Second Bar + Kitchen.

For more information, visit secondbarkitchen.com/second.

Taste the Official Drink of Austin at returning competition in May

Max Photography. Last year’s Official Drink of Austin winner was the bar team at Geraldine’s, led by Jen Keyser. There will be a different winner this year.

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.

Want a tequila shot with your tarot card reading? Irene’s has you covered on Tuesday

Irene’s, the buzzy downtown restaurant at 506 West Ave., is hosting a tequila night special in April and May, but there’s a twist: You can also get your tarot cards read for free while you’re there.

The restaurant’s Tarot & Tequila Tuesday starts on April 4 and continues on May 2. They’ll have specials on tequila and tequila drinks all night, and Kristin of Senders Receive will be offering free tarot card readings from 6 to 8 p.m.

 

Kristin Marie Bramblett is a tarot card reader (@sendersreceive on Instagram), who will be reading tarot cards at Irene’s in April and May. Contributed by @sendersreceive.

 

 

 

 

 

The latest brunch-tastic flavor from Deep Eddy Vodka is now in stores

Deep Eddy Vodka is on a roll with its new flavors.

Less than a year after the release of its peach-flavored vodka, the Dripping Springs-based distiller is now selling Deep Eddy Orange, a vodka that gets its bright orange color and flavor from fresh orange juice.

MORE: Deep Eddy Vodka expands to additional distillery in Buda

The spirit, which you can drink on the rocks or mixed into a cocktail, doesn’t have any pulp, says Deep Eddy president John Scarborough, and its the sixth flavored product on the line, in addition to peach, lemon, Ruby Red grapefruit, cranberry and sweet tea.

The suggested retail price is $19.99 for a 750 mL bottle, and you can find it in stores nationwide starting this month.

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The Dripping Springs-based Deep Eddy Vodka has just released its latest flavor, orange. Contributed by Deep Eddy Vodka