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.

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

Where to celebrate National Margarita Day in Austin

No doubt you’ve got your favorite place in town to drink a margarita, whether that’s at a Mexican food joint like the inimitable Matt’s El Rancho or at a cocktail bar like Backbeat where the margarita is going to be one classy drink.

You’ve also probably got your preferences for how you like to drink it: on the rocks or frozen, with a salted rim or without, or served in some crazy way — with a floater of beer, perhaps, or maybe with strawberries instead of limes. (Or how about with this Ancho Chile Reyes liqueur for a blast of heat?)

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Whether you like your margarita frozen or on the rocks, Austin restaurants like El Mercado will have them for you on National Margarita Day.
Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Whether you like your margarita frozen or on the rocks, Austin restaurants like El Mercado will have them for you on National Margarita Day.

However you like your margarita, just make sure you have one today, on this most auspicious of fake holidays, the one and only National Margarita Day.

Here are some Austin bars and restaurants where you’ll be able to take advantage of this very big excuse to drink. (Not that we, in Texas, ever need a reason to have a margarita, of course.)

The Brixton: It’s a full-on fiesta at the East Sixth Street bar starting at 4 p.m. today, when the Brixton will have complimentary chips, salsa and crock-pot queso on hand for you to enjoy with frozen margaritas, which are on special all night.

Corner at the J.W. Marriott: This hotel bar specializes in tequila cocktails, so you can bet the margarita is good. For National Margarita Day, Corner is offering $2 off its signature drink, the Corner Marg, with Sierra Vieja Reposado Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, agave syrup and lime. The deal lasts all day.

Curra’s Grill: Arguably one of the most classic margaritas in Austin is Curra’s bright green avocado margarita, but the Mexican restaurant on Oltorf Street has a variety of other ones to try as well, like the Lucky ‘Rita with Suerte Tequila, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice and Jarritos grapefruit juice.

El Burro: One of Austin’s newest Tex-Mex spots, from the team behind neighboring restaurant Vox Table, also has an avocado margarita, with Cimarron Tequila, avocado, cilantro, lime and simple syrup. If you’re in the mood for something sweeter, try the frozen mango margarita instead.

El Mercado: The margaritas are on special tonight in honor of National Margarita Day. So are Mexican martinis, which means you get your pick of tequila cocktails.

El Naranjo: Tequila is essential in a margarita — almost. The only reasonable substitute for the agave spirit would be its cousin of mezcal, which pours plentifully at this Rainey Street restaurant in its most popular margarita. The drink also has muddled serrano peppers, basil agave nectar, lime juice and pineapple juice.

El Sapo: The Manor Road burger bar with a Tex-Mex twist is offering $5 house margaritas from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today in honor of National Margarita Day. Might we suggest the O Gurl, a frozen potion with Chamoy, Mexican candy and the El Chile Group’s signature salt rim.

Contributed by Cultivate PR. Fixe's Abita 'Rita mixes beer with tequila, two favorites of Austinites.
Contributed by Cultivate PR. Fixe’s Abita ‘Rita mixes beer with tequila, two favorites of Austinites.

Fixe: How about a margarita with Southern flair? The Abita ‘Rita highlights a Louisiana favorite, Abita Amber, which is mixed in with Avion Silver, Grand Marnier, lime juice and orange juice.

Guero’s Taco Bar: From 6 to 8 p.m. this evening, sip on margaritas with Dulce Vida Tequila, an Austin-based brand, in the Guero’s garden while listening to tunes from Sun Radio’s musical guests this week, Rich Hopkins and Sour Bridges. National Margarita Day doesn’t get much better than that.

Juliet: A margarita at an Italian restaurant? Go with it. The bar manager is even showing you how to make ’em yourself — one regular, one spicy — in a video on Juliet’s Facebook page, but if you’d rather pair your tequila treat with a heaping helping of spaghetti carbonara, head to Juliet for lunch or dinner today.

Maudie’s: One of Austin’s quintessential Tex-Mex restaurants, which has multiple locations around town, is celebrating with another Austin brand, Dulce Vida Tequila.

Contributed by Picnik. Having dragonfruit in this Pitaya Margarita from Picnik gives the drink its striking color and gives you important nutrients like magnesium.
Contributed by Picnik. Having dragonfruit in this Pitaya Margarita from Picnik gives the drink its striking color and gives you important nutrients like magnesium.

Picnik: OK, a margarita will never be the healthiest item on the menu, but at the paleo-minded brick-and-mortar restaurant on Burnet Road, the Pitaya Margarita, named for the bright pink dragonfruit in it, comes pretty close.

Searsucker: You should have the downtown restaurant’s margarita for its playful name alone. Thankfully, the Jale Berry is also very good and features house-infused strawberry jalapeño tequila with lime, agave and salt.

Trace at the W: The hotel restaurant has one of those crazy twists on the margarita, called the Papa Dulce, that might be fun to try if you’re feeling adventurous, with Z Reposado Tequila, sweet potato syrup and lime. The Living Room Bar at the W will have more traditional margarita offerings as well.

Trudy’s Tex-Mex: A veritable rainbow of margaritas is flowing at all Trudy’s locations on one of the biggest days of the year for the brand, with $4 ‘ritas and $7 Mexican martinis available from 2 to 7 p.m. today.

USE OUR GUIDE: GET TO KNOW AUSTIN’S BREWERIES, DISTILLERIES AND MORE IN THE AUSTIN360 BOOZERY GUIDE

Paul Qui’s Kuneho, newly open, launches weekday happy hour

Feast on discounted food and drink during happy hour at the new Kuneho, Paul Qui's latest project.
Contributed by Kuneho. Feast on discounted food and drink during happy hour at the new Kuneho, Paul Qui’s latest project.

After replacing Paul Qui’s eponymous restaurant on East Sixth Street in early January, Kuneho — also founded by the James Beard Award-winning chef — is launching the best two hours in our work day: “happy happy time.”

That’s what many other Qui projects (including East Side King and Thai-Kun at Rock Rose) call happy hour, and Kuneho’s looks like a good one. The restaurant, which serves sushi and globally inspired bites at 1600 E. Sixth St., will now have happy hour deals on both food and drink from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Here’s the “happy happy time” menu:

Drinks

  • Asahi Super Dry, $3
  • Super Ape: Smith & Cross rum, Giffard Banane du Bresil Liqueur, lime and turbinado sugar, $8
  • Punch glass: daily concoction, $5
  • Carpe Diem: blanco tequila, London dry gin, rose, coconut water, lemon and grenadine, $20 (serves 2 to 4 people)

Food

  • Perfect Bites: morcilla a la dinuguan, $2; tuna larb tostada, $3; enoki mushroom and tamari, $2; crispy onion, $2; and salmon nigiri with marinated ikura, $2
  • Crudo: saba escabeche with East Coast mackerel, ponzu and tomato, $7; kinilawin with cobia, coconut vinegar, coconut milk, red onion, and cilantro, $8
  • Maki mono: Austin roll with fish cake, pickled salsify, avocado, sweet chili vinegar, $5; fried shrimp roll with green apple and dashi aioli, $6; Mama Mia with big eye tuna, cucumber, avocado, kuro tempura flakes, $6
  • Snacks: seasonal tempura vegetables and tensuyu, $3; root vegetable lumpia with daikon, cilantro and peanut sauce, $6; kimcheese with kimchi, velveeta and an egg roll, $4; and chicken karaage with fish caramel, $4.

Kuneho (which means “rabbit” in Qui’s native Tagalog) has a variety of other cocktails, sake and wine available beyond happy hour as well through the restaurant’s Borough Bar, such as the playful Rockin’ Bird with pisco, Fruity Pebbles, curacao, pistachio orange syrup, lemon, orange and an Aperol float.

For more information, visit kunehoatx.com.

Health-conscious Picnik on Burnet Road debuts happy hour and cocktails

The Berry Basil Smash at Picnik on Burnet Road features potato vodka and a variety of fruit and herbs as a sweet, refreshing sipper.
The Berry Basil Smash at Picnik on Burnet Road features potato vodka, fruit, herbs and kombucha as a sweet, refreshing sipper.

The month of January, when we’ve made our New Year’s resolutions to eat better and get back into shape, is the time for health-minded restaurants like Picnik to shine.

And we don’t have to abandon the booze, either.

Picnik’s brick-and-mortar location on Burnet Road has just added happy hour and a small list of signature cocktails, for those of us who haven’t cut alcohol out of our diets completely but still want healthier options to sip on.

Like the restaurant’s food menu, the drinks program is gluten-free and filled with natural ingredients — and it even includes a margarita. Here’s the full list of cocktails:

  • Pitaya Margarita: organic tequila, pink dragonfruit, lime, local honey, Himalayan sea salt rim
  • Mezcal Old Fashioned: mezcal, maple syrup, orange, bitters
  • Gin + Jam: potato gin, berry and pomegranate jam, local honey, lemon
  • Berry Basil Smash: potato vodka, blackberry, basil, ginger, local honey, lime, botanical kombucha

Enjoy these during the newly established happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. In addition to $2 off cocktails, Picnik is offering other happy hour deals during that time, including half-off shareable plates on the food menu, $2 off wine by the glass, $2 off cider (except for Texas Keeper) and $2 off beer (which, in case you were wondering, is also gluten-free. This place walks the walk).

Picnik, which opened its brick-and-mortar space last year, is located 4801 Burnet Rd. The food truck version of Picnik is at 1700 S. Lamar Blvd. For more information, visit picnikaustin.com.

Austin’s drinking events calendar, October 2016

In addition to the Tequila Tour on Oct. 20, the Iron Cactus is celebrating its 20th anniversary with this special margarita featuring an extra añejo tequila.
In addition to the Tequila Tour on Oct. 20, the Iron Cactus is celebrating its 20th anniversary with this special margarita featuring an extra añejo tequila.

Flying Saucer’s Oktoberfest Beer Games Day, 12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1. Kick off your October with stein hoists, dachshund races and a keg race, as well as German food and beer specials.

Brew & Brew & Brew, 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1. Celebrate three years of the Brew & Brew with a raffle for 1400 Miles and a killer beer list. No, really, it’s a good one.

Boxers at the Brewery, 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1. Thousand Oaks Brewing in Cedar Park is hosting this fundraiser for Austin Boxer Rescue.

Founders Breakfast Stout Brunch at Brass Tap Domain, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2. Get a Founders-branded mug with the purchase of any Founders beer, including the breakfast stout.

Bluebonnet Oktoberfest, 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2. Delicious German beers, food, balloons, face-painting, bouncy houses, contests and more await at the Round Rock brewery. $5 online, $7 at the door.

Easy Tiger’s Pumpkin Beer Flight Nights, 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3 and Tuesday, Oct. 4. $8 flights treat you to pumpkin beers from Boulevard Brewing, Dogfish Head, Southern Tier Brewing and Avery Brewing.

12th Annual Oktoberfest at Zax, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5. Local and German Oktoberfest beers are going to taste extra good with Smokey Denmark beer brats.

2nd Annual Oktoberfest Crowler Cup at Cuvee Coffee, 6 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6. Ten Oktoberfest beers will enter the ring, but only one will be victor. The winner is declared based on your vote.

For First Friday Firkin, Uncle Billy's Firkin Nutz is going for $3 a pint. It's the Berdoll Brown Candied Pecan Ale with cocoa nibs and raspberries.
For First Friday Firkin, Uncle Billy’s Firkin Nutz is going for $3 a pint. It’s the Berdoll Brown Candied Pecan Ale with cocoa nibs and raspberries.

First Friday Firkin at Uncle Billy’s, 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7. This month’s limited release is Firkin Nutz, Uncle Billy’s Berdoll Brown Candied Pecan Ale infused with cocoa nibs and fresh raspberries. $3 a pint.

Red River Tailgate at Treaty Oak Distilling, 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. If you can’t make it to the rivalry game, the distillery has the next best thing: a festive State Fair vibe with burgers and dogs grilled over live fire, the game on multiple screens, beer on tap, and specialty cocktails.

Taptoberfest at the Brass Tap Round Rock, 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. More Oktoberfest fun, with live music, a mug-holding contest and a beer list that will make your mouth water.

The Driskill Beer Dinner with Adelbert’s, 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10. A four-course meal from the 1886 Café & Bakery team, paired with beers from Adelbert’s Brewery. $40.

Blue Owl Brewing’s Wee Beastie Release, 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12. Blue Owl’s next seasonal is a sour Wee Heavy, lightly peated, with malty-sweet caramel notes.

Edi Kante Pop-up Wine Dinner at Italic, 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12. Wines from producer Edi Kante will be paired with Italian dishes from Chef Andrew Curren. $25-$75. There’s also a free Kante happy hour at Italic’s café.

Women in Whiskey Panel at Easy Tiger, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12. This special Whiskey Wednesday event will feature four whiskeys whose production is influenced by women – with three of those female industry stars present at an hour-long panel.

Oktoberfest at Banger’s, 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 through midnight, Oct. 15. Three days of German beers, German-inspired food, German-related games and more commence with a gun salute and a free firkin of Live Oak Oaktoberfest.

Beers on Pink at Lustre Pearl East, 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13. This fundraising event for the National Breast Cancer Foundation features photographs of the beers from participating local breweries.

Deep Ellum Brewing Pint Night at Frank, 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13. Pair Deep Ellum’s Hop Seeker, a wet hop ale, with poutine waffle fries to find yourself in a delicious food coma.

Hops & Grain’s 5th Anniversary Party, 12 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. No pre-sold tickets this time; just show up and enjoy beers from an irresistible tap list.

Treaty Oak Ranch’s 1-Year Anniversary, 12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. Celebrate one year of the distillery’s new digs with games, cocktails, food trucks and even a car show.

It’s the Tits Fest at Adelbert’s, 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. Adelbert’s 2nd annual fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Resource Center will have much more than 15 beers on tap.

Flying Saucer’s BeerFeast 2016, 2 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. The bar’s annual festival, with more than 50 breweries and 80 craft beers, returns. $35 in advance, $45 at the door.

Operation Steingrabber at Zilker Brewing, 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. The launch of Zilker’s Festbier wouldn’t be complete without sausage, steins and music, of course.

Sip & Savor at Swift’s Attic with Lakewood Brewing, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19. Go on a culinary tour of Lakewood’s brews, which are paired with inspired small bites. $40.

Iron Cactus Tequila Tour, 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20. Taste 10 tequilas of your choice from up-and-coming brands. Admission also gets you appetizers, live music and a branded snifter glass. $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

.5K Micro Marathon at Circle Brewing, 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. Run with pints for 1,640 feet to help raise money for the Sustainable Food Center. Don’t spill to win. $20-$35.

Honey Fest at Texas Keeper Cider, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. Two Hives Honey will be at the cidery for a day of bee education and revelry. Plus, Texas Keeper is releasing its first cyser (honey and apple fermented together). $10.

Pinthouse Pizza’s 4th Anniversary Party, 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. The Burnet Road brewpub is transforming into a 1980s senior prom for the day, with a photo booth, an ’80s DJ and special tappings. If you live south, check out Pinthouse Pizza on South Lamar’s 1st anniversary bash (a freshman prom.)

Live Oak Brewing’s Annual Oaktoberfest, 12 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. Enjoy polka music, smoked meats and sausages from Smokey Denmark, and fresh Oaktoberfest and Smoaktoberfest on draft at the brewery.

AustOberfest 2016, 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. The annual event doubles as Scholz Garten’s whopping 150th anniversary. Expect beers, all-you-can-eat sausage, bowling and more.

Winemaker Tasting at June’s, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26. Join the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas for this come-and-go tasting featuring Jasmine Hirsch of Hirsch Vineyards. $55-$70.

Infamous Oktoberfest at the League in Lakeway, 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27. Celebrate the League’s 5th anniversary with beers from Infamous Brewing.

Official Kick-Off Party of Austin Beer Week, 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28. The week of beer insanity returns with a celebration at Craft Pride, which will be tapping more than 20 special releases.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. San Gabriel River Brewery, in Liberty Hill, is hosting its first chili cook-off at the end of October.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. San Gabriel River Brewery, in Liberty Hill, is hosting its first chili cook-off at the end of October.

San Gabriel River Brewery’s 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. An admission ticket, proceeds of which benefit Habitat of Humanity of Williamson County, will get you a taste of any or all of the chili and a beer from the taproom. $10.

Pints for Pups at Infamous Brewing, 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. $10 donation gets you an event glass and 1 pint of Infamous goodness, with the money going toward Wags, Hopes and Healing.

Draught House’s 48th Anniversary Party, 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. The beloved brewpub’s biggest party of the year will host a Beer Olympics, live music and food trucks. And lots of great beers.

With new añejo and branding, Tequila 512 seeks major expansion

Tequila 512 now comes in three different expressions. A local design firm has outfitted the bottles in bright new labels.
Tequila 512 now comes in three different expressions. A local design firm has outfitted the bottles in bright new labels as well.

As more beverage brands crowd the shelves, it’s increasingly important for them to have a logo and overall look that will catch our attention — which is why Tequila 512 recently underwent a design overhaul that helps it stand out. The redesign comes as the tequila company releases its first añejo and hires a veteran in the spirits industry, with the goal of deeper expansion across Texas and beyond.

The label design is the work of Austin-based brand studio the Butler Bros., which took inspiration from the hand-painted signs visible on buildings in Tequila, Mexico, near the distillery where Tequila 512’s blanco, reposado and añejo are all produced. A bold yellow stripe across Tequila 512’s packaging serves as the signature design element, both drawing our eyes to the bottles and paying subtle homage to the colorful culture from which tequila comes.

Tequila 512 founder Scott Willis wanted the design to reflect Austin, too — since the company is based here, after all, in new headquarters off South First Street.

“I took one of the Butler brothers down to Mexico with me, and he was just blown away by all the signs and the buildings down there,” Willis said. “The task for them was to do something that was Austin cool in the way that Hotel San Jose is, the way that Hotel Saint Cecilia is. It’s cool, but it doesn’t have ‘Austin, Texas’ all over it. So we played that down with this yellow look and decided to carry it through all three product lines.”

Having a sophisticated look is especially crucial for Willis, who hired Christopher Cain, formerly of Dulce Vida Tequila, to help expand the business and get the tequila into more places across Austin and the rest of the state. He’s also debuting Tequila 512 Añejo, and with a full product line under his belt, he recognizes the need for a design on the outside of the bottle that matches the quality of the liquid inside.

“It’s the same good juice as we had before, but we just brought our packaging up to par,” he said.

The añejo, which Willis promises is “crazy good,” was aged for 13 months in barrels that previously housed bourbon. As a result, this third addition to the lineup builds sweetly to a peppery body and a mango finish, he said. If that sounds like a good addition to your tequila supply, don’t delay in grabbing a bottle: Tequila 512 only has about 350 cases on the market, and once they’re gone, the añejo won’t be available again until next fall. You’ll be able to find it for $35-$37, an approachable price for the aged spirit.

“I’m just excited to get it out there and have the line complete for awhile,” Willis said.

He has built the tequila company from the ground up, pouring everything he’s had into it since founding it four years ago. All that hard work paid off last year, when Tequila 512 Blanco earned double gold and the “Best in Show” award at the prestigious 15th Annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Willis was then able to raise more than a million dollars in funding in a campaign that ended earlier this year.

Finally, Tequila 512 is in the right place for a proper expansion and the chance to continue spreading the agave love.

“We’ve had great product; we’ve always had great product. We’ve won one of the biggest awards you can win,” he said. “We just felt like we needed the packaging to match and the personnel to match. And now we have it. All the pieces are there now.”

TexAgave hopes to become Texas’ substitute for tequila

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. TexAgave, made from agave nectar, is ideal in a margarita.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. TexAgave, made from agave nectar, is ideal in a margarita. Just swap the tequila out for this new Texas spirit.

Although Texans love our margaritas, we don’t make them with regional ingredients — the main spirit in them, tequila, comes from Mexico, the same place where the cocktail originated.

But now, thanks to a small Leander distillery, there’s a Texas-made alternative produced from agave nectar: TexAgave Blue Agave Spirits.

So far, it’s the only spirit made at Square Peg Distilling, which Scott Calame founded when he realized his idea was worthy of mass-market consumption. A longtime homebrewer, he stumbled across agave nectar — a sweetener made from the agave plant, like tequila, and often regarded as a more palatable sugar substitute than honey — and decided to bet on its potential as a distillate, after first fermenting it into a dry white wine.

“Once I saw the nice, drinkable products I could make with agave nectar, I started realizing, ‘I think there’s an opportunity for a truly Texas-made alternative to tequila.’ That was where I came up with the idea and went from there,” he said.

When he introduces TexAgave to new customers, however, he makes a couple of things very clear: TexAgave isn’t tequila and isn’t trying to be. Mexico’s regulations defining what tequila is and how it can be made also protect the spirit from being produced in another country, in a law called denomination of origin. That means Calame can’t even use any variation of the word ‘tequila’ in the name of his agave nectar spirit.

He also stresses that his intent in making TexAgave has nothing to do with his feelings toward tequila. On the contrary, he is like many Austinites and simply prefers locally made goods that find a piece of their identity in where they come from.

“I don’t disparage or dislike tequila. It was the inspiration for this product,” he said. “But I wanted to celebrate life in Texas and give Texans the opportunity to make their margaritas with a liquor made in Texas.”

The 80 proof spirit is distilled primarily from agave nectar that Calame receives in bulk from a California company with connections to agave farmers in Mexico. Before the distillation from a long column still, he adds a couple of other sugars, including cane molasses, into the fermentation process to guarantee that the sugars are fully converted into alcohol. (Agave nectar isn’t a favorite food of yeast, he said, so having the molasses helps them eat up the rest of it.)

Another benefit of the cane molasses and corn sugar, he said, is that they contribute “a more complex and nuanced flavor.” Because agave nectar is the result of juice from the agave plant being boiled into a syrup — losing some of the natural elements that give tequila its taste — it’s not quite as flavorful as Calame would want.

“When you taste the product, you’ll probably pick up a little bit of a rum characteristic, just a little bit of a tropical note, as a result of the cane molasses,” he said. “Also notes of vanilla and coconut. None of those things are in the product, but that’s just what comes to mind when people smell and get a little taste of it at the tastings that I do.”

Don’t worry, tequila fans: TexAgave’s agave characteristic is apparent, too. That’s what makes it so good in a margarita, which Calame whips up for customers who stop into liquor stores and don’t expect to appreciate a new type of spirit so much.

The price point probably persuades them into buying a bottle as well — most stores carrying it (the biggest one being Total Wine & More, with two locations in Austin) sell it for less than $20. Calame likes to keep it so accessible because “I wanted something Texans would gravitate toward at a price point where they could feel good about dumping it into the margarita pitcher,” he said. “That’s something I hope you wouldn’t do with a $60 or $70 bottle of tequila. I even hesitate to throw a $30 bottle into the margarita pitcher.”

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Scott Calame has been a longtime homebrewer but has turned distilling into a business, making an agave nectar spirit in Leander.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Scott Calame has been a longtime homebrewer but has turned distilling into a business, making an agave nectar spirit in Leander.

Soon enough, there will be another TexAgave bottle that you’ll be able to make those margaritas with. Square Peg Distilling is releasing a triple sec under the TexAgave brand at only 15 percent ABV, and it’s sweet without being cloying.

“So you’d be able to make a margarita with almost entirely Texas-made products,” Calame said.

He’s also got something a little more secret in the works. All he can reveal about it, for now, is that it’s a high-end orange liqueur. And that he’s very excited about it.

“I can’t believe how close we came to some of the other products in the category,” he said.

Although Square Peg Distilling isn’t yet opened for tours and tastings, look for that to change sometime in the future, when Calame will transform an outdoor space outside his Leander facility into the perfect place for sipping cocktails.

For more information, visit facebook.com/TexAgave.

Dulce Vida Tequila adds line of flavored tequilas in rebranding move

Photo by Julia Keim. Dulce Vida Grapefruit, Blanco at 80 proof and Dulce Vida Lime are new additions to the relaunching tequila brand.
Photo by Julia Keim. Dulce Vida Grapefruit, Blanco at 80 proof and Dulce Vida Lime are new additions to the relaunching tequila brand.

Not long after former Deep Eddy Vodka executives purchased Dulce Vida Tequila, the Austin-based tequila company is already launching two new lines of tequila — including one that will introduce two flavored spirits.

Dulce Vida, which made waves in the tequila industry by producing all-organic, 100-proof tequilas, is releasing a blanco, reposado and añejo at a lower 80 proof, to invite a wider range of drinkers to the organic products. But most notably, Dulce Vida now has two fruit-infused blanco tequilas as well: one made with lime, the other with grapefruit, two of the most common flavors in tequila cocktails.

Flavored tequila has never taken off as a spirits category before, but Milestone Brands’ CEO Eric Dopkins — whose newly formed spirits company scooped up Dulce Vida in the spring, followed by Tennessee’s American Born Moonshine — aims to change that. He and business partner Chad Auler, also formerly of Deep Eddy and now Milestone’s president, believe they know what consumers want.

Obviously, with our experience at Deep Eddy using real fruit and doing things differently, our mission was to reinvent flavored spirits,” Dopkins said. “We feel that can also be applied to other categories, not just vodka… This is really a breakthrough, a disrupter. As cocktail-ready tequila, it’s very good straight, good on the rocks, good with simple mixers. ” 

He and Dulce Vida are very clear that the lime and grapefruit-infused tequilas follow the strict guidelines the Mexican government has laid out dictating what tequila can be. Even with the fruity additions, both are still considered tequila, “not a prepared cocktail or a liqueur,” Dopkins said.

And they are also, as a result of Mexico’s regulations, surprisingly low-calorie.

“Tequila is so regulated that you can’t just add whatever ingredients you want,” he said. “They limit you with sugar content and what you can put in it to still call it tequila. Because of that, there are not a lot of additives here. The net result is a lower carb, lower calorie tequila: 66 calories. That’s lower than a Michelob Ultra.”

The decreased amount of sugar in the Dulce Vida Lime and Dulce Vida Grapefruit is only a boon to the taste because the tequilas incorporate both of the fruity flavors without being overly sweet. They also maintain the flavor of Dulce Vida’s Los Altos highlands agave, slightly floral and fruity itself, that complements lime and grapefruit so well in margaritas and palomas.

Those two cocktails are the main reasons that Dopkins and Auler, in charge of the product development, chose lime and grapefruit to start with. (They’ve got another flavor in the works but aren’t ready to reveal it yet.)

Not too often can you drink tequila straight out of the bottle and get that balance,” Dopkins said. “Usually you’re going to get that pucker, that harshness. Here, you’re getting a nice balance, fruit in the front, and a nice finish. That’s part of our whole concept, to break people into the tequila category and show consumers you can have fruit-infused tequila. It can really change how you drink tequila.”

The other new line of Dulce Vida Tequila, at 80 proof, is similarly important to the brand. But for fans of the original 100-proof options, don’t worry — those aren’t going away. The 80-proof tequilas are meant to supplement the existing ones, drawing in more tequila converts. They are also cheaper.

That’s our whole mission, to make the brand much more affordable and approachable. We think we’re over-delivering on quality,” Dopkins said. 

He and Auler sold Deep Eddy Vodka last year to Kentucky’s Heaven Hill brands for an undisclosed sum. As the fastest growing spirits brand in the country, Deep Eddy has proven the entrepreneurs’ capability — they know how to strike liquid gold.

On West Sixth, Walton’s Fancy and Staple now serving cocktails

Photo by Ashlyn Allison. The Whoop Pear It Is, with cachaça amd fresh fruit juice, is one of Walton's Fancy and Staple's new cocktails.
Photo by Ashlyn Allison. The Whoop Pear It Is, with cachaça amd fresh fruit juice, is one of Walton’s Fancy and Staple’s new cocktails.

Longtime fans of Walton’s Fancy and Staple, a deli and bakery, have a boozy new reason to stop into the downtown spot.

For lunch, dinner or happy hour, Walton’s is offering a rotating menu of drinks, all “handmade using the freshest ingredients and (embodying) the same attention to detail as Walton’s classic offerings,” according to a press release. Diners can also enjoy the cocktails — which join the already available beer and wine — on the weekends.

The cocktails run between $8 to $9 per glass or $32 per carafe. These are primarily original concoctions, including:

  • Sweet Temptation, with Citadelle Gin, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lemonade, strawberry slices and muddled strawberry puree, and blackberries and blueberries
  • Whoop Pear It is, with cachaça, Mathilde Poire pear liqueur, fresh pear juice and basil
  • Burnt Orange, with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, fresh orange juice, rosemary simple syrup, orange bitters and rosemary sprigs
  • Fancy Pants, with Bulleit Bourbon, Cuvée cold-brew coffee, Hops & Grain PorterCulture and honey toasted-almond syrup
  • Smokin’ Sunset, with Wahaka Mezcal, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, fresh orange juice and blood-orange puree
  • Prickly Paloma, with silver tequila, Jarritos grapefruit soda and prickly pear puree

Sip on one while chowing down on one of Walton’s sandwiches or on another new menu item, a $17 cheese board that “includes a selection of four gourmet cheeses — blue cheese, Brie, cheddar and hard ripened cow’s milk cheese — as well as fresh honeycomb, house-made pickles, candied walnuts, fresh fruit, house-made jam and lavash cracker bread,” according to the release. The cheese board is only available from 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

Walton’s Fancy and Staple, which actress Sandra Bullock opened in 2009 and still owns, is located at 609 W. Sixth St. The deli and bakery is opened from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

This post has been corrected to reflect that the cheese board, not the drinks, is only available from 3 to 7 p.m. during the week.