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 bars ringing in 2017 with New Year’s Eve celebrations

Tom McCarthy Jr. for American-Statesman. Looking for a classy New Year's Eve experience? The Townsend is offering cocktails and live music from performers like Miss Lavelle White.
Tom McCarthy Jr. for American-Statesman. Looking for a classy New Year’s Eve experience? The Townsend is offering cocktails and live music from performers like Miss Lavelle White.

Whether you prefer beer, champagne or something a little harder to bring in the new year, Austin’s watering holes are making sure you’ve got your drink of choice and more during their New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Not sure where to go? Here are some options and what they are offering during the countdown to midnight.

  • Ah Sing Den: Forget the champagne toast at midnight. The Asian-inspired den on East Sixth Street — once East Side Showroom — is offering a free punch toast instead, along with late-night bites available ’til 1:30 a.m.
  • Backbeat: Because of such a prime location with downtown views, the cocktail bar is offering a fireworks viewing watch party from the rooftop, but you’ll want to get there extra early and enjoy a special cocktail and punch menu.
  • Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden: In true Banger’s fashion, the Rainey Street beer bar is readying for 2017 with a Smoke Out Saturday beginning at 6 p.m.
  • Blue Owl Brewing: The party at this East Austin brewery is kicking off a little early with a Wee Heavy toast at 6 p.m. (when it’s midnight in Scotland, the home country of one of the co-founders’ spouses)
  • Dog & Duck Pub: Once again, the beer bar is ringing in the new year British-style — that is, at 6 p.m. with a champagne toast.
  • Drinks Lounge: The 3rd Annual Soul Shindig is returning with the finest selection of funk and soul on black vinyl. Just come dressed up and, if you want a booth, make reservations ahead of time.
  • Easy Tiger: Welcome the new year with $20 bombers of beer instead of champagne, such as Left Hand 2014 Smoke Jumper, Jester King 2015 Hibernal Dichotomous and more.
  • Half Step: Delicious revelry is in store at this New Year’s Eve soiree, which will have live music, punch, a champagne toast at 12 a.m. and even a limbo contest.
  • Hopfields: Whether you’re coming for a five-course dinner to start the festivities or arriving later for the party, make sure you’re decked out in festive garb channeling Frank Sinatra, Havana nights, “Mad Men” and/or the Rat Pack. The French-inspired gastropub is going classy to finish out 2016.
  • Irene’s: It’s hard to find a better deal than $40 magnums of bubbles on the best night of the year for them. After midnight, you can also enjoy black-eyed peas and collard greens for prosperity in 2017.
  • Mean Eyed Cat: Let your final meal of the year be the black-eyed peas, gumbo and $1 chopped beef sandwiches that Stubb’s BBQ is serving at this dive bar devoted to Johnny Cash
  • Mort Subite: The Belgian beer bar on Congress Avenue wants you to party like it’s 1791. That is, that you’re sipping on Dues, the champagne of beers created by Bosteels Brewery, which was founded in 1791.
  • Oskar Blues: It’s the brewery party for music lovers. Oskar Blues is lighting up the final night of 2016 with a couple of Flaming Lips side projects and stellar Austin acts.
  • Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing: Party in the ‘burbs with beers like the Bourbon Barrel Suburban Ninja Imperial Stout and a toast of Red Horn’s golden ale at midnight.
  • Small Victory: Want a cozy New Year’s Eve with a small number of revelers? The cocktail bar is offering just such a haven for no cover charge and tasty wintertime libations.
  • St. Elmo Brewing: One of Austin’s newest breweries, off South Congress Avenue, is toasting at midnight with a free pour of Carl Kolsch for everyone; just buy your ticket in advance or at the door
  • The Townsend: This cocktail bar doubles as one of the best live music venues in town and is proving it with a New Year’s Eve show headlined by Miss Lavelle White. Reserve a ticket in advance.
  • Whip In: Go ahead and embrace those Miller High Life minis you secretly love. Plus, there will be chicken buckets to pair with ’em, a balloon drop, a champagne toast and even a cork popping competition that will get the winner a free bar tab.
  • Whisler’s: The East Sixth Street cocktail bar is throwing it back with a drinks menu of some of Whisler’s greatest hits from the past 3 1/2 years. The night will also have DJ beats and party favors.
  • Whitestone Brewery: In Cedar Park, Whitestone has double reason to party — the brewery is celebrating its one-year anniversary. As such, the fun begins at noon and will run past midnight, with food truck grub, a photo booth, live music, commemorative beer mugs and a midnight toast with Whitestone’s special release of Red Wine Saison. Note that it’s 21 and up after 8 p.m.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Mort Subite is offering a Belgian brew considered "the champagne of beers" for New Year's Eve festivities.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Mort Subite is offering a Belgian brew considered “the champagne of beers” for New Year’s Eve festivities.

Austin’s drinking events calendar, July 2016

Photo by J. Potter-Miller. Last Stand Brewing, down the street from Jester King, will be open on Saturdays from 1 to 6 p.m. starting this weekend, when you'll be able to try the brewery's two flagship beers.
Photo by J. Potter-Miller. Last Stand Brewing is teaming up with its boozy neighbors, Argus Cidery and Revolution Spirits, on Fourth of July weekend for a series of collaborative releases.

‘Merica Fest 2.0 at the Brew & Brew, 2 p.m. Friday, July 1. Get your Fourth of July celebrations started early and stop into try some great American brews from the likes of Real Ale and Austin Beerworks.

Reds, Whites & Blue Cheese at the Austin Winery, 12 p.m. Saturday, July 2. The Austin Winery is supplying the red and white wine, while the Burro Cheese Kitchen will have the blue cheese sandwiches.

Celebrate Your Independence First Saturday Party at Independence Brewing, 1 p.m. Saturday. This patriotic version of the monthly party is offering three beers for the purchase of a $10 wristband.

Craftsman Park All-American Release Party, 1 p.m. Saturday, July 2. Boozy neighbors Argus Cidery, Last Stand Brewing and Revolution Spirits are sharing their collaborative releases.

Rustic Tap Grand Opening, 2 p.m. Saturday, July 2. This outdoor beer bar from the Original Hoffbrau Steakhouse next door is officially opening with adult sno cones, party games and even a slip-n-slide.

Geraldine’s Red, White and Blues, 8 p.m. Sunday. The night on the rooftop deck at Hotel Van Zandt kicks off with a live show from Jackie Venson, accompanied by patriotic bites and cocktails.

Fourth of July at Live Oak Brewing, 12 to 8 p.m. Monday, July 4. This family-friendly party will have good ol’ American tunes along with some special dry-hopped casks featuring American hops.

Fourth of July Party at Hops & Grain, 12 p.m. Monday, July 4. Hops & Grain’s annual Independence Day party returns with special glassware and Your Mom’s offering sliders.

Like sister bar Drink.Well, Backbeat offers well-made cocktails and food, some of which will be on special during happy hour.
Backbeat is throwing a shrimp boil on the Fourth of July with drink specials and eats.

Backbeat’s 4th of July Shrimp Boil, 2 p.m. Monday, July 4. All-you-can-eat Gulf shrimp boil with trimmings and drink specials from Brooklyn Gin, Friends & Allies Brewing and Old Forester Bourbon. $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

The Rattle Inn 4th of July Fireworks Viewing Party, 8 p.m. Monday, July 4. The rooftop deck at the Rattle Inn offers great views of the fireworks and tasty cocktails to boot.

El Alma’s 5 Year Anniversary, 7 p.m. Thursday, July 7. Celebrate with margaritas and mariachis at this anniversary fiesta. $5 Margaritas Clasicas will be available ‘til closing time.

Chef McGrath’s Summer Dinner Party with Wine at Central Market Cooking School, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 8. A five-course feast paired with summer wines.

Twisted X Brewing’s 5th Anniversary Picnic, 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 9. This Hill Country brewery will launch a rebranding with music, merchandise from local artisans and family-friendly activities.

Red Line Brewery Tour 3, 4:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 9. Take the Capital MetroRail Red Line to visit three local breweries – Black Star Co-op, Circle Brewing and Zilker Brewing. If you go to all three, you can get some free swag.

Texas Wine Revolution, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 10. Taste rosé wines from more than 20 Texas wineries, which are showing off their distinct terroir at this event at William Chris Vineyards in Hye with live music, food and more. $50.

Photo by Emma Janzen / American-Statesman. Whisler's celebrates its 2-year anniversary on June 28.
Photo by Emma Janzen. Whisler’s celebrates its 3-year anniversary on July 10.

Whisler’s 3 Year Anniversary, 2 p.m. Sunday, July 10. Raise a glass to this East Austin cocktail bar, which will have live music, a special cocktail menu and a beer from Oasis, TX Brewing made especially for Whisler’s.

10 Years of Texas Beers at Opal Divine’s Marina, 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 12 through 8 p.m. Friday, July 15. Enjoy tap takeovers from Thirsty Planet, Independence Brewing, Karbach Brewing, Real Ale and more.

Infinite Monkey Theorem Wine Dinner at Counter 357, 6 and 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 12. A five-course feast paired with IMT wines including the 2014 Bubbles Universe and the Denver Cabernet Franc. $100.

Zax’ Thirteen Year Anniversary Party, 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 13. This Barton Springs Road restaurant is still going strong, so toast with a special tapping of Lagunitas Lucky 13.

Jacoby’s and Austin Eastciders’ Dinner, 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 14. The east side neighbors are pairing up for this four-course meal featuring Eastciders’ four main ciders. $65.

Six-Pack Stories, 7 p.m. Thursday, July 14. The “original gangsters” of craft beer – such as Brad Farbstein of Real Ale Brewing and Brock Wagner of Saint Arnold Brewing – are teaming up in this panel to share long-lost stories of the early days.

Summer Luau & Pig Roast at the Whip In, 3 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 16. $2 off any beer or wine if you’re wearing a Hawaiian shirt at this surf rock party.

Real Ale 20 for 20 at the Growler Bar, 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 17. Pflugerville’s newest craft beer bar is having Real Ale take over the taps to mark the brewery’s 20th anniversary.

Odell Tiger Whisper Release Party, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19. At Easy Tiger, try the beer bar’s collaboration brew with Odell Brewing in Colorado. Tiger Whisper is a single-hop pale ale.

Official Launch of Friends & Allies’ Urban Chicken Saison, 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 19. The local Friends & Allies Brewing is releasing another animal-themed beer at Mean Eyed Cat.

Kitty Cohen’s Grand Opening, 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 22. After replacing Bar 2211, Kitty Cohen’s, a beachy retro-inspired bar, is officially opening with Proof & Cooper fried chicken and live tunes from the Avocados and DJ Shorty Stump.

Texas Keeper Cider Release Party, 11 a.m. Saturday, July 23. The South Austin cidery is welcoming a new demi-sec cider that will remind your palate of a good German Riesling. Live music, lawn games and food also await.

Taste of Cesar Chavez Festival, 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Craftsman is playing host to a variety of local bars and restaurants on East Cesar Chavez, including Jacoby’s, Mongers and Sawyer & Co., to showcase the flavors of the street.

Wet Hot Adelbert’s Summer & Can Release Party, 1 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Adelbert’s beers are finally going into cans, and the brewery is marking the moment with live music, food trucks and a snow cone station.

1st Annual Beer Can Chicken Competition, 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Three local breweries – Austin Beerworks, Hops & Grain and Independence – compete against each other and Whip In chefs.

Z’Tejas’ Celebration of National Tequila Day, 11 a.m. Sunday, July 24. All three locations of this Tex-Mex spot will have a deal too good to miss: half off all tequila drinks. Yes, all of them. All day.

Feast of Saint Arnold Beer Dinner at Greenhouse Craft Food, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24. The Round Rock restaurant’s monthly beer pairing dinners are returning with this one featuring Bishop’s Barrel beers and other Saint Arnold offerings. $70.54.

Recalcitrant Dockhand Tapping at Black Star Co-op, 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, July 26. The gold medal winner at last year’s Great American Beer Festival returns with all the roasted coffee, vanilla and molasses notes you swooned over last time.

Adjunct Professor Blackberry Release at Blue Owl Brewing, 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 27. Professor Black has gotten fermented with blueberries and blackberries, so it tastes like a sour-mashed stout with chocolate-covered berries. How can you resist that?

Real Ale 20th Anniversary Backyard Bash & Tap Takeover at the Blackheart, 5 p.m. Saturday, July 30. Two days’ worth of cellared releases tapping in one afternoon, Texas barbecue and rock ‘n’ roll in celebration of 20 years of Real Ale.

Pinthouse Pizza South Lamar’s Grand Opening Party, 11 a.m Saturday, July 30. Yeah, the second location of this brewpub has been opened awhile, but who can turn down a party with special beer tappings, door prizes and more?

Infused mezcal Gem & Bolt hits Austin market with Whisler’s launch

Although mezcal, like tequila, also derives from the agave plant, the resulting smoky spirit is often polarizing for drinkers who prefer tequila’s sweeter, more herbaceous nature — but that’s not the case with a new mezcal called Gem&Bolt.

The mezcal is launching in Austin, its first U.S. market, with a party this evening at Whisler’s and the East Sixth Street bar’s upstairs mezcalaria, Tobalá. And people trying it for the first time will notice that the typical smoky profile is layered with botanical notes, making it an all-around more accessible spirit for sipping on its own or in cocktails.

Those botanical notes come from damiana, a shrub native to Mexico and other parts of Central and South America that herbalists say can have beneficial properties for those who ingest it. For larger-than-life artists AdrinAdrina and Elliott Coon, infusing mezcal with damiana was a no-brainer when they decided making their own brand of mezcal was the right next step for them, as longtime friends and business partners who grew up in a Bohemian outpost in the mountains of Virginia.

AdrinAdrina and Elliott Coon have found a home in Oaxaca, where they have birthed a mezcal brand called Gem & Bolt. The mezcal is infused with an indigenous herb called damiana.
AdrinAdrina and Elliott Coon have found a home in Oaxaca, where they have birthed a mezcal brand called Gem & Bolt. The mezcal is infused with an indigenous herb called damiana.

They chose to infuse the mezcal with damiana not just because of the added complexity that comes from the herb. They also chose it because “medicinal art,” Coon said, has been part of their brand since they opened a speakeasy together in Oakland, California.

But with the infusing, they’re staying true to Mexican tradition, not introducing new methods to making mezcal — adding herbs to the agave spirit has always been done.

“There’s quite a tradition of infusing herbs with mezcal in Oaxaca and the other states where mezcal is legally made,” Coon said. “However, it’s not common to find these in the U.S. The ones in Oaxaca with herbs are the ones you’d find in mezcalarias, which have a bunch of bottles without labels on them and oftentimes came from a neighbor. So a lot of them are self-infused at the bar itself or by someone’s family. They’re old family recipes that haven’t reached the commercial level.”

By bringing Gem&Bolt to the U.S., the artists are introducing a hidden side of Oaxaca, where 80 percent of the world’s mezcal is produced (legally, the spirit can only come from certain parts of Mexico).

But neither AdrinAdrina nor Coon expected they would be in Austin now, spreading the gospel of their beloved spirit. A visit to Oaxaca and its capital city to research mezcal for their Oakland speakeasy a few years ago wasn’t supposed to be permanent.

“We fell in love with the city, the culture, the art and, of course, the mezcal itself,” Coon said. “It really resonated with us. We moved our whole operation from Oakland to Oaxaca and opened our speakeasy in a beautiful abandoned hacienda in downtown Oaxaca. After awhile, we thought we needed our own brand.”

Their speakeasies (the Oaxacan one is also now closed down) had been called Gem&Bolt, a name that especially resonated with the duo when they learned a piece of Zapotec legend explaining the creation of mezcal. Before researching these myths of the Zapotecs — an indigenous civilization that settled present-day Oaxaca some 2,500 years ago — AdrinAdrina and Coon had been worried about calling their mezcal by an English name “and looking like imposters,” Coon said.

Gem & Bolt mezcal is available only in Austin so far, at bars and stores like Whisler's, Odd Duck and Twin Liquors.
Gem & Bolt mezcal is available only in Austin so far, at bars and stores like Whisler’s, Odd Duck and Twin Liquors.

The Zapotec tale would prove to be their vindication, however.

“The origin story says that a lightning bolt struck the agave plants that then produced the fermented juice that locals would later come to distill,” Coon said. “That was really powerful for us because if you cut off the spines of the plant, it looks remarkably like a gem. So that moment when we discovered that lightning hit the gem, essentially, and created mezcal, we thought it was meant to be.”

Another challenge for AdrinAdrina and Coon was convincing the locals that these two American women really weren’t interlopers looking to cash in on a spirit that is finally getting its day in the sun. More mezcal brands than ever are getting imported to the U.S. and around the world, which means that many once small-time producers have to find ways to scale up while maintaining the integrity of their mezcal. It’s a spirit that Mexico fiercely guards.

“It was difficult from the beginning,” Coon said. “We were two white females coming into a world dominated by men and and by Mexicans very protective of a spirit that truly does need protecting. They want to make sure people come in with the right intentions. It took us awhile to be received from that context, but we were and we’ve been welcomed with open arms from other brands.”

They found a fourth-generation master distiller in Oaxaca who was willing to adapt to the more herbal recipe. Each batch, she said, “is carefully regulated to make sure the mezcal is produced with really strict, traditional methods. It’s a highly regulated industry, which we think is beautiful so that this important spirit is preserved.”

And now AdrinAdrina and Coon are taking the U.S. by storm and hoping that Gem&Bolt strikes a chord first in Austin, already a city of mezcal lovers. The party at Whisler’s, kicking off at 8 p.m. tonight, is not-to-miss for a first taste of the mezcal and of the brand as a whole, which both insist is more than about mezcal.

“We’re an art and culture brand celebrating how people drink,” Coon said. “Celebration doesn’t have to be drunken debauchery, and drinking doesn’t have to be either. We like to call alcohol a ‘spirit’ because it creates an ambiance for celebration — opening yourself up to other people.”

For more information, visit gemandbolt.com.

Austin’s drinking events calendar, April 2016

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Zilker Brewing is celebrating their one-year anniversary this year with a special SMaSH beer on April 9.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Zilker Brewing is celebrating their one-year anniversary this year with a special SMaSH beer on April 9.

Saint Arnold’s Divine Reserve Tap Takeover at the Whip In, 4 p.m. Friday, April 1. The Whip In wants to make clear this event with Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner is no April Fool’s Joke – which is good because the bar is offering flights of different Divine Reserve brews.

Uncle Billy’s First Friday Firkin, 5 p.m. Friday, April 1. Try this limited beer, a special 10-year anniversary double IPA made with 10 different hops, as well as pineapple, cantaloupe, and tangerines, while you can.

Brew Hop in Downtown San Marcos, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 1. A boozy new addition to San Marcos’ popular Swing on the Square event, it’ll have beers from San Marcos and Hill Country breweries, including the Root Cellar Café and Brewery.

Yoga in the Yard at Parlor & Yard, 10 a.m. Saturday, April 2. The $13.65 tickets include two mimosas, and once you finish up your relaxing hour-long session, you can get started on brunch.

Gibson Street Bar’s Crawfish Boil, 12 p.m. Saturday, April 2. Get crawfish at $8 per pound, paired with pints from Karbach Brewing.

Visit Independence Brewing for the brewery's special First Saturday event, offering 3 beers for $10.
Visit Independence Brewing for the brewery’s special First Saturday event, offering 3 beers for $10.

First Saturday at Independence Brewing, 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 2. $10 wristbands gets you three beers, which you can enjoy while listening to live music and chowing down on Wholly Cow Burgers.

The Rattle Inn’s 2nd Annual Crawfish Boil, 1 p.m. Sunday, April 3. 2 lb. portions of crawfish and sides, beer specials, and live music from local zydeco band Chansons et Soûlards.

Easy Tiger’s Easy Sunday, 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 3. A celebration of local food and beer, with $1 Austin Beerworks cans, food specials, raffle prizes and more.

Trace’s Chef’s Dinner with Circle Brewing, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3. Six course paired with Circle beers, including the Hop Overboard Pale Ale and Nightlight Irish Stout. $55.

The Bruery Beer Dinner at Hopfields, 7:30 to 10:30 Monday, April 4. A 4-course meal and 5 Bruery beers, including the collaboration with Jester King, the Imperial Cabinet, based off the Ramos Gin Fizz cocktail. $80.

The Bruery Launch Party at the Flying Saucer, 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 5. Welcome the Bruery to Texas with this launch party that will have some of its beers tapped and bottled and Bruery reps available for a meet-and-greet.

Dive-In Movies at Dive Bar & Lounge, 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 5. “Top Gun” and “The Three Amigos” with drink specials, popcorn and more.

Easy Tiger’s Whiskey Bar Launch Party, 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 6. Check out the boozy selections at Easy Tiger’s new patio whiskey bar, as well as food and drink specials.

National Beer Day at Growler USA, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, April 7. An all-day happy hour that includes 10 percent off growler fills, $2 off all Texas beers, $3 off kombucha and a free plastic growler per person.

Adelbert’s Beer Dinner with Stella San Jac, 7 p.m. Thursday, April 7. A four-course meal featuring some of Adelbert’s most beloved beers, including Contemplating Waterloo. $45.

Single Barrel Series Release 2 at Revolution Spirits, 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 9. The second barrel-aged gin at Revolution is being released after having aged for just over 11 months in a barrel that formerly housed Jester King’s RU-55 Farmhouse Red Ale. In other words, it’s going to be very good.

The Onezie at Zilker Brewing, 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9.  Zilker’s one-year anniversary is being celebrated with a special SMaSH beer, food from Veracruz All-Natural, ice cream, music and more.

90s Bar Crawl, 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 9. Relive the 90s glory days at this bar crawl through downtown spots, starting with Parlor & Yard, with each bar playing 90s music favorites. $20 and up.

Photo by Brian Flannery. Whisler's upstairs mezcal bar is offering a special mezcal tasting with Del Maguey.
Photo by Brian Flannery. Whisler’s upstairs mezcal bar is offering a special mezcal tasting with Del Maguey.

Whisler’s Mezcalería Tobalá’s Special Evening with Del Maguey, 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 13. Evan Meeker from Del Maguey Mezcal is offering mezcal tastings and a discussion of the history of the Mexican spirit while live flamenco music plays.

Real Ale’s 20th Anniversary Party, 12 p.m. Saturday, April 16. A party you won’t forget with a bunch of specialty and year-round beers to choose from, as well as live music, food vendors and nostalgic memory-swapping.

Beers & Best Friends at Independence Brewing, 1 p.m. Saturday, April 16. A day of events for dogs and their humans, with activities including a doggy kissing booth and cake walk. And beer, of course. It’s all to benefit Austin Pets Alive and the Austin Dog Alliance.

Brunch of Firkins at Uncle Billy’s, 10 a.m. Sunday, April 17. Celebrate Uncle Billy’s decade of brewing with a variety of different firkins and live music, as well as all-day brunch.

Hops & Grain Tasting at Benji’s Cantina, 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 19. You aren’t just trying Hops & Grain brews – you’re in for a full-on feast with paired plates from Benji’s. $50.

Ballast Point “Fruit Salad” Tap Takeover at Pinthouse Pizza5 p.m. Wednesday, April 20. Try the range of Ballast Point’s fruit-infused brews, including Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, Watermelon Dorado Double IPA and Barmy Apricot Ale.

Give 5 Percent to Mother Earth at Hops & Grain, 10 a.m. Friday, April 22. Hops & Grain is donating 5 percent of sales to benefit 9 earth-friendly nonprofits, so it’s a good time to visit the brewery.

Austin Food & Wine Festival, 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 22 to 3 p.m. Sunday, April 24. A weekend-long celebration of food, wine and spirits with the usual tasting panels and evening events.

Real Ale’s Pre-Levitation Fest, 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 22. The Brew & Brew is getting you psyched for the music festival by offering a handful of beers from this year’s fest sponsor, Real Ale, including the funky Lux Aeterna.

Oskar Blues’ Burning Can Festival, 10 a.m. Saturday, April 23. In advance of Oskar Blues’ new Austin brewery opening, celebrate canned beer, music and sports with the Colorado brewers. $35-$70.

BS Brewing Beer Dinner at Greenhouse Craft Food, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 24. The Seguin brewery is pairing five of its beers, including an Imperial IPA cask, with five courses from the Round Rock restaurant. $64.12.

The Peached Tortilla & Live Oak Brewing Community Dinner, 6 p.m. Monday, April 25. Five courses of Chinese and Korean-flavored dishes with Live Oak brews, including Big Bark, Dunkelweizen and Schwarzerrauch. $63.24.

Bruichladdich Scotch Experience, 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 26. Find out why terroir matters so much with Scotch whisky at this tasting, which will also have blues music and light bites. The event is at Tellers on Trinity. $55.

Taste of Mexico at Brazos Hall, 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. Mexic-Arte Museum’s festival of Mexican cuisine and beverages from more than 30 of Austin’s most eclectic restaurants, food trucks and drink purveyors of tequila, mescal, wine, beers and other beverages.

Whiskey Round-Up at TenOak Bourbon House & Lounge, 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 27. Six tickets will get you six whiskey tastings, including one from a premium brand. $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

St. Genevieve’s Grand Opening, 8 p.m. Thursday, April 28. The Domain’s new wine lounge in the Rock Rose entertainment district is officially opening with happy hour prices all night and DJ sets.

Pinthouse Pizza’s Jaguar Shark Bottle Release10 a.m. Saturday, April 30. Consider this your warning: People will likely be camped out to get their hands on a bottle of Jaguar Shark Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout, so head to the brewpub early. The bottles go on sale at 11 a.m., but the doors open an hour before that.

Jack Allen’s Kitchen Cookbook Signing at Treaty Oak Distilling, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 30. Jack Allen’s Kitchen’s executive chef and owner Jack Gilmore is signing copies of his first cookbook, “Jack Allen’s Kitchen: Celebrating the Tastes of Texas.” Sip on Treaty Oak cocktails while you wait in line for his signature.

31st Annual Rare & Fine Wine Auction, 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30. The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas’ charity event features a four-course dinner followed by a spirited live auction offering irresistible reds, whites and bubbly wines.

Hipside Peddler offers 15-passenger bike tour of East Austin bars

Photo contributed by Kristin Weaver. The Hipside Peddler pub crawler bike takes beer-drinking passengers to bars on the east side like Whisler's and Craftsman.
Photo contributed by Kristin Weaver. The Hipside Peddler pub crawler bike takes beer-drinking passengers to bars on the east side like Whisler’s and Craftsman.

Four residents of East Austin’s Mueller neighborhood have been exploring the east side of town since they met five years ago. But they hadn’t been doing it by party bike — the large multi-passenger pub crawler that groups of people pedal from place to place while drinking a beer — and thought their part of town could benefit from such a service.

After deciding to have one made for them, they’ve launched the bike as a new business called Hipside Peddler and are now offering tours to various East Austin bars with it.

“We thought, ‘Oh, this would be a fun thing on the east side, right?'” Hipside Peddler co-founder Kristin Weaver says.

She, her husband Johnny, and their friends Andrej and Rachel Simic started operating their custom-made 15-passenger bike earlier this summer as a two- or three-hour ride to spots like Craftsman, Bar 2211 and Hi Hat Public House. Groups of no less than 6 people and no more than 15 can opt for a day or nighttime tour for a total of $205 per hour, and they’ll have plenty of fun along the way, Weaver said.

On the Hipside Peddler bike, passengers are allowed to brings their own kegs or cans of beer and wine; the bike has a tap line or two and coolers to keep the cans cold. “It’s a BYOB situation, not a bar,” she says.

Plus, the bike has a 6-speaker sound system that you can plug your phone into and karaoke for you to croon along with.

And yes, you do have to pedal. That’s probably the question Weaver and her co-founders get the most often: “Do we actually have to pedal?” she repeats with a laugh. “It’s a little bit of work but not the hardest thing in the world.”

For others, the chance to exert some energy while sipping on a can of beer is the best of worlds, she says. “Everyone says this is a great exercise dream: Maintain your buzz while you pedal. You feel like you’re doing something active, so it’s really a win-win.”

Right now, Hipside Peddler offers two main tours: one for a daytime ride and another for nighttime, when Hipside operators have to abide by a city rule that states they can only have the bike out on multi-lane roads. By day, stops include Craftsman, Buckets Deli and Sports Bar, Drinks Lounge and Hi Hat Public House; by night, the bike travels to Bar 2211, the newly reopened Dog and Duck Pub, Whisler’s and St. Roch’s. All tours start and end at Hops & Grain.

Although the Hipside Peddler operators are open to going to other places — and are also in the process of planning a craft beer tour involving Hops & Grain, Blue Owl Brewing and Zilker Brewing — Weaver said they’re restricted by the city’s open container laws to staying east of Chicon Street, a boundary that limits their options.

Still, she and the others are excited about their new business, which they hope will one day grow and be profitable enough to take on full-time.

“I think that’s the aim, to see how big we can get it,” she said. “For us, we look at it as it’s exercise, it’s fun, it’s running around in a part of town we like and checking out new spots. It’s something we like to do anyway.”

For more information, visit www.hipsidepeddler.com.

Zagat’s 30 Under 30 features Austin beverage professionals

Austin’s restaurants are receiving accolades and recognition on a national level, and that’s in small part thanks to their beverage programs accompanying the food — and the people who run them. After all, our meals always go down better with a beverage in hand.

Justin Lavenue is one of Zagat's 30 Under 30 for his attention to detail behind the bar.
Justin Lavenue is one of Zagat’s 30 Under 30 for his attention to detail behind the bar.

Zagat’s 30 Under 30 list of young Austinites excelling in the city’s thriving service industry is primarily made up of people involved in making or curating the food we eat, but eight of these faces also shake up the cocktails, brew the beer and curate the wine that we love, too. Oh, and they brew our beloved coffee as well. The list includes

  • Brett Esler, barman at Whisler’s. He’s won bartending competitions before with his creative flair, but his favorite drink to whip up, according to Zagat, is the Old-Fashioned. Good thing, too: Whisler’s has become known for them and makes a bunch every night.
  • Justin Lavenue, co-owner and beverage director at the Roosevelt Room. He and business partner Dennis Gobis have recently opened up an interim bar, the Roosevelt Room, in preparation for their ultimate dream: De Rigueur, a whopping 10,000 sq. ft, three-story bar downtown.
  • Oscar Martinez, brewer at Independence Brewing. Although he still plays death metal, the job that pays his bill is not nearly so loud — he’s happy to provide Austinites with all their IPA needs.
  • Patrick Pierce, co-founder at Fleet Coffee. He’s about to open a new coffee bar in town that will stray from the caffeinated classics people might be used to, with a focus on beverages like coffee cocktails.
  • Rania Zayyat, lead sommelier at La V. She recently passed her advanced sommelier exam, which is no easy task to do. That puts her into a small group of big wine lovers who know a lot about their reds, whites and sparkling wines.

Whisler’s to celebrate 2-year anniversary on June 28

Photo by Emma Janzen / American-Statesman. Whisler's celebrates its 2-year anniversary on June 28.
Photo by Emma Janzen / American-Statesman. Whisler’s celebrates its 2-year anniversary on June 28.

It’s almost time to raise your glass to Whisler’s new milestone: two years in business in the same old building that used to house the iconic Austin dive bar Rabbit’s.

The craft cocktail bar (one of my favorites in Austin and the best place, in my opinion, to get an Old-Fashioned) is throwing an anniversary celebration on June 28, a Sunday, complete with live music, barrel-aged cocktails and lots of food.

At the heart of Whisler's tequila-based Greenbelt is verdita, a mixture of pineapple, cilantro and jalapeno juice.
At the heart of Whisler’s tequila-based Greenbelt is verdita, a mixture of pineapple, cilantro and jalapeño juice.

Starting at 1 p.m., you’ll be able to enjoy grub from nearby Salt & Time and on-site food trailer East Side King Thai-Kun, as well as Austin Beerworks brews and a special barrel-aged beer cocktail from Oasis, Texas Brewing Co. The Lake Travis-area brewery has aged its award-winning London Homesick Ale in a bourbon barrel and will serve it Old Fashioned-style with an orange peel at Whisler’s.

Music will be provided by Odas Williams Soul Revue, with special guests to be revealed throughout the day.

Whisler’s anniversary party is also a good opportunity to try the bar’s seasonal cocktails if you haven’t yet this summer. The menu is always thoughtfully crafted — with a mix of classics and original creations by bar staff — and the current one is no exception.

I recommend the Greenbelt, a cocktail I mentioned in my Austin summer cocktails round-up last month: “Whisler’s Greenbelt, a tequila concoction with genepy, velvet falernum and lime, is beautifully three-dimensional because of a final, little-known ingredient called verdita, made from pineapple, cilantro and jalapeño juices.”

For more information, visit whislersatx.com.

Celebrate Negroni Week with locally made gin

My Fair Lady at Whisler's is one of the cocktails you'll find at area bars next week celebrating Negroni Week and raising money for charity.
My Fair Lady at Whisler’s is one of the cocktails you’ll find at area bars next week celebrating Negroni Week and raising money for charity.

The Negroni is disarmingly simple — one part gin, one part sweet vermouth and one part Campari, stirred and served over ice with an orange twist — but its balance of botanical bite from the gin, the sweet and spicy tug-of-war from the vermouth and the final bitter punch from the Campari has been bewitching bartenders for years now, even when the martini reigned supreme.

The scarlet-colored cocktail (so hued because of the Campari, a striking aperitif) is such a crucial component of any bar program that there’s now a whole week devoted to it.

Running starting Monday through June 7 this year, Negroni Week, a nationwide event, both celebrates the beauty that is the Negroni and raises money for important charitable causes. Bars all over the U.S. are serving up the classic cocktail, as well as fun riffs on it, and donating the proceeds from each purchased drink to the charity of their choice.

Here’s a list of what some local bars are doing next week and which charity they are benefiting in the process.

Drink.Well: The Negroni (Campari, Genius Gin, Dolin vermouth); Sbagliato Negroni with sparkling rosé; and Bianco Negroni (Ford’s Gin, Suze and Dolin blanc vermouth). Benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

East Side Show Room: Western Union (mezcal, punt e mes, Campari), benefiting Austin Pets Alive

Freedmen’s: Bartender’s Choice Negroni, benefiting American Heart Association

Italic: Classic Negronis on tap, benefiting the Sustainable Food Center

The Negroni at Italic is on tap during Negroni Week, starting Monday through June 7.
The Negroni at Italic is on tap during Negroni Week, starting Monday through June 7.

Midnight Cowboy: Walking Spanish (Vago Espadin Elote Mezcal, La Guita Manzanilla Sherry, Bigallet China China Quinquina, grapefruit peel), benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank.

The Hightower: The Negroni, More Cowbell (Rakia, Aperol, blanc vermouth) and New Pal (rye, vermouth, Averna, bitters). Benefiting ColorCancer.

Searsucker: White Negroni with Lemon Verbena-infused gin, benefiting Austin Pets Alive

The Tigress: Classic Negroni, Crimson Dream (mezcal, sweet vermouth, Aperol, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur), Roses Are Red (gin, Scared Spirits Rosehip Cup, sweet vermouth) and Oh Sherry (gin, Contratto vermouth, Tio Pepe sherry fino). Benefiting Austin Pets Alive.

Vox Table: Classic Negroni, Boulevardier (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Campari, Cocchi Torino), Aged Negroni (Waterloo Antique Gin, Campari, Cocchi Torino), American Negroni (Aviation American Gin, Campari, Cocchi Torino) and Rum Negroni (Treaty Oak Aged Rum, Campari, Cocchi Torino), benefiting Austin Pets Alive.

W Austin: Barrel-Aged Negroni (Dripping Springs Gin, Campari, Martini Rossi Sweet Vermouth), benefiting Austin Young Chamber of Commerce

Whisler’s: My Fair Lady (Pisco Porton, Campari, Cocchi Americano, Bittermens Grapefruit Bitters), benefiting St. Jude’s Research Hospital.

For the full list of participating bars in Austin, visit negroniweek.com/participating-bars/.

Or, if you’re interested in mixing up a Negroni yourself, consider using locally made gin from any one of the mostly top-notch spirits producers here: Dripping Springs Gin, Genius Gin, Moody June Gin from Bone Spirits, Waterloo Gin from Treaty Oak Distilling and Austin Reserve Gin from Revolution Spirits.

At an informal blind taste test yesterday at the Tigress, I had the opportunity to try each of these gins by themselves and then incorporated into a Negroni (with the Campari and the vermouth remaining the same each time). The results?

I found myself preferring the bold anise-heavy Dripping Springs Gin all by itself — it’s not a traditional juniper-forward London dry-style gin, something that works for it — as well as Treaty Oak’s Waterloo Gin, a stellar example of the London dry style with a Texas twist. Waterloo, in addition to using local juniper and other botanicals, also features lavender, grapefruit and pecan. They aren’t typical ingredients to add to gin, but they impart Treaty Oak’s gin with a regional flavor.

However, in the Negroni, I leaned toward — in addition to that Waterloo — the Austin Reserve Gin from Revolution Spirits. Assertive enough to have a complementary presence alongside the Campari and vermouth, it balanced them so well, drawing out the floral, citrusy notes present in the gin. Austin Reserve is made with just six botanicals: juniper, rosemary, grapefruit, lemongrass, lavender and pink peppercorn. That simplicity is effective.

The Negroni

1 oz. gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Garnish orange twist

Stir all ingredients with ice in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with the orange twist.

Business as usual for these bars during SXSW

Right in the thick of the South by Southwest madness, some local bars are going to be refuges for the weary, the tired, the badge-less — all the locals who just want their usual Austin reclaimed back from the tourists. Here are 10 such places, which for the most part don’t have any SXSW-related events going on.

(Just because they’re open, of course, doesn’t mean finding available parking is going to be that easy, even outside of the downtown core. Good luck!)

Photo by Emma Janzen / American-Statesman. You can count on Craft Pride to be a refuge from the SXSW madness. Relax in the bar or out in the patio area with a Texas beer.
Photo by Emma Janzen / American-Statesman. You can count on Craft Pride to be a refuge from the SXSW madness. Relax in the bar or out in the patio area with a Texas beer.

Bar Congress: The cocktail program, from respected bar veteran Jason Stevens, is one of the best in the city, and at the intersection of two busy downtown streets, it’s going to be the spot to watch SXSW unfold from a safe distance, drink in hand.

Craft Pride: Yet again, the Rainey Street beer bar is purposely choosing “not selling out.” Stop in to satisfy your thirst for a good Texas brew (no out-of-state suds here). And pair your pint with one of those irresistible Detroit-style pies from the pizza trailer, Via 313, out back.

Easy Tiger: The bar overlooking Waller Creek has some stellar downtown views, plus good beer, ping pong and food supplied by the in-house bakery. The cafe will be opened throughout the festival, but the beer garden will be closed all day tomorrow and until 6 p.m. March 20.

Garage: So named because it’s literally tucked away in the American National Bank parking garage at Colorado and Fifth streets downtown, it’ll be a darkened haven distracting from the ruckus outside with lots of good classic cocktails — one of which was recently named the Official Drink of Austin.

Hops & Grain: This East Austin brewery is throwing a St. Patrick’s Day party on Tuesday, so come in green and ready to enjoy Hops & Grain’s version of a dry Irish stout. The taproom, opened the rest of the week, often has small-batch brews not distributed beyond those walls. (Plus, it’s just been renovated, so you’ll want to come see the brand-new bar.)

Isla: You might need something strong after battling the crowds, and a nice stiff (and very colorful, well-garnished) drink is a particular specialty of this tiki bar and restaurant, opened in the evenings, that lets rum reign supreme among the spirits. Right next door is French-focused sister bar Peche.

La V: The extensive wine program at this upscale French restaurant on East Seventh gets all the attention, but its cocktails and aperitif/ digestif options are just as stellar. The bar staff even makes their own amer picon, a French aperitif that isn’t available in the states.

Weather Up: The New York-bred bar has gained its own Austin identity in the two years or so that it’s been opened. Renovations to the East Cesar Chavez-located bar’s outdoor area will make it a big springtime haunt soon — although it’s already a popular spot now. Save for one SXSW Music event Wednesday, it’s a guaranteed safe bet if you’re staying away from the fest.

Whisler’s: East Sixth Street is guaranteed to be packed, especially during the five days of SXSW Music, but the capable bartenders at Whisler’s are used to crowds and preparing top-notch cocktails quickly. The bar will be hosting an RSVP-only SXSW party Saturday night; otherwise, it’s open with a big patio suited for people-watching.