There’s now a Texas vodka made from state-grown black-eyed peas

Black-eyed peas deliver prosperity in the new year — but they also can bring, as one Texas farmer found out, a boozy good time. Now, he’s distilling with them to make vodka at BlackEyed Distilling in Fort Worth, which recently hosted a grand opening celebration.

Master distiller Trey Nickels got the idea for making the vodka after challenging years working on his family’s land in Muleshoe, a Pandhandle town northwest of Lubbock, and enduring drought and poor crop yields. He decided to put the peas to a very different use instead, moving on from farming, and has found that they contribute a clean taste in BlackEyed Distilling’s signature product, BLK EYE Vodka.

Vodka made from black-eyed peas? Thanks to a forward-thinking distiller, it exists in Fort Worth.

“We knew black-eyed peas were loaded with the starch necessary to make the fermented mash that can be distilled into liquor. We just needed to prove it. So we put the concept to the test,” according to a press release from the distillery.

The vodka is made with a blend of Texas-sourced non-genetically modified black-eyed peas and corn, distilled 22 times in a 21-foot column still and brought to 40 percent alcohol by volume. Nickels has noticed that black-eyed peas are suited for making vodka, as corn and potatoes are, because distilling them “produces a neutral flavor that’s also ideal for mixing.”

His project, originally TreyMark Black Eyed Vodka, is a family affair with his mother, Deborah Nickels, serving as the distillery’s tasting room manager. Nestled in a circa-1910 firehouse in Fort Worth, BlackEyed Distilling will start offering regular tours and tastings starting this weekend, and visitors will be able to try the vodka, as well as other small-batch spirits made there, in cocktails. They can also take bottles to go.

“Operating a distillery in an old firehouse does have at least one advantage,” according to BlackEyed. “That hole in the floor where the firemen’s pole used to be? It just happens to be the perfect place to fit our copper and steel pot still.”

BlackEyed Distilling is located at 503 Bryan Ave. in Fort Worth, for the next time you’re ever in that neck of the woods. The BLK Eye Vodka also is on shelves at a couple of Spec’s (Highland Park and Arbor Walk) in Austin.

For more information, visit blackeyed.vodka.

Deep Eddy Vodka expands to additional distillery in Buda

Get an early taste of Deep Eddy Peach at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday, when you can try it in cocktails like the Peach Lemonade.
Deep Eddy Vodka makes flavored spirits like the Deep Eddy Peach, the most recent of the boozy offerings. The vodkas have become so popular that the company needs more space to produce them.

Yes, it’s real this time: Deep Eddy Vodka is officially opening a second distillery south of Austin to make room for the skyrocketing growth of the brand.

The 194,000 sq. ft. Buda facility is going to operate in tandem with the current space in Dripping Springs so that Deep Eddy Vodka, which sold last year to a Kentucky spirits company called Heaven Hill Brands, can increase production capacity to more than 5 million cases per year.

Even without the expansion, the company is on track to send 1 million cases to the market this year, according to Deep Eddy Vodka President John Scarborough.

Deep Eddy produces flavored vodkas including the top-selling grapefruit-forward Ruby Red in the Dripping Springs distillery, which opened only two years ago and has already outgrown its size. At the time, the space was expected to support future demand for Deep Eddy Vodka products.

BOOZE GUIDE: Find out all about Austin breweries, distilleries and cideries.

In September, the City of Buda prematurely announced that Deep Eddy Vodka was moving there following the passage of an incentives package by the Buda City Council. Nothing had been finalized, however, until this week.

Scarborough said in a news release that remaining in the Austin area is important to the company, no matter how big it has grown.

“Austin and the Central Texas region are the foundation of our brand, and this investment represents our commitment to keeping it that way. Our roots are planted here,” he said in the release.

A large production facility is not all Deep Eddy Vodka is adding to accommodate massive growth. An integral part of the Dripping Springs location is a 5,000 sq. ft. tasting room with vodka cocktails that opened to the thirsty public in the fall of 2014. It’s getting updated to allow for more people and more events, enhancing the visitor experience.

For more information, visit deepeddyvodka.com.

Update: Deep Eddy Vodka is not leaving Dripping Springs, spirits company officials say

Get an early taste of Deep Eddy Peach at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday, when you can try it in cocktails like the Peach Lemonade.
Deep Eddy Vodka, the producer of flavored spirits like this peach vodka, offers them in cocktails at the Dripping Springs tasting room.

UPDATE: Deep Eddy Vodka is not leaving its new production facility in Dripping Springs, although the company is looking for space for more production to keep up with rapid growth. An announcement from the City of Buda on Wednesday said the distillery planned to move to an almost 200,000-square-foot space on 15 acres in that city after an incentive package was passed by Buda City Council. Later Wednesday, Deep Eddy clarified what’s happening with the spirits company, including that the company is in negotiations for a possible spot in Buda but that no plans have been finalized.

The producer of flavored spirits was sold last year to Kentucky’s Heaven Hill Brands, one of the biggest players in the liquor industry, and has plans to continue its skyrocketing growth.

Deep Eddy also will keep its tasting room at the Dripping Springs facility for now, according to the company. The 5,000-square-foot tasting room is along U.S. 290 West, not far from where other distilleries and breweries, such as Treaty Oak Distilling and Jester King Brewery, are located.

For more information about the vodka maker, visit deepeddyvodka.com.

This post has been updated throughout.

Trump and Clinton cocktails? Try ’em at Omni Barton Creek

The POTUS Punch is one of the 2016 election-themed cocktails available at Omni hotels through Election Day.
The POTUS Punch is one of the 2016 election-themed cocktails available at Omni hotels through Election Day.

Everyone from political pundits to your next-door neighbor thinks they know who will (or who should be) the next president of the United States, but the Omni brand of hotels is making its prediction a little less conventionally.

Each hotel under the Omni umbrella — including the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in West Austin — is offering a menu of presidential election-inspired cocktails as a way of guessing the outcome of the election. The cocktails, which are available now through Election Day on Nov. 8, include three created with Republicans in mind, three mixed up for the Democrats out there and one to appease all the Independents of the country.

Guests who visit participating Omni locations can “cast their ballot” by ordering a cocktail off the special election-themed menu, according to a press release. In Austin, the menu will be at the cozy Bartons Lounge in the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa.

“Drink orders will be tallied and the overall consumption rates will be tracked and posted online every Wednesday from the previous week,” according to the release. “Once the electoral results have been announced, Omni will be able to determine if the promotion’s ‘popular vote’ was truly a predictor of the next president.”

The idea sounds ludicrous, of course, but as the Omni website notes, “if a groundhog can predict the seasons and an octopus can predict soccer matches, then cocktails can surely predict the next president.”

Here are Omni’s boozy presidential offerings.

Republican cocktails:

  • The Trump-tini: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, lemon and cranberry juices, Domaine Chandon and a sugared rim
  • The Right Manhattan: Maker’s 46, apricot preserves and lemon juice, muddled with mint and topped with club soda
  • The Ruby Red Pence: Deep Eddy Ruby Red grapefruit vodka, cranberry juice and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

Democratic cocktails:

  • The Hilla-rita: Tres Generaciones Reposado Tequila, orange juice, agave and DeKuyper Amaretto, and a sugar and salt rim
  • The True Blue Mule: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, ginger beer and blueberry reàl-infused syrup
  • The Sugar Kaine Smash: Maker’s 46, fresh mint leaves, simple syrup, topped with club soda and a cherry

The Independent cocktail is the POTUS Punch, with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, grenadine, fresh orange and lemon juices and muddled blackberries.

For more information, visit omnihotels.com/drinkthevote.

Deep Eddy Vodka to debut a new flavor, peach

Get an early taste of Deep Eddy Peach at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday, when you can try it in cocktails like the Peach Lemonade.
Get an early taste of Deep Eddy Peach at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday, when you can try it in cocktails like the Peach Lemonade.

Take it as a sign that everything continues to be peachy at Deep Eddy Vodka.

The local distillery is launching a new flavored vodka nationwide next month, in keeping with its tradition at the start of every year to add a new bottle to your bar shelf.

This year — following lemon, cranberry and grapefruit — the debuting vodka flavor is peach. Like all others in the Deep Eddy line, Deep Eddy Peach is made with real fruit and Texas aquifer water, and it’ll be available first at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday.

The vodka company decided to pursue peach as its sixth-produced spirit because of how ripe the fruit is for use in cocktails, especially light, refreshing ones in spring and summertime like the Bellini.

“Peach is a classic American flavor and has seen a resurgence in cocktails over the past few years,” Brandon Cason, Vice President of Marketing at Deep Eddy Vodka, said in a news release. “We worked on Deep Eddy Peach for more than a year to ensure we capture the flavor of real peaches in a way that enables both simple mixology at home and complex cocktails for advanced bartenders.”

Deep Eddy Vodka has seen skyrocketing growth over the past few years and produced more than 700,000 cases last year after being bought up by a Kentucky beverage company. Each of its bottles are found in all 50 states. Deep Eddy Peach, which officially launches in February, will go on retail shelves for $19.99.

Once you’ve got your bottle of the peach vodka in hand, try it in these easy-to-make cocktails.

Peach Bellini

1 oz. Deep Eddy Peach Flavored Vodka

4 oz. sparkling wine

Pour the vodka into a champagne flute, then top with wine.

The Southern Belle

1 oz. Deep Eddy Peach Flavored Vodka

1 oz. Bourbon

½ oz. lemon juice

Club soda

Mix first three ingredients in a cocktail glass. Top with club soda.

— Deep Eddy Vodka

For more information, visit www.deepeddyvodka.com.

The Townsend offers cocktail in honor of Paramount Theatre

A new Paramount Theatre sign is getting lit up for the first time tomorrow, and you can toast the historical moment with the Townsend's special Blade Reviver #2 cocktail. The Townsend is right across the street in the white building in this picture.
Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell / American-Statesman. A new Paramount Theatre sign is getting lit up for the first time tomorrow, and you can toast the historical moment with the Townsend’s special Blade Reviver #2 cocktail. The Townsend is located in the white building, itself full of history, that you can see in this picture.

The Austin institution the Paramount Theatre is getting a new sign that will be lit for the first time tomorrow — and to commemorate the occasion, the Townsend bar right across the street has made a special cocktail available only through Sunday this week.

Try the Blade Reviver #2, made with Tito’s Vodka, Combier Pamplemousse liqueur, lime juice, Salers Gentiane Aperitif liqueur and Underberg starting today at 4 p.m., when the Townsend opens. The bar’s food and beverage wrangler, Justin Elliott, created the vodka-based drink with the Paramount’s long Austin history in mind.

“The Blade Reviver #2 is refreshing, but with an spicy earthiness and an old-world funk that I think really beautifully connects this drink to a mythical Austin of generations past,” Elliott said in a press release.

Not convinced that a new sign — the Paramount blade, as it’s being called — on an old theater is worthy of so much attention?

The Paramount Theatre folks will have to disagree with you. They’ve decided to adorn the 100-year-old theater with a blade that looks as close to the original one as possible. According to the press release, the new blade “was constructed to be an exact replica” of the one first installed on the theater’s “façade in 1930, quickly becoming a beacon of light on Congress. It was taken down for restoration in the 1960s and never seen again.”

Where did it go? That’s a local mystery, as the Statesman’s social columnist, Michael Barnes, wrote last week in a blog post exploring the rumors that have dogged the Paramount since the restoration.

To commemorate the theater’s 100-year anniversary (it officially opened its doors in 1915 as the Majestic), “the Paramount staff has taken great care to recreate the new blade with historic accuracy, reviewing numerous historic photos, newspaper clippings, videos, and documents, and with the help of Wagner Sign Company the new blade will light up the Avenue for the first time in over 50 years,” according to the press release.

That will happen tomorrow with both public and private parties, including a street celebration on Congress Avenue in front of the Paramount. After the towering vertical sign and its 1,386 energy-efficient bulbs are lit, the party will continue inside the Paramount with a special Patty Griffin CD release show. For more information, visit www.austintheatre.org.

Although the Townsend is one of the venues hosting a private Paramount party tomorrow, you’ll still be able to sip on the Blade Reviver #2 throughout the rest of the week from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.