Category: Bars & Drinks


Tipsy Tech

In December, I completed the Tipsy Tech fall course in Austin, Texas with the Bear Moon baker (Paula) and Jenny, our service manager.  It was a great semester of information, as well as giving us a chance to visit some great Austin bars!  The course was a great way to open up our eyes to what is out there…in terms of cocktails, drinks, bars, and the bartending community as a whole.

The course is open to any and all bar professionals, weekend-warrior bartenders, cocktail enthusiasts, industry writers, foodies, history buffs….anyone who wants to delve into the history and practice of cocktails and mixology.  It’s a weekly series of lectures, guest speakers, spirits tastings, as well as a visit to an Austin area distillery.  Our class visited Treaty Oak Distillery in Austin, makers of Treaty Oak Platinum Rum & Waterloo Gin.  On the final day of class, in December, we sat down for our final exam.  I’m happy to report that I received an email from David Alan congratulating me on my test score.

I scored a 98 on the test!

 

I was second in the class, behind Paula, who scored a 99!

It was a fun and informative semester of driving up to Austin every Tuesday night, meeting some great people and trying out some of Austin, Texas’ great bars!

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Holiday Cheer!

If you’re searching for that last-minute holiday party drink idea, you might try this one.  Holiday Cranberry Margaritas!

Cranberry Margarita

 

It’s a very easy recipe with a little bit of preparation.

Cranberry Margarita recipe:

  • 1 1/2 oz tequila
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 3-4 oz. cranberry puree
  • Shake in cocktail shaker with ice and strain into cocktail glass
  • Garnish with candied cranberries

For the cranberry puree, just take a cup of orange juice and a cup of sugar…simmer over medium heat to dissolve sugar.  Add 1 package of fresh cranberries and heat for about 10 minutes.   Let cool and then use a blender to puree cranberry mixture.  Strain through a mesh strainer to remove larger cranberry pieces.

For the cranberry garnish, take a package of fresh cranberries, skewer a handful of cranberries with a wooden skewer.  Then, roll cranberry stick in light Karo Syrup and then sugar.  Then place them in freezer to firm up.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Thursday night we had a great time putting on the Greater Boerne Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours Mixer…which we refer to as our Holiday Preview Party.  It gives us a chance to invite fellow local businesses, family, friends & customers for an evening of great food, drinks & music as we gear up for the coming holidays.  Everything is provided by Bear Moon Bakery & Cafe as a “Welcome To The Holiday Season” Party for the entire community.  There’s also an early visit by St. Nick!

We had great food, desserts, Real Ale beer on tap &  Sparkling Drunken Cranberry Cocktails.  We also had musician John Boyd provide an eclectic mix of great music for the event.

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The Tigress, Austin Texas

After our Tipsy Tech class in Austin this Tuesday night, we were invited by our instructor David Alan to a special event at The Tigress Pub.

The Tigress Pub is a small neighborhood cocktail bar on North Loop in Austin.  It’s got a great vibe and simple, understated decor.  I guess the word that would describe it best would be “cozy”, which makes sense since the establishment is VERY small.  Small bar, one corner booth, a few two-top cocktail tables jutting out from the walls and a drink rail around part of another wall.  Definitely a place to chill and enjoy some expertly made cocktails.  Wish I was still living in Austin!

Last night David invited us to attend the “release party” of a barrel-aged cocktail (Widow’s Kiss) made by his colleague, co-founder of Tipsy Tech and fellow bar craftsman, Lara Nixon and Pam Pritchard, Tigress’ owner.

Lara & Pam created a large batch of the cocktail, Widow’s Kiss (Applejack Brandy, Green Chartreuse, Benedictine & Angostura Bitters) inside of a wooden (oak) barrel and then aged it for about thirty days.  The marrying of the liquors/liqueurs and the aging of the cocktail (inside of a used whiskey barrel) adds a different dimension that couldn’t be experienced by just walking up and ordering a Widow’s Kiss.  Barrel-aging is a way to tweak a cocktail’s flavor profile and create something new, different and interesting.  Much of our class made it over to The Tigress Pub after class and we were able to try this cocktail.  The trip to The Tigress Pub gave us a chance to speak to Lara and Tigress’ owner Pam, herself a Tipsy Tech graduate.  It also gave us a great example of what is possible, in terms of presenting classic cocktails with a new and interesting twist.

A short video by Austin American Statesman videographer, Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, in which Lara Nixon speaks about classic cocktails and barrel-aging while you can view scenes of the bar, can be seen here.

Austin Trip

Last week were stayed a night in Austin after our mixology class.  We stayed Tuesday night and attended the Ben E Keith Fall Food Festival on Wednesday.

View from our hotel of downtown Austin

We’ve been trying to visit different Austin bars after our class on Tuesday nights.  This particular night, we decided to take a tour of East 6th Street.  Now, this was definitely not an area that most people would head to for a drink years ago when I lived in Austin.  So, I was very intrigued to see what types of changes have taken place in the years since I’ve lived there.

There are definitely some positive changes going on in this area of town.  Many new businesses, bars, and even apartments are opening up, at least on this stretch of 6th Street.

We stopped first at Liberty Bar and had a snack at the East Side Kings food truck in the back.  Then we decided to walk west towards downtown.  We stumbled upon Volstead Lounge and had to go in.  It was a good decision.  Hand-crafted cocktails and Makers 46 special cocktails for $5.00!  The interior was strangely decorated and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why the interior looked the way it did.  Later on I had a chance to look it up and soon found out why the Volstead Lounge looked the way it did.  It is actually a hotel lobby.  The building is actually the Hotel Vegas.  Further research revealed the sordid history of this building, including a 2009 fire that left most of its “tenants” without rooms.  East Austinite (search: Hotel Vegas) has a great  blog post (with some great pictures) about the new owners and their renovations entitled, Hotel Vegas:  From Hookers to Hipsters.   Definitely a cool place to grab a drink!

Drinks at The Volstead Lounge

We walked further west on East 6th street and came to the East Side Showroom.

Drinks at East Side Show Room

East Side Show Room was another great place to hang out.  From the decor, to the band, to the candles in mason jars, to the silent era movie showing on the wall above the stage, the atmosphere and attention to detail were spot on.  Drinks are hand crafted and are not for everyone, meaning ingredients such as fresh apples and jalapenos are used in some cocktails (great drink by the way!) and the drinks take extra care and extra time to create.  We went to experience the drink crafting and ambience, so we enjoyed our visit.  We kind of wished we had been there earlier to sample their food menu offerings.

Cobblestone at East Side Show Room

We headed over to the heart of 6th Street and soon decided to grab a slice from Hoboken Pie and then call it a night.

The next morning we had breakfast at the SWB, Southwest Bistro in the Hyatt, where we were staying, then we headed over to the Convention Center for the Food Show.

There were many exhibitors at the food show, but we made sure to visit the Hey Cupcake booth/trailer.

Hey Cupcake cupcakes, including "Vanilla Dream", "24 Carrot" & "The Michael Jackson"

Linda, Paula & Jenny at the Ben E Keith Fall Food Show, Austin

Lastly, I must mention that from the balcony of my hotel room I could see the Congress Avenue Bridge.  This bridge is the home of over a million free-tail Mexican bats and every summer people gather around the bridge at sunset to watch the largest colony of urban bats emerge.  I noticed something hanging from the center of the underside of the bridge while I was staying at the Hyatt.  From my vantage point it looked like a bundle of some sort and we exchanged theories over what it could be over breakfast.  I am happy to report that I am not going crazy and that there is, in fact, a reason for this item hanging from the bridge.

It’s BATCOW!!!

Batcow is a recent art installation by Austin designers and artists, DJ Stout, Stu Taylor & Faith Schexnayder.  Batcow was supposed to hang around until the end of October, but I’m kind of glad that he’s still there, so that we were able to see it on our visit.  Gotopublicschool.com has some great pics of Batcow also!

Jenny & I attended Wurstfest in New Braunfels, Texas this past Sunday.  Wurstfest is a ten day celebration of German heritage, food, music and beer.

Wurstfest takes place every year in Landa Park in New Braunfels.  The grounds contain numerous halls and tents with entertainment stages as well as The Marktplatz, a large hall containing food, beer and merchandise booths.  Next to The Marktplatz is Wursthalle.  Spass Haus, described as a beer tavern, is located inside Wursthalle.  We wandered in and not only had a chance to “freshen up” our beer cups, but also spend some time viewing the extensive beer bottle collection lining the walls and windows.

The collection was started by James Nowotny, a New Braunfels native, and acquired by the Wurstfest Association in 1982.  Although over 3,000 bottles are on display in Spass Haus, the actual collection numbers somewhere around 17,000 bottles.

One of the bands that we saw was the very energetic Alex Meixner Band.  This band played some German festival staples, including the Chicken Dance, but their set also included a Bon Jovi cover.  All of this by a small band in which the three front members played everything from the accordion to the clarinet, trumpet and saxophone.  The lead man, Alex Meixner,  throws everything he has into his sets…complete with headbanging while playing the accordion.

I did not get a very good video of the band the night we were there, but this video was posted to youtube by idigpolka and it’s a great video of the band, although at 9 minutes, it’s a little long, but you’ll get the idea.

Then it was time for dessert….

Fried Oreos

Funnel Cake

Jenny with a Bear Claw - Wurstfest 2011

It was really a fun evening, but I think that after Oktoberfest and Wurstfest I’ve had enough beer for a little while…at least until Austin’s Beerfest!!!

I’ve been meaning to post these pics since the weekend of the gala, but didn’t have the chance until now.

Every fall the Cibolo Nature Center holds their annual fundraising gala.  We participate every year in their “Taste of The Hill Country” portion of the gala, which means that we are invited (along with about twenty other restaurants) to set up a table and serve food and/or beverages to about 400 guests at the gala.

We served Espresso Brisket Sliders, Tequila Spiked Popcorn, Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates & sweets from Bear Moon Bakery & Cafe.  The gala had others that were providing wine and beer for the evening, so we served up a couple of fresh, shaken “mocktails” (no alcohol):  Honey Spiced Mocktail & Berry Basil Soda.

Moscow Mules!!!

So we decided to get together after work and make some Moscow Mules.  A Moscow Mule is a simple cocktail that was created in the 1950’s.  The traditional glassware for the Moscow Mule is a copper mug, but a Collins glass can also be used.  Thanks to EBAY and an antique store down the street, we had enough copper mugs for all.

Getting all the ingredients ready for the Moscow Mule

This simple recipe that we used was:

  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka (we used Absolut Citron)
  • 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Ginger Beer

We experimented and upped the Vodka to 2 oz and tried two different Ginger Beers (one canned – Gosling’s …and one bottled – Fever Tree).  Some thought Gosling’s to be a milder Ginger Beer and Fever Tree to have more of a ginger “bite”.

Jenny adding Absolut Citron to begin the Moscow Mule

Jenny adding fresh squeezed lime juice to the Moscow Mule

Adding ginger beer to the Moscow Mule

We tried an alternative version of this recipe in Austin at Peche, called a Texas Mule.  In this version, the bartender muddled fresh jalapeno in a mixing glass with the lime juice and vodka, shook with ice, then strained into a glass over ice.  Jenny wanted to try this version as well.

Straining our attempt at a "Texas Mule"

I think that a few of us liked this version the best.  The jalapeno and ginger beer seemed to marry perfectly.

Our finished "Texas Mule"

It was definitely a great evening of creating some refreshing, delicious drinks!!!

Tuesday we attended another Mixology 101 class through Tipsy Tech in Austin, Texas.  This particular session focused on vermouths, aperitifs, digestifs and ABSINTHE!

Absinthe fountain and sugar cubes

We are learning a lot during the course of these sessions and (even better) we are given the chance to taste different spirits and cocktails for discussion and to give our opinions on each one.  This week was no exception and we sampled:

  • Negroni
  • St. Germaine Cocktail
  • and, of course, Absinthe

We tried three different brands of Absinthe:

We had the chance to louche our Absinthe, which is the process (ritual) of adding ice cold water to a clear anise based spirit (Absinthe) causing it to release its essential herbal oils, making it cloudy.  In our case, one of our class sponsors, (Graham from Tenneyson) brought a few fountains to class Tuesday night.  You have the option to louche your Absinthe with or without sugar cubes.  If you decide to include sugar cubes, a traditional (slotted) spoon is used to allowed the water to drip through.

Process of louching Absinthe

Of course, Absinthe will become cloudy if you add only ice cold water as well.

Louching (a little too fast) without the sugarcube

It was a night of interesting flavor and although we did not see The Green Fairy,

The Green Fairy

…it was still a great night!!!

San Antonio Oktoberfest 2011

Jenny and I went to Oktoberfest this Saturday night at:

Beethoven Mannerchor Halle Und Garten

It was a great evening of music, lots of people having fun

Crowd at Oktoberfest 2011

German food,

Reuben, German Potato Salad & Spaten Oktoberfest beer

Strudel at Oktoberfest 2011

Kartoffelpuffer - Potato Pancake with Applesauce

(Didn’t get a picture of it before I dug in but we also had bratwurst and sauerkraut.)

…and (of course) BEER!!!

Jenny at Oktoberferst 2011

Steve at Oktoberfest 2011

Jenny & Steve with Oktoberfest 2011 MC Tobias Klingelhoefer * "Prost!"

We enjoyed great beer including Warsteiner Oktoberfest & Dunkel, and Spaten Oktoberfest as well as music by the San Antonio Accordion Club, Beethoven Kinderchor, The Beethoven Concert Band with director Al Tapia and The Lamplighters, big band dance orchestra.  The Fire on The Mountain Cloggers also performed.  There was great people watching also and many people wore their German garbs:

As the night wore on more toasts were made and more beers were ordered.

Free Tickets at San Antonio Oktoberfest 2011

While standing in line for one of the last potato pancakes of the two weekend festival, a man walked up and gave the person in front of me (Jessica) about $20.00 in free tickets as he was leaving!   Rounds on her!!!

It was a great evening and I will definitely make plans to go back next year.  I’m not sure about the lederhosen, but I will think about bringing my own stein!

Jenny & Steve at San Antonio Oktoberfest 2011