Tag Archive: Austin


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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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!