Tom Upthegrove Still One of the Best
Even with new bartenders in every corner of town
By Wes Marshall, 12:43PM, Wed. Jun. 6, 2012
Austin has been bombarded with talented new bartenders in every corner of town. Curly mustachioed, tatted to the shoulder blades, pierced to the point of perforating and slinging ultra-expensive ingredients like Pollock with paint, these artisan mixologists reign supreme in contest after contest.
We dined at Vespaio last night and I was again reminded that the man behind the bar for the last fourteen years, Tom Upthegrove, is still one of the best. This is one of the handful of bars in town where I simply ask the bartender to make me whatever he chooses. It’s not uncommon for other bar patrons to join me. So last night he made us a Tequila Refresca. I’m usually not a fan of grapefruit-based drinks, but last night was muggy and Tom delivered a drink that was not only refreshing but perfectly balanced. A good bartender will allow the main ingredient to speak through the fillers. Bad bars load you up on sugary mixers. They are cheap and make the drink look big. In Upthegrove’s drink, the tequila was the dominant flavor, just as it should be.
I asked for the recipe so that our readers could try to recreate it, but it sounded too easy. In any case, here it is. The Tequila Refresca was a shot of good quality silver tequila, a splash of grapefruit juice, another splash of simple syrup, shake with ice, strain, and top with a splash of rosé Champagne. If bartending were a sport, Tom would be Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio. Kudos also to Vespaio. Good food and a full house fourteen years in is a pretty special feat.