The official drink of Austin contest
The third annual Batini contest took place on Sept. 1 during the Austin Bat Fest. One bartender from each of five hotel bars mixed a version of the Batini using Tito's Handmade Vodka, while another representative presented the drink to the panel of judges. Judging criteria included taste, creativity/originality of the recipe, and presentation (look, delivery, and showmanship). Scoring was on a scale of one to 10, where one equals "bat guano" and 10 is "bat-tastic." Lucky for us judges, there was absolutely no bat guano this year, and in my book, this was the closest competition ever. I thought all the drinks were well done, and it came down to a close call on presentation.
I loved the Hyatt's refreshing drink of chilled Tito's with a splash of pomegranate liquor garnished with a sugarcane skewer with strawberry, melon, pineapple, and mint. The Stephen F. Austin's Great Balls of Fire Batini was Tito's infused with melon and jalapeños, shaken and strained into a martini glass, topped with a splash of champagne, and garnished with frozen melon balls and mint. It gave me one of those "wow" moments for its originality and pleasant but assertive spiciness.
The Hilton's very unique, savory drink was the closest to a true martini, with chilled Tito's shaken over ice, garnished with crabmeat balls, flavored with Bloody Mary reduction in a glass rimmed with salt and celery microgreens. Yuuuuuum. The Driskill Grill's executive sous chef, Josh Watkins, had a hand in creating and artfully revealing a delightful cucumber lemongrass martini: cucumber juice with lemongrass-infused Tito's served straight up over a lemongrass and Blue Curacao sorbet, with a napa cabbage slaw on the side. Goodness, what an amazing cocktail. And the bartender made it blindfolded!
But it was Amber Wright and Daisy Undercuffler from the Four Seasons who again impressed the judges with their Batini Black and their energetic presentation. The new official drink of Austin is made with Tito's, Blue Curacao, a splash of simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and fresh blackberries; shaken vigorously; and strained into a cocktail glass, all topped off with champagne.
I encouraged all contestants to serve their drinks at their bars, so with luck, we'll be able to taste them all. But make sure you stop by the Four Seasons' Lobby Lounge for a taste of this year's fabulous official Batini. Cheers!