It just wouldn't be Austin if the twin deluges of hand-crafted cocktails and craft beer didn’t eventually, serendipitously collide. This has been the summer of the beertailnado.
First, a cocktail lesson for us hopheads from El Monumento's (500 S. Austin Ave. in Georgetown) bar director, Jeremy Corn. The owners of the urbane Mexican restaurant in Georgetown have let him build up his months-old bar with everything from a hand-cranked ice shaver to a slow-drip, limestone filter and vintage glassware, for which he goes thrifting himself. Corn talks like a modern man, but runs a craft cocktail bar nostalgic for a Forties that never happened in Mexico.
“Ultimately, for me, the Old-Fashioned is the only cocktail that really matters,” he says.
A “Real” Old-Fashioned Cocktail from El Monumento
2.5oz. of any spirit, like spicy Rye Whiskey
.25oz. of bitters, Angostura is always appropriate
.5oz. of any sweetener. Sugar or simple syrup suffice, but Corn uses Luxardo Amaro Abano
Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir well over ice. Strain into an ice-filled double Old-Fashioned glass. Garnish with a cherry and an orange twist.
“In the early-to-mid 19th century a 'cocktail' was a spirit with bitters, sugar, and water added to it.” Hence the name “old-fashioned.” According to Corn, a proper cocktail should more or less follow the ratios in this recipe.
“Anything can be the spirit; there are dozens of varieties of bitters on the market; the sweetener can be anything sweet you can imagine, from sugar to liqueur to specialty syrups.”
So, we’ve learned that Guinness and Baileys is not a beer cocktail. What are real beer cocktails?
"With the signature drinks at Glass Half Full Taproom, we're trying to bridge the gap between the beer drinker and the cocktail drinker," says Bill Norris, Alamo Drafthouse Beverage Director. At the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline's stand-alone bar, "Local beer like (512) Pecan Porter finds its way into cocktails and beer components like hops and malt find their way into classic drinks like daiquiris and gimlets.”
Full Scotch Irish Breakfast at Glass Half Full
2 oz. overproof rye whiskey such as Rittenhouse Bonded or Bulleit
1 oz. Stout Beer, such as Guinness
1/2 oz. Pure Maple Syrup
2 teaspoons lemon curd
2 dashes Mole Bitters
1 whole egg
Fresh grated nutmeg for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine all of the ingredients except the nutmeg without ice and shake vigorously. Add ice to the shaker and shake again until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or large coupe and garnish with fresh grated nutmeg.
Phil Vuong, assistant general manager at Brew Exchange (706 W. Sixth), has had recently his face grace Austin Chronicle’s pages, but here’s a shot of one of his favorite summer creations, the Steamroller.
He made cocktails at 6Lounge before manning the 72 taps at Brew Exchange. Here's one of his favorites:
Steamroller at Brew Exchange
3/4 oz Woodford Reserve
1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz lemon juice
Mix and top off with St. Arnold's Santo.
When you go in to Brew Exchange for their beer cocktails or 72 taps or to pick up a drunk friend, take this bit of Irish poesy on the wall as garnish:
“The wheat is like a rich man,
That's sleek and well to do.
The oats are like a pack of girls,
Laughing and dancing too,
The rye is like a miser,
That's sulky, lean and small,
But the free and bearded barley
Is the monarch of them all.
- Elizabeth Sterling”
Botticelli's (1321 S. Congress) serves one mixed beer drink in their beer garden. The Kolovitz Mover from Botticelli's doesn't quite qualify as a classic cocktail recipe. The glass of Live Oak Hefeweizen and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur topped with prosecco is delicious but wouldn't fly in a cocktailnado. What do you expect? Did you know that Botticelli's is named after the brothers who own it, not the painter? Good thing you had that poem at Brew Exchange for culture!
Ivy Le is leaving the beer beat to pursue an MBA at the University of Texas.