The Austin Chronicle

Official Drink of Austin Returns

By Thea Newell, April 6, 2017, 12:00pm, On the Range

If Austin were a libation, what would it look like? Would it come with an ice cube in the shape of Ann Richards? Would it be mixed with organic juice or maybe hemp milk? A panel of judges has the tough job of figuring that out when Official Drink of Austin returns on Thursday, May 4.

Originally started in 2006, the contest took a brief hiatus before finding new life in 2014 as a joint project between “Tipsy Texan” David Alan and the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, and finds its focus in turning the spotlight on Austin’s bartenders. Each bar team will set up a bar that represents their own establishment, and will work together to create a cocktail that not only focuses on local ingredients, but reflects Austin as a whole and celebrates the city’s lively bar culture.

This year’s teams include Kuneho, Clive, Javelina, Frank, Firehouse Lounge, Alcomar, The Driskill, and drink.well, who has secured a spot in the competition every year since its reinstatement in 2014. The winner will be chosen by a panel made up of local libation experts: Bill Norris, beverage director for Alamo Drafthouse; Brandon Watson, food editor at The Austin Chronicle; Jennifer Keyser, chief of bar operations at Geraldine’s and the head of the 2016 winning bar team; Shakey Graves, 2015 Americana Music Award Best Emerging Artist; and Laura Sawicki, pastry chef at Launderette.

Attendees will get to taste all of the contest’s submissions, as well as a selection of craft cocktails. Drinks will be accompanied by chef-prepared bar foods from top local restaurants and soul and funk music from DJ I Wanna Be Her. 150 early bird tickets are $55 each and go on sale today, after which tickets will be sold for $65 online or $75 at the door. $125 will get you access to the VIP Industry After Party, a new event geared toward Austin’s cocktail industry professionals, which will feature additional craft beverages and bites. Fair warning, AFWA tickets go quickly. You don’t want to snooze on this one.

Sales from the event support AFWA’s grant program, which has funded almost $150,000 worth of unique culinary projects that have contributed to the local food community since 2012. The AFWA also organized today’s Live Fire!, a “beef-centric, live-fire cooking event” at Camp Mabry, whose sold-out*, star-studded lineup brings together the best of Texas cuisine and foreshadows an equally exciting tasting for the Official Drink of Austin.

Official Drink of Austin
Thursday, May 4, 7-10pm
Fair Market
1100 E. Fifth, 512/494-9093

*Pro tip: If you missed the online sale, a limited number of tickets are still available for $95 at the door.

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