New spirits wizardry at the Alamo Drafthouse, a food court recovery at Highland Mall, and more food news

Big doings at the Alamo Drafthouse these days: Austin's unique, homegrown dinner-and-a-movie theater chain has hired multiple award-winning­ local bartender Bill Norris as its new beverage director. Norris will work with all the Alamo locations (including the new one opening in Circle C later this year) as well as the HighBall to develop a distinctive new beverage program. "I've been a huge fan of Bill Norris since he was crafting cocktails at Fino," says Drafthouse founder Tim League. "He's been my hands-down favorite bartender ever since. Bill is the perfect person to make sure that every liquid consumed at the Alamos and the HighBall is delicious." Speaking of the HighBall, chef Trish Eichelberger previewed some of her new menu items for the media over the weekend – be sure to try the greatly improved Dr Pepper ribs and the spicy brisket sliders. And when the final installment of the Harry Potter film series opens this weekend, Drafthouse Executive Chef John Bullington and his team will serve up their final multicourse Potter feast. In addition to the feast menu served exclusively during feast screenings ($55 plus ticket), there will also be a menu of specials available during regular screenings plus a marathon menu served during the eight-film marathon that started in the wee hours this morning. For full details and to buy tickets, go to

Now for a lightning round of local restaurant news: Stewart Scruggs and Mark Paul last week announced the upcoming opening of their new BC Tavern (11715 Bee Caves Rd.) in the former Zoot space. It will feature comfort food done well and a full bar Monday through Saturday evenings... Shawn Cirkiel's the backspace (507 San Jacinto) has added a daily happy hour until 6:30pm with half-price antipasti, beer, and wine... I've recently heard from some brave entrepreneurs who opened new eateries in the Highland Mall food court (6001 Airport) of all places. ACC Culinary alums Annette Rhode and Carson Nunez are the proud owners of a new made-from-scratch pizza joint called Sauced. Also look for authentic Peruvian food from Susana Osorio at La Chaparrita while you're there... Trace at the W Hotel (200 Lavaca) has reopened after the falling glass mishap, and its previously announced bargain Social Interactive Playtime menu will now debut in the Living Room bar on Monday, July 18, 3-6:30pm... Carlos Rivero's El Chile Restaurant Group has repurposed one of its outlets to create the new El Alma (1025 Barton Springs Rd.). The fun, casual El Alma will be under the direction of working partners General Manager Israel Prado (also beverage director) and Executive Chef Alma Alcocer-Thomas. Mexico City native Alcocer-Thomas describes the cuisine as "the foods that I like – fun, casual food I grew up eating." Her approachable take on Interior Mexican food should be very enjoyable with one of Prado's signature cocktails on El Alma's inviting rooftop patio and a spectacular view of Downtown.

Austin filmmaker Christian Remde's Twelve Films Project includes a documentary on award-winning chef Bryce Gilmore and his use of 100% local ingredients at the Odd Duck Farm to Trailer ( See "That Time of the Month," Screens, to read more about Remde and his films.

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