Austin Food & Wine Alliance & Tipsy Texan
Serve Up Texas Spirit Showcase & Local Cocktail Competition
Fundraiser Benefits Culinary Grants: Tickets on Sale Today
Official Drink of Austin returns as the city’s premier cocktail event now hosted by the Austin Food & Wine Alliance and Tipsy Texan on Thursday, February 20, 7–10 p.m. Tickets are $65 each and go on sale today at austinfoodwineallianc
Six bar teams from local bars and restaurants were selected in a rousing citywide competition. The winning teams will mix up Austin-inspired cocktails and top-notch bar food at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center to raise funds for culinary grants while trying to capture the title of Austin’s official drink. The popular event has been on hiatus since 2011 and returns to celebrate Texas spirits and shine a spotlight on Austin’s sizzling and talented bartending community. The bar teams selected to compete include qui, Weather Up, drink.well., Four Seasons Hotel, Midnight Cowboy, and Whisler’s.
Attendees will have the chance to sample cocktails featuring Texas spirits and also taste the Official Drink of Austin contest entries. In addition, attendees will experience innovative chef-prepared bar foods, cheer on the competitors, and enjoy tunes played by popular Austin DJ ulovei.
Featured chefs include Josh Watkins & Plinio Sandalio of The Carillon; Mat Clouser of Swift’s Attic; Jean Pierre Lacoste of Frank; Lawrence Kocurek of TRACE; John Lichtenberger of Peche; Kristine Kittrell of Weather Up; Eric Silverstein of The Peached Tortilla; Peter Maffei of Finn & Porter; Scott Higby of TRIO; Anthony Sobotik and Chad Palmatier of Lick’s Honest Ice Cream; and Camden Stuerzenberger of Fork & Vine.
David Alan (known as the Tipsy Texan), a professional bartender, restaurant specialist, and author, was an early adapter to Texas’ emerging craft cocktail and spirits scene and worked early on to establish the Official Drink competition. “Austin has become one of the top cocktail cities in the US in recent years, and Texas is one of the top states for independent distilleries,“ says Alan. “With the Official Drink of Austin showcase, the best bars and distilleries in our area come together to create a truly memorable experience.”
The contest began a decade ago when it was hosted by the Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Tito’s Vodka, as the Official Drink of Austin Contest. The ACVB, charged with promoting Austin’s quirky culture to national media outlets, found in the contest a fun way to celebrate Austin’s vibrant bar scene. Bartenders from Austin hotels and restaurants would compete, many with elaborate costumes and stage props, to create a cocktail that best represents the Bat City (the event was even known for a while as the Batini Contest).
In 2008, Tipsy Texan and Edible Austin partnered to create the Drink Local contest, in an effort to put a focus on the craft side of cocktails, the importance of fresh and local ingredients, and the diverse range of Texas spirits that had proliferated in recent years. Starting in 2011, the two contests merged to create one event that focused on the craft of the cocktail and the diverse talent in Texas distilling.
This year, the competition was open to bars instead of individual bartenders. Like bartending itself, the contest will be a team event. Each participating bar team has created a short drink menu utilizing Texas spirits and flavor combinations with a local flair. Bar teams submitted menus consisting of a long drink, an up drink, and a shot. From all entries, the six finalist bars were selected to compete live at the main event, where they will set up a bar that represents their establishment.
The cocktail judging team includes Austin’s favorite pitmaster Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue; Houston’s “Mix Mistress” Alba Huerta of Anvil Bar & Refuge; famed cocktail pioneer cocktail and founder of Employees Only in New York Jason Kosmas of 86 Company; 2011 Official Drink of Austin Winner Houston Eaves, Bar Manager of San Antonio’s Esquire Tavern; acclaimed guitarist Adrian Quesada of Grammy-award winning Latin funk band Grupo Fantasma; and Matthew Odam of the Austin American Statesman.
Cocktails will feature Texas spirits including Deep Eddy Vodka, Dripping Springs Vodka, Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Genius Gin, Paula Texas Spirits, Red River Whiskey, Tequila 512, Tito’s Vodka, Treaty Oak Distilling, White Hat Rum, and Z Tequila.
The Austin Food and Wine Alliance hosts engaging culinary events throughout the year to raise funds for the nation’s first grant program based on culinary innovation. In 2013, the AFWA awarded $25,000 in grants to fund a variety of unique culinary endeavors including a food preservation project that includes oral histories and the creation of a mobile kitchen and traveling canning museum (Confituras); the first USDA-inspected salumi producer in Texas (Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria); the first locally grown and malted barley in the state, which will support craft beer production (Blacklands Malt); and an on-the-farm cooking program, the first in the Elgin area (Skinny Lane Farm).
As the key beneficiary of the upcoming Austin FOOD & WINE Festival April 25–27, the Alliance features educational programming and culinary events showcasing Central Texas’ chef talent along with artisan and local producers, world-class wine and spirit makers, and craft brewers.
The Alliance continues to gain tremendous community support with Whole Foods Market® as presenting sponsor and other key supporters including the Austin Food & Wine Festival, Texas Beef Council, Texas Monthly, AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center, Greenling, Premiere Party Central and Premiere Tents & Events, Texas Pork Producers Association, Twin Liquors, Republic National Distributing Company, Glazer’s, ABC Bank, Freshpoint, CultureMap Austin, Giant Noise, Max Photography, Texas Tea, Freeman, and Field Branding & Design.
For more information about the AFWA, visit AustinFoodWineAlliance.
The Austin Food & Wine Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering awareness and innovation in the Central Texas culinary community through grants, educational programming and events. Guided by an all-volunteer board of directors and committees made up of culinary-and-community-minded professionals, the Alliance’s commitment is to promote Texas food, wine, spirits and craft brews and to increase appreciation of Texas’ culinary impact. The AFWA is the designated beneficiary of the Austin FOOD & WINE Festival. For more information about the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, visit AustinFoodWineAlliance.