Over lunch the other day at Shoal Creek Saloon, I got to drinking…I mean, thinking: Why should we call it a Long Island Iced Tea? We have plenty of alcohol companies right here in Austin! Why not call it a Longhorn Tea? It could go something like this:
- 1 oz Tito’s or Deep Eddy Lemon
- 1 oz Waterloo Gin
- 1 oz Treaty Oak Platinum Rum
- 1 oz Tequila 512
- 1/2 oz Paula’s Texas Orange
- 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (not necessary if you go with Deep Eddy Lemon over Tito’s)
- Cola to taste, garnish with lemon wedge
Before you try it (and invite me over, of course), you might want to learn about a few of the companies that produce liquor right here in Austin.
#1 Tito’s Handmade Vodka
If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with the last name “Beveridge,” you’re legally obligated to have a career in the beverage business. Okay, not really. But something motivated Tito Beveridge to become the first legal distiller in Texas. That something was probably a combination of wanting to get out of the rat race and enjoying making flavored vodkas as Christmas presents for friends.
When Tito realized there was a lack of straight sipping vodkas, he switched gears from flavored to pure and simple. And the result was a double gold medal, the highest award for taste, at the World Spirit Competition (which I’ve been told is basically like an Oscar for distillers).
What I personally love the most about Tito’s Handmade Vodka is you can find it ALL over the world now. So when you’re on vacation and you spot someone at a bar drinking Tito’s, you can say, “Hey, that martini you’re drinking? Yeah. I live where that vodka’s made.” I lie. My favorite thing about Tito’s is their Instagram account, @vodkafordogpeople. Ugh. Lied again – what I like best is how buzzed it gets me.
#2 Treaty Oak Distilling Co.
The company name came about when Stephen F. Austin signed a treaty under a massive live oak tree on Baylor Street. The agreement was to solidify border lines with Native Americans, and there are plenty of urban myths about what actually took place that day. The overarching themes buried in the folklore are bravery and strength. The oak tree still exists today, despite the fact it was once poisoned.
Treaty Oak Distilling owner Daniel Barnes, along with his father-in-law, created Treaty Oak rum with molasses from the last sugar mill in the state. They plan to keep the business small, but diverse. Treaty Oak has branched out to produce the following:
- Barrel Reserve Rum
- Graham’s Texas Tea
- Red Handed Burbon
- Waterloo Antique Gin
- Treaty Oak Platinum Rum
- Starlite Vodka
- Waterloo Gin
#3 Tequila 512
If anyone ever tells you it’s possible to distill tequila in the U.S., unfriend them immediately. Legally, tequila can only be distilled in Mexico. That didn’t stop Scott Willis from starting a tequila company, though. “I wanted to be in the business of making people happy,” he told me. So he went down to Tequila, Mexico and toured distilleries. Once he found a distillery that would honor his recipe, a business was founded right here in Austin, where Willis lives with his family.
It was actually Tito Beveridge who helped Willis find the inspiration for the brand name, Tequila 512. “He told me to be true to myself. No Spanish-sounding gimmicks, just be straight forward.” That advice led Willis to name his brand after the coolest area code ever. Tequila 512 went to the World Spirit Competition earlier this year and absolutely dominated. Willis came home with a double gold medal and a “Best in Show” award. That’s what I’m talking about, Willis.
Deep Eddy Vodka distills vodka with water from a local aquifer and their process leaves zero waste. This contributes to a cleaner, smoother taste. Now, I like my vodka to go down easy, but I also like my vodka flavored. Deep Eddy comes in Ruby Red, Sweet Tea, Cranberry and Lemon flavors. The newest member of the family, Lemon, was initially only available at the company’s Dripping Springs distillery, but you can now find it in bars and liquor stores nationwide.
And speaking of the distillery, you can book events and private tours at their trendy, stylish Tasting Room. The space is 3,000 square feet and has beautiful Hill Country views.
#5 Paula’s Texas Spirits
Austinites can be shameless margarita snobs. And sometimes, we want something more than lime-based. That’s probably why Paula’s Texas Orange and Lemon liqueurs are so popular. Owner Paula Angerstein was inspired to start her company after one of many trips to Italy, where she learned to perfect her limoncello recipe. In 2005, she became the first woman to legally distill in Texas.
Recently, Paula and her team joined forces with Pepe Zevada of Z Tequila and Republic Tequila to form the first liquor house in Texas. This super-booze company will be able to produce, import and market alcohol.
@ATX_Adrienne wants to know:
What cocktail will you invent with locally-owned liquors? Let me know!