Much of the South is still sweltering, but now that August is in the rear view mirror I can’t help but dream of knee socks and boots, cashmere cardigans, and cocktails with a bit more clout.
Which is why I’m particularly smitten with my new neighborhood watering hole in Austin, Drink.well. The self-proclaimed American Pub (serving classic and contemporary cocktails made from fresh ingredients and simple, delicious pub food like a “Z.L.T.” a zucchini, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with herbed goat cheese) opened earlier this year in the emerging North Loop neighborhood (bonus: it’s across the street from Foreign & Domestic).
The bar is the baby of owner Jessica and Michael Sanders, two expats from New York who fled corporate American to chase their dream of owning a craft cocktail bar.
In Austin, they created a welcoming space that’s the perfect mix of style and comfort. “We found that bars were either neighborhood dives lacking in craft, or craft forward spots that didn’t have that comfortable kinship that a neighborhood bar offers, so we combined the two,” Jessica said. A nice touch in achieving that effect is a red, white, and blue superhero mural that captures the bar’s American spirit—and the neighborhood’s gritty edge.
To kick off September—even if we’re all pretending that there’s a nip in the air—Jessica is serving these three exquisite elixirs that make the most of fall fruit. “These are gateway drinks,” she says, “they have the classic fall flavors of warm baking spices, apples, cranberries, pears, but the cocktails are refreshing, and done in a way that you can enjoy them even when it’s not quite chilly.” Her fizzy Autumn 75 (a take on a French 75), for instance, is an elegant shrub garnished with dry sparkling cider and served in a champagne flue. The spicy Harvest Mule (think Moscow Mule with an autumn twist) is a tall, cooking drink over ice. The Figgy Flip is strongest tradition to a creamy, bourbon-based dessert style sip. And even if I can’t wear my velvet jacket yet, I’m more than happy to drink it right now.
A spice-forward cocktail that’s great during and after dinner – a great transition cocktail from warm to cool weather.
Level of difficulty: Easy to Medium
1.5 oz of Bluecoat American Dry Gin (or Vodka)
1 oz Cranberry Pear Shrub
.5 oz Hum Botanical Liqueur
5 Drops of Bitterman’s Spiced Cranberry Bitters
2-3 oz Ginger Beer (we use Fever Tree)
Method: Combine gin, shrub, liqueur and bitters with ice in a cocktail tin. Shake until chilled. Fine strain into a Collins or hi-ball glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with fresh cranberries.
A decadent, creamy “dessert” cocktail made with a honied-fig shrub – perfect to serve after a hearty Fall feast.
Level of difficulty: Hard
1.5 oz Bourbon
.75 oz Honied-Fig Shrub
.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
.5 oz Walnut Liqueur
.25 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 small Egg White
Method: In a cocktail tin, add the white of one egg. Shake “dry” to emulsify the egg white in the tin (about 10-15 seconds). Next, add the bourbon, shrub, curacao, walnut liqueur and fresh lemon juice to mixture with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds to thoroughly blend the ingredients. Do not be shy here – a good, hard and long shake is essential to getting the right texture for this cocktail. Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass. Grate some fresh nutmeg over the top of the drink.
A clean, elegant fall shrub cocktail ideal for before dinner or to entertain with.
Level of difficulty: Easy
1.5 oz Bluecoat American Dry Gin
1 oz Cranberry-Pear Shrub
.5 oz Pear Liqueur (I like Mathilde)
3 oz Argus Cidery Sparkling Apple Cider (or other dry sparkling cider)
Method: In a cocktail tin, combine the gin, shrub and pear liqueur. Shake with ice until chilled. Fine strain into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with candied cranberries.
What’s your favorite fall spirit?