By Rachel Cox
Cocktails have been at the center of social hours for years. Usually made from scratch in their own homes, people would create dazzling concoctions that have made the classics, well, a classic. They’ve established the rules.
But rules are meant to be broken. And Austin knows how to break some rules. I mean, they don’t say
Keep Austin weird because of all the rule-followers here.
Each of these signature cocktails of Austin are variations of other more well-known ones. They might’ve taken a big step from these classics, but the inspiration is there nonetheless.
Cocktails Based on People from Austin
Austin is home to many famous names. From artists to singers to movie stars to athletes, this place has them all. And where there are stars, there are likely to be bars taking advantage and naming a drink after them.
But you’d be surprised. Some of these celebrities actually like to create their own cocktails. Let’s look at some of the notably-named alcoholic beverages.
Actor Matthew McConaughey might not have grown up in Austin, Texas, but he has certainly adopted it as his true home.
He attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he now teaches courses from time to time. He is originally from the town of Uvalde, Texas, which is closer to the border with Mexico than Austin. But that doesn’t make him any less weird.
McConaughey likes his cocktails. More specifically, he likes his margaritas. So much so, that he fiddled with the recipe and came up with his own… odd concoction.
Adding things like citrus soda and cranberry juice, McConaughey sure keeps the weird in Austin. Try out his recipe below with your friends!
½ cup Anejo Tequila, like 1800
½ cup Freshly-Squeezed Lime Juice
¼ cup Grand Marnier
¼ cup Citrus Soda
¼ cup Tonic Water
2 tablespoons Cranberry Juice
Lime Wedges to garnish
Fill two margarita glasses with ice. Divide the ingredients (except the cranberry juice) between the glasses, and stir to combine.
Top each drink with cranberry juice, garnish with lime, and serve.
Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States from 1963 to 1969, has many a drink named after her. But there’s one at a famous hotel named after the founder of Austin, himself.
Head to the Stephen F. Austin hotel, go up to the second floor, and find a seat on the terrace to order this cocktail.
Similar to the Vieux Mot, except with vodka instead of gin, you’ll be dizzied and dazzled after just one. While we couldn’t find the exact recipe, we found a copycat one online for you to try.
1 shot of Vodka (preferably Grey Goose La Poire)
¾ ounces St~Germain
1 ¼ ounces Lemon Juice
¾ ounces Pear Simple Syrup
Combine all the ingredients and serve it over ice in a martini glass.
Add a lemon twist if you’re feeling fancy.
Broken Skull Margarita
For those of you who don’t know who Stone Cold Steve Austin is, I don’t know whether to be ashamed or jealous of you. Either way, this Austin-born professional wrestler has a soft spot for a mean margarita. And we mean mean.
This is the guy who poured concrete in Vince McMahon’s convertible, after all.
When he isn’t pounding brewskies, he’s perfecting his cocktail. Now, we do warn you, this is called the
Broken Skull margarita for a reason.
With the amount of liquor being added, we want to remind you to drink responsibly and consume plenty of water. Otherwise, you’ll be feeling like you have a broken skull in the morning.
But we couldn’t not include this intense take on the margarita by Austin’s own. So, give it a try - it’s a Stone Cold Stunner.
3 ounces Patron Silver
1 ½ ounces Triple Sec
1 ½ ounces Juiced Limes (NOT pre-bottled lime juice)
A “smidge” of Agave
Grab a cocktail shaker and add all the liquid ingredients.
Shake them together.
Pour them into a lowball glass with ice and salt the rim.
Willie Nelson. The country music phenomenon. The Air Force veteran. The marijuana enthusiast. We all know him for something, and it’s probably a positive association. That’s why Geraldine’s in Austin created this famous drink: Willie’s Cup.
It’s basically a mint julep with whiskey, housemade hemp seed milk, and sage served in a steel cup that’s wrapped in a red bandana secured with a roach clip. It’s the legal way to enjoy some of Willie’s favorite things. If you want to give it a try at home, we’ve got a recipe for you.
Fresh Sage Leaves
1 ½ ounces High West Double Rye Whiskey
1 ½ ounces Hemp Seed Milk
Muddle 4 sage leaves in the bottom of a julep cup. Add the whiskey and hemp seed milk.
Top with crushed ice, garnish with sage, and serve with a straw.
Don’t worry if you don’t have hemp seed milk, because we’ve got a recipe for that too!
Hemp Seed Milk Ingredients:
1 cup Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds (available at natural food stores or online)
3 cups Filtered Water
2 cups Maple Syrup
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
Hemp Seed Milk Preparation:
Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 1 minute.
Strain through a nut-milk or fine-mesh bag.
Yields about six cups and keeps in the fridge for three days.
Drinks Created in Austin
Austin is full of creative people. This rings true for its bartenders, too. Many amazing cocktails have been crafted within the city limits, and they’re drawing in tourists and locals alike. So, we decided to give you a taste of some of the most unique Austin-made mixed drinks.
The Artists’ Special is a riff on of a whiskey sour and inspired by the house cocktail of the Artists Bar on Rue Pigalle in Paris. Created in the speakeasy-of-sorts Small Victory, this drink is one of the many classics-turned-current. And the bar doesn’t take that lightly.
Bringing back cocktails that have stood the test of time and tweaking them is Small Victory’s specialty. Another unique thing for them is that they create their own ice in-house.
With the imperfections of ice machines and store-bought ice, which translates into it not being as cold for as long, they didn’t want to take the risk. Unfortunately, this drink doesn’t call for ice, but we’ve included the recipe anyway.
⅖ Scotch Whisky
⅕ Lemon Juice
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake until well combined.
Pour into a highball glass and serve.
At the Midnight Cowboy, a local speakeasy (converted from a former brothel masquerading as a massage parlor), support for the LGBTQ+ community is a must.
One of the local bartenders, Caleb Scott, created a pride drink called the Coco Flamingo, named partially after his Instagram handle, that bursts with flavor in the most unexpected ways.
If you want to try it yourself, here’s how to make it!
1 ounce Bacardi Coconut Rum
1 ounce Bacardi Tropical Rum
¾ ounce Martini & Rossi Bitter
¼ ounce Martini Fiero
½ ounce Lime Juice
½ ounce Grapefruit Juice
¼ ounce Red Pepper Simple Syrup
Rosemary for garnish
Combine all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake until well combined.
Serve in a Tajin and Chamoy rimmed hurricane glass over crushed ice.
Serve with a sprig of rosemary for garnish.
If you’re looking for an interesting cocktail you literally can’t get anywhere else, make your way to the Roosevelt Room immediately. Justin Lavenue and his bar received the title of Most Imaginative Bartender at a cocktail-crafting competition held by Bombay Sapphire Gin.
But if you’re nowhere near Austin to try this homemade cocktail, we’ve got you covered.
2 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
¾ ounce Poet’s Cordial
¾ ounce Yuzu Blend
2 dashes Umami Tincture
In a cocktail shaker, shake the ingredients over a large ice cube. Strain into a large coupe glass and drop the ice cube in. Garnish with a lime peel rosette.
Now, if you’re wondering what a Poet’s Cordial is, we got you. Read on to find out how to make it.
Poet’s Cordial Ingredients:
1 quart Pistachio Milk
3 ⅓ cups Wildflower Honey
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Vanilla Bean
2 tablespoons Matcha
Poet’s Cordial Preparation:
If you don’t have pistachio milk, blend 1 part unsalted pistachio nuts with 2 parts water and strain through a cheesecloth.
Then combine all the ingredients, mix well, and let rest for three days. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any solids.
Mattie’s in Green Pastures opened in 1946 when Mary Faulk’s parents, Henry and Martha
Mattie Miner Faulk, passed it on to her when they died.
In 1965, a recipe for this Milk Punch surfaced in Mary’s cookbook, The Texas Cookbook. It served as an eggnog alternative, and might I say, it sounds a lot more delicious.
This recipe isn’t exactly like the one from 1965, which included vanilla ice cream and high-quality booze, but it’s pretty close! Give it a try.
1 ounce Buffalo Trace Bourbon
¾ ounce Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
½ ounce Appleton Reserve Jamaican Rum
4 ounces Half & Half
2 ounces Whole Milk
¾ ounce Grade A or B Maple Syrup
¼ ounce Vanilla Paste
Nutmeg to garnish
Combine all the ingredients and stir vigorously to make sure the vanilla is equally dispersed throughout.
Serve very cold! Dispense into a small chilled cup and grate fresh nutmeg on top.
Cocktails that Represent Austin
As we’ve stated, Austin is weird. And they embrace it! But that’s not all Austin is. And these cocktails prove it. From its Mexican influences to the usage of Austin-made liquors to honoring a population of flying mammals that live within the city, these refreshments are the best of the best for representing Austin’s true self.
The Batini, the official drink of Austin, as given by the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. This may have to do with the 1.5 millions Mexican free-tailed bats that chill under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.
Or the fact that there’s an Austin Bat Fest. Whatever the reason, bats are a big deal here. Don’t they say
everything’s bigger in Texas?
Many Austin hotels competed in a competition to have the official
Batini, but only one came out victorious: The Four Seasons. Their recipe is the one included below. The one that the Tito Beveridge (yes, that’s his actual name), who created Tito’s Handmade Vodka, judged.
5 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka mixed with ½ ounce Chambord
4 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka mixed with ½ ounce Blue Curacao
3 ounces room temperature Sangria
Cherry for garnish (cut into a *fang* if possible)
In a cocktail shaker, take the 4 ounces of Tito’s and Blue Curacao and shake. Strain into 5 martini glasses. Then take the 5 ounces of Tito’s and the Chambord and shake. Strain slowly down the rims of the martini glasses.
Using a straw, transfer three drops of the Sangria down the rim of each glass. This effect is a layered dawn and dusk representation. Garnish with a cherry.
Before serving, swirl the Batinis to send the Austin bats on a metaphoric flight. Serves 5.
For homemade Sangria, read below.
¼ cup Orange Juice
¼ cup Cranberry Juice
¼ cup Apple Juice
½ cup Red Wine (Sangre do Toro preferred)
Combine all ingredients and let sit out to achieve room temperature.
Peaches & Bees
Apis Restaurant and Apiary crafted a drink like no other in 2019 when they won the Official Drink of Austin contest. With local beehive honey as a staple to most of their drinks, this one included, this cocktail brings out the popular trend of beekeeping in the city.
Not only is beekeeping eco-friendly (hello, no shipping, packaging wastes, etc.), it's a healthier alternative to store-bought honey. Homemade honey can offer medicinal properties due to it being antibacterial.
So, what we’re basically saying is this is medicine to make you healthier. (Please know we’re joking.) If you want to try it at home, take a look at this complicated, though delicious, recipe.
½ ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
½ ounce Fresh Lime Juice and Yuzu Juice Blend (5:1 ratio)
½ ounce Honey Syrup (Apis uses honey from onsite beehives)
¼ ounce D’Arton Creme de Peche
1 ounce Housemade Peach Nectar
2 ounces Treaty Oak Red Handed Bourbon
1 Egg White
Dry shake all the ingredients. Then add ice and shake again.
Strain into a rocks glass over 1 large ice cube. Garnish with a pickled peach slice.
We’ll admit. This sounds kinda gross. But hear us out like Garcia Curra did when his brother suggested adding avocado to an iconic cocktail at Curra’s Grill.
This is a tourist and local staple in Austin. The creamy, boozy, cold drink gives you the taste of Austin with the courage to brave the weirdness of the city. This beverage is now copied across the country, but none is as good as the original, which we have below.
1 tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Grated Lime Zest
1 Lime Wedge
½ Avocado, peeled and pitted
½ cup Tequila Blanco
6 tablespoons Triple Sec
6 tablespoons Lime Juice
1 tablespoon Fresh Chopped Cilantro
1 ½ cups Ice
Place salt and half the lime zest on a plate. Rub the rim of each glass with the lime wedge and dip the glass into the salt mixture.
In a blender, puree the remaining ingredients until smooth. Divide and enjoy.
Trudy’s Authentic Tex-Mex has been in Austin since 1977. Proclaimed to be
The furthest thing from a chain you can get, they make everything from scratch and invent cocktails you can’t get anywhere else (or at least not for as good). Just standing inside makes you feel at home in Austin.
The Mexican Martini (which is more margarita than martini, but who’s gonna tell Trudy) is a combination of the best cocktail ingredients from Texas and Mexico mixed into one drink. Try one out for yourself!
2 ounces Tequila
1 ounce Cointreau Liqueur
1 ounce Orange Juice
Juice of ½ a Lime
Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into a glass rimmed with salt. Add stuffed olives, if you’re brave.
So, no matter what you’re into, Austin has a signature cocktail hand-crafted for your tastebuds.