‘Tis the Season
3 uniquely Texan spirits and how to serve them in style
Curated by Laurel Miller
Photographs by Denise Prince
Illustrated By Hannah-Michelle Bayley
Few Lone Star State wineries produce their own fruit, but at William Chris Vineyards in Hye, it’s all about Texas terroir. Says winegrower/ co-owner Chris Brundrett, “We built our business off the idea that quality wine isn’t made, it’s grown. It’s the original farm-to-table drink, and we grow grapes and make wine from diverse regions across the state. We’re proud to share our part of the world with wine enthusiasts.”
2018 William Chris Pétillant Naturel Rosé, $25, williamchriswines.com
Sparkling wine is an underrated companion for sweet pastries. Try it with macarons or madeleines from Austin pâtissier Julie Myrtille or assorted holiday-themed chocolates from Maggie Louise Confections. To round things out, consider a savory option as well, like Callie’s Biscuits served with sliced country ham and a decadent double- or triple-crème cheese such as La Tur or Delice de Bourgogne.
Passed appetizers should have salty, crunchy, creamy, briny characteristics. Deviled eggs and homemade or store-bought thick-cut potato chips dolloped with crème fraîche and caviar play off the subtly sweet bubbles. Pressed for time? Order dressed eggs from local deli Mum Foods.
HOW TO SERVE
Keep multiple bottles chilled in a large Champagne bowl or oversized vessel and serve sparkling wine ice-cold in a festive coupe or white wine glass. Says Brundrett, “The aromatics are really incredible and can be muted with a flute.”
From left: Curtis Cake Stand Trio, $20/day, Melody’s Joy Dessert Table Design; Florentine Tray, $11/day, Loot Rentals; Ripple Gold Hammered Bucket, $49.95, CB2; Florentine Trays, Loot Rentals, $9-$11/day.
From upper left: Macarons, $9/3, juliemyrtille.com; Dressed Eggs, Mum’s, $18/dozen; Madeleines, $6/3 and Cannelés, $45/dozen, Julie Myrtille; Maggie Louise Confections Christmas Chocolates, from $21, maggielouiseconfections.com; Dried persimmons, $15.49; Olinas Cranberry & Pumpkin Seed Crackers, $4.99; Central Market Kettle Cooked Waffle Cut Sea Salt Chips, 2/$5; Vermont Creamery Crème Fraiche, $5.99; Petrossian Imperial White Sturgeon, $94/30g, all Central Market; Callie’s Country Ham Biscuits, $20, calliesbiscuits.com.
“The same way an art gallery curates collections, so too do gin distillers when crafting the right combination of botanicals, scents and flavors,” says Dan Udell, brand director for Waterloo Gin/Treaty Oak Distilling. “Waterloo specifically looked to the Texas Hill Country to create gins with a sense of place. The brand’s terroir– centric Old Yaupon Gin blends foraged native yaupon with juniper, local wildflower honey, makrut lime, anise and orris root. Waterloo No. 9 is a clean, crisp gin with pronounced notes of Texas–grown lavender, lemon, grapefruit and pecan, which adds a bit of depth and body.”
Treaty Oak Waterloo Old Yaupon Gin, $18.99, totalwine.com
Gin pairs beautifully with blue cheese and fresh, soft-ripened or aged goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses, which play well with the earthiness of juniper.
Making your own marinated olives is guaranteed to garner raves. Source a mix of dry-cured and Castelvetrano or Lucques varieties from Central Market’s antipasto bar. Then, in a large sauté pan, add just enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat the olives; add a sprinkle of chile pepper flakes, sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary, garlic cloves and strips of orange or lemon peel. Heat slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally to allow the flavors to mingle; remove from heat and serve heaped in a shallow bowl.
A complex spirit like gin calls for bold, straightforward accompaniments like pickled veggies, salumi, cheese straws, endive spears with blue cheese and pecans. For a sweet element, try shortbread with a flavor profile that will complement the gin such as lavender or fresh herbs.
HOW TO SERVE
While a supply of good-quality tonic water is always appropriate, seasonal ingredients elevate gin cocktails. Udell recommends combining 1 1/2 ounces Waterloo Old Yaupon Gin, 1 ounce fresh Texas pink grapefruit juice and 1/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Originale; shake and strain into an ice-filled Collins or rocks glass; finish with tonic water.
Clockwise from upper left: Pickard Timeless Crystal Tumblers, $48 each, Hearth & Soul; Florentine Tray, $11/ day, Loot Rentals; Beaker Glass Pitcher, $5.95, and Trap Pitcher, $14.95, both CB2; Modern Gold Candlesticks, $3/ day, Loot Rentals; Gianna Dishes, $24.94-$29.95, CB2; Bloomingville Round Marble Cutting Boards, $33-$55, Hearth & Soul; Crinkle Pink and Gold Bowl, $6.95, CB2; Nostalgic Mini Ornaments $38/set of 20, Anthropologie.
From upper left: Fresh lemon juice, $14/16oz; Fresh pink grapefruit juice, $3.89/16oz; Assorted olives, $9.99/lb; Safies Dill Pickled Carrots, $5.49; Cucina Viva Rosemary Crostini, $2.99; Bee Tree Farm & Dairy Mi Corazon goat cheese, $21.99/lb; Berthaut Le Trou du Cru, $7.49; In-house baked cheddar biscuits, $4.99; Mey Selections Traditional Luxury Shortbread, $3.99; Belgian endive with Salemville Amish Blue Cheese Crumbles, $3.98/lb and $3.98; Elevation Meats Fennel Pollen Salami, $10.99; all Central Market.
The water used in making whiskey is often considered the most important part. Clean and free of bad-tasting impurities is the goal, but Sean Foley of Nine Banded takes it a step further by personalizing his spirits with Texas spring water. “We fetch limestone-filtered water from a ranch in Mason every few weeks,” the distiller’s CEO says. “It gives our whiskey a smooth quality that people really enjoy.”
Nine Banded Whiskey, $24.99, totalwine.com
Whiskey and cheese are a love match, but a pairing composed of all-Texas ingredients makes a party presentation even more memorable. Caldera España from Schertz’s River Whey Creamery is made with raw Jersey milk and smoked over pecan wood; serve with dried peaches, toasted pecans and mesquite honeycomb or orange-vanilla bean marmalade.
Pass plates of simple, playful bites like Gruyère gougères, chicken-liver toasts and a riff on Angels on Horseback made with bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with mascarpone.
Bourbon for dessert? Yes, please. Pair it with Blue Heron Farms cajeta dolloped atop local goat cheese gelato from Gelateria Gemelli, with a tuile or other crisp cookie on the side. For less fuss, pile maple-whiskey and Aztec chocolate chews from Wildflower Caramels or Srsly Chocolate’s Texas Mesquite bars on a delicate plate.
Make your own brandied cherries for a luxe Manhattan garnish. Rinse the syrup from jarred Amarena or Luxardo maraschino cherries and soak them in cognac overnight. Store in an airtight container for up to one month.
HOW TO SERVE
“The classic Old- Fashioned cocktail is always a great choice for over the holidays. We like ours Burnt Orange,” says Foley with a grin. He composes a signature Burnt Orange Old-Fashioned with 2 ounces Nine Banded Whiskey, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, 2 dashes orange bitters and 2 dashes aromatic bitters.
For more of a tasting experience, Heather Greene, CEO of Provision Spirits and maker of Ben Milam and Milam & Greene whiskeys suggests a global whiskey bar for parties. “I buy three or four gorgeous bottles from Scotland, Ireland and Japan, as well as a domestic bourbon.” Greene suggests printing a card with tasting notes to accompany the curated whiskeys, and serving a couple contrasting cocktails. Balance a boozy Manhattan or Old-Fashioned with a lighter, more refreshing highball (one part whiskey to two parts seltzer water such as Bubbs, a sustainable delivery service delivering Hill Country water in vintage glass bottles). Garnish with a lemon twist and serve in a Collins glass.
From left: Drake Metallic Double Old-Fashioned Glasses, $11.95/each, Pacific Teak Wood Appetizer Bowl, $14.95, and Pacific Teak Wood Appetizer Plate, $14.95, all CB2.
From left: Mindy’s Bakeshop Cookies, $5-7/each, mindysbakeshopaustin.com; Creminelli Whiskey Salami Minis, $8.49; Dried peaches, $7.99/lb; Roasted in-house pecan halves, $11.99/lb; Rustic Bakery Rosemary & Olive Oil Organic Sourdough Flatbread, $5.99; Bequet caramels, $19.99/lb; Zeigler’s Georgia Wildflower Honey with comb, $10.99; Central Market bean to bar Dominican Republic 69% Chocolate, $5.99; Cheeseland Black Pepper Gouda, $14.99/lb; Challerhocker Kaserei Tufertschwil Cow Milk Cheese, $32.99/lb; Bard Valley Natural Delights Pitted Fresh Medjool Dates, $6.48; Stuffed with Gorgonzola Dolce Creamy Cheese, $13.99/lb and wrapped in North Country Smokehouse Organic Smoked Uncured Bacon, $6.99; all Central Market except Mindy’s Cookies.