Made in Texas: Tempting Summer Sips
Cheers to the weekend with these brand new booze releases from Lone Star State purveyors
By Holly Cowart
In case you’ve been living under a rock lately – or pulling a Jared Leto and glamorously emerging from a silent desert retreat – a lot has gone down in the past couple of months. From cancellations and shut downs to virtual dance parties and awkward Zoom meetings, we’ve all been finding new ways to get ourselves through the long weeks. For many, that’s meant one thing: booze.
Soon after cities shut down, national alcohol consumption boomed. Surprisingly, many of our favorite local purveyors stayed just as active, releasing new and seasonal spirits to keep palates entertained.
Although large social gatherings are a no-go, it’s still possible to revel in the weekend with a sunny spot outdoors and a good drink in hand. Here’s a list of the latest Texas-crafted libations to help you celebrate the season.
In April, Lone Star added to its well-known family of beers with Rio Jade, a seasonal Mexican-style lager. Dubbed “The New Taste of Texas,” the Hill Country-brewed beer was inspired by the natural beauty of the Lone Star State. Inside the vibrant turquoise can, designed by Houston-based artist Cruz Ortiz, lies a refreshing blend of locally-sourced ingredients, including award-winning Blacklands Malt, which delivers a distinctly Texas taste of citrus, spice and sweetness.
Don’t feel left out, wine lovers. William Chris Vineyards collaborated with Master Sommelier Craig Collins this April to deliver a flavorful red blend made of 95 percent Cinsault and 5 percent Mourvèdre from the Texas High Plains. Aficionados can expect hints of raspberry, cherry and violets delicately balanced with spice. Although sold out on their site, the vino is still available at retailers throughout Texas, with 100 percent of sales benefiting the Southern Smoke Foundation. Since the outbreak began, the nonprofit has been a crucial resource in providing financial aid to struggling members of the restaurant community.
Vista Brewing’s All Together IPA says it all. Launched in April, this global collaboration between 700 breweries across 48 states and more than 50 countries is designed to give back to local hospitality industry members. Beginning with a simply crafted open source recipe from Other Half Brewing in New York, brewers infused their own distinct flavor profiles and adopted the shared design from Stout Collective to create a unified yet unique beer. For Vista Brewing, sales go towards supporting Hill Country restaurants by providing meals for its furloughed employees. Pick up a four pack of 16-oz. cans at the Driftwood destination and check out other variations from around the world.
Far West Texas
Last month, a new player entered the hard seltzer arena. Raised in West Texas by founder Katie Brown, Ranch Water is made with pure organic agave and natural lime juice, coming in at a clean and refreshing 80 calories. The tasty Texas spirit makes enjoying a cocktail as easy as opening a can. Keep an eye out in the fall, when the brand will add two new flavors to its arsenal: Spicy and Rio Red Grapefruit.
While we were stuck indoors, a historic purveyor reinvented itself for the modern world. Established in 1883, The Pearl Brewery has returned with an updated take on it’s beloved lager, Pearl xXx. Contract-brewed by Austin’s Oasis Texas Brewing, this drink honors San Antonio’s rich history while acknowledging its tremendous growth. Starting with malt, things take a twist with the addition of wheat and citrus leading to a smooth sip completed with a brand new design by Guerilla Suit.
At Garrison Brothers, the third time’s the charm. On May 22, the Hye distillery launched a limited release of its multi-award-winning, twice-barreled bourbon, Balmorhea. Named in honor of West Texas’ Balmorhea State Park, the 115-proof whiskey was first introduced in 2018 and carries tasting notes of amaretto coffee, sticky buns and pecan brittle. “Simply put,” says Master Distiller Donnis Todd, “Balmorhea is bourbon candy in a bottle.”
Make a weekend escape without leaving the city! Well-known Houston brewery St. Arnold has released a hazy, Double Dry Hopped IPA for a limited time. Bold Sabro hops bring elements of coconut to the already fruit-driven nature of the beer, resulting in a tropical taste fit for tall waves and tan lines. Standing at 7.7 percent ABV, this sip will officially put you on island time.
Despite its recent release, this one was a long time in the making. Starting in January of last year, the connoisseurs at Jester King began experimenting with bochet, a mead made by caramelizing sugars in honey by boiling it. The creation and fermentation of the mixture took a full year before it was transferred to renowned Balcones whisky barrels for another round of aging, infusing the mash-up with unique flavor. Even after that, the mixture matured for four more months before just 1,000 bottles were made available for purchase. Strong, full of depth and unlike anything else, this blend is perfect for an experienced drinker looking for a new adventure.