Austin is a city of different types of essential foods, from brisket to the breakfast taco. With eating comes drinking, but Eater wanted to know what cocktails worked well with the city’s most-known fare. Below, Austin barkeeps suggested what drinks perfectly complimented some of the city’s iconic dishes.
Barkeeps: Evan LeRoy and bartender Harrison Arth, Freedmen’s
Cocktail suggestion: Ol' Schmokey
Why? LeRoy: "The smokiness complements the brisket and a booze-forward cocktail will cut through the heaviness as well." Arth: "It’s a cocktail we came up with based on an Old Fashioned that is tailor-made to eat with barbecue. [It uses] Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, because it is a bold whiskey, and at 100 proof, can stand up to the smokiness of the cocktail and the fattiness of the meat. [There’s also] a chunk of smoked orange to add citrus, which pairs well with the whiskey and gives us a bit of acidity to digest fatty meats."
Barkeep: Kristine Kittrell, Weather Up
Cocktail suggestion: French 75 with gin
Why? "Because it is light and clean and a nice contrast to the heaviness of migas. Also, migas are often associated with brunch or breakfast, and champagne rules the morning."
Barkeep: Chris Bostick, Half Step
Cocktail suggestion: Mezcal Cider Rickey
Why? "With queso, it's good to have something with a bit of acidity to help cut through the cheesiness. Mezcal adds a nice bit of smoke, and the honey and cider together provide a nice crisp clean foil for the rich and dense nature of a good queso."
Chicken Fried Steak
Barkeep: Justin Elliott, The Townsend
Cocktail suggestion: Cobbler
Why? "The acidity of the sherry and the zestiness of the orange will cut through the richness of the dish, but then some sweetness and fruitiness is nice to balance against the red meat beneath all that breading and gravy. Feel free to play around with the fortified wine you use in your cobblers. I'm particularly partial to using a light bodied red Spanish vermouth in place of the sherry. The additional botanicals and the slight bitter edge add really interesting depth (and I think might go real good with that cracked pepper white gravy)."
Barkeep: Jason Stevens, La Corsha Hospitality Group
Cocktail suggestion: Beer Bloody Mary or Michelada
Why? "You have the tomato and spice, which mirror salsa. You have the easy drinking nature of beer, which pairs so well with food. The Bloody Beer has the soul of a Bloody Mary, which is firmly entrenched in our minds as the queen of breakfast cocktails. Finally, there is the cultural affiliation of Mexican food and Bloody Beers, which are really just souped up Micheladas."