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The Best Things Eater Austin Editors Drank at Home This Week

Well-crafted takeout cocktails and soothing amaro

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The Negroni from Tip Top Cocktails
The Negroni from Tip Top Cocktails
Tip Top Cocktails/Facebook

While there is a wealth of information about where to get food now that many restaurant dining rooms are either still closed or reopened with limited service, there is little coverage of what to pair with your to-go or at-home meals. There’s an opportunity to get a little more creative at home. Here’s what Eater Austin editors are drinking right now.

If you’re placing to-go and delivery drink orders, remember to tip generously, opt to order directly from restaurants, bars, breweries, and wineries when possible, and wear a mask during in-person ordering and pickups.

Negronis From Tip Top Cocktails

There are drinks I know I personally don’t like (mega-boozy, bitter, etc.), but I’ll still try them every so often to see if anything has changed. I still can’t do Manhattans, but after trying Tip Top Cocktails, I am now a Negroni convert. The red bitters added a nice brightness to the what-I-typically-perceived-as-a-bitter drink, and the dry gin threw in a nice herbal, juniper taste for me. Miles Macquarrie, the co-owner and beverage director of the lauded Atlanta cocktail bar Kimball House, developed the drink recipes for the Georgia-based canned cocktail company. The drinks come in cute little single-serving cans, and all you have to do is add ice to your glass of choice and pour. It’s available in many liquor shops around Austin.—Nadia Chaudhury

Papras Bio Wines Melanthia 2019

I got this in my Eater Wine Club box and have to admit I was a bit concerned as I am staunchly anti-moscato (too syrupy sweet for my tastes). But last week I was craving something sparkling and figured, what the hell. Melanthia is a gorgeous softly sparkling Greek wine — the tasting notes say honeydew melon and musky spices but to me, it’s like a crisp pear/apple cider with none of the sugar hangover. I absolutely love it. —Erin Russell


Past Suggestions

Week of November 13

Cocktails at Small Victory

One of Austin’s best bars is back with takeout cocktails, and the city is better for it. The drinks are amazing — I had been craving a well-crafted daiquiri and Small Victory’s offering the a bartender’s choice. The resulting BTC daiquiri is perked up with pineapples. I suggest ordering an array of the eight-ounce portions (enough for two-and-a-half drinks) for a little bit of everything. The drinks come with specific bags of ice in various forms depending on th order — crushed, regular, and giant cubes — and there’s more than enough to keep in your freezer for your next DIY drink. The bottles also come with instructions, i.e. adding pineapple wedges to the daiquiri and using the crushed ice for the Saturn. Place pickup orders online. —Nadia Chaudhury

Averna Amaro

I first discovered amari — a slightly bitter, herbal Italian liqueur drunk after a meal supposedly to aid digestion — when I was living in Italy. One of the first ones I tried was Averna, and it has remained a favorite. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but I find the thick, but not too syrupy, brown liqueur truly soothing (it’s pleasant to drink straight or add a level of complexity to cocktails). During all the stress eating from election week, I just kept the bottle out, but it’s not a bad idea to get some to prep for Thanksgiving, either. Averna is easy to find at most liquor stores. —Erin Russell


Week of October 23

Wines from Crowson Wines

Johnson City winery Crowson Wines is hands down one of the best wineries in the state of Texas, and I’m ashamed that it took me this long to actually try it. Winemaker Henry Crowson focuses on zero-zero wines (read: nothing to added to the wine production process). The results are delightful and flavorful: the 2018 reds, made with grapes sourced from the Texas High Plains, range from just-tart to smooth. A particular favorite is the sangiovese. The wines are available for shipping through the website, plus you can grab some bottles from the tasting room in person.—Nadia Chaudhury


Week of October 16

The Cassiopeia from High Noon

While, yes, I’ve been attempting to make cocktails at home, nothing beats an actual expertly made drink from a professional. Hence, we ordered takeout cocktails from brand-new East Austin bar High Noon. The to-go menu is very small yet very mighty, and we ordered all three of the available drinks: two frozens and one non. The non-frozen cocktail, the Cassiopeia, is described as a garden paloma; instead of tequila, it’s made with mezcal and bright beet juice from JuiceLand, resulting in a refreshing, easily drinkable cocktail, perfect for the end of a workday. The addition of Squirt gave it a nice touch of effervescence and the cricket salt garnish is tasty. Pickup orders can be placed in person.—Nadia Chaudhury


Week of September 24

Fruity Frozen Cocktails

The frozen drinks at East Sixth bar Low Down Lounge are great and simple and fun. We decided to wait for our order of sliders from new burger pop-up Golden Castle with two excellent frozen drinks. The mango colada with coconut was creamy and fruit, the Iron Whip was tangy and bright. Takeout orders can be placed in person. —Nadia Chaudhury

Hard Seltzer

I never wanted to be a hard seltzer person. How exciting could it be to drink water that’s alcoholic? However, while we’re still enjoying these warm days, a fizzy, fruity drink really is quite pleasant, so I decided to do a taste test with the large amounts of seltzer that have been gifted to me by people who think I am a seltzer person. My two clear favorites are Shiner’s Straight Shooter and Blue Norther’s agave lime. I find that a lot of canned cocktails seem to be made by people who have never actually tasted fruit, but these two were really quite pleasant and refreshing — Blue Norther’s tastes like a skinny margarita while I appreciate Shiner’s variety of flavors (grapefruit lime! mango!). I guess it’s okay to be wrong about yourself every once in a while. —Erin Russell

Rosé

I’m picky about rosé, but on a whim, I had placed an order for a bottle of Rozsa Libre from Austrian winemaker Claus Preisinger. The natural wine offers a just-crisp brightness with a nice juiciness that isn’t overwhelming with every sip. The bottle is available through East Sixth wine shop Lolo via online, phone call, and email orders for pickup sand deliveries. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of August 14

Rosé

I’ve actually grown a little tired of rosés recently — the ones I’ve been drinking were a little too muted, and it didn’t seem like I was getting a lot of flavor. Then, l I finally opened the William Chris Mourvèdre Carignan Rosé, and wow. Even my rosé-avoidant friend had to admit it was delicious. Strong notes of strawberries and watermelon, this is an excellent summer sipper for those who aren’t afraid of a bold rosé. William Chris uses Texas grapes, and it’s always encouraging to me when our state produces such excellent wines. Order online. —Erin Russell

Frozen and Non-Frozen Cocktails

East Austin bar Whisler’s took its time to offering cocktails to-go, and it was well worth the wait. The Old Fashioned was exact and the Witch Hunt (made with tequila; an Italian herbal liqueur with saffron, mint, and juniper berry notes; pineapple and lime juices; ginger; and Fernet) was light and citrusy with an ever-so-slight kick. I honestly couldn’t tell what the frozen cocktails actually were, but it didn’t matter: they were boozy, cold, and delicious. The packaging is great too: the mixed cocktails came in sort of flask-style glass bottles with cute tags indicated which drink was which (I’m very much going to use it as a floral vase), and the frozens were sealed in a metal crowler adorned in brightly colored labels with fun vintage-y cocktail prints. Pickup orders can be placed online. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of August 14

Fiorini Lambrusco

You better believe I was first in line for that Bufalina/Emmer & Rye collaboration that was basically a fried pizza stuffed with cheese (Italian food, I am weak) — but the paired lambrusco almost stole the show. Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine that is usually pretty fruit-forward, and generally a great way to drink red wine in the summer. The light bubbles and acid on from the Fiorini bottle cut through the rich dish for an apt pairing. —Erin Russell

Aperol Spritzes

I’ve been slow to the make-your-own-cocktails-at-home thing because I prefer to let the city’s booze experts make my drinks. But with the heat and a desire to try something new, I attempted to mix up my own Aperol spritz. The result is a refreshing, summer-perfect drink that is hard to mess up. It’s a simple recipe, after all: some Aperol, some Topo Chico, some cheap prosecco, and lots of ice. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of August 7

Blue Owl Brewing’s Tiki Hop Totem

Sour beer’s a favorite of mine, and when I saw that the East Austin sour brewery brewed up this delightfully dubbed milkshake sour IPA, I knew I had to try it. The beer does taste like a light, creamy pina colada, with a fun tartness that isn’t too tart from the pineapple, and the butteriness from the coconut. Pickup orders can be placed online for individual cans and four-packs of this particular beer. —Nada Chaudhury

Wild Turkey Longbranch Bourbon

Full disclosure: I was gifted this bottle. That said, with the manufacturer suggested retail price of $40, I absolutely plan on buying it for myself once I run out. It’s an extremely mellow bourbon, with vanilla notes and a kick of spice. Nice enough to drink straight, but adaptable enough to put into a cocktail, especially for fall or winter drinks like Christmas in Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. —Erin Russell


Week of July 31

Tea Time from Emmer & Rye

This aptly named cocktail made me feel extremely fancy. Served in a mason jar (a bonus) New American restaurant Emmer & Rye’s take on a whiskey sour is the perfect way to drink whiskey in the summer. It’s a light, refreshing cocktail that’s like drinking some gorgeous tea that’s a little bit herbaceous (thanks to both the Ramazotti amaro and the rosemary garnish). I would drink a whole pitcher of this. Order online for to-go orders; the restaurant’s patio is also open for dine-in. —Erin Russell

The Painkiller from the Roosevelt Room

I was very, very, very happy when downtown bar the Roosevelt Room announced it was reopening for to-go cocktails. Of the three options I got, the tropical-y Painkiller was my favorite, as I’m a sucker for cocktails with rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juices. Another fun one was the Vodkadora, topped with Topo Chico. Serving is simple: each premixed cocktail bottle features instructions right on the label, plus additional garnishes (i.e. dehydrated orange slices for the Painkiller). While I lacked crushed ice recommended for the Painkiller, my paltry ice cubes straight from the tray worked fine. And yes, some involve cocktail shakers. Orders are placed online for pickups from the walkup window and deliveries. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of July 24

The Happy Place beer from Hedgehog Brewing

I’m always a fan of fruit-based beers and this farmhouse ale from Cedar Park brewery Hedgehog Brewing is wonderfully tart and tastes like summer. And just look at that label: the little hedgehog is in peach and beer heaven. Crowlers and bottles are available for pickup via online orders, and the bottles are available at H-E-B too. —Nadia Chaudhury

To-Go Mixed Cocktails from the Tigress

The North Loop bar the Tigress decided to take advantage of the recently legalized actual mixed cocktails to-go waiver with its current takeout offerings. The mixed drinks are placed in deli containers with labels noting how each should be served. The mint julep requires some shaking with ice, whereas the Fancy Feast punch is meant to just be poured over ice. The julep was spirit-forward, and the Fancy Feast is easily drinkable. Since food must be ordered as well, Tigress’s grilled cheese is simple and great. Updated menus will be posted on its Facebook page and sizes come in either two or four servings. Orders can be placed via phone at (512) 600-3232 or Facebook messenger Thursday through Sunday, 4 to 8 p.m. and now, deliveries are being offered. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of July 6

Cocktails from Drink.Well

Drink.Well is one of the city’s best bars for good reason and its to-go cocktail program is very great. I opted for the Tropical Painkiller cocktail kit (this was before the governor legalized actual-mixed drinks to-go in late June), which arrived in a cute little box with ingredients (non-alcoholic cocktail mix, a whole orange, bottle of rum, and “tiki dust”) and easy-to-follow instructions. The resulting drink was frothy, fruity, and refreshing. Since the bar isn’t offering cocktail kits anymore, opt for one of the two tropical-leaning larger-batched mixed cocktail bottles: the Mai Thai and the Singapore Sling. To-go and delivery orders can be placed online. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of June 15

Wine from Jolie-Laide

Based on a recommendation from a trusted colleague, I ordered three bottles of wine from Sonoma County-based winery Jolie-Laide. So far, I’ve only had the 2019 melon de bourgogne, which has a lovely bright stone fruit flavor that works well during these hot days. The beautiful labels depicting moody illustrations of gorgeous, detailed flowers (I love gardening and floral arrangements) doesn’t hurt either. I’m excited to try the others soon, too. —Nadia Chaudhury

Tea from Tea Embassy

I am in no way a tea snob but I was introduced to some fun flavors from this local Austin company. The snowflake tea (with almond, coconut, and black tea) and almond cookies green tea (same, but green tea instead of black) both have a pleasant, sweet, nutty taste while providing a big-time caffeine buzz. —Erin Russell


Week of May 25

Passion Fruit Guava Redbud from Independence Brewing Co.

Independence gave their German wheat beer a tropical twist for summer and as someone who loves fruit in beer, I am here for it. It’s light, fun to drink, and made for this hot weather — just tart enough to prickle the tongue without being overwhelming. —Erin Russell

The Iced Saifa Coffee from Sa-Ten

As part of my sushi order from Kome, I added a half-gallon of sibling restaurant Sa-Ten’s iced saifa coffee. It’s a take on Vietnamese coffee made with both cold-brew, espresso, and condensed milk. The resulting blend is so sweet and thick and works perfectly with a couple of ice cubes. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of May 18

The Good Stuff

One of the things that has been getting me through this quarantine in one piece (other than social distancing and hand sanitizer) is finding a treat or something to celebrate each day. For me, that has meant: having a glass of Champagne with brunch (and not thinking of it as “wasting” the bottle even though I won’t finish it), a nice new bottle of bourbon, sparkling water with lime AND lemon, and a really nice bottle of 2016 Francois le Saint 18300 sancerre from Central Market. I actually think I appreciate drinking the good stuff more when I am not celebrating a big occasion, because I concentrate more on the flavors and not entertaining. So, whatever “the good stuff” means for you personally, this long weekend might be a nice time to try it. —Erin Russell

Eschenhof Holzer’s Invader Natural

For my next wine order, I turned to East Austin wine bar-turned-shop Apt 115, because of its array of lovely natural wines. Along with a French wine to honor my canceled trip to Paris this month, I ordered an orange wine from Austrian winery Eschenhof Holzer, a drink that tastes like a really adult juice box. And yes, I’ve been referring to its as the “space invaders” wine. —Nadia Chaudhury

Veracruz All Natural’s Good Morning Juice

Veracruz’s relatively recent East Austin location includes a dedicated juice truck, and I was in the mood for something non-alcoholic to pair with my (really great) barbacoa taco. The Good Morning Juice is a, well, just-rightly-thick juicy blend of orange juice, carrots, and ginger just for a little bit of perk-me-up spice. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of May 11

Beers from Hold Out Brewing

I trust the team behind Hold Out Brewing/Better Half/Brew & Brew when it comes to beers, and the ones from their brand-new brewery are no exception. The specific beers I’ve had — Thumb Puncher, Koala Takedown — were easy to drink, not overly hoppy (at least to me), and paired well with the burgers. While those beers aren’t available right now, I’m intrigued by the Last Light, which boasts coconut, pineapple, and cedar (??) flavors; and the Björn Again Texan, described as a Norwegian party juice. —Nadia Chaudhury

2019 Cinsault from William Chris Vineyards

The vineyard kindly sent me a bottle of its new wine, created in collaboration with Master Sommelier Craig Collins, to try, but I have bought several since then — this stuff is really fun to drink. It’s a nice light to medium-bodied red, served slightly chilled (we are in Texas, after all) and I could definitely pick out the raspberry aroma from the tasting notes. Plus, profits go to a relief fund for restaurants at the Southern Smoke Foundation. Drinking for a cause? Sign me up. —Erin Russell

Vanilla Latte from Fleet Coffee

One of Austin’s best coffee shops reopened for takeout service, and I am very grateful for that. The coffee itself is good and strong (it’s the only espresso-based drink that actually keeps me up at night) and the added flavor of the juniper vanilla syrup is just rightly sweet. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of May 4

Magic Dragon Smoothie from Blenders and Bowls

What’s not to love about a hot pink smoothie? This tropical concoction from açai cafe Blenders and Bowls has pitaya, mango, pineapple, bananas, and coconut water reminiscent of cheerful, sunny times. I especially like that Blenders keeps its smoothies super thick, best enjoyed with a spoon or wide (reusable) straw. —Erin Russell

Frozen Irish Coffee from Nickel City

The neighborhood favorite bar is back open with to-go frozen cocktails, and I knew I had to get one ASAP. Slurping on the frozen Irish coffee at home is nearly the same experience; it’s still as creamy and tasty and cold and sweet and on the edge of being boozy as I remember it. Chasing it with squeaky cheese curds (since you do have to order a food item) was just an added bonus. Orders can be placed online for pickups. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of April 27

Mr. Jojo’s Piña Colada From Little Brother

I think most of us could use the temporary vacation of a piña colada right about now. Little Brother’s (strong) version, courtesy of bartender Jojo Colona from neighboring bar Half Step, comes in a sterile aluminum can made festive with a tropical garnish and has two kinds of rum, mezcal, lime, coconut, and a little bit of passionfruit. I’m an avowed mezcal hater, but even I think it adds a nice complexity to the concoction. —Erin Russell

Pet-Nat From Fairweather Cider Co.

I have held onto this bottle of pet-nat from Austin cidery Fairweather for about a year and I decided that now was as good of a time as any to finally drink it. (I asked a colleague who is much more knowledgeable about wine compared to me, and she assured me that it was fine to drink.) It was a fun, light, bubbly, apple-y drink, as is expected since everything from the cidery is great. —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of April 13

Bourbon for Brunch

Last weekend, I was flipping through recipes trying to find a brunch-appropriate bourbon cocktail, and came across this article by Eater Austin founding editor Paula Forbes. She described exactly what I was looking for: something bubbly, balanced, and boozy. The Seelbach is easy to make, pleasantly bitter, and a little fruity (I used Knob Creek bourbon) — an excellent way to mix up your brunch drinks. One word of warning: this cocktail is both delicious and strong, so guard against hangovers with something hearty. — Erin Russell

Southold Farm & Cellar’s Mini-Bottles

I’m obsessed with natural wines and Texas winery Southold Farm & Cellars to the point where I have backup bottles of my favorite wines in my fridge currently. The Johnson City winery recently put together a mini-bottle package featuring its four new wines. The Love Just Because (a dolcetto) is not-over-the-top rich and pairs well with food, and the Sing Sweet Things (an albariño) offers a nice softened sharpness that is perfect for this hotter weather. Orders can be placed online for shipping or pickup, if you’re up for a Hill Country drive. —Nadia Chaudhury

Radio Coffee’s Vanilla Latte

For someone who doesn’t have a fancy coffee machine at home, I have to look elsewhere for expertly made lattes. The South Austin coffee shop is currently open with a whole curbside pickup/drive-thru operation, and the vanilla latte is the just rightly sweet jolt I usually need. Orders can be placed in person, online, or over the phone. . —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of April 13

Dandy Rosé

A springtime favorite, this sixth vintage of this delightful Texas wine from winemaker Rae Wilson was just released — and it’s one of the best yet. This year, Dandy tastes a bit tarter and fruitier to me (as a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, this is a great thing), and it became the first bottle I actually finished (over three days) during quarantine. Order online for free shipping. — Erin Russell

Meowsonry

The collaboration between Hill Country brewery Jester King and Seattle brewery The Masonry is a delightful. The resulting English best bitter is a lovely farmhouse ale that tastes almost like a sour without the full-on tartness. The cat-inspired name and label are just added bonuses. The beer is available for curbside pickup at Jester King, and it’s a nice drive out for some change of scenery and wildflower viewings from the comforts of the car. The beer pairs well with any of the Neapolitan pies. Place pickup orders online or via phone. (13005 Fitzhugh Road, Hill Country) —Nadia Chaudhury


Week of April 6

Big Salt White Table Wine

I’m a sucker for a cool bottle, and the Ovum Wines graphic design team is on point with this one. True to the name, the wine has a unique hint of salinity that recalls summer days and ocean air. I can’t wait to open up a bottle on my front porch with friends when we’re allowed to socialize again. Until then I will sip the bright Oregon white while going through my delivery from Antonelli’s cheese club. (Available at Central Market) —Erin Russell

Westward Whiskey Single Malt

Apparently I am on an Oregon kick, because this whiskey that I picked up during the Twin Liquors dollar sale has recently become my go-to. A recommendation from my one of my favorite bartenders, Westward is an elegant drink that has a balanced, crowd-pleasing tasting profile that is still prominent without veering into too much burn, smoke, or aggressive sweetness. Best enjoyed straight. —Erin Russell

Une Tranche Sudiste from Philippe Jambon

I joined Bufalina’s wine club as soon as it was announced last month. I signed up specifically for the monthly Glou Glou pack, which features selections of what wine director Rania Zayyat describes as “no-brainer bottles that will quench your thirst and refresh your palate all day, every day.” This included a 2017 bottle of the Une Tranche Sudiste, a delightful French natural red wine that I previously chilled to drink while making cinnamon rolls one day. Needless to say, it disappeared quickly. (The bottle’s also available at East Austin wine shop LoLo.) —Nadia Chaudhury

Dirty Chai Cold Brew

Here’s a non-alcoholic option: I’m a fan of Indian-Texas spot 33 Tigers, and during this time, the pop-up is now functioning as a Sunday food and drink delivery service. On deck is its dirty chai cold brew, a recipe from chef Deepa Sridhar’s farmers market days. The beverage is spicy but not overwhelming spicy. I cut it down with just a dash or two of soy coffee creamer, but I’m someone who prefers some dairy product in their coffee. The quart size lasts for a while too. —Nadia Chaudhury

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