2012 culturemap tastemaker awards

Catching up with Tastemaker Award nominee (and Tipsy Texan), mixologist David Alan

Catching up with Tastemaker Award nominee (and Tipsy Texan), mixologist David Alan

Austin Photo Set: News_Nicole_meet the tastemakers_David Alan_april 2012_portrait
David Alan Photo by Jessica Pages
Austin Photo Set: News_Nicole_meet the tastemakers_David Alan_april 2012_drink
The Royale With Ease Courtesy of Drink Well
Austin Photo Set: News_Nicole_meet the tastemakers_David Alan_april 2012_portrait
Austin Photo Set: News_Nicole_meet the tastemakers_David Alan_april 2012_drink

To say David Alan, of the Tipsy Texan, is a busy man is an understatement.

He has been the genius behind the bar menus of places like Annies Café and Bar; this is where he taught me how to smack a bunch of fresh mint on the bar top to release it’s aroma before adding to the glass as a garnish. Most recently, Alan’s craft can be experienced at Drink Well, a new American pub in the North Loop neighborhood serving craft cocktails, beers and really good bar snacks (including their Artisan American Cheese Plate and the addictive Housemade Twinkies). 

While Alan may not be seen behind the bar, he is partially responsible for the outstanding cocktail menu complete with witty sub-categories. The cocktail program was a collaboration between Alan, Drink Well’s owners Michael and Jessica Sanders and the lead bartender, Tacy. I sampled the Royale With Ease from the 'Funky, Fresh, Dressed to Impress' section. It was stunning (get the recipe below)!

 He has been one of Austin’s pioneers in the “garden-to-glass” philosophy of crafting drinks, obtaining most of his ingredients from the local Farmer’s Market.

Alan has been honing his craft for years and it’s no wonder he has been nominated in the mixologist category of this year’s Tastemaker Awards.

I didn’t get a chance to catch up with Alan one-on-one, but in the last few months he kept popping up, Where’s Waldo-style. I spied him earlier this year on a panel at the inaugural San Antonio Cocktail Conference discussing the past, present and future of the Texas spirits industry. Alan has long been an advocate of Texas spirits, forgoing Cointreau for Paula’s Texas Orange, explaining, “local flavor trumps.” He prefers the fresh orange flavor from Paula’s versus the dried orange in Cointreau, and stocks his bar with predominantly Texas spirits, including Tenneyson Absinthe Royale.

This spirit is surprising refreshing and blends well with the fresh ingredients Alan uses in the Royale With Ease. This anise-flavored liquor made with botanicals is traditionally prepared with just water and a sugar cube and is meant to be sipped. Alan proves it’s easily blended in his cocktail creation. The naturally occurring herbal notes in it pair so well with fresh citrus, hibiscus grenadine, spiced rum and bitters used to make the cocktail.  

While Alan is a supporter of more widely-used spirits like vodka, he uses it as a way to get his patrons to trust him into trying other spirits like gins, bourbons and absinthe. And this is a fine approach as Alan’s creations have been wooing imbibers since his early days at Annie's. He has been one of Austin’s pioneers in the “garden-to-glass” philosophy of crafting drinks, obtaining most of his ingredients from the local Farmer’s Market.

One sip and you’ll be a believer.  

When Alan is not shaking things up behind the bar he can be found blogging at the Tipsytexan.com and teaching courses with fellow bartender, Lara Nixon, at the Tipsy Tech: The History and Practice of Cocktail Mixology. He is the current chapter president of the United States Bartenders Guild.  Catch him if you can at the 2012 Tastemaker Awards on Thursday, April 12 at the Driskill Hotel.

Royale with Ease

1.5 oz Tenneyson Absinthe Royale

1.5 oz Fresh Grapefruit

.5 oz Fresh Lime

1 oz Hibiscus Grenadine

.25 oz St. Elizabeth's All-Spice Dram

3 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Garnish: Hibiscus flower and grapefruit peel

Method: shake all ingredients vigorously with ice in a cocktail tin. Fine strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a grapefruit twist and a fresh hibiscus flower. 

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Tickets are still available for the 2012 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.