In Texas we have long growing seasons for a wide range of succulent produce, a burgeoning local spirits distilling industry and a hot craft cocktail scene. Now we also have a cocktail book written just for us: Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State. What else could we possibly need to make a well mixed drink in Texas? Nothing. Let’s secede!
Not so fast. Author David Alan, also known as the Tipsy Texan, published this book of cocktail history, locally-inspired recipes, and vignettes of Texas spirits pioneers as a way to celebrate Texas cocktails, but its influences go beyond our borders.
Rather than writing a book about the definitive Texas cocktail, Alan set out to capture the flavors of southern and southwestern cuisine, the local cocktail culture, and the strong spirit of hospitality that permeates the state. He also embraces the fun-loving vibe of Texas bars in what he calls a “yee-haw spirit.”
“We are in the throws of something we’ve never seen before. The number and the quality of spirits coming across the bar is amazing,” said Alan. “It’s important to source and support local ingredients where it makes sense, but being a strict locavore doesn’t make for an exciting bar. That ignores the reality of very robust spirits industry. A good cocktail bar is about diversity and in-season ingredients.”
In the early 2000s, Alan turned his attention to cocktails, began authoring the Tipsy Texan blog, and along with Lara Nixon founded Tipsy Tech, a cocktail education program.
“I’ve always been a drinking person even before I was into it professionally. The recreation side is attractive to me,” he said. “When I was in my twenties I found out about cocktails and it fanned a passion I had for service. It just gave me more things to obsess about with ingredients, garnishes, tools and such. It has been fascinating to get into it.”
The opportunity for the book arose from a chance meeting with a publisher while Alan was tending bar at an event in Marfa, Texas. Written for people who enjoy mixing cocktails and desire an approachable, fun source for home entertaining, the book is a staple guide for home bars.
In addition to cocktail recipes from prominent Texas mixologists like Bill Norris, Bobby Heugel, Jason Stevens and Houston Eaves, there is a helpful Tools and Techniques section with up-to-date technical information about glassware, tools and garnishes. The book is also as gorgeous as it is useful, featuring portrait photography by Michael Thad Carter and the mouth-watering cocktail photos by Aimee Wenske.
“The book has a mix of recipes ranging from classics, to classics with Texas twists, and our own [recipes], along with recipes from our friends,” said Alan. “These are drinks that we like to serve. The book is organized to whet your whistle with prompts for drinks to meet the situation. If it’s a hot as balls July day, look through the Light, Bright and Refreshing section and find something that tickles your fancy.”
To quench your thirst, here are a few of Alan’s own recipes from the book.
Alan calls on a pair of Texas spirits to create a hair-of-the-dog style drink to wake the dead. This twist on the classic cocktail Corpse Reviver No. 2 is sure to put the color back in your cheeks the morning after a long night. “I took the traditional Corpse Reviver, which is a classic gin cocktail, and I switched the gin for Tenneyson Absinthe,” said Alan. “Tenneyson is kind of gin-like. Instead of Lillet I used St. Germaine.”
- ¾ ounce Tenneyson Absinthe Royale or other blanche absinthe
- ¾ ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
- ¾ ounce Paula’s Texas Orange or other orange liqueur like Cointreau
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Orange “coin” for garnish
Combine the absinthe, St. Germain, orange liqueur and lemon juice in a mixing glass and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the orange “coin.”
Alan’s partner, Joe Eifler, is fond of mixing this Louisiana-inspired sugar and spice rimmed variation of a Hemingway Daiquiri. Named for the town in Louisiana where the C.S. Steen sugar refinery makes its Pure Cane Syrup, it's a refreshing cocktail to make when Texas Ruby Reds are in season.
“I discovered Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup when I was in New Orleans for the Tales of the Cocktail conference,” said Alan. “When I came home, I wanted to work with it. I like this daiquiri a lot because it’s really balanced and really delicious. It doesn’t work well with other rums, but it’s great with Treaty Oak Platinum because it’s pretty funky.”
- 1 ½ ounces Treaty Oak rum
- ¾ ounces Luxardo maraschino liqueur
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ ounce Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- Dash of Peychaud’s Bitters, for floater
- Cinnamon-sugar-cayenne rim
Combine the rum, maraschino liqueur, lime juice, syrup and grapefruit juice in a mixing glass and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with a cinnamon-sugar-cayenne. Finish with the dash of Peychaud’s Bitters floated on top of the cocktail.
Watermelon Whiskey Sour
The easy sway of a porch swing, a lazy dog at your feet, and a slice of cold Texas watermelon are great ways to glide through a hot summer day. A cold drink made with that in-season watermelon makes the day better. Alan concocted this revitalizing cross between a sour and a julep to put summer in your hand. “Texas watermelons are definitely rockin’,” he said. “Mint, watermelon and bourbon are great together.”
- 1 cup watermelon chunks, or 2 ounces pressed watermelon juice
- 2 sprigs fresh mint
- 2 springs fresh basil
- ¾ ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
- 1 ½ ounces bourbon
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a mixing glass, muddle the watermelon with one of the mint springs, one of the basil sprigs and the St. Germain. Add the bourbon and lemon juice. Shake vigorously with ice to chill. Strain onto crushed ice in a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the remaining sprigs of mint and basil.
David Alan's serious passion for a proper cocktail and his mischievous wit both come to life in this book. Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State is a fantastic collection of cocktail ideas to erase drinker's block, whether you have a preference for simple drinks or want to make use of an elaborate home bar.