drink up

A very merry holiday: Enjoy a Thanksgiving cocktail made with Dripping Springs Texas Orange Vodka

A very merry holiday: Enjoy a Thanksgiving cocktail made with Dripping Springs Texas Orange Vodka

Each Thanksgiving we stuff ourselves with fantastic beer in preparation for the big rivalry game, the University of Texas vs. Texas A&M showdown. And each year we get so full of beer and fried, gooey, crunchy snacks we find it too difficult to jump off of the couch to yell at the TV. This year, why not try a light, refreshing cocktail while watching the game?

If you're not sure where to start crafting your holiday cocktail, never fear. Gary Kelleher, the man behind Dripping Springs Vodka, has introduced a new specialty spirit just for Texans and just in time for Thanksgiving: Dripping Springs Texas Orange Vodka. To make this flavored vodka, Dripping Springs selected Segovia oranges from the Rio Grande Valley. “These are the best oranges around," Kelleher says. "They have deeper, orange-ier flavor. We wanted to capture the flavor of the Valley as if you had poured Dripping Springs Vodka straight over a fresh Rio Grande orange.”

This new flavored vodka starts off with the same micro-distillation process that all Dripping Springs Vodka goes through. Then, they zest the oranges, hand-select the very best bits of zest and steep it like a cup of tea, letting it flavor the vodka in a 100 percent copper still. It then goes through 20 more micro-distillations to give it a clean, pure flavor. The result is 100% Texan and 100% fresh, with nothing artificial and no additives.

Not everything in Texas is big. This specialty vodka is made in 50 gallon batches, which are the smallest commercial batches in the world. Dripping Springs has 10 little stills running all day and all night. For this limited edition first run, they produced only 1,000 cases—that’s not a heck of a lot to keep thirsty Texas football fans happy—so they better start making more in a hurry.

The challenge is that Rio Grande oranges aren’t available year round. Dripping Springs bought all the oranges they could, crafting the first batch before oranges went out of season. They're just now coming back, so don't panic yet, we may not run into any unseemly shortages.  

On to the recipes. Gary likes to drink his new Texas Orange chilled with a little Topo Chico Agua Mineral; the slightly sweet vodka goes well with the crisp mineral water. When he’s kickin’ back for game time, he has another favorite recipe:

Burnt Orange (Gary Kelleher’s original recipe)

  • 1 ½ ounces Dripping Springs Texas Orange
  • ¾ ounce Aperol
  • ¾ ounce Lillet Blanc
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce tonic water

Pour all ingredients in a tall iced glass and stir.

Garnish with an orange twist and serve.

Hook ‘em!

For the fans that prefer a shade of maroon, try a Texas twist on the Sea Breeze.

Texas A&M Breeze  

  • 1 ½ ounces Dripping Springs Texas Orange
  • 1 ½ ounces Paula’s Texas Orange Premium Liqueur
  • 3 ounces orange juice
  • 3 ounces cranberry juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake it like an offensive lineman.

Serve in in a large wine goblet with ice.

Garnish with a slice of orange, and serve.

At the end of the game, why not celebrate your team’s victory with a little bubbly?

French Orange Martini

  • 1 ½ ounces Dripping Springs Texas Orange
  • 1 ½ ounces St. Germain liqueur
  • Champagne
  •  super-fine sugar for rimming

Rim a martini glass with confectioner sugar.

Shake liquors in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

Strain into the prepared martini glass.

Top with Champagne.

The Thanksgiving weekend isn’t just about football. Let’s not forget the shopping extravaganza the next day. Bargain hunting can be every bit as stressful as a fourth-and-goal. Here’s a little shopper’s helper to get you through.

The Black Friday

  • 2 ounces Dripping Springs Texas Orange
  • 1 ½ ounces creme de cacao, white
  • Hershey Kiss for garnish
  • powdered cocoa for rimming

Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice cubes.

Shake vigorously.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with cocoa.

I tried it chilled, straight up in a stone-cold martini glass to experience the unadulterated flavor. This is a lazy summer afternoon in bottle. The orange is bright, mildly sweet and slightly tart without being overpowering. It balances well with vanilla and wood flavors and is present from the first sip all the way through the long, silky finish.

Dripping Springs Texas Orange was recently released and is available at Twin Liquors and Spec's in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston for about $16. Dripping Springs plans to distribute the orange sunshine statewide in the future.  

This may be the last Thanksgiving for the storied University of Texas vs. Texas A&M rivalry, so we may need new cocktails for a new face-off next season. We're in luck: Dripping Springs Texas Orange was born out of playful experimentation. According to Kelleher, the best part of having Dripping Springs Vodka is indulging in his passion of trying different recipes and different flavors. Other Texas seasonal fruit vodkas, like Ruby Red grapefruit and Fredericksburg peaches, may be on the horizon.

Do we need something purple for a Horn Frogs rivalry game? I’ll be on the watch for it.  

Austin Photo Set: News_Matt Mcginnis_thanksgiving cocktail_Nov 2011_dripping
The alternative Thanksgiving cocktail made with Dripping Springs Texas Orange Vodka. Photo by Matt McGinnis
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt Mcginnis_thanksgiving cocktail_Nov 2011_orange
Thanksgiving Cocktail