The Edible Austin farm-to-table culinary tour de force kicks off its Eat Drink Local Week this Saturday, December 3, with more than 50 of our finest local restaurants preparing special dishes made with locally sourced ingredients and events each night designed to showcase the bounty of local farms, farmers, brewers and distillers.
The fifth annual event starts with a proclamation by the Mayor Leffingwell delivered in Republic Square Park and with its ever popular Urban Farm Bicycle Tour. The nearly 50 mile round-trip jaunt takes bike riders to local farms where they can sample delectable food prepared by top local chefs using locally grown ingredients.
To do these events justice, maybe we need to abide by a new bumper sticker reading “Drink Locally, Act Responsibly.” Get a ride home.
Edible Austin, the quarterly magazine that organizes this week-long foodie fest, aims to raise $80,000 with the events, about double what they raised last year. They plan to accomplish this incredible feat in a tough economy by offering more accessible events and by holding an Online Chef Dinner Auction, for people to bid on a prize of a private dinner for eight prepared in their home by one of eight of Austin’s hottest chefs. The starting bid is $2,000 for a chance to amaze your friends with the best dinner they’ll ever have at your place.
Proceeds from Eat Drink Local Week will go to the Sustainable Food Center (SFC) and Urban Roots, which has been a recipient since the first year. SFC was added this year to support their work in increasing access to local food through farmers markets, the Happy Kitchen cooking classes for low income individuals, and its farm to school program, Sprouting Healthy Kids.
Smack in the middle of this gastronomic gala are two bacchanalian booze and brews bashes to make up the Drink portion of the week: “Drink Local Night” on Thursday, December 8 and “Local Brew Fest” on Saturday, December 10. To do these events justice, maybe we need to abide by a new bumper sticker reading “Drink Locally, Act Responsibly.” Get a ride home.
Drink Local Night showcasing Texas distillers
Drink Local Night has moved to larger digs this year and will be held at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center Grand Ballroom. Jenna Noel, Edible Austin associate publisher, says they expect to have about 500 people in attendance sampling cocktails and tasting spirits from more than a dozen distilleries as well as noshing on scrumptious snacks from Swift’s Attic, BC Tavern, and The Carillon.
Drink Local Night is all about introducing local spirits to the community. It has also served to get the distillers themselves acquainted According to Noel, the first event held five years ago was the first time all the Texas distillers were in one room together. This year there are several new distillers introducing their sauce including Cypress Creek Reserve, Railean Rum, Ranger Creek, Rebecca Creek Distillery, Republic Tequila, Tenneyson Absinthe and Wahaka Mezcal.
Experiencing new spirits is part of the fun. Graham Wasilition, founder of Tenneyson Absinthe Royale hopes Austinites discover his unique absinthe “Locally owned and produced spirits really can be top quality and create an experience that they will want to share with their friends, neighbors and visitors with pride. I want people to have a little bit better of an understanding of the absinthe category as a whole because it is something that is been misunderstood by many for a long time. We created an internationally acclaimed product and want to share it with our neighbors!”
Dan Garrison, proprietor of Garrison Brothers Distillery is confident in the quality of his whiskey and is putting his money where his mouth is. “The organizers, who I greatly admire and appreciate, requested a financial contribution from each distillery that would go toward a prize for the mixologist who created the best cocktail with their spirit. In addition to my participation fee, I will donate an additional money toward the mixologist award, but only if they promised not to mix my bourbon with anything.”
A highlight of the event is the “Official Drink of Austin Cocktail Contest” presented by Tipsy Texan and the “Crowd Favorite Award” sponsored by Google Places. Some new faces who have not previously competed in cocktail competitions are vying for this year’s prize. Finalists for the Official Drink of Austin Cocktail Contest were announced this week. Here are the finalists and cocktails:
- Josh Loving, Baby's First Punch, FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar
- Jessica Sanders, Hippie Harbest, Drink.Well.
- Marcelo Nascimento, Texas Cup #9, Lucky 13 Cocktail Co.
- Houston Eaves, Smokin' Gypsy, Contigo
- Justin Chamberlin, The Pinetop, Sagra
David Alan, aka Tipsy Texan, says finalists were selected by a three-member panel based on their adherence to the contest rules with drinks that featured local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. “Drinks had to demonstrate knowledge of cocktail mixology, and need to show some of the creator’s creativity. I want to see what bartenders do with the spirits and produce and flavors around us, not just what is prescribed in the pages of a magazine or in marketing collateral from some big national or international brand.”
The winner will be selected at the event by a panel of judges including the Tipsy Texan and past winners, Lara Nixon (2009 winner) and Bill Norris (2010 winner). We get our say on the best cocktails too with the new People’s Choice Award. Bar stations will be set for attendees may taste the handiwork of the contestants.
Local Brew Fest featuring Texas brewers
For beer lovers, Black Star Co-op and Wheatsville Food Co-op are hosting the Local Brew Fest with 15 of the state's finest craft brewers on hand in a big tent outside Black Star Co-op. Oh, and it’s not just beer. Start-up cider brewers, Austin Eastciders and Texas Sake Co., the first Texan sake producer, will both be on hand as well. The event draws some of the best craft brewers from Austin and the rest of the state, and will have more brewers than previous years including new breweries Austin Beerworks and Hops and Grains.
Participants will be able to sample 12 two ounce tastes while chatting up the local brewers. Each brewer will bring a few selections and will have brewmasters on hand to talk about their craft. Wheatsville Food Co-op will provide a fine selection of noshes including Windy Hill Farm, Pure Luck Farm & Dairy, Veldhuizen Cheese and Red Rabbit Cooperative Bakery to accompany all of that delicious brew.
Whether you are a foodie, a cocktail connoisseur or a beer geek, Eat Drink Local Week is a great event for to discover local fare and meet the people that bring it to your table. Tickets for Drink Local Night and the Local Brew Fest are $35 and $20 respectively, and can be purchased on the Edible Austin website.
Participating Restaurants Include:
Buenos Aires Café
East Side Pies
East Side Showroom
Fabi + Rosi
Finn & Porter
FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar
Food 4 Fitness Cafe
Green Pastures Restaurant
Home Slice Pizza
Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Jack Allen’s Kitchen
Judge’s Hill Restaurant
Kerbey Lane Cafe (all locations)
Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
Tacodeli (all locations)
Tacos and Tequila
The Leaning Pear
Urban an American Grill
Participating Brewers Include:
 Brewing Company
Black Star Coop
Hops and Grains
Independence Brewing Company
Jester King Craft Brewery
Live Oak Brewery
Rahr & Sons
Texas Sake Company
Participating Distillers Include:
Cypress Creek Reserve
Deep Eddy Vodka
Dripping Springs Vodka
Paula’s Texas Spirits
Rebecca Creek Distillery
Spirit of Texas
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Treaty Oak Rum