For so many years, in so many incarnations Tito’s Vodka has been a part of the Official Drink of Austin Contest. It was started by Austin’s Convention and Visitors Bureau around 2003 when Tito’s Handmade Vodka was the only licensed spirit in Texas. Fast forward to 2011, and it’s in the hands of our local foodie magazine Edible Austin during their Eat Drink Local Week. The contest took place last Thursday night December 8th at the AT&T Center amongst sampling at the tables of the some 14 spirits made in Texas alongside us now. The contest was run and emceed by David Alan of TipsyTexan fame and he narrowed cocktail recipe entries down to seven prior to the contest. Contest entries had to come up with an original cocktail recipe made with local spirits and in so many cases, local ingredients all the way around.
The seven finalists were Marcelo Nascrimento of Lucky 13 Cocktail Co, Josh Loving of FINO, Chauncey James of East Side Showroom, Justin Chamberlin of Sagra, Jessica of Drink. Well, Houston Eaves of Contigo and alternate Madelyn Kay of Peche. Jessica, Madelyn, and Houston all chose to include Tito’s Vodka in their recipes and all of the contestants presentations and cocktails were off the charts wonderful. Judges included David Alan, of The Tipsy Texan last years winner, Bill Norris, Lara Nixon, the 2009 winner, Emma Janzen, Austin 360 Liquid Blogger, Joe Eifler, also with The Tipsy Texan and Jeret Pena from the Esquire Tavern in San Antonio.
Though the competition was stiff (pardon the pun) one winner stood above the rest, and that was Houston Eaves with the Smokin’ Gypsy. Justin picked up the second place honor and Marcelo was picked Crowd favorite. Houston’s winning inspiration came from the pre-prohibition cocktail “The Gypsy” and included local spirit Balcones Brimstone with our Tito’s Vodka, local Bad Dog Smoke and Damnation Bitters, Benedictine, Angostura Bitters, Texas grapefruit and some dry ice for the literal smokin’ effect. Congrats to Houston and thanks ever so much for including Tito’s Handmade Vodka in your winning concoction. We will be sending Houston and a guest to NYC to visit all of our favorite cocktail bars and his recipe will also be featured in the Spring issue of Edible Austin. To top it off, Houston’s cocktail becomes the Official Drink of Austin for the next year complete with a letter of proclamation from the mayor’s office. Chances are, Houston will also be making this cocktail for all of you at his bar at the incredible restaurant Contigo on Austin’s East Side.