What Are Austin's Cocktail Experts Drinking This Season?

By Erin Russell | April 5, 2016 | People Feature

A new season has arrived, which means it’s time to freshen up your drink of choice. We asked some of Austin's respected mixologists to dish on what they’re drinking right now.

Rob Pate: You Are What You Drink

Rob Pate Owner of Peche

"Negroni has always been one of my favorites. It’s angry and bitter, just like me." —Rob Pate, owner of Péché

Aisling Gammill: Simple & Fresh Is the Name of the Game

"I love white dog—whiskey with little to no barrel aging. It is fresh, wild, and has a slightly sweet and malty bite. This my go-to shot. Boozy sodas like root beer and orange are also a favorite of mine paired with a bitter amaro like Fernet or Averna. For spring, I love a low alcohol sipper like a nice glass of Dolin Blanc dressed simply with a lemon twist and Abbott's Bitters." —Aisling Gammill, mixologist & resident bourbon expert at Whisler’s

Justin Elliott: Pairing Warm Spices with Cooling Botanicals

Justin Elliott The Townsend

"We just changed about half of the menu here at The Townsend, and I'm really excited about all of the new additions. But it's the canopy cocktail that I keep coming back to again and again. It's just so perfectly dialed in for the season: the warming spices of Becherovka, an aromatic Czech liqueur, and the cooling botanicals in Old Highborn gin, and the couple of drops of crème de menthe balanced against lime juice perfectly play against the cool mornings and warm afternoons of these couple of beautiful weeks of spring we manage to see in Central Texas. Also, when my plants are looking good, I garnish the drink with a little sprig of Mexican oregano (also called "rosemary mint") from the garden at my house." —Justin Elliott, partner, director of hospitality & creator of the bar program at The Townsend

Billy Hankey: An Unexpected Pairing

"Mezcal and rosè are a fun pairing: they are friendly, but don't get into each other's way. Mezcals have a huge diversity in flavors, they aren't just smoke bombs. The rosè helps to tame flavors and cleanses your palate. It is important the rosè be dry as can be. I'm a big fan of Tepeztate and super dry Greek rosès." —Billy Hankey, barkeep at King Bee

Justin Lavenue: Low Alcohol Content = More Fun

Justin Lavenue Roosevelt Room

"Well, at this very moment I'm drinking a Modelo, but in terms of cocktails, I've recently been digging low ABV, wine-based drinks. For example, sherry cobblers mostly, sprinkled with some with some Cocchi Americano Collinses and Dolin Blanc and tonics. You can enjoy more of them, and more of a good thing is always better, right?" —Justin Lavenue, co-owner & operater at The Roosevelt Room

Jessica Sanders: A Good Martini Does the Trick

"I’m drinking the 2:1 martini at Small Victory. Josh (Loving) has created such a perfect space to enjoy an intimate, elegant, and incredibly laid-back evening over a few expertly craft cocktails [...] Dare I say, theirs may be the best martini in town. The balance of gin to vermouth is spot on, the glassware is perfection, and the drink is always ICE cold, which is exactly how any martini should be. It feels like gin-based silk washing over your tongue! When I'm feeling extra fancy, I have them modify it to a Tuxedo No. 2, which is my favorite martini variation. It calls for a rinse of absinthe which is just divine. All of their drinks are stellar but the martini is the one I keep coming back to." —Jessica Sanders, co-owner of drink.well

JR Mocanu: It's All about Location

JR Mocanu Vox Table

"I'm a situational drinker, all depends where I am. If I'm just getting off a long day at work, I'm going to guzzle down a Miller High Life, but if I'm at tiki bar, daiquiris all day. If I'm at a cigar lounge spot, a Manhattan is perfect. Now, if you were to ask me what would be my final drink on this earth, I would reply with a Cocktail a la Louisiane—that drink is amazing." —JR Mocanu, beverage director at VOX Table

Jeramy Campbell: Keep an Eye on Fortified Wines

Jeramy Campbell

"On a day to day basis, I taste many cocktails and numerous amounts of spirits, but when I go out I usually keep it simple. I like bold flavors, but those flavors need to be well balanced and complex. If you have a Bonded Bourbon or Wild Turkey 101 Rye on your shelf, good chance I’m starting with that. Most recently, I have really gotten into fortified wines. The selection of bars and restaurants with a good selection of fortified wines is very limited, but I see it becoming very popular in the near future." —Jeramy Campbell, beverage director at Juliet Ristorante

Categories: People Feature

photography by Annie Ray Photography (Pate); the townsend (elliott); claire hogan (campbell)