Nowadays it is not uncommon for food and beverage manufacturers to make their own bitter substances, brew their own liquors, squeeze their own juices, and salt their own side dishes. With this attention to detail, it’s no wonder bartenders shy away from imaginative sodas and pistol bubbles in favor of inventive, artisanal sodas.
We found a handful of places in Austin that offer sparkling alternatives to the usual sodas. And tea lovers are happy: every single one of them can be enjoyed without alcohol.
Michael Simon moved to Austin from Chicago that spring, where he worked as the Beverage Director and General Manager of Graham Elliot. Now, as Qui’s bar manager, he refines some of the city’s most inventive cocktails.
“What is great about working with Paul? [Qui] and the people in the kitchen think that the sense of evolutionary refinement is always there, ”says Simon. “Very, very, very few things are perfect and have no room for improvement. They would say the same thing. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to work here in the first place. “
Simon and his bar team are currently using a soda stream to create sparkles to order some of their signature cocktails. The bases are prepared beforehand using a process that includes juicing, soaking, infusing, reducing and sieving.
One of Qui’s most popular cocktails, Lena Dunham’s Super Nightlife Mule, combines vodka with fresh celery and yuzu juice, ginger, cane sugar, filtered water, celery bitters, sea salt and a fresh lemongrass stalk side dish for a clean and refreshing summer elixir.
Jean-Marc Montegottero mixes a newly created sweet and sour raspberry tonic with raspberry vinegar, fresh Sudachi juice, freshly juiced pomegranate seeds, quinine powder, agave nectar, cane sugar, kaffir lime leaves and sea salt, topped with a sliced Sudachi side dish. The resulting blend has floral and citrus notes and enough sweet and sour layers to hold its own against navy-strength gin.
Next on the agenda, he sources kola nuts to create a bourbon cherry kola cocktail. How did Simon get this stuff? “Clear dreams,” he says with a smile.
Since opening this winter, Sway Pok Pok’s menu has included Som vinegar, served with mineral water on tap. Made in Portland, Oregon, with organic sugar and natural flavors. Types of vinegar include a fruity pomegranate, twangy honey, and slightly bitter tamarind – flavors that go well with the lively dishes.
“Drinking vinegar in general comes from many different sources,” says Nate Wales, Sways Beverage Director. “Japanese samurai warriors took a dose of vinegar to give them masculinity and spirit in battle. In Thai cuisine, vinegar has always been an important ingredient in finding this balance of flavors. It translates with this kind of spicy and really intensely aromatic cuisine. “
The Sway House Blend, created in collaboration with Kosmic Kombucha, is another refreshing carbonated option available in restaurants and bottled around town. The mixture of oolong and green tea is refined with young coconut juice, lemongrass, lime juice and local honey.
In addition to making syrups for a range of homemade sodas due to hit the market later this month, Wales and his team have also experimented with infusing coconut vinegar and apple cider vinegar in-house. Look out for flavors like herbs and basil, ginger, pepper, and pear, among other things.
According to Wales, the intent was to keep things simple when they opened. Now he says, “We are entering a kind of mixture. We’ll lay the foundation for the sodas, make sure everyone is enjoying them, and then we’ll likely mix in some sakes and vermouths to make aperitifs. “
Austin Daily Press
Amazing sandwich creations aren’t the only delicious thing on the Austin Daily Press menu. “Our chef, Reed Faitak, had so many innovative sandwich ideas that we needed some creative drinks to match,” says Ally Hemenway, manager of the house.
“Almost all of us at ADP have extensive bar and kitchen experience. That’s why we’ve pooled our knowledge to create some herbal and unique lemonades. ”
ADP uses or purees fresh fruits and vegetables made from local produce, soaks them with herbs and reduces them to a syrup that is topped with topo chico. “We chose Topo Chico as our soda water because it’s an Austin staple and has enough carbonation to make any thickness of syrup or puree,” says Hemenway.
The flavors change every week and can be found on the specials page on the website. But here is a selection: sweet mint, lavender, lemon and basil, sage and smoked jalapeño, blackberry and Texas grapefruit, green curry, strawberry and lavender, spicy ginger, including marigold and pickled cherry.
“We still have so many ideas to experiment with,” says Hemenway. “Part of the creative process for us is using bits of herbs and other products that don’t fit on sandwiches, such as sandwiches. B. the harder stems of lemongrass or mint. Flavors like this usually become part of the regular rotation. “
This week they serve a clean, refreshing lemongrass and ginger with a jalapeño kick, a peppery carrot and celery practically begging to be “bloody carrot” and a divine peach thyme vanilla that is equally perfect this goes well with champagne. Since ADP is also BYOB and recently introduced a new brunch menu, you know where to find me this Sunday.
Enter Con’Olio and you have entered heaven with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dozens of varieties of extra virgin olive oil, cured vinegar, and infused oils and vinegars are available in both the city center and the arboretum.
Every Saturday, owners Jeff and Tabatha Conarko serve their customers with samples of balsamic vinegar sodas, which have been quite a hit.
“One day in the heat of summer it occurred to us that if we could simply add healthy, natural balsamic vinegar to bubbling water, we could make a crispy, refreshing drink with great flavor but very little calories and sugar.” says Jeff.
Traditional balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy is healthy due to compounds like polyphenols and acetic acid, which can potentially fight diabetes by lowering the glycemic index and aiding digestion. It also contains quercetin, which has been shown in clinical studies to fight cancer.
Jeff says, “If it’s authentic, traditional balsamic vinegar is very low in sugar and very low in calories, so it can be used as a natural sweetener by both diabetics and people trying to lose weight and eat healthier . “
The Conarkos recommend trying cranberry pear, lemongrass mint, and cara cara orange and vanilla white balsamic vinegar mixed with soda and topped with a sprig of fresh mint.
“When balsamic vinegar is made using the traditional 2000-year barrel aging method, the acidity ages and over time it naturally becomes sweet and thick and rich,” explains Jeff. “Our customers are so enthusiastic about the taste that we now not only have recipes for lemonades, but also cocktails with our balsamic vinegar.”
One of Jeff’s favorite beverages is made by adding sweet peach balsamic vinegar to vodka or prosecco for a fantastic variation on a bellini.
In the 1920s, Hillside Drugstore on East 11th Street was owned by Doc Young, Austin’s first African American pharmacist. Young’s daughter, Yvetta Turner, still lives a few blocks away and still owns the building where she pulled the soda fountain as a child.
Although it is now known as Hillside Farmacy and the interior has received a Parisian bistro facelift, it still contains an old-fashioned soda fountain in homage to the building’s past life. And whether virgin or with alcohol, you could say these elixirs are exactly what the doctor ordered.
Hillside Farmacy makes fruit and herb-based syrups in-house and fills them with fizzy water on tap for a clean, mineral-rich finish. The pickpocket is a fruity combination of strawberry, basil and balsamic vinegar. The rosewood is a garden fresh combination of lemon and rosemary. and Root Cola is made with a flavorful mixture of carrots, ginger and peppercorn.
Hibiscus lemonade is refreshingly floral and none of the drinks are too sweet. Alcohol suggestions are noted on the menu next to each flavor.
Also available is a stomach-calming mix of bitter and soda (perfect for the morning after) and a traditional chocolate egg cream that goes well with any of the locally baked products. Each of these bubbly setbacks are appropriately served in a mason jar: sit back, take a sip, and let yourself be transported to simpler times.