goBooze launches in Austin as newest alcohol delivery service

Thought the local market was already pretty drenched with on-demand services delivering alcohol to your door?

Not so fast. Austin now has another one, and it’s debuting today, just in time for holiday merrymaking, with the promise that it’s not quite like some of the others — Minibar being the most recent of these, Drizly perhaps the most well-known.

The Philadelphia-based delivery service goPuff has already been available in Austin, although before today, users weren’t able to order beer, wine or spirits from it. Now, goBooze has become part of the goPuff app. Simply click on it or the goPuff website, and you’ll be able to order beer and wine from it, including a limited number of local products. Spirits and a wider variety of local items will become available here later.

goBooze launches Dec. 13 with a supply of craft beer to choose from and have delivered to your door.
goBooze launches Dec. 13 with a supply of craft beer to choose from and have delivered to your door.

It stands out from the other alcohol delivery services (and other on-demand services, period) because goPuff has warehouses in Austin and nine other U.S. cities stocked with everything from “snacks, drinks and ice cream to home goods, beer and electronics,” according to a release.

On the other hand, Drizly and the other booze delivery apps like Thirstie rely on liquor stores around town to bring you your order. The apps merely help you place that order, while the stores are actually the ones to get it to you. But goPuff promises, because “it does not depend on other stores to operate,” that you’ll get what you requested in 30 minutes or less.

goBooze has a flat $1.95 delivery charge, but it’s waived for orders over $49. The service is in business from noon to midnight every day except Sunday, when the delivery time is expanded to 1 a.m. For now, the delivery zone is mostly central and doesn’t serve outlying zip codes. (A full map of the goBooze area is on the website.)

Plus, the app goes above and beyond to make sure you’re 21 and up if purchasing alcohol. You’ll get reminded throughout the ordering process that your ID will get checked, and if you don’t have the proper credentials or aren’t the right age, you’ll be blacklisted from the goPuff app.

The co-founders of goPuff, according to the release, are Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola. They were undergrads at Drexel University in Pennsylvania when “they built the company, inspired by their own frustrations running out of drinks, snacks and supplies when hosting parties.”

Clearly — no matter which alcohol delivery app is your favorite — you won’t have any problems staying stocked up during your own holiday celebrations.

Icenhauer’s Sellers on verge of opening as downtown basement bar

The classy Sellers is calling itself a basement bar because the main room is located at the bottom of some stairs.
The classy Sellers is calling itself a basement bar because the main room is located at the bottom of some stairs.

The downtown basement bar Sellers, which will open on Dec. 13, wants to transport visitors to an earlier era with its classy lounge look reminiscent of the 1970s — complete with $13 cocktails named after films from that decade.

Owner Michael Icenhauer, who got his start in the business with his eponymous bungalow bar Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street, wanted his second bar project to have a different vibe. He has gotten it with the 5,800 sq. ft. space at 213 W. Fourth St. in the Warehouse District. Formerly the dance club Qua (you know, the one with the shark tank underneath the floor), Sellers will have lots of lounge seating, a dance floor in the back and a large square bar in the center of the room.

But Icenhauer hadn’t quite known what the concept for Sellers would be until the designer, Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, crafted the sophisticated vision for it, stripping the place down to its original bones of exposed brick, vaulted ceilings and concrete walls for the transformation. The design firm was also responsible for the look of Icenhauer’s in 2010.

The ’70s-style touches are subtle but clear in elements like mustard yellow velvet, tambour wood paneling and brass accents, as well as in the built-in dark leather banquettes that surround the bar. Icenhauer’s one requirement for Michael Hsu, he said, was the back-lit back wall of glowing liquor bottles visible from the entrance a level above the main room.

“This bar is a little more upscale” than Icenhauer’s, Icenhauer said. “We’re kind of playing off the W and the ZaZa, the J.W. Marriott. I describe it as a hotel bar without the hotel. We’ll have a place for people to dance, but we also want it to be lounge-y and serve high-quality drinks.”

Those drinks include a list of twists on classic cocktails (shown below) that Sellers’ general manager Aaron Kolitz enjoyed naming after characters or phrases in defining films of the 1970s, like “Jaws” (That’s Some Bad Hat, Harry), “A Clockwork Orange” (Alex DeLarge) and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (Holy Hand Grenade). Many of these cocktails, like the riff on the bright yellow Harvey Wallbanger, were popular in the decade the bar is drawing inspiration from.

Sellers — which is named after Icenhauer’s grandmother on his mom’s side — also plans to offer wine, beer and spirits, with a focus on specialty gins and whiskeys. The bar won’t have any beers on draft, however.

It’s also not opening with food, but Kolitz, most recently of downtown’s New American bistro the Bonneville, plans to one day curate a small menu of snacks like charcuterie, marinated olives and mixed nuts. He was in charge of creating Sellers’ opening cocktail list, although he wants his bar staff to take on subsequent ones.

“The way I envisioned the cocktail menu is that I wanted it to at least start out with classics,” Kolitz said. “Some of them are kind of personal — the Deeply Religious Experience is Michael’s wife’s favorite cocktail; the Guilty Pleasure is my guilty pleasure. The rest are from my examination of cocktails in the 1970s, like the Harvey Wallbanger, the Vesper, the Manhatttan, and I did a little bit of a riff on them. I brought myself into the menu, how I would want to drink them in 2016.”

Maybe in future menus, he said, the cocktails will have names that pay homage to ’70s TV shows or sports teams. Kolitz has “a wonderful mine of talent for my bar team” who will have a say in the direction the bar program ultimately chooses to go.

Also integral to the entertainment experience at Sellers, Icenhauer said, is the dance floor, which can be cordoned off for private events. The bar is going to bring in rotating guest DJs who will turn up the tunes starting at around 9 or 10 p.m. even on weekdays.

He knows that the space is located along a small strip of gay bars on the south side of West Fourth Street and that it was most recently a gay bar as well, Castro’s Warehouse. Although that’s not the concept for Sellers, he wants it to be clear that “we welcome everyone here.”

“We want to be easy like Austin is, just a little bit higher-end,” he said.

OPENING COCKTAIL MENU

  • Classic Martini: Bombay Dry Gin, dry vermouth, olive
  • The Perfect Italian Martini: Malfy Gin, Lillet Blanc and Rouge, gorgonzola olive
  • Deeply Religious Experience: Ketel One Vodka, dry vermouth
  • Guilty Pleasure: Junipero Gin, green chartreuse, maraschino, lime
  • Alex DeLarge: Pisco Porton, Luxardo Triplum, apricot, lemon, egg white, bitters
  • Autumn Wallbanger: Tito’s Vodka, orange juice, fall-spiced Galliano, orange bitters
  • That’s Some Bad Hat, Harry: Flor de Cana 7 Year Rum, Luxardo Triplum, Lillet, lemon, bitters
  • Evening Prayer: Ford’s Gin, Reyka Vodka, Cocchi Americano, vanilla essence
  • Holy Hand Grenade: Knob Creek Rye, Luxardo Triplum, Lillet Blanc, Aperol, Fernet, elderflower liqueur, lemon
  • Play a Mean Banjo: Elijah Craig Bourbon, Caffe del Fuego, Turkish apricot bitters, mint
  • Smokey Reynolds: Jim Beam Black, Lagavulin 12 Year, Carpano Antica, cherry, bitters
  • Vic’s Island Paradise: Tanqueray Gin, lemon, passionfruit, pineapple, aromatic bitters

Once Sellers opens on Dec. 13, Sellers’ hours will be 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. For more information, visit icenhauerventures.com.

Gaming bar Vigilante in North Austin sets Jan. 27 opening date

It has never been more fun to be a nerd.

That’s the basic premise behind Vigilante Gaming Bar, which now has an opening date after the founders secured additional funding this summer through a crowd-sourced investor campaign on NextSeed.

At 7010 Easy Wind Dr. — in the same multi-use complex as Black Star Co-Op, off North Lamar Boulevard — Vigilante is officially opening its doors at 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 next year. The bar’s CEO Preston Swincher and president Philip “Flip” Kromer promise that game lovers will finally have a place to go to both play their favorite games and enjoy good food and beer to boot.

Already, Vigilante has stocked up on the more than 150 games that are going to be offered: everything from the classic chess to Cards Against Humanity to Magic: the Gathering, and far more obscure titles. Participants will get seated based on the size of their group and on what type of table their chosen games require, and they won’t even have to get up to order food and drink — they’ll simply have to press the “Accio Server” button on the custom Vigilante tables.

Contributed by Vigilante. The customized tables at Vigilante Gaming Bar have room for your beer and food orders.
Contributed by Vigilante. The customized tables at Vigilante Gaming Bar have room for your beer and food orders.

“Seeing as we are fortunate to operate in a craft brew hub, we are focusing exclusively on local Austin breweries,” marketing director Zack Daschofsky said via email. “Our vendors include Friends & Allies, Real Ale, Thirsty Planet, Hops & Grain and Austin Beerworks.”

He noted that the Vigilante team, which includes Swincher and Kromer, have developed a digital game menu that will be “accessible via tablets in the space and on the web,” he said. “This tool lets us add custom reviews, categories, mood and a number of other variables to help connect our customers to a game they would love to play.”

It’s still in beta for now, but the late January opening will give Vigilante time to perfect it and other key elements to the bar. Chief among them are the custom private rooms, like the first one called the Wizard’s Office, that will transform the gaming experience.

“Our goal (with these rooms) is for our patrons to feel like they are stepping into a completely new space/world,” he said.

Before the Jan. 27 official opening is Sneak-Peek Week, available to anyone who backed Vigilante in the NextSeed campaign or the Kickstarter before that.

Once Vigilante Gaming Bar is up and running, it’ll be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily and offer a full kitchen; a drinks list of beer, wine and sake; and the digital game menu with a variety of different games to choose from.

Deep Eddy Vodka expands to additional distillery in Buda

Get an early taste of Deep Eddy Peach at the Dripping Springs distillery starting on Thursday, when you can try it in cocktails like the Peach Lemonade.
Deep Eddy Vodka makes flavored spirits like the Deep Eddy Peach, the most recent of the boozy offerings. The vodkas have become so popular that the company needs more space to produce them.

Yes, it’s real this time: Deep Eddy Vodka is officially opening a second distillery south of Austin to make room for the skyrocketing growth of the brand.

The 194,000 sq. ft. Buda facility is going to operate in tandem with the current space in Dripping Springs so that Deep Eddy Vodka, which sold last year to a Kentucky spirits company called Heaven Hill Brands, can increase production capacity to more than 5 million cases per year.

Even without the expansion, the company is on track to send 1 million cases to the market this year, according to Deep Eddy Vodka President John Scarborough.

Deep Eddy produces flavored vodkas including the top-selling grapefruit-forward Ruby Red in the Dripping Springs distillery, which opened only two years ago and has already outgrown its size. At the time, the space was expected to support future demand for Deep Eddy Vodka products.

BOOZE GUIDE: Find out all about Austin breweries, distilleries and cideries.

In September, the City of Buda prematurely announced that Deep Eddy Vodka was moving there following the passage of an incentives package by the Buda City Council. Nothing had been finalized, however, until this week.

Scarborough said in a news release that remaining in the Austin area is important to the company, no matter how big it has grown.

“Austin and the Central Texas region are the foundation of our brand, and this investment represents our commitment to keeping it that way. Our roots are planted here,” he said in the release.

A large production facility is not all Deep Eddy Vodka is adding to accommodate massive growth. An integral part of the Dripping Springs location is a 5,000 sq. ft. tasting room with vodka cocktails that opened to the thirsty public in the fall of 2014. It’s getting updated to allow for more people and more events, enhancing the visitor experience.

For more information, visit deepeddyvodka.com.

Done with 2016? Try End Credits, an Alamo and Independence beer collaboration

Independence Brewing Instagram. The Alamo Drafthouse and Independence Brewing, two local businesses, made a porter for us to toast the end of the year with.
Independence Brewing Instagram. The Alamo Drafthouse and Independence Brewing, two local businesses, made a porter for us to toast the end of the year with.

2016 hasn’t been the easiest year for many of us, after the deaths of icons like Prince and David Bowie, the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Florida and the incredibly contentious presidential election.

So the Alamo Drafthouse and Independence Brewing have teamed up to bring us a beer that will help us bid adieu to the year: the End Credits 2016, a chocolate hazelnut porter available at all of the theater’s Texas locations. The winter warmer is exactly the kind of beer you’ll want to relax with while curling up to a film at your neighborhood Alamo.

“This year was memorable, to say the least. Between Bowie, Prince and a never-ending presidential fistfight, we felt it important to send it off with a bang — like, light it on fire and back away slowly kind of bang,” John Gross, Alamo’s director of national beer promotions, said in a press release about the beer. “Working with our longtime pals at Independence to craft a perfect ‘you made it through 2016’ beer was a real pleasure — and truly the very least we could do.”

For the End Credits 2016, the Drafthouse and Independence Brewing — whose Austin Amber label design pays homage to the local theater chain’s iconic sign — wanted a style that was seasonally appropriate. They chose one, the porter, that Independence has never made before, adding Ghana cocoa nibs and hazelnut to supplement the subtly sweet flavors of the malts.

“It’s everything you could want in a porter and then some,” Independence’s head brewer Brannon Radicke said in the release.

Pair End Credits 2016 with one of these films coming to theaters in December. (Hint: a certain galaxy far, far away returns in the hopes of being a stand-alone splash, and there’s no doubt a new “Star Wars” flick also helps take away those 2016 blues.)

For more about Independence Brewing and other Austin beer, wine and spirits makers, check out the Austin360 Boozery Guide.

Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling officially unveils beer program

Photo by Matt McGinnis. Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling now offers beverages for beer lovers and cocktail aficionados alike.
Photo by Matt McGinnis. Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling now offers beverages for beer lovers and cocktail aficionados alike.

Although visitors to Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling ranch in the Hill Country have seen house beers on the menu for some months now, the brewmaster hadn’t been ready to launch the beers more widely.

That’s changing this week: Treaty Oak has perfected the recipes and is sending three core brews into local bars and restaurants.

Chris Lamb, formerly the head distiller, started learning a new skill last year when owner Daniel Barnes decided it was time for Treaty Oak to expand its boozy horizons. The distillery, now 10 years old, had moved onto 27 acres and had the room for trying something new. But Lamb didn’t expect he would dive full-force into the project so quickly.

“Daniel originally proposed the idea of a seven-barrel system but then goes off and orders a 30-barrel system. Totally different monster,” he said. “Because we started on a 30-barrel system right away, we had to do lots of trial and error and experimenting to get things right.”

But unlike many other breweries going through rough starts, Treaty Oak has a couple of advantages. Fermentation, a process key to beer-making, is also a primary step in the distillation of Treaty Oak’s spirits — something the distillers have been doing in some form for a decade.

Plus, Treaty Oak has a full-fledged tasting room where visitors have been sipping on cocktails made from the distillery’s vodka, gin, rum and whiskey. Lamb was able to put the beers he was testing on draft at the rickhouse to get feedback. He would read reviews on the app Untapped, he said, and ask the bartenders what customers thought. And he would tweak and change and fret.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Treaty Oak brewmaster Chris Lamb has put a lot of work into crafting easy-drinking beers, and he's finally ready to say they're ready for Austin drinkers.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Treaty Oak brewmaster Chris Lamb has put a lot of work into crafting easy-drinking beers, and he’s finally ready to say they’re ready for Austin drinkers.

Now, the beers have met even his high standards.

Treaty Oak is debuting the beer program with the Bright Side Blonde Ale, the Lil’ Hop Session IPA and the Fitzhugh Ale, a British mild. Each one is low ABV and balanced between each of the ingredients, including the Mandarina hops he favors that are “a wonderful sun-kissed orange flavor bomb.”

“The goal with all of (the beers) was to be extremely sessionable, like the current trend, so they’re all between 3 ½ and 5 ½ percent ABV,” Lamb said. 

Eventually, Treaty Oak will be able to make the equivalent of 27,500 cases of beer a year — probably more, with the addition of two coming fermenters.

Although the three mainstays are on draft only for now, the brewery is hoping to release them in cans in March. Other brews are also in the works, but Lamb’s focus on the first three means he can scarcely fathom new styles at the moment.

“Once we get our feet underneath us, we will definitely do seasonals,” Lamb said. “Maybe a saison, maybe a maibock in the spring. It’s so early to say. But once we have details ironed out on the production side, I can slip away and do all these experimental things, which I really want to do.”

Expect plenty of experiments, a core activity at the ranch. The rickhouse is filled with barrels aging spirits, but they can age beer, too. And what about distilled beer? That’s already happening, of course.

In the meantime, Treaty Oak is planning tap takeovers and meet-the-brewer nights at area bars to introduce the beers. That has turned out to be another advantage for the company: Treaty Oak and its distributor have barely had to convince potential retailers to take a chance on them.

“Having that name recognition in all the bars around the state, it’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’ A lot of accounts have signed up without even tasting it,” Lamb said.

Austin Beerworks debuts seasonal Sputnik in limited-release cans

In the same month that Austin Beerworks’ new brewery and taproom is expected to open, the North Austin brewery is releasing a seasonal favorite in cans: Sputnik, a Russian imperial oatmeal stout.

Austin Beerworks is releasing the winter seasonal Sputnik in cans designed by Helms Workshop.
Austin Beerworks is releasing the winter seasonal Sputnik in six-pack cans designed by Helms Workshop.

Austin Beerworks started releasing seasonal brews in cans in September — introducing the Bloodwork Orange Blood Orange IPA first, followed by Montcore, an Oktoberfest beer. Despite clamors from fans for canned seasonals, the brewery hadn’t been able to offer them until this year because of maxed-out capacity.

Because the new brewery isn’t quite up and running yet, the brewers haven’t been able to make as much Sputnik as fans of the dark beer would like, but you’ll still be able to get your fill of it starting on Dec. 11, when Austin Beerworks is throwing a party in the taproom to celebrate its arrival. Sputnik will be on draft there.

Following the release party, it’ll be available on draft and in cans around Austin. The cans are limited: 600 cases of six-packs are going out in a one-time run.

Inspired by the movie “Man on a Mission,” Austin Beerworks’ Sputnik is “a crazy and complex kitchen-sink-style oatmeal stout with a coffee twist” because it features the roasted goodness of Cuvée Coffee, according to the brewers. “It is the result of a collaboration between a passionate and nerdy beer brewer and an equally passionate and nerdy coffee roaster.”

Sunday’s release party will run from 12 to 6 p.m. at the current taproom at 3009 Industrial Terrace.

If you haven’t been to the brewery in awhile, you’ll notice the large Austin Beerworks sign atop the building next door — that’s where the brewery is expanding into, in a move that will ultimately triple production capacity. The 16,000 sq. ft of new space greatly supplements the existing location of 8,000 sq. ft., which will be most likely converted to a packaging facility, according to Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham.

The new brewery comes with a much larger taproom than the current one so that visitors will have more room to enjoy mainstay brews, seasonal releases and taproom-only specials. They’ll still get a look into the production space, thanks to a sort of “hockey window” divider beyond which  towering stainless steel tanks are visible, and they’ll have an outdoor patio with AstroTurf for extra seating and possibly yard games.

Austin Beerworks is excited about all the extra room because the brewers will finally have a custom-built quality-assurance lab that looks like a high school chemistry classroom. They also purchased Odell Brewing‘s old brewhouse system, but they aren’t in any hurry to ramp up production once they get the go-ahead from the city to start using the new facility.

“We’re doubling capacity right off the bat with these six tanks, and we have room to add seven or eight more depending on how crazy we want to get. But we’re in no real rush to max out or even increase capacity that much right now,” Graham said. “I think the first thing we want to do is get used to this brand-new system (because) the recipes don’t scale. We’ll do some test batches and make sure we’re comfortable before anything else.”

Lauded local firm Michael Hsu Office of Architecture designed the space, while Helms Workshop, Austin Beerworks’ branding and packaging partner, took on the design of the Sputnik can.

Keep an eye on Austin Beerworks’ social media accounts for updates on the opening of the new brewery.

And if you want more information about Sputnik, check out this YouTube video that Austin Beerworks released in 2011, when the beer debuted.