Taste the Official Drink of Austin at returning competition in May

Max Photography. Last year’s Official Drink of Austin winner was the bar team at Geraldine’s, led by Jen Keyser. There will be a different winner this year.

If Austin’s wacky essence could be embodied by a cocktail, what would it taste like? That’s the basic premise behind the Official Drink of Austin competition, which returns May 4 this year at Fair Market.

Early bird tickets for the boozy event are on sale now for $55; wait a little while, and the price will jump to $65 online, $75 at the door. You can buy them at the website of the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, the organization behind the Official Drink of Austin.

As in past iterations, the Official Drink of Austin competition involves eight bar teams from local bars and restaurants going shaker to shaker against each other — with each team preparing Austin-inspired cocktails, using at least one local ingredient, that attendees and a small group of judges will taste and evaluate.

The teams this time around are from Drink.Well, Frank, Javelina, Clive, Firehouse Lounge, Alcomar, Kuneho and the Driskill (having all been selected through a previous showdown). Drink.Well, the first local bar from husband-and-wife owners Michael and Jessica Sanders, has participated as a finalist in the competition since the Austin Food & Wine Alliance resurrected it in 2014.

Each of the eight teams will set up a bar representing their establishment. Attendees will be able to taste the drinks at their leisure and pair them with bar snacks from local chefs.

“With the talent and innovation here, Austin deserves a competition like this, and it’s one of the best events in the city,” David Alan, the original organizer of the event, said in a press release.

A professional bartender and author, as well as one of the very first movers and shakers behind Austin’s talented cocktail scene, he helped to create the Official Drink of Austin contest in 2006.

Last year’s winner was the bar team from Geraldine’s, led by Jen Keyser, whose Far from the Tree used Treaty Oak Rum and Paula’s Texas Orange, two local products. Previous winners have included Garage with its Dripping Springs Vodka Indian Paintbrush cocktail and Qui with its Balcones whisky Tepache drink.

Although the restaurant Qui, owned by the James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Qui, closed following his arrest, he returned to the kitchen early this year with new project Kuneho — one of the participants in the upcoming Official Drink of Austin.

Additionally, competitor the Driskill was recently voted the best bar in the state by Southern Living magazine.

Official Drink of Austin runs from 7 to 10 p.m. on May 4 at Fair Market, 1100 E. Fifth St. New this year is a VIP Industry After Party that you can attend in addition to the competition for $125.

For more information, visit austinfoodwinealliance.org.

Want a tequila shot with your tarot card reading? Irene’s has you covered on Tuesday

Irene’s, the buzzy downtown restaurant at 506 West Ave., is hosting a tequila night special in April and May, but there’s a twist: You can also get your tarot cards read for free while you’re there.

The restaurant’s Tarot & Tequila Tuesday starts on April 4 and continues on May 2. They’ll have specials on tequila and tequila drinks all night, and Kristin of Senders Receive will be offering free tarot card readings from 6 to 8 p.m.

 

Kristin Marie Bramblett is a tarot card reader (@sendersreceive on Instagram), who will be reading tarot cards at Irene’s in April and May. Contributed by @sendersreceive.

 

 

 

 

 

Six Austin bars with serene outdoor patios

Here are several of Austin’s myriad patio bars to choose from depending on what part of town you’re at  — and what kind of outdoor experience you’re seeking.

Wondering where to whet your whistle? Check out the Austin360 Boozery Guide

Deck Nine Observatory Bar at Boiler Nine

800 W. Cesar Chavez St., boilernine.com.

The upstairs bar at Boiler Nine Bar & Grill, the centerpiece restaurant of La Corsha Hospitality Group’s dining project in the historic Seaholm Power Plant, has reopened just in time for the fest. It’ll be very similar to what you might remember of the open-air patio — with nothing less than panoramic views of the surrounding downtown — albeit with a new food and cocktail menu.

La Corsha beverage director Jason Stevens, along with executive chef Jason Stude, have created fare with “beachy, coastal flavors”: bar snacks like yellowtail crudo and cumin tostadas and cocktails that include frozen rum and tequila drinks, tropical highballs and more. You’ll still be able to “booze your own adventure” with them, and deck favorites like the Negroni and the Old Fashioned have remained on the menu.

“What I’m trying to do is not use the word ‘tropical’ with the menu to avoid the impression of a tiki bar, but you will find tropical spices like guava in the drinks and also deeper, darker flavors of hibiscus, allspice, things like that from Mexico and Jamaica: a variety of baking spices that is common in the cuisine there,” Stevens said, referring to the new Red Macaw as an example.

The Red Macaw, with grapefruit, hibiscus blossom and island spices, in addition to your choice of blanco tequila, light rum or vodka, is exactly the sort of bright, beachy beverage you’ll want to be drinking.

As one of Austin’s best bars, Deck Nine won’t disappoint.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Deck Nine Observatory Bar is reopening after a winter break just in time for SXSW.

Where’s the party at? Here’s your guide to the best unofficial parties at SXSW 2017

Backbeat

1300 S. Lamar Blvd., backbeat-atx.com.

The husband-and-wife owners of this bar and North Loop’s cozy Drink.Well have established Backbeat as the trendy cocktail spot you want to be at on important holidays like Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, thanks to an upstairs patio area that offers clear views of downtown and those holidays’ fireworks.

Backbeat is far enough away from downtown that you can relax with a cocktail in hand (might we suggest the eponymous Backbeat, with celery cordial, lemon, Génépy des Alpes and your choice of gin, vodka or tequila) while still being tantalizingly close enough to feel the energy.

Corner at the J.W. Marriott

110 E. Second St., cornerrestaurantaustin.com.

Pull up a seat at the square Patio Bar outside of the J.W. Marriott’s Corner restaurant. The bar menu tends to focus on two of Texas’ most beloved drinks — tequila cocktails and local craft beer — so it’s also the right place to be if you’re introducing an out-of-towner to what Austin does best.

Easy Tiger

709 E. Sixth St., easytigeraustin.com.

When you walk in through the bake shop, the alluring smell of freshly made bread will probably give you an appetite. Good thing, too, because there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting in the outdoor beer garden and enjoying a pretzel with beer cheese or a house-made sausage. Wash down the grub with a beer — Easy Tiger balances local and national offerings, with current ones including new-to-Texas Bell’s Brewery — and then line up for a game of ping-pong as Waller Creek gurgles serenely below.

Tamir Kalifa / American-Statesman. Yeti’s bar manager
Isaac Coronado is just one member of the staff at the South Congress Avenue space ready to serve you a cold canned beer.

The Barrrr at Yeti

220 S. Congress Ave., yeti.com/flagship

Yeti’s flagship store and accompanying indoor/outdoor bar just opened on prime real estate off Lady Bird Lake. Yeti will peddles canned beers from local brewery stalwarts, such as Independence Brewing, Austin Beerworks and Hops & Grain, that you can keep cold in one of their Yeti Colsters (see what they’re doing there?).

Plus, views of South Congress Avenue near the bridge — a prime people-watching corner — from several outward-facing seats at the bar are hard to beat.

Lazarus Brewing

1902 E. Sixth St., lazarusbrewing.com.

Street tacos? Fresh coffee? Beer made just yards from where it pours from the taps? Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating? Since it opened at the end of last year, Lazarus Brewing has proved to be practically a religious experience for people in East Austin who regularly frequent the brewpub: in the morning for their coffee fix, in the evening for an indulgent pint.

Newcomers are also going to discover this colorful joint, where they’ll be able to try beers like Despereaux, a French saison with notes of cloves and coriander, and Holy Mother of God, an aptly named barleywine pouring at a robust 11.2 percent ABV. Drink a pint while you’re seated outside in the shaded courtyard that tends to draw a breeze or two.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Enjoy a taco and a beer, like the Jolted Phoenix Coffee Golden Ale, on Lazarus Brewing’s outdoor patio if you want to relax during SXSW.

What to expect from Alamo Drafthouse Mueller and its Barrel O’ Fun bar

Ricardo Brazziell / American-Statesman. The carnival-themed Barrel O' Fun has actual boardwalk games in addition to drinks inspired by old-fashioned soda fountains.
Ricardo Brazziell / American-Statesman. The carnival-themed Barrel O’ Fun has actual boardwalk games in addition to drinks inspired by old-fashioned soda fountains.

The new Alamo Drafthouse in Mueller is gearing up to open with a focus on kid-friendly activities by day and more adult-centric fun by night in addition to offering six theaters with reclining chairs, gender-neutral bathrooms and plenty of validated garage parking. It opens March 9 for the general public.

There’s no doubt film fans are going to love the second-story walk to each of the theaters; as with other locations, the Alamo Drafthouse has decked out the long hallway with film posters and other wall art, as well as a Devil’s Tower with Spaceship installation that acts as the Mueller location’s photo op spot, in a nod to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

But perhaps the biggest highlight of the sixth Alamo Drafthouse in Austin for many will be the carnival-themed Barrel O’ Fun space on the ground floor, which the company has gone above and beyond to make sure it straddles two very different audiences.

By day, the Barrel O’ Fun the entrance to which is, in fact, shaped like a gigantic barrel provides family-friendly fun; by night, starting at 8 p.m., the place transforms into a bar (so that’s when you call it the Bar O’ Fun, OK?). But there are elements of the hangout that people of all ages will enjoy.

For instance, the room has functioning boardwalk games, such as Eggs in a Basket, Chunk the Puck and Toss Off. One side of the barrel-shaped drinks menu at Barrel O’ Fun is entirely nonalcoholic, but they aren’t your typical Coke and Dr. Pepper offerings. Instead, even adults might gravitate toward house-made sodas like the Cherry-Lime Rickey (cherry syrup, lime and seltzer) and floats and ice cream sodas like the Snickerdoodle (ginger beer and Mexican cinnamon ice cream).

Flip over the menu for the alcoholic potions. The program, originally designed by the Alamo Drafthouse’s beverage director Bill Norris, takes a focus on barrel-aged cocktails, highballs and flips. Bar O’ Fun bar manager Ryan Hollowell, fresh from other esteemed bar programs in town like Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, is excited to soon put his own stamp on the boozy offerings with an upcoming secret shots menu.

He’s particularly excited about the barrel-aged drinks like the Perfect Martini (London dry gin, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and orange bitters in blue corn whiskey barrels). Bar O’ Fun also has 45 beer taps, with an opening menu that includes the Oasis, TX Brewing Slow Ride Pale Ale, Independence Austin Amber, (512) Dubbel, Community Mosaic IPA and Zilker Coffee Milk Stout.

No matter what time of day you’re there, Hollowell said, you’ll find something on the drinks menu that will appeal to you.

“We went with a soda fountain theme, so there’s a lot of really cool kind of throwback-inspired (nonalcoholic) cocktails,” he said of the Barrel O’ Fun side. “We make our own syrups in-house, really beautiful black cherry soda, awesome traditional Brooklyn-style egg creams as well. At night, we took all of those ideas and transitioned them into cocktail menus. Our highballs are all based on those syrups, those homemade natural elixirs and tinctures that we’re working with, as well as adult egg creams and milkshakes.”

At night, a stage at the far end of Bar O’ Fun will enliven the space with DJ sets and bands, especially during happy hour. The games will be available to play in the later hours as well. Food includes a focus on wood as well, with items like wood-planked broccolini (cheddar cheese polenta and wood-roasted broccolini).

The upstairs theaters which range in size from 43-person to 136-person rooms, all with comfy reclining seats will also have their own food and drink menus. The food side, in particular, is going to have new items, without abandoning fan favorites.

“We definitely are holding onto a lot of the classics here that we’ve been successful with in the past, but to be really honest, we noticed there was certain areas of our menu that we wanted to update,” Alamo chef Trish Eichelberger said. “This facility is a really great place to start testing and updating, making an effort to be even more hands-on, to have an even more from-scratch menu… We have a wonderful tofu banhi mi-type sandwich; we have a roasted pork sandwich. We’ve got a couple new pizzas.”

It’s also worth noting that the gender-neutral bathrooms, the sound of which could stir up a fuss, guarantee you complete privacy, with floor-to-ceiling walls not just stalls in between each toilet and doors for each one. The 36,559 sq. ft. Mueller theater has six separate urinals for men and two family-accessible bathrooms with changing tables upstairs as well.

The hours for Barrel O’ Fun are 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sundays. Alamo Drafthouse Mueller is located at 1911 Aldrich St., in the up-and-coming Mueller town center known as the Aldrich Street District.

For more information, visit drafthouse.com/austin/theater/mueller.

Ricardo Brazziell / American-Statesman. Installations like the Barrel O' Fun entrance were fabricated by Blue Genie Art Industries.
Ricardo Brazziell / American-Statesman. Installations like the Barrel O’ Fun entrance were fabricated by Blue Genie Art Industries.

Austin’s drinking events calendar, March 2017

J. Potter-Miller. Last Stand Brewing teamed up with a group of local bars to create a beer inspired by a taco.
J. Potter-Miller. Last Stand Brewing is celebrating its 2nd anniversary with a big party at the brewery, on the road to Dripping Springs.

Bell’s Brewery Launch Party at Easy Tiger, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1. The beloved Michigan brewery has arrived in Texas with $10 flights at Easy Tiger, as well as cans and more.

Coast’s 9 Banded Whiskey Pairing Dinner, 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 1. The downtown seafood spot is offering this three-course dinner with 9 Banded cocktails to get you in the SXSW mood. $55.

Whiskey Class with Chocolate Pairing at Craftsman, 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 1. Sample three Teeling Irish whiskeys with three chocolate pairings. $15.

Texas Independence Day with Yeti, 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 2. Buy a custom Yeti drinkware product and the new flagship store and bar will fill ‘em up on the house, with proceeds going to the Austin Music Foundation.

$2 Pint & Karaoke Night with Batch Kolache, 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, March 2. At Cuvee Coffee, make sure you’ve got a microphone in one hand, a kolache in the other and a beer nearby.

Contributed by Easy Tiger. Bell's Brewery is officially launching in Texas the first week of March.
Contributed by Easy Tiger. Bell’s Brewery is officially launching in Texas the first week of March.

Bell’s Brewery Launch Party at Via 313, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 2. Michigan pizza with Michigan beer, united at last: Via 313’s brick-and-mortar locations will bring back a pizza special for the occasion.

Gusto Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar’s 5th Anniversary, 8 p.m. Thursday, March 2. Live jazz, complimentary appetizers, drink specials, a special performance from a quartet of Conspirare singers and more to celebrate this big milestone.

The Local Post Pub Grand Opening, 10 p.m. Thursday, March 2. The Burnet Road bar promises irresistible drink specials to enjoy with a late-night food menu.

First Friday at Infinite Monkey Theorem, 4 p.m. Friday, March 2. The urban winery is celebrating the release of its 2016 Texas Rosé with live music and silent disco.

First Friday Firkin at Uncle Billy’s, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 3. This month’s cask, Hoppy Hefe, is the brewpub’s newest seasonal, the Hammock Hefeweizen, with Centennial hops added.

Real Ale’s Pinsetter Release Bowling Party, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 4. Real Ale is launching a new year-round beer, an amber lager, named after the popular Hill Country tradition of nine-pine bowling.

Welcome to Texas: Bell’s Brewery Launch at Pinthouse South Lamar, 11 a.m. Saturday, March 4. Eight of the Michigan brewery’s beers will tap when the brewpub opens for business.

Faust Brewing Grand Opening, 12 p.m. Saturday, March 4. The New Braunfels brewery has finally broken in the new location enough to have a big party, with a 12-hour extravaganza planned.

Last Stand Brewing’s 2nd Anniversary Party, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 4. Enjoy the Anniversary Double IPA and other beers at the Hill Country brewery; bring home an anniversary glass. $20.

Aviator Pizza & Draughthouse Grand Opening, 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 4. The South Congress pizza and beer joint is donating a portion of the proceeds from this event to Austin Pets Alive.

Pinthouse Pizza’s 2017 Cellar Series, 6 to 11 p.m. Monday, March 6. On the first Monday of every month comes a rare keg on tap, in case you need a boozy start to your week.

Licha’s Cantina Tequila Pairing Dinner, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Monday, March 6. Make reservations for this special dinner with Azunia Tequila. $75.

International Women’s Day Celebration with the Beer Museum, 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 6. Head to Hops & Grain for this insightful talk about women in craft beer.

Hops & Grain River Beer Debut at Whip In, 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, March 7. Hops & Grain is releasing a premium lager meant for outdoor sipping, with free pint glasses available while supplies last.

Italic’s La Valentina Free Wine Tasting and Pop-Up Dinner, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9. Italic is highlighting Central Italy’s revered La Valentina winery with complimentary wine tastings and a special three-course dinner, no reservations required.

Bell’s Brewery Tap Takeover at Whip In, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 9. Meet craft beer pioneer Larry Bell while enjoying beers like the new Am I Right or Amarillo, brewed just for Texas.

USE OUR GUIDE: GET TO KNOW AUSTIN’S BREWERIES, DISTILLERIES AND MORE IN THE AUSTIN360 BOOZERY GUIDE

Central Market Cooking School: Wrath Wines Paired with Family Favorites, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9. The winemaker will discuss the wines while you learn how to make recipes that best highlight them. $65.

Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing’s 2nd Anniversary Parties, 4 p.m. Friday, March 10 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, March 12. It’s a whole weekend of special beers, including Red Horn’s very first bottle releases.

Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling’s 2nd Annual Kitetail Fest, 12 p.m. Saturday, March 11 to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 12. Come for the kites; stay for the cocktails. There will also be a balloon artist, face painting and live music performances.

Photo by Ben Sklar. Texas Keeper Cider's cidery in the Onion Creek area of South Austin isn't opened with regular hours yet, but the cider release party on June 20 is a good opportunity to visit the scenic cidery in the meantime.
Photo by Ben Sklar. Texas Keeper Cider’s cidery in the Onion Creek area of South Austin is celebrating its first year open with the release of Grafter Blanc.

Texas Keeper Cider’s 1 Year in the Taproom Party, 12 p.m. Saturday, March 11. It’s been a year since the cidery opened its charming far South Austin tasting room, so celebrate with the springtime release of Grafter Blanc.

Circle Brewing’s 6th Anniversary Party, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 11. This year’s celebration coincides with a big rebranding and Circle’s first-ever cans, as well as a new seasonal, M’Lady English IPA.

Re-Release of Black Star and Blue Owl’s Collaboration, 6 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, March 15. The sour-mashed double IPA that Black Star Co-Op and Blue Owl Brewing produced last year was so popular that it’s getting a second release.

St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Opal Divine’s, 11 a.m. Friday, March 17. There will be plenty of fresh Guinness on tap for this all-day celebration also featuring live music, fish and chips, and Irish stew.

San Gabriel River Brewery’s St. Patrick’s Day Party, 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 17. Show your Irish spirit and enjoy green-hued brews. Plus, Rolling Thunder Roadhouse will be on site providing the grub.

St. Patrick’s Day at North by Northwest, 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 17. Special cask tappings, Irish stew and Irish music promise fun for the whole family (even a bouncy house and balloon artist for the kids.)

Free St. Patrick’s Day Party at Strange Land Brewery, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 17. Two limited-edition brews, a Dubliner Irish Irish Stout and its barrel-aged counterpart, are going on tap to celebrate the Irish holiday.

Hi Sign Brewing Grand Opening Party, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 18. The East Austin brewery is officially opening with a crawfish boil, disc golf tournament and more. $15.

Infamous Brewing’s 4 Year Anniversary, 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 18. A whopping 16 taps with a crawfish boil and live music will guarantee you a day you won’t want to end.

The Beer Train with the Bluebonnet Beer Co., 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 18. The Austin Steam Train is hosting another boozy train ride, this time with beers from Round Rock’s only brewery. This event has been rescheduled to May 20 due to mechanical issues.

Sophia’s Bubble Brunch Launch, 12 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 19. The supper club is debuting a monthly brunch with prosecco-based cocktails, champagne bottle service and brunch dishes with an Italian twist.

SXSW Recovery Party at Irene’s, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, March 20. Hair of the dog is sometimes the only way to recover from a week-long fest, so Irene’s will have drink specials on wine, beer and Tito’s Vodka.

Altstadt Brewery’s Launch in Fredericksburg, 12 p.m. Monday, May 20. You’ll start finding beers from this new brewery on Highway 290 on draft in this first town to carry Altstadt.

Astronomy on Tap, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21. Three out-of-this-world talks will be accompanied with pints of beer, astronomy-related art on display from local artists, and more at the North Door.

Pug Rescue of Austin Charity Brew at Pinthouse Pizza, 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 22. All proceeds from the brewpub’s Calma Muerta Session Ale will go toward the dog-friendly organization, which will be present from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Grappa Masterclass at Drink.Well, 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 22. Learn about the Italian brandy and how it’s made with this education course from Bonollo, a world-class distillery in Italy.

Reserve Wednesday at Sophia’s, 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22. The downtown Italian restaurant is partnering with Italian winemaker Le Monde for this happy hour wine tasting.

Balcones Whisky Dinner at the Carillon, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22. Taste Texas whisky alongside a three-course feast. Call 512-404-3655 to make your reservations. $48.

Pints & Paws Happy Hour at Whitestone Brewery, 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 23. $1 of every pint sold will go toward Texas Humane Heroes, a rescue organization.

Yes Chef Beer Release at Black Star Co-op, 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday, March 23. The brewpub’s beer team collaborated with its kitchen staff to come up with a beer perfect for the end of a long, hot kitchen shift: an adjunct cream ale.

Fourth Saturday at Real Ale Brewing, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25. In honor of the brewery’s 21st birthday, Real Ale is debuting two more beers in the Mysterium Verum series: Magnum Trux and Rex Indomitus.

Crawfish Boil & Craft Beer Bash at Independence Brewing, 1 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25. Enjoy fresh Louisiana crawfish with sweet corn, red potatoes and your favorite Independence beer.

Craft Pride’s 4th Annual Pepper Beer Party, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25. Spicy beers from (512) Brewing, Lakewood Brewing, No Label Brewing and more are going on tap in a heated celebration.

Red Line Brewery Tour, Spring 2017, 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 25. Train-hop to check out three local breweries near the Capital MetroRail Red Line: Zilker Brewing, Black Star Co-op and Circle Brewing.

Tiki! A Hye Rum Event, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25. A new rum distillery from the makers of Calais Winery in the Hill Country is hosting a whole hog roast buffet-style dinner. $65-$595.

William Chris Vineyards’ 4th Annual Vibes & Vino, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 25. San Antonio’s celebrated alt-country band Two Tons of Steel will perform while you partake in a wine and seafood feast. $35.

Independence Brewing Beer Dinner at Greenhouse Craft Food, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday, March 26. This multi-course pairing dinner will feature beers from Independence, including the new Illustrated Man Dark Sour. $64.12

Mega Mutt Monday at Banger’s, 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, March 27. This month’s edition of the pet-friendly event celebrates the pit bull thanks to participating organization Love-A-Bull.

Antonelli’s Cheese Pairing at Adelbert’s, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday, March 27. Adelbert’s Mango Wit, Whimsical Cherry Sour and more are being paired at this cheesy dinner at the brewery. $45.

Thirsty Thursday at the White Horse, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, March 30. Quench your thirst for good beers and music at this late-night show that will include tunes from Mayeux & Broussard.

Where to celebrate National Margarita Day in Austin

No doubt you’ve got your favorite place in town to drink a margarita, whether that’s at a Mexican food joint like the inimitable Matt’s El Rancho or at a cocktail bar like Backbeat where the margarita is going to be one classy drink.

You’ve also probably got your preferences for how you like to drink it: on the rocks or frozen, with a salted rim or without, or served in some crazy way — with a floater of beer, perhaps, or maybe with strawberries instead of limes. (Or how about with this Ancho Chile Reyes liqueur for a blast of heat?)

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Whether you like your margarita frozen or on the rocks, Austin restaurants like El Mercado will have them for you on National Margarita Day.
Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Whether you like your margarita frozen or on the rocks, Austin restaurants like El Mercado will have them for you on National Margarita Day.

However you like your margarita, just make sure you have one today, on this most auspicious of fake holidays, the one and only National Margarita Day.

Here are some Austin bars and restaurants where you’ll be able to take advantage of this very big excuse to drink. (Not that we, in Texas, ever need a reason to have a margarita, of course.)

The Brixton: It’s a full-on fiesta at the East Sixth Street bar starting at 4 p.m. today, when the Brixton will have complimentary chips, salsa and crock-pot queso on hand for you to enjoy with frozen margaritas, which are on special all night.

Corner at the J.W. Marriott: This hotel bar specializes in tequila cocktails, so you can bet the margarita is good. For National Margarita Day, Corner is offering $2 off its signature drink, the Corner Marg, with Sierra Vieja Reposado Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, agave syrup and lime. The deal lasts all day.

Curra’s Grill: Arguably one of the most classic margaritas in Austin is Curra’s bright green avocado margarita, but the Mexican restaurant on Oltorf Street has a variety of other ones to try as well, like the Lucky ‘Rita with Suerte Tequila, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice and Jarritos grapefruit juice.

El Burro: One of Austin’s newest Tex-Mex spots, from the team behind neighboring restaurant Vox Table, also has an avocado margarita, with Cimarron Tequila, avocado, cilantro, lime and simple syrup. If you’re in the mood for something sweeter, try the frozen mango margarita instead.

El Mercado: The margaritas are on special tonight in honor of National Margarita Day. So are Mexican martinis, which means you get your pick of tequila cocktails.

El Naranjo: Tequila is essential in a margarita — almost. The only reasonable substitute for the agave spirit would be its cousin of mezcal, which pours plentifully at this Rainey Street restaurant in its most popular margarita. The drink also has muddled serrano peppers, basil agave nectar, lime juice and pineapple juice.

El Sapo: The Manor Road burger bar with a Tex-Mex twist is offering $5 house margaritas from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today in honor of National Margarita Day. Might we suggest the O Gurl, a frozen potion with Chamoy, Mexican candy and the El Chile Group’s signature salt rim.

Contributed by Cultivate PR. Fixe's Abita 'Rita mixes beer with tequila, two favorites of Austinites.
Contributed by Cultivate PR. Fixe’s Abita ‘Rita mixes beer with tequila, two favorites of Austinites.

Fixe: How about a margarita with Southern flair? The Abita ‘Rita highlights a Louisiana favorite, Abita Amber, which is mixed in with Avion Silver, Grand Marnier, lime juice and orange juice.

Guero’s Taco Bar: From 6 to 8 p.m. this evening, sip on margaritas with Dulce Vida Tequila, an Austin-based brand, in the Guero’s garden while listening to tunes from Sun Radio’s musical guests this week, Rich Hopkins and Sour Bridges. National Margarita Day doesn’t get much better than that.

Juliet: A margarita at an Italian restaurant? Go with it. The bar manager is even showing you how to make ’em yourself — one regular, one spicy — in a video on Juliet’s Facebook page, but if you’d rather pair your tequila treat with a heaping helping of spaghetti carbonara, head to Juliet for lunch or dinner today.

Maudie’s: One of Austin’s quintessential Tex-Mex restaurants, which has multiple locations around town, is celebrating with another Austin brand, Dulce Vida Tequila.

Contributed by Picnik. Having dragonfruit in this Pitaya Margarita from Picnik gives the drink its striking color and gives you important nutrients like magnesium.
Contributed by Picnik. Having dragonfruit in this Pitaya Margarita from Picnik gives the drink its striking color and gives you important nutrients like magnesium.

Picnik: OK, a margarita will never be the healthiest item on the menu, but at the paleo-minded brick-and-mortar restaurant on Burnet Road, the Pitaya Margarita, named for the bright pink dragonfruit in it, comes pretty close.

Searsucker: You should have the downtown restaurant’s margarita for its playful name alone. Thankfully, the Jale Berry is also very good and features house-infused strawberry jalapeño tequila with lime, agave and salt.

Trace at the W: The hotel restaurant has one of those crazy twists on the margarita, called the Papa Dulce, that might be fun to try if you’re feeling adventurous, with Z Reposado Tequila, sweet potato syrup and lime. The Living Room Bar at the W will have more traditional margarita offerings as well.

Trudy’s Tex-Mex: A veritable rainbow of margaritas is flowing at all Trudy’s locations on one of the biggest days of the year for the brand, with $4 ‘ritas and $7 Mexican martinis available from 2 to 7 p.m. today.

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Tito’s Vodka throws boozy month-long fundraiser to support Amplify Austin

Contributed by Tito's Handmade Vodka. This February, enjoy a vodka cocktail made with Tito's at select bars and restaurants in Central Texas and you'll be helping contribute to a big giving initiative, Amplify Austin.
Contributed by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. This February, enjoy a vodka cocktail made with Tito’s at select bars and restaurants in Central Texas and you’ll be helping contribute to a big giving initiative, Amplify Austin.

Austin’s annual day of online giving is returning at the beginning of March — but in the meantime, local spirits brand Tito’s Handmade Vodka is starting the philanthropy early with cocktails for a cause.

Tito’s has partnered with the nonprofit I Live Here, I Give Here to help raise additional dollars for the organization’s biggest fundraising event, Amplify Austin, which takes place March 2-3 this year. And Tito’s needs your help to give big bucks.

Through Feb. 28, participating bars and restaurants in the area will be offering cocktails made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka. One dollar from each of these drinks will be donated to Amplify Austin, and the big-hearted Tito’s brand then plans to match that donated amount up to $10,000. Ultimately, that means Tito’s boozy initiative will give up to $20,000.

These funds will go toward Amplify Austin’s Stretch Fund, which “is spread evenly on a pro-rated level to all 700+ participating nonprofits. The more funds that these nonprofits raise on their own, the larger the portion of the stretch fund they receive,” according to a PR representative with I Live Here, I Give Here.

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The organization launched Amplify Austin to increase philanthropic efforts in Central Texas. Anyone can give by going to amplifyatx.org from 6 p.m. March 2 to 6 p.m. March 3, finding their chosen nonprofit and donating through an online form on the site. This year, I Live Here, I Give Here is hoping to raise more than $9 million for more than 700 nonprofits in seven Central Texas counties, including Travis, Hays, Williamson and Burnet.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka has supported Amplify Austin in the past — though not nearly so extensively — and has also given money to flood relief efforts and other causes, such as Emancipet.

Here’s the list of participating bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a Tito’s drink. (Note: This list isn’t comprehensive.)

  • FoxHole Culinary Tavern
  • Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen (at downtown location only)
  • Lustre Pearl East
  • Moontower Saloon
  • Reale’s Italian Café
  • Red Shed Tavern
  • Spider House Café & Ballroom
  • Tap 24
  • Third Base (at all 3 Austin locations)
  • Trackside
  • Waterloo Icehouse (at 360/Capital of Texas Highway location only)
  • Zelicks Icehouse (in San Marcos)