From stage to bar: “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails now unmasked

A new staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” will keep Austin audiences in suspense this week while it performs through April 30 at Bass Concert Hall.

Try “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails at El Chile Group restaurants through April 30. Pictured is the Night Rose from El Chile.

Plus, cocktails inspired by the mysterious masked man at the opera house will keep the thirst of the musical’s biggest fans at bay. The show’s sponsors have teamed up with El Chile Group to provide “Phantom”-inspired cocktails at all of the company’s Austin restaurants: El Chile and El Sapo on Manor Road, Alcomar on South First Street and El Alma on Barton Springs Road.

The drinks will be available for as long as the production is in town, through the end of April.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh, who first created “Phantom” with Webber, has reimagined the musical — about a masked man who haunts the halls of an opera house where singer Christine tries to make her big debut — to have vastly different staging, while keeping the music and the script mostly the same. Read our story about the dazzling production ahead of going to see it.

Here are the four “Phantom of the Opera”-inspired cocktails that you can try during the respective opening hours of the restaurants.

  • El Alma: El Fantasma (The Phantom) with La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila, Jimador Silver Tequila, hand-squeezed lime juice, blood orange, agave simple, and a black and white salt rim.
  • El Chile: The Night Rose with blueberry and juniper-infused Jimador Reposado Tequila, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, rose water, agave simple, lemon juice and a pink salt rim.
  • El Sapo: Phantom of the Sapo-ra with strawberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry-infused Tito’s Vodka; lemon juice; house-made ginger beer; and Chambord
  • Alcomar: Midnight Masquerade with Jimador Reposado Tequila, house blackberry puree, lime juice, triple sec, mint-infused agave simple, pink rock salt rim and candied blackberry

Want to make one of your own at home while watching Joel Schumacher’s extravagant cinematic take on the “Phantom,” with Gerard Butler in the title role and Emmy Rossum as Christine? Here’s one of the recipes.

El Fantasma

1 1/4 oz. La Pinta Pomegranate Tequila

1/4 oz. El Jimador Silver Tequila

1/4 oz. blood orange pureé

1/2 oz. fresh lime juice

3/4 oz. agave simple syrup

Shake all ingredients together and strain into a chilled coup glass garnished with a half white salt, half volcanic black salt rim. (To make the agave simple beforehand, combine 1 cup agave nectar, 1 cup hot water in a pan and stir to dissolve.)

— El Alma

“De-hazed” New England IPA, 8 other beers to celebrate release of new Austin Beer Guide

I’ll be blunt: You might have other ideas about how to spend the night of April 20. But just in case you’re not all about cannabis culture, Austin Beer Guide is throwing its spring/summer release party at the Draught House.

For beer lovers, that’s the place to be on Thursday, when the Austin Beer Guide authors will celebrate the debut of another free issue exploring local beers and the beer community. Several special brews from Austin producers are going on draft, including a collaboration between the Draught House and Austin Beer Guide called Don’t Haze Me Bro. The clarified IPA, done in the juicy style of a New England IPA, will come with free glassware if you order it.

An Chih Cheng / American-Statesman. The Draught House is once again the site of the Austin Beer Guide release party.

Another beer to watch for is Friends & Allies’ new Kick Start Belgian Golden Ale with Flat Track Coffee. That will also be on tap on Saturday during the East Austin’s brewery’s grand opening celebration, but you might want to relish the unusual style early. In it, notes of berry, apple and pear mingle with hints of dark chocolate.

Plus, North by Northwest and Last Stand Brewing have collaborated on Mr. Rogers, an imperial pale lager with Citra and Mosaic hops that the two breweries created for Dripping Springs’ Founders Day this weekend.

Here’s the full list of beers to enjoy starting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

  • Draught House/Austin Beer Guide: Don’t Haze Me Bro
  • Blue Owl Brewing: Saison Puede Farmhouse Ale
  • Hops & Grain: Dispensary IPA
  • Jester King: Super Ultramega Hyperforce
  • Friends & Allies: Kick Start Belgian Golden Ale with Flat Track Coffee
  • North by Northwest: Mr. Rogers Imperial Pale Lager
  • Last Stand Brewing: Oatmeal IPA, double dry-hopped with Citra and Simcoe hops
  • Zilker Brewing: Hellsner, a step-mashed summer lager
  • Independence Brewing: Illustrated Man Dark Sour

For more information about Austin Beer Guide, visit

UPDATE: Texas breweries could be forced to pay distributors for taproom beers

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. The 5,000 sq. ft. taproom at Oskar Blues Brewery regularly hosts philanthropic events and live music shows, but a new bill threatens its longevity.

UPDATE: The controversial Texas bill aiming to regulate the growth of the state’s breweries passed the Texas House of Representatives this weekend and faces a Senate vote later this week.

HB 3287, vehemently opposed by Texas craft brewers and pro-business groups, underwent key changes before being passed overwhelmingly in the House. Now, breweries like Oskar Blues making 225,000 barrels of beer per year or more are able to operate taprooms, but they must sell their beer to a distributor first and then buy it back for sale in their taprooms. The payment is essentially a tax on brewery sales.

The legislator behind the bill, state Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, argued that it prevents mega breweries from gaining too strong a hold in Texas, but the opposition from state brewers believe the bill actually hurts their small businesses.

An amendment to allow sales of beer to-go in the taproom was proposed but ultimately did not pass. Texas winemakers and distillers are able to sell their products directly to customers for off-site consumption, and the state remains the only one in the U.S. that does not allow to-go taproom sales.

EARLIER: Texas brewers have been pushing for a number of beer-related bills to become state law — namely, that production breweries will be able to sell beer to go from their taprooms — but one of the first pieces of legislation up for debate might actually put some of those taprooms in danger of disappearing in their current form.

House Bill 3287, which has the full support of distributors, seeks to change the language of Texas law that allows breweries making no more than 225,000 barrels of beer per year to sell beer directly to consumers in their taprooms. That number is measured based on production at a single location, but the bill and its sister Senate Bill 2083 would now count premises “owned  directly or indirectly by the license holder or an affiliate or subsidiary.”

In other words, “if a brewery is financially connected to another brewery (either in or out of state), then the production at all breweries is considered when totaled and compared to the 225,000 barrel cap,” according to Texas Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Charles Vallhonrat. The organization, created to lobby for the interests of Texas craft brewers, came out against HB 3287 at a committee hearing last night.

The bill immediately affects three Texas breweries, including Austin’s own Oskar Blues, a brewery with additional locations in Colorado and North Carolina. DFW’s Revolver Brewing and Houston’s Karbach Brewing, purchased last year by MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev, respectively, also don’t make the cut.

Locally run Independence Brewing, which received an undisclosed investment from California’s Lagunitas Brewing last summer, may also feel the sting of the bill if it passes, but the language is too ambiguous, Vallhonrat said, to say for sure.

Authored by Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, HB 3287 appears primarily to benefit distributors in the state. They worry that the purchase of Revolver and Karbach by very large beer conglomerates harms the three-tier system ruling the flow of alcohol from producers to retailers to consumers. Distributors are the middlemen bringing the beer from the breweries to bars and stores, where customers can then purchase it.

With AB InBev scooping up Karbach, which has a restaurant and biergarten serving 2,000 to 3,000 guests per week, distributor trade groups Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas and the Beer Alliance of Texas argue that the beer behemoth is able to sell beer directly to consumers.

“The main issue is to defend the system from larger breweries entering all three tiers,” Keith Strama, counsel for the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, said at the committee hearing. He added that not doing so could cause a vertical monopoly.

But that’s not how organizations like the Texas Craft Brewers Guild see it.

“This approach is like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly,” Josh Hare, owner of Hops & Grain and board chairman of the guild, said at the committee hearing. “We believe there is a better path for protecting small businesses in Texas without immediately placing a ceiling on their growth potential.”

His brewery — which is opening an additional facility in San Marcos that will still put Hops & Grain well under the 225,000 barrel cap — isn’t directly affected by HB 3287, but Vallhonrat said there’s an intangible downside to the bill as well.

“All manufacturing breweries operating tap rooms can and should consider their tap room as a major asset of their business,” he said. “Independent of any outside interest from a larger brewery to acquire one of our members, the fact that it could, and has, happened means tap rooms have distinct value. That value can be used in seeking other lines of funding or credit, despite being quite intangible. By eliminating that asset from even a theoretical transaction, something of value is being taken away from our members.”

The guild is most worried about Oskar Blues Brewery, which chose to open a new facility in Austin last year because of the city’s quirky, irreverent vibe and deep love of live music. Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis said at the hearing that he wouldn’t have considered the move if this bill had been in the works back then.

Other large craft breweries won’t consider an expansion here in the future, either, Hare said.

“Taprooms have become an integral part of brewery culture, but most importantly, they’re the most effective, direct and hands-on way that we can market our product,” Katechis said. “If (HB 3287) passed, I have to think we’d be forced to lay off at least some of the employees that work there. I don’t understand how that’s even conscionable.”

The bill is a similar blow to Karbach Brewing, which co-founder Ken Goodman outlined in both a Houston Chronicle editorial and at the hearing, sparking a slightly combative tone throughout the remainder of it by making a heated comment about the United Airlines controversy last week that resulted in a passenger being forcibly removed from a plane.

“I don’t know what United Airlines passenger felt like, but I know what I feel like getting punched by this legislation,” he said. “This bill puts me out of business immediately.”

Second Bar + Kitchen launches happy hour at revamped downtown bar

When fine-dining restaurant Congress closed at the end of 2015, making way for an expansion of sister spot Second Bar + Kitchen, the bar that connected them, Bar Congress, shut down, too.

But the recently renovated space is back as the Second Bar and has begun offering happy hour every weekday from 4 to 6 p.m., with a small selection of cocktails that you can only order during that time.

Photo by Jody Horton. Second Bar + Kitchen’s famous black truffle pomme frites are on offer during the new Second Bar’s happy hour.

The cocktails range between $5 to $7, and happy hour specials also include a $1 off draft beer and half-off select bottles of wine. Pair those with snacks like black truffle pomme frites, bacon-wrapped dates and flank steak satay while you sit in the bar or on the outdoor patio that faces the bustling Congress Avenue.

Here are those happy hour-only cocktails. Thirsty yet?

  • Bennett: choice of gin, vodka or tequila with lime juice and peel, turbinado and Angostura bitters
  • Sidewinder’s Fang: Kong’s Island Spice Rum, passionfruit, orange and citrus with tiki preparations
  • Brown Derby: Kentucky bourbon, honey, grapefruit and lemon
  • Normandy Sidecar: Cognac & Calvados, Cointreau, lemon and a fine sugar rim
  • Shandy: Miller High Life pony with lemonade

Second Bar + Kitchen and the adjacent Second Bar are located at 200 Congress Ave. The former Congress is now Congress Hall, a private dining and events area with an airy, modern design aesthetic that mirrors Second Bar + Kitchen.

For more information, visit

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp on Tour to make an Austin stop in June

One of America’s most respected breweries continues to build camaraderie and friendship among brewers — rather than the competition that befalls many industries — with its Beer Camp series, a line of collaborative brews released as a variety pack every year.

Another big component of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp is Beer Camp on Tour, an 8-city beer festival extravaganza coming to Austin this year on June 24. The California brewery is teaming up with the Texas Craft Brewers Guild to bring hundreds of craft beers to Carson Creek Ranch from both local and national breweries, with profits from the fest benefiting the guild and its mission of advancing the interests of the state’s small and independent brewers.

Sierra Nevada has collaborated with breweries around the states and the world for its Beer Camp Across the World pack of brews.

“Beer Camp showcases the art, spirit and attitude of craft beer, and everyone’s invited — brewers and fans alike,” according to Sierra Nevada.

At Austin’s Beer Camp on Tour, you’ll be able to taste each of this year’s Beer Camp brews, created by Sierra Nevada and 12 collaborating breweries. These beers include the Dry-Hopped Berliner-Style Weisse made with Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing and the East Meets West IPA made with Massachusetts’ Tree House Brewing.

New this year, Sierra Nevada also collaborated with several international breweries, such as Ayinger Brewery and Duvel Moortgat.

In addition to those beers, Beer Camp on Tour has invited breweries from the state and beyond to pour at the festival. Taste suds from Lorelei Brewing in Corpus Christi, Absolution Brewing in California, Oak Highlands Brewery in Dallas and new Austin brewery Orf Brewing, as well as many more.

For Sierra Nevada, it was a no-brainer to select Austin as one of the cities for Beer Camp on Tour, “as one of the most social craft beer communities in the nation.”

Tickets for the festival, which starts at 5 p.m. on June 24, are on sale now and range from $40 (designated driver) to $75 (one-hour early access). There are also $55 general admission tickets. Beer Camp on Tour will have live music and food trucks in addition to plenty of brews.

For more information, visit

At Alamo theaters, colossal Real Ale beer made for Anne Hathaway flick

Photo by Heather Kennedy. Real Ale has made Seoul Crusher, a saison with a Korean twist, as a tribute to the new film “Colossal.”

Austin’s coolest theater chain is offering another limited film-inspired beer produced by a local brewery — this time, Real Ale Brewing.

Real Ale created Seoul Crusher, a saison brewed with rice, fresh ground ginger, lemon peel and just a hint of Korean red chilies, as a tribute to the upcoming oddball mash-up of monster movie and romantic comedy “Colossal,” starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. The beer is only on tap at Alamo Drafthouse locations and a few other places across Texas.

Without revealing too much about the movie, already getting favorable reviews from critics, we can say that Real Ale made the beer to nod at one of the main settings of “Colossal,” South Korea, where a Godzilla-like creature is wreaking havoc. (What might that have to do with Anne Hathaway’s Manhattan blogger Gloria? She might somehow be causing all that chaos.)

Seoul Crusher — a brilliant pun of a name — is “a traditional saison with a Korean twist,” Real Ale’s head brewer Schmitty Schmitterson said in a press release. “Colossal helpings of fresh ginger and lemon peel add additional layers of complexity to an already flavor-intense style rife with notes of herbal citrus and a spicy dryness.”

That sounds just about as delicious as watching Hathaway face off with Sudeikis’ bar owner character, Oscar. The brewery only made 60 barrels of the saison, so make sure you order some at your local Drafthouse while it’s still available.

The saison isn’t the first time the Drafthouse has featured film-inspired brews front and center on its menu.

The beer-loving theater chain also collaborated with Independence Brewing at the end of last year on End Credits, a chocolate hazelnut porter, and with Austin Beerworks earlier last year on Everybody Wants Some, a dry-hopped Texas Common, in addition to others. The theater brought Uncle Billy’s “Hell or High Water” tribute, a prickly pear lager, to the taps as well.

6 dog-friendly bars in Austin where you and your pooch can hang out

Having a dog means that you’ve always got a friendly face happy to see you when you come home — but it also means that sometimes you’re limited in where you can go out, if you don’t want to leave your four-legged buddy behind.

The Rainey Street beer bar Banger’s is a magnet for dogs because of its expansive outdoor area.

Austin, thankfully, is a big dog-loving city with ample parkland, like Zilker Park, where they can run and play. And many of the local bars, with spacious patio areas, are happy to accommodate your pooch while you can lounge with friends. Here are a handful of those places.

Yard Bar

6700 Burnet Rd.

If there was any hangout in town intended just as much for the pooches as for the humans, this one’s it. Yard Bar opened in summer 2015 as a combination dog park, bar and restaurant — with the outdoor patio seating where you eat kept separate from the large, wide-open play area for the dogs — and has since proven to be a delight for both owner and pet.

The canines have tennis balls to catch, obstacles courses to work out and toys to play with, all under the supervision of watchful Yard Bar employees. You can join them in the fenced-in park, sipping a canned beer purchased from the inside bar, or take refuge at one of the picnic tables under a set of leafy trees outside the park. That’s where classic snack and pub food, like spicy deviled eggs and a fried chicken sandwich (called the Yard Bird), keeps us as happy as our pups.

Hops & Grain founders Josh and Meg Hare named two of the brewery’s beers after their dogs.

Hops & Grain

507 Calles St., #101.

The East Austin brewery doesn’t have a very large outdoor area, but make no mistake — Hops & Grain loves all of our four-legged friends. Founder Josh Hare and his wife, Meg, have two of their own and even named two of the brewery’s most well-known beers after them: Pale Dog, now part of the seasonal roster, and The One They Call Zoe, arguably the most beloved Hops & Grain brew.

Plus, Hops & Grain offers brew biscuits in the taproom made from spent grains. So while you’re drinking the latest Greenhouse IPA, your dog has a pretty special treat of his own as well.

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden

79 Rainey St.

While you sip on some rare small-batch brew only available at a few bars around town, your furry friend can romp around in the off-leash dog park at the back of the beer garden or simply sit at your feet.

The Rainey Street bar also regularly hosts Mega Mutt Monday, which brings in various canine-related vendors, plays live music and has all-day happy hour each time. This month’s event is from 6 to 9 p.m. on April 17 and will have YoDawg Snackery, Dawgtown, Ruff Adventures Photography and more offering their wares and services, along with tunes from the Rollfast Ramblers.

Banger’s recently announced a multi-million dollar expansion that will add 15,000 sq. ft and more than 200 taps to the beer bar. No doubt the massive increase in space will be a boon to the dogs, too.

The Little Darlin’

6507 Circle S Rd.

Live a little south of town? Welcome to this relatively new dog-friendly haunt off South Congress Avenue and East William Cannon.

A far South Austin dive with locally sourced food and drinks, the Little Darlin’ opened last spring as the brainchild of a group of experienced bar owners who knew exactly what the area needed: a bar that feels more like an old friend’s home, with an expansive backyard, a covered patio with TVs and a split-level interior with booths, pool tables and cold Austin beers. The backyard also has washer and horseshoe pits and — perhaps most importantly for us — lets in dogs on leashes.

Dog House Drinkery

3800 County Rd. 175, Leander.

People who live north of town don’t have to drive too far to find a prime pooch-loving place, either, thanks to Dog House Drinkery. The 2 1/2 acre hangout got its start with a large dog park and then added food and drink for the humans. Enjoy those — either beer or wine, and then comfort food like burgers — in a wood-walled bar area covered in funny canine-related sayings (“In dog beers, I’ve only had one”). In there, your pet can stay with you.

But if you’d rather be outdoors with your dog, that’s an option with a choice of three dog parks: the main one (a half-acre off-leash area) and additional ones specifically for small dogs and for special events like adoptions and training. The main park, helpfully, provides easy access to the bar.


1305 W. Oltorf St.

The South Austin brewpub offers a great many wondrous things for locals: constant live music; easy-drinking house beers like the Hell Yes Helles; mouthwatering pizzas, salads and sandwiches; and myriad events including fundraisers for one of Austin’s biggest nonprofits, Austin Pets Alive. At those fundraisers, the ABGB often has a small-batch American pale ale on tap whose proceeds benefit APA — a series of beers cleverly called the APA!APA series.

On other days, of course, the brewpub and accompanying beer garden is still a very dog-friendly place; like fellow brewery Hops & Grain, the ABGB also has dog biscuits on hand and dog bowls for water.

The ABGB often holds events that raise money for local dog rescue organizations, in particular Austin Pets Alive.