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

Austin distillery creates unusual product, Martine, a honeysuckle liqueur

Knox Photographics. The Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur is a sweet new product that adds dimension to a variety of cocktails, but it's also tasty on its own.
Knox Photographics. The Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur is a sweet new product that adds dimension to a variety of cocktails, but it’s also tasty on its own.

The intensely fragrant honeysuckle plant is common in Texas, but no one had ever tried to distill the sweet taste of the nectar into a liqueur until now.

Martine is the new honeysuckle liqueur from Texacello, a small distillery known for making Paula’s Texas Orange and related products. The co-owner of the business, Gary Kelleher, also produces Dripping Springs Vodka and two Dripping Springs gins with his brothers in their San Luis Spirits distillery, and he’s become known for tinkering with new ideas like Martine, his mind abuzz with what to do next.

He had been thinking about creating a honeysuckle liqueur for awhile, thanks to happy memories of being a boy and plucking the honeysuckle flower from its stem to drink up the nectar within it — memories that evoke feelings of first love and summertime, he says — so he began playing around with early versions of Martine.

That was five years ago. The recipe took half a decade to get right because Kelleher wanted it to seem exactly as though he’d bottled up honeysuckle from his garden.

“Creating new liqueurs and liquors is something I love to do, but this one was hard to get right,” he says. “On the one hand, I wanted it to have the flavor of honeysuckle that’s in the blossom, but the other thing was that I wanted you to be able to taste what you get when you smell honeysuckle. So I wanted the flavor to include the aroma. Getting those two things balanced together took the longest.”

He won’t reveal the full recipe since there’s nothing like it on the market today, but he will say that it’s an infusion of sugarcane-derived spirits with an emulsion “that is a combo of honeysuckle blossoms, fresh fruits like orange and nectarine, and a blend of botanicals including vanilla.”

The result is undeniably sweet, and there’s only one way to describe it: Martine tastes like honeysuckle, precisely as Kelleher intended, to the point that you can drink it all by itself if you want. It’s meant to also add extra nuance to cocktails, he says.

“I wanted to create something that was delicious to sip by itself and evoked those memories of summertime,” he says. “But at the same time, it needed to be something that would fit into the mixology world. Something that you could use to enhance the flavor of cocktails, to create new flavor profiles with. That was really the idea behind it.”

Wanting it to mix well in a variety of different drinks meant that Kelleher, in the recipe creation process, had additional testing to do — making sure that it enhanced each of the spirits, from gin to tequila to whiskey, without being overpowering.

Right now, as Martine hits shelves, he’s discovering that all that hard work is paying off because bartenders and liquor store owners alike are showing interest in it, and “no one has turned us down,” he says. “It’s shocking; it’s wonderful. It’s a product no one has heard of, but everyone is willing to give it a shot.”

Martine will be pretty easy to find for home bartenders looking for a fresh liqueur to play with: Kelleher says it’s going into Twin Liquors stores, as well as Total Wine & More.

The Martine Cocktail

1 oz. Martine

4 oz. Sauvignon Blanc

Garnish lemon twist

Have the Sauvignon Blanc chilled ahead of time. Fill a wine or coupe glass with the Martine and wine and stir them together. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Como La Flor

1 oz. Reposado tequila

1 oz. Martine

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 tsp. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake. Pour into a coupe glass, sans ice, and garnish with a slice of lime.

— Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur

Try a Moontower Comedy Fest cocktail at the Townsend

Although the Austin Food & Wine Festival was canceled today because of soggy grounds on Auditorium Shores, one festival will lift your spirits up this weekend in its place: the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival.

The fifth annual celebration of live comedy, from Wednesday to Saturday this year, even has a cocktail that you can drink in Moontower’s honor — it was created especially for the festival from one of Austin’s best cocktail bars.

The Townsend's Justin Elliott has created this refreshing drink in honor of the Moontower Comedy Festival.
The Townsend’s Justin Elliott has created this refreshing drink in honor of the Moontower Comedy Festival.

Across the street from the Paramount Theatre, the main Moontower venue, is the Townsend, where Justin Elliott will be offering the Artist’s Lament for $8 starting Thursday through Saturday. The Townsend is serving as another festival venue, with comedians vying for laughs in the bar’s intimate live music room.

The Artist’s Lament, which features Dolin Dry Vermouth, Bigallet Amer China-China, simple syrup, lemon juice and Scotch whisky, is a swizzle drink full of crushed ice and garnished with a mint sprig. Proving he’s got a sense of humor of his own, Elliott created it as a bitter twist on a classic cocktail.

“Loosely based on the classic Artist’s Special, I present — in honor of the miserable lot that we all know comedians to be — the Artist’s Lament,” he said in a press release. “Basically it has a lot of the tasting notes of an Artist’s Special, but it’s way more bitter and it’s definitely smoking about a pack a day.”

Won’t be able to make it to the Moontower Comedy Festival this weekend? Comfort yourself by making the Artist’s Lament using the recipe below.

The Artist’s Lament 

1 oz. Dolin Vermouth Dry

1 oz. Bigallet Amer China-China (a liqueur made from sweet and bitter orange peels)

1/2 oz. simple syrup (which you’ll get by bringing equal parts water and sugar to a boil)

3/4 oz. lemon juice

1/4 oz. Port Charlotte Islay Scotch Whisky

Swizzle ingredients together with crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

— The Townsend’s Justin Elliott

Tickets, including four-day passes, are still available for Moontower, which you can purchase at www.austintheatre.org/moontower-comedy/.