No doubt you have a favorite drink at each of your oft-frequented Austin watering holes. Maybe it’s a spicy margarita on the rooftop patio of El Alma. The creamsicle-like frozen Orange Whip amid the Violet Crown Social Club’s dive bar vibes. Or simply an unfussy pint of local lager in the front beer garden of the Draught House.
Whatever it is, you’re probably missing it right now — not just the drink itself, but the whole essential experience of enjoying it surrounded by friends and some dozens of other locals, string lights stretched across branches of nearby live oaks above you, hopeful dogs at your feet.
But with bars and restaurant dining rooms closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, we can only recall those happy hours with a pang of longing.
Actually, we do have one boozy compromise until these places open again, sometime, we hope, in the not-too-distant future. Austin360’s new series, Austin Cocktails at Home, features cocktail recipes from beloved, temporarily shuttered local bars — a new one every Thursday. To start, we’re running a recipe from one downtown cocktail den that makes some of the best mixed drinks in town.
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The Roosevelt Room has become known for its thoughtful, often complex recreations of classic cocktails, but this original concoction is simple and calls for only three ingredients and a Topo Chico bottle. (You already have a whole case of those in your fridge, right?) Note that liquor stores are considered essential, and some, like the local Twin Liquors, now deliver.
Crafted by the Roosevelt Room co-owner Justin Lavenue, the Death Valley is what you might call a Texas twist on the classic Death in the Afternoon cocktail. Yes, that means it has absinthe in it, but don’t worry — the ever-lingering idea that this green-hued spirit causes hallucinations is incorrect.
"It won't make you go crazy, but its high ABV will definitely make you drunk when consumed in large quantities. But isn't that what we're here for?" Lavenue said.
In the case of the Death Valley, there’s only one ounce of absinthe, not a high enough quantity to leave you feeling too toasty. That amount should be enough, however, to tell you if you like the anise-flavored absinthe if you’ve never had it before.
1 12 oz. bottle Topo Chico
1 oz. Kubler Absinthe
1/4 oz. lime juice
Open a bottle of Topo Chico and pour about 1 1/2 oz. of sparkling water out of the bottle. Add the absinthe and lime juice.
Insert a straw. Garnish with a lime wedge (inserted into the neck of the bottle, pinning the straw in place).
— Justin Lavenue
Have a cocktail in mind that you’d like to see featured in upcoming Austin Cocktails at Home installments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.