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Vino Vino launches summer menu, pays homage to local bartenders

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Ever wanted to gather the best local bartenders in one room and have them mix cocktails for you?

It’s not quite the same experience, but the new summer cocktail menu at Hyde Park’s Vino Vino features a section of drinks from a handful of Austin’s best and brightest.

Contributors include Houston Eaves of Esquire Tavern in San Antonio, Chris Bostick, formerly of the Varnish in Los Angeles, Justin Elliot of Qui (formerly of the Volstead Lounge), Gabe Harrelson of Weather Up, Francisco Terrazas of Fino and Vino Vino’s Mike Cecelski.

Bar Manager Brian Elder said he got the idea during a visit to the Esquire Tavern in San Antonio last summer. He noticed a guest section of cocktails featuring Austin bartenders. “It resonated with me that even outside of Austin, these friends of mine were gaining notoriety. Also, I thought it was cool of the Esquire to make that connection to Austin people.”

Many bars around the country (including Austin’s Midnight Cowboy, who had one for a long time, but recently dropped it off the regular menu) feature a standing section of guest cocktails on their menu as a way to pay homage to their industry colleagues. In a world where recipes are recycled and re-interpreted rampantly, it’s refreshing to see bars giving credit where credit is due. It’s also fun and interesting to see where a given bar might be looking for inspiration and influence.

Aiming to do something similar with the menu at Vino Vino, Elder asked a handful of friends for their favorite summer cocktail and variation on the recipe. He said he was “blown away by the response. It is personally very humbling and satisfying to have these truly talented people contribute to our list.”

Each of the drinks on the Vino Vino menu present a twist on a classic cocktail, from a Margarita and Mint Julep to the Singapore Sling and Last Word, which will be sold for $10 throughout the summer. Elder believes the interpretations show a level of sophistication and mastery that only comes with experience and experimentation.

“The Milan Julep, for instance, is very akin to other drinks that I have created recently,” he said. “I love the sparing use of Zucca that gives the drink its biting, refreshing finish. It is a perfect summertime drink in that it is both bold and clean, which leaves one’s palate wanting for more.”