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You can buy this rad bottle of one of Austin’s most exciting new spirits

Arianna Auber
aauber@statesman.com
Desert Door wanted to highlight the uniqueness of the spirit inside the bottle by making sure the vessel stands out on store shelves. Buy the bottle to try Desert Door sotol at home in cocktails like the Cafe Driftwood.

If you haven’t heard of Texas sotol, you likely aren’t alone — the rustic spirit made from a relative of the agave plant has mostly been produced in the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango.

But the Dasylirion plant also known as Desert Spoon is prolific in West Texas, and a local distillery, Desert Door, has been cultivating the scrubby, spiky plant to transform it into a funky alcoholic liquid that the Desert Door founders say is a truly Texas spirit.

As of last week, bottles of one of the two variations — Desert Door Original Sotol — are now available in 750 ml blue ceramic bottles at retail shops and dining establishments in Austin and San Antonio. The more limited Desert Door Oak-Aged Sotol is only available at the Desert Door tasting room in Driftwood but will be distributed later this year.

It’s an exciting step forward for Desert Door’s three co-founders, military veterans who met during an entrepreneurship class at the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business and discovered they could regularly make something virtually no other Texas distillery has yet: a spirit made from a wild West Texas plant.

Desert Door opened its doors late last year, offering sips of the drink on its own or in cocktails in a charming tasting room with West Texas vibes.

“We’re excited by the reception Desert Door has received, especially within the industry. Just to hear people talking about Texas sotol has been an extreme pleasure,” Judson Kauffman, founder and partner at Desert Door, said in a press release.

The Desert Door Original Sotol is an organic spirit with a vibrant grassy aroma and a funky flavor that reminds you sotol is a distant cousin of the more well-known tequila and mezcal. More so than the Desert Door Oak-Aged Sotol (which you’ll want to drink neat), it’s ideal for cocktails that visitors to the tasting room can now replicate in their own homes. 

To that end, find it at liquor stores like the Austin Shaker and J&J Spirits. Or, if you’d rather try it at Austin bars and restaurants, places like Contigo, ATX Cocina, Fonda San Miguel and the newly open the Brewer’s Table now carry it.

Want to get experimental with it at your home bar? Here are a couple simple cocktail recipes, as found with additional ones on the Desert Door website

Desert Paloma

1 1/2 oz. Desert Door Original Sotol 

1 1/2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice 

1/4 oz. agave nectar 

Splash of soda 

Dash of bitters 

Squeeze of lime 

Combine all ingredients except soda into shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 8 to 10 seconds. Fine strain in rocks glass. Add fresh ice, top off with soda, and garnish with a grapefruit wheel.

Cafe Driftwood

1 ½ oz. Desert Door Original Sotol 

1 oz. Caffe del Fuego Coffee Liqueur 

1/2 oz. orange liqueur 

Lemon squeeze 

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 8–10 seconds. Fine strain into coupe glass. Garnish with large orange peel laid across back of glass with pulp side facing upwards with star anise, coffee beans, and a black cherry.

—Desert Door Sotol

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