It should be pretty apparent by now that Texas is a mecca of great craft beer, but as amazing as Saint Arnold and Real Ale are, no man can live by beer alone. That's where Texas distilleries come in. Texans love to drink and we have a drinking culture all our own, from Mexican martinis to Dos-a-ritas to absolutely ridiculous bloody marys, Texans love liquor. So if you want to drink like a Texan, but aren't into beer, here is a little how-to guide for you, and a few drink recipes. Scroll to the bottom of the post for recipes.
Whiskey and Bourbon
First let's get the debate out of the way, all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon, and yes, bourbon can be made outside of Kentucky. In 1964, the government outlined the U.S. Standards of Identity for what constitutes bourbon, the requirements of which were outlined in an article in Texas Monthly. Here are some Texas distilleries that make excellent bourbon and/or whiskey:
Garrison Brothers - Located in Hye, Texas, deep in the heart of the hill country is Garrison Brothers Distillery whose focus is on whiskey and bourbon.
Balcones Distilling - It's somewhat surprising that such a successful distillery would come out of the same city as one of Texas's premier Baptist universities, but Balcones Distilling has flourished in Waco. Balcones offers several different liquors including whiskey, bourbon, rum and a tempting spirit called "Rumble" that consists of fermented Texas wildflower honey, mission figs and turbinado sugar.
Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling - This San Antonio "brewstillery" makes a variety of whiskeys and their signature Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Ranger Creek has a number of drink recipes on their blog, including the Ranger Creek Tea Tapper, which was featured in San Antonio magazine.
Firestone & Robertson - Located in a prohibition era warehouse in downtown Fort Worth, Firestone & Robertson makes artisanal bourbon and whiskey from a mash that uses a proprietary wild yeast.
Vodka and Gin
Tito's Handmade Vodka - Operating since 1997, Tito's is located in Austin and focuses solely on making smooth vodka. Because he got started making vodka by infusing flavors into other brands, the aptly named Bert "Tito" Beveridge doesn't make flavored Tito's to sell, but he did post several videos on the Tito's website explaining how you can make flavored vodkas yourself.
Deep Eddy Vodka - Named after the famed Deep Eddy swimming hole in Austin, Deep Eddy vodka is distilled 10 times and charcoal filtered. Some of the flavors offered include ruby red grapefruit and sweet tea.
Dripping Springs Vodka & Gin - Touted as a natural vodka, Dripping Springs distills its liquor 20 times in 50-gallon micro batches using copper pots. They use non-GMO corn and make their products gluten free. Dripping Springs vodka is distilled in the town of the same name in the Texas Hill Country.
Savvy Vodka - The founder of Savvy vodka, Chad Auler is a sixth generation Texan and distills his vodka using water from the spring below Fall Creek Ranch.
Pura Vida - This Houston-based tequila was named for the popular Costa Rican phrase, "pura vida," which translates to "pure life." Pura Vida tequila was founded in collaboration with the famous Vivanco family from the Jalisco region of Mexico and utilizes generations-old tequila distilling traditions.
Izkali Reposado - Named for the Aztec word for life, Izkali Reposado was founded by a Houston couple intent on raising the bar for tequila standards in the United States. Currently, Izkali is only sold in Houston.
Paula's Texas Orange - This one is not tequila, but it goes so well with tequila that it just had to be grouped here. Paula's Texas Orange is actually more of an orange flavored limoncello (the standard margarita liqueur is triple sec) and it makes any Texas margarita outstanding.
All the rest
Treaty Oak Distilling - If you wonder why Treaty Oak Distilling has been relegated to the "all the rest" portion of the list, it's because the small Texas craft distilling company has too many liquors to pigeonhole into one category. The Austin-based distillery offers not only bourbon, but several different kinds of rum, vodka and gin as well. The label is named for the famous oak tree under which Stephen F. Austin met with Native American chiefs to negotiate boundary treaties.
Spirit of Texas Distilling - Texas rum at its finest, Austin-based Spirit of Texas Distilling has created a light and a dark rum that are both to die for. The small company consists of three men and two homemade stills. Its small size didn't stop Spirit of Texas from pioneering the first ever pecan-infused rum to create their signature Pecan Street rum, named for Austin's famous Pecan Street (that's 6th street to non-Austinites). The light rum offered by Spirit of Texas is called Straight Texas Silver.
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