How do I like to spend a Friday evening? Typically with my husband and a tasty adult beverage—wine, beer, cocktail, or otherwise. Last Friday, we found occasion to unwind from the week perched on the cushy barstools at Fino’s bar. Not exactly in our neighborhood, but we were looking forward to a few creative concoctions from Austin’s local cocktail guru, Bill Norris.
Though cocktails are hardly a new invention, if you get out much, or if you’ve happened to read just about any lifestyle magazine in the past few months, then you’re aware that for some time now, the classic cocktail has been making a comeback in the States from coast to coast. In the past few months, Gourmet, Food and Wine, Living, Texas Monthly, and even Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine, Spirit, have all featured different bars and “mixologists” who are tinkering with Manhattans, Daiquiris, Gin Fizz’s, and the Pisco Sours—pretty much anything that was made after the 1887 release of the Bar-Tender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas and before Prohibition ended in the States.
Bill Norris, is just one of those tinkerers and if you’re feeling adventurous, take a seat at the Fino bar and ask him to make you one of his favorites. You won’t be sorry…
Norris was in good form Friday night serving up a few new items on the cocktail menu.
First up was the Cedar Fever. A bright and perky gin-based drink served “up” with Hayman’s Old Time, St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur, a touch of Peychaud’s, and a peculiar liqueur called Zirbenz Stone Pine (as the name suggests, it has a strong pine fragrance and taste, but balances well with the St. Germaine.) Those afraid of gin should try this drink. It will change your opinion. It looks like a pink cosmopolitan but has a much more complex flavor. It’s clean, smooth, not too sweet, and tastes a bit like a fragrant spring rose with a kiss of citrus.
As a native of New Jersey, Norris was happy to pay homage to his home Garden State with a rich and layered drink including New Jersey-made Laird’s Straight. The Manzanal may show up on the summer menu, but would actually be a fantastic winter holiday drink best enjoyed curled up next to a fire, or as winter’s go in Texas, sipped on the back porch in a light parka. Partnered with nutty Nux walnut liqueur, maple syrup, golden raisin tincture, bitters, and a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg, this dark and mysterious beverage is quite a treat.
Strong and smoky are the best words to describe this little number. I like it when a cocktail packs a punch with flavor and this one leaves quite an impression. Norris uses smoky Sombra Mezcal, green chartreuse, Benedectine, and a squeeze of Meyer lemon for this, the “ultimate” in power cocktails. Yum.
2905 San Gabriel Street
Austin, TX 78705