Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ho, Ho, Ho, and a Bottle of Rum!

Tis the season to eat, drink, and be merry! As 2010 draws to a close, we look back with sincere gratitude for the support we’ve received from all of you. Thank you for an amazing year, and we look forward to toasting to the New Year with you in just a few weeks!
In the meantime, whether you love cold weather or simply tolerate it, these holiday-inspired cocktails are sure to warm you up!

Hot Dulce de Leche

Heat 1 cup milk and 3 tbsp dulce de leche in a saucepan. Whisk until frothy. Add a 1 oz Treaty Oak Platinum Rum and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Heat 3oz chopped Mexican chocolate in a saucepan with ¼ cup water until melted. Add ¾ cup milk, whisking. Add 1 oz rum and ½ oz chocolate liqueur. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Angry Elf

Shake ½ oz Treaty Oak Rum, ½ oz Crème de Menthe, and ½ oz Crème de Cacao with ice. Strain into a shotglass rimmed with sugar – bottoms up!

Peppermint Rumtini

Shake 5oz Treaty Oak Rum, 1/2oz Peppermint Schnapps, and 2 oz Crème de Menthe with ice. Strain into a sugar-rimmed martini glass and garnish with a candy-cane.

Graham’s Texas Cider

Warm equal parts Graham’s Texas Tea and Simply Apple Juice (or apple cider) with one cinnamon stick. Best served with chestnuts roasting on an open fire!

Santa's Helper

1.5 oz Treaty Oak Rum
.5 oz Praline Pecan Liqueur
1 Egg White
1.5 oz Promise Land or Horizon Organic Egg Nog
1 Tsp Ibarra Chocolate
1 Tsp Cinnamon

Shake Treaty Oak Rum, Praline Pecan Liqueur, egg white, egg nog, and Ibarra chocolate with ice. Rim a martini glass with the Ibarra Chocolate and Praline Pecan Liqueur, strain into the martini glass, sprinkle with cinnamon and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Graham’s Texas Toddy

Add 3 oz hot water to 3 oz Graham’s Texas Tea. Add a cinnamon stick, a squeeze of lemon, and honey to taste. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tea Time

Texas and sweet tea just go together – so when we decided to develop a sweet tea vodka, we expected it to go over well - but since we launched Graham’s Texas Tea over Memorial Day Weekend, even I have been excited by the response. A few sweet tea vodkas have hit Texas liquor store shelves over the past year, so it was important to us to use high quality ingredients and keep the price low... so that’s exactly what we did. 

The “sweet” in our sweet tea vodka comes from pure cane sugar.  I tried using several different sugars and honeys, but finally landed on pure cane sugar because it is cleaner than the alternatives (such as the widely used high-fructose corn syrup) so that it actually complements the flavor of the vodka and tea instead of covering them up.  

The tea turned out to be the most important of the three ingredients, and selecting the right tea turned out to be harder than I first thought. I tasted between 40 and 50 different types of tea trying to figure out in which direction we wanted to go – and I now know more about tea than I ever thought possible. It was during this time that I met Jeffrey Lorien of Zhi Tea in Austin; after many discussions and tastings, we decided to go with a Nilgiri tea.  What appealed to me were the Nilgiri tea’s intense flavors, strong fragrance and a balanced body.  It's starkly different from the American and English breakfast teas most are used to - one smell of our Texas Tea and you can tell the difference.  

We bring in vodka that has been distilled and filtered four times, then put it through our own proprietary polishing process resulting in one of the cleanest, simplest vodkas I've ever had.  To make our Texas Tea, we steep the tea leaves directly in the vodka, so creating a vodka that didn't have a burn or big nose but still had a smooth taste was key. 

Part of the beauty of Graham’s Texas Tea is how simple it is to enjoy with its own pure flavors (just add water!) or you can get creative and mix it with lemonade or your favorite fresh fruits. Our distiller, Chris Lamb, came up with a great recipe called the Texas Fuzz.  It's pretty simple - muddle the tea with peaches and mint, strain over ice and top with a splash of still or sparkling water. 

Look for us at most Austin liquor stores and all across Texas – and comment below to let us know how you like to serve the tea!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Let there be spice!

We’ve been spending a lot of time over the past year or so spreading the word about an increasingly popular cocktail – The Pepperita.  Put simply, the Pepperita is a Texas take on a traditional daiquiri. Here’s the recipe:

2 oz Treaty Oak Platinum Rum
1 oz agave nectar
1 oz fresh lime juice
3 fresh jalapeno slices
3 oz club soda

Shake first three ingredients with two of the jalapeno slices.  Strain over ice, top with club soda and garnish with remaining jalapeno slice.

The drink was an immediate hit for us as it allows the taste of our rum to come through, is easy for people to make at home but different from the usual drinks of choice and the jalapenos give it an undeniably Texan vibe.  People always ask about how I came up with a drink like this, but the truth is...I didn’t.  Curtis Cheney did.

I met Curtis a few years ago while drinking Lone Stars at Hotel San Jose.  Turned out that we both had a love for food and drinks, so we became fast friends.  We’ve stayed friends and he’s currently the head bartender at Del Frisco’s Steakhouse in Fort Worth (phenomenal food if you haven’t been there).  Back in 2009, I called Curtis up to meet Joshua Holland and me at an event called ZestFest.  I had talked the folks with ZestFest into giving us some time on stage to talk about our product and let us work our mixology magic. 

Curtis agreed to come up with a few drinks for the show – kind of a fire and ice direction was agreed upon.  Needless to say, the self-proclaimed "Pepperheads" at Zestfest where all *HUGE* fans of the Pepperita.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Here’s a video of Curtis making the Pepperita for the first time....

As always, thank you all for your support and, if you haven’t tried one already, go have a Pepperita! If you’re here in Austin, you can find one of the best ones at Jack Allen’s Kitchen down in South (and it goes great with the fried ribs).  They're also a tasty partner for the chile con queso with veggie chorizo at Curra's. 

-Daniel Barnes

p.s. - If you're not in the Austin area, here are a few more places you can find the Pepperita:

San Antonio


Fort Worth
Del Frisco's

Bar Boheme
Canyon Creek
Cedar Creek
Hotel Derek- Valentino
Bar Retro
Community Bar
Kublai Kahn

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Well, hello!

We've decided to start a blog here at Graham Barnes Distilling to keep everyone updated on what we're up to going forward.  However, I think the first few that we'll be putting up will be an attempt to get everyone caught up on how we got to where we are now.  We released our Treaty Oak Platinum Rum just short of three years ago, roughly three years since we had decided to start up our distillery. We've since gone on to release our second product, Graham's Texas Tea, we're moving into a new distillery about four times our current location and are working on releasing an aged rum and a blended whiskey over the next year.
We're family owned - my wife Rachael and her mom Christy, along with Bruce Graham, Christy's husband - make up the ownership.
Luckily for all of us, Bruce has a background in both engineering and loving to restore cars - the perfect combination for designing and building both of our stills.  On the other hand, I had been a homebrewer for many years as well a big-time wine nerd.  Recipes and 'product testing' fell in my direction.
For those of you that don't know me, my name is Daniel Barnes.  I'm a sixth generation Texan that grew up in Menard, Texas, a small hill country town, where my parents ran a motel and restaurant.  I take care of running most of the business dealing with the distillery, along with Joshua Holland (our jack-of-all-trades lead distiller), Chris Lamb (Joshua's brother who is taking over a lot of our distilling), Craig Sherlock (he's our brand ambassador here in Austin - kind of like Face for the A-Team) and Eric Thornton (he runs our tasting department).  You'll be hearing from everybody on our team as we release future blogs.
I'll try to cover as many of our back stories as I possibly can, and spend a lot of time focusing on where we're heading.  Plus, we'll release some specials on different cocktails people have created with our spirits.  We'll be trying to open our doors up for tours before the end of the year, so I look forward to having a "block party" once we've got that ready.  I'll be filling you guys in on how we got this all started the next time I get around to knocking out another blog entry.