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Sean visits two Texan mixologists who are making unique smoked cocktails inspired by the traditions and flavors of beloved local BBQ institutions.

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Transcript

- I'm Shawn Thomas and this is Local Flight. A show where I travel around to some of the best bars in the country, to meet amazing mixologists and challenge them to create innovative cocktails using unique local ingredients. People here in Austin have a reputation of being laid back, but when it comes to food and drink, they know how to get serious. At Bar Congress, award winning mixologist, Jason Stevens emphasizes house-made ingredients to come up with some of the most exciting cocktails here in the Lone Star state. Nice to meet you. - Pleasure to meet you, man. - What a delightful bar. What are you guys all about here at Bar Congress? - Bar Congress focuses a lot on house-made ingredients, kind of a spoke boutique spirits as well too. - I'd love to try something on the menu. - I'm going to recommend for you like a light, summery bourbon sour we have called the Lincoln Knot. For this guy we're using about an ounce and a quarter 10 year aged bourbon. A French Aperitif Rosé. We're using about an ounce. We're using a tiny bit of tart German cherry syrup, a little under a quarter ounce right there to give it body and a little flavor. - [Shawn] Do you guys make that in-house? - [Jason] We do, yes. - [Shawn] Great. - [Jason] Fresh-squeezed lemon juice. We use a little bit of pastis, we use Herbsaints and just four drops in there. - [Shawn] Okay, is that similar to Absinthe? - There's some stylistic differences but ultimately, as far as flavor goes, it's fairly similar. Using a little bit of it actually boosts red berries and red fruits and so that cherry flavor becomes more cherry, without it becoming super . And then finally, dash it off with a little bit of Peychaud's Bitters. That Peychaud's Bitters helps bring out a little bit more of that Herbsaint aspect in there as well too. - [Shawn] Yeah, awesome. - Give it a bit of a shake. Double stream. Garnished with a lemon flag right there. - [Shawn] Great. And a little cherry? - [Jason] A little cherry too for the . - [Shawn] Cheers. - [Jason] Cheers. - Thank you very much. That is a summer cocktail. - Yes, it's super light, refreshing. - The bourbon and the fortified wines, since they're, you know, they're nearly equal parts, it's really easy drinking. Lemon and the cherry, drive the acidity. - [Jason] Very much so. - [Shawn] Nice highlights of that Herbsaint and creole spice It's solid. - Thank you very much. - Absolutely. Talk to me a little bit about the drinking culture here in Austin, as you see it. - Austin has a dynamic drinking culture, it's a merge of being like a really culinary-driven city, we have seen a giant resurgence of cocktails coming through Austin and a ton of great cocktail bars have opened up throughout the space. It's ambitious and adventurous and that's the way we'd like to see it. The spirit that he bartenders put forth comes across with the customers very well. - One of the ideas I have about the American south, that goes hand in hand with porch drinks, is Texas style barbecue . - Oh, 100%, yeah. - So I'm going to head to this local company by the name of Stubb's-- - Of course, yeah, you have to go to Stubb's. - They've been here for a long time and I'm going to try to find the ingredient that captures the essence of Texas style barbecue. - I like that. - I'll bring it back here and see what you can do with it in a cocktail. - Sounds great, I love a challenge. - Texas is full of famous grill masters so I had to stop by Stubb's Barbecue, an Austin staple since 1968. Rocky Stubblefield invited me to taste some of his famous smoked briskets, seasoned with one of Stubb's secret recipes. Hey there, smells great in here, whatcha got cooking up? - Brisket came just in time, it's actually about to come off now. - Oh perfect. - Let's get some out. - Alright. Wow. - There you go, that was smoked for 12 hours. I'll give you a good slice here. You wanna try this one out? - That looks incredible, thank you so much. No utensils needed for this, unbelievable. What goes in to making such a delicious barbecue meat like this? - Well you know, Texas is known for brisket and to make this particular brisket, we rubbed it with our beet rub, then it goes into the smoker and it cooks for 12 hours. So you know, we pretty much sit it in there and forget it. Until the next day. - Yeah, slow roast is it? - Yes, low and slow, that's the Texas way. - That's awesome, that's awesome. And what was in the spice rub that you put on there? - Let me come around there and talk to you about it. - Alright, great. The man, the myth, the legend, Stubb's. - Yeah, Stubb's, that's my granddad. - And so how did he get his start, as a grill master, or was he making sauces right off the get-go, or what's the history behind it? - No, he was a cook in the military but he had his own restaurant, he started in 1968 in Lubbock, Texas. - [Shawn] Okay. - Once he got to Austin is when he actually started bottling the sauces. - And it slowly became sort of a specialty of his? - Yeah, he actually started, he was selling out the back of his Cadillac, you know, and it just grew and grew and now, you know, we sell it pretty much every state, every store, even overseas. We make barbecue sauces, marinades, spice rubs, and liquid smoke. We have a total of 25, 26 different items. - [Shawn] Wow. - [Rocky] Ours are all natural, you know, my grandad just pretty much, you know, what he had in the kitchen he threw it in a pot to make his sauce and we've kind of kept it like that. - That's awesome. Well, I'm looking for an ingredient that I can take back with me to make a cocktail. - Liquid Smoke, you know, I think that might be perfect, a lot of people don't have grills so they want to get that smoke flavor in their meat or in their stews, you know, just a few drops of liquid smoke and you got that smoked flavor. It's actually a natural process and I can show you how it's made. - Cool, lead the way. Alright so. - This is our Stubb's smoker, you know, we got mesquite wood over there in the firebox. To make liquid smoke, you're going to take a pan with a hole in the middle, like this, and just a glass lid that you can put on top and you're actually going to sit it on top of the chimney right here and what you're going to do, you're going to take some ice and just sit it on top of here and it's actually going to cool that lid off and as the smoke hits that lid, it's going to condense, and the droplets from the lid are going to drop down in the pan and that's liquid smoke. - No impurities, none of the ash or tar or anything from the wood comes up? - Yep, all of that will be left over there in the smoker. - Wow. - Just pure liquid smoke. - You aint kidding, it's a very pure, natural product. Let me get that for you. - [Rocky] Alright, you see we got a few drops there. - Alright, here goes nothing. Yeah, nice char and it tastes exactly like, I imagine, what mesquite wood would taste like. I think this will play great in a cocktail so, do you have anymore that I can take with me? - Actually, I have a bottle here, this is actually what we make at our plant. - That's great, well I want to thank you for your time, Rocky, it was a pleasure. I think it's great you're carrying on your grandfather's legend so, thanks for sharing. - Alright, thanks for stopping by. - Absolutely. Who knew liquid smoke was so simple? The flavor is so concentrated with the mesquite wood, I'm excited to see how Jason mixes this into a drink. - It's like just smoke. - Yeah, and they use mesquite wood, so it has a little bit of that mesquite-- - Oh, that's fantastic. - [Shawn] Flavoring. - Yeah. - What are your initial reactions? - You know, we've been playing around with a house kind of lightly smoked Chamoy. - Chamoy? - Chamoy is a sauce that you'll find in Central America. So, to start off, we're going to use some vodka and we're going to do a standard cocktail pour of an ounce and a half of this right here. We're going to do some smoked Chamoy, so we're going to do about an ounce of this right here. We make ours in-house, I use fresh apricot preserves, fresh squeezed lime juice, and dried, smoked morita chiles. Kind of that sweet, spicy, tangy sort of thing, all in one. We'll use roughly an ounce of ginger water as well too. We're going to use just a small dash of this Chinese Five Spice Bitters, it's very strong, very flavorful, if I put too much in there, it will blow this thing up. And then, I think this stuff, since it is so strong, I'm just going to use a few drops of it. Give it a good shake. - [Shawn] Crushed ice? - [Jason] We're going to do crushed ice on this one right here and provide the needed dilution as the drink goes on. And then to reinforce the Chinese Five Spice element of it all, I'm using a fresh shiso leaf, if you're not familiar with shiso, it's kind of a Japanese basil. - [Shawn] Sure. - [Jason] It's more black pepper to it all. - [Shawn] Thank you very much. - [Jason] You're welcome, cheers. - Can't wait to see what it tastes like. Wow. That Chamoy and smoke really go hand in hand. - [Jason] They pair beautifully. - Savory, smokey, it would pair really well with any kind of food, even barbecue I feel like. - I think so too. - The barbecue notes aren't too much that it would, you know - Very cool. - That's delicious. - Thank you so much, I appreciate it. - Solid work. Alright, so the last order of business is we need to name your cocktail. So what do you think? - Well usually in this situation, if you offer me a challenge, I challenge you to come up with the name. So, what do you think? - Okay, alright well, it has some Asian flare, it's Tex Mex, it's definitely inspired by Texas barbecue, I think it's an ancient Chinese proverb, where there is smoke, there's fire. - Wow, that's perfect, yeah, 100%. - Where There's Smoke, There's Fire. - I love it. - Delicious drink. - Thank you so much. - Jason, thank you. - Pleasure meeting you. - It was a pleasure being here, I wish you well and until next time. - Yeah definitely, hope to see you soon. - Alright, cheers. - Cheers. - [Shawn] When you think of Dallas, you may picture long-horned steers, or the hustle and bustle of an international travel hub, but not necessarily craft cocktails. Well at Parliament, bartender extraordinaire, Eddie "Lucky" Campbell, is working to change that by bringing sophisticated ingredients and a flare for the theatrical to the glass. How are you doing? - Hey, how you doing there? - Good, just another day at the bar huh? Look at that knife, that's huge. - That's an old Japanese ice saw, we're just getting the ice block ready here. - That's so awesome. - Hey, doing great-- - I'm Shawn - Pleasure, Eddie. - Eddie, nice to meet you. So tell me a little bit about the bar, I love the design, the wall paper, the ceiling is so great, did you design it yourself? - [Eddie] My partner and I did. So we took a lot of inspiration from old bars of the Avant-garde Period in Europe, but at the same time, we wanted it to have the same welcoming quality of like a French sidewalk cafe bistro. - I definitely get that vibe. It sounds like you're actually trying to give people a history lesson while they're coming in here to enjoy their cocktails. - Thanks for noticing. So, in the efforts of being both the neighborhood bar and a great cocktail lounge, our bartenders do serve as educators. They need to find some information out from that person, what they like and then they not only make the cocktail, but they tell them why they're making them that cocktail. - Makes sense, I'd love to try one of your drinks that just gives me an idea of what you guys are doing here or bar program philosophy wise, do you have something in mind? - Sure I do. So this is an old classic from New Orleans, that we do very well here, the Ramos Gin Fizz. - I know this drink well, I'm a huge fan of a Ramos Gin Fizz. - [Eddie] So let me show you what we do with the Ramos. - [Shawn] Please do. - [Eddie] One egg white. - You got steady hands, there's no way I could one hand an egg. - [Eddie] One ounce of lemon juice, two ounces of Bombay Sapphire Gin. - [Shawn] Now if my history is accurate, I think this started off sort of like a brunch cocktail. - [Eddie] Well it sure turned into that and even still the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel, you can see everybody gathering there in the mornings for Ramos Gin Fizzes. - [Shawn] Cream? - [Eddie] Yes sir. Two ounces of heavy cream. One ounce of simple syrup. - Is that your orange blossom water? - [Eddie] Orange blossom water here. Its very strong. Ice. So a lot of old cocktail recipes say shake vigorously, with the Ramos I say shake until your arms fall off. - Look at how frothy your tin is, I think that looks ready to go. - [Eddie] A few ounces of soda water. - [Shawn] Man. I feel like I could actually stand on that foam, it's so thick. - [Eddie] How about a little taller? Here you go my friend. That is a true Ramos Gin Fizz. - Thank you, Lucky. Lucky, I'll tell you, I've had Ramos Gin Fizzes in New Orleans, this one definitely holds up, if not better with the presentation of just the giant cream head that it has. It's a awesome combination of the effervescence from the soda, you get all that nice, soft, creamy lusciousness from the cream, it's no wonder that people keep coming back for these because they're on point. - Thanks bud. - Part of the reason why I'm in Dallas, I really wanna try to find something that captures what's unique to Dallas. So, do yo have any ideas as far as where we could go to draw some inspiration or find an ingredient or something along those lines. - Absolutely! Texas is know for berries, probably some of the best juiciest berries in the world and we do barbecue real good. - [Shawn] Really? - Yeah. - Consider me intrigued because just the combination alone, berries and barbecue, is definitely something I've never heard of before so. - All right let's go get them. - Lets go get some Texas inspiration! Just 80 miles east of Dallas, in Van Zandt County, some of the juiciest berries anywhere are being grown at Blueberry Hill Farms. We're heading that way to meet owner, Chuck Arena and taste what he's got on the vine. - A lot of people say that you grow the best berries in the world. - Well, I love hearing that but you'll never hear me say that. We're looking for this row up here and we're gonna find some really nice big blue ones. - [Shawn] Great. - [Eddie] What type of blueberries are these? - Well this variety is called Climax, blooms first, full of sugar, look at the size of these berries right here. - [Shawn] Whoa! - You're gonna pick the biggest, they'll roll right off of the cluster, you wanna leave the reds and greens, I need those next week to make money. And if you're gentle with the cluster, you just get the blue ones. - It's just straight sweetness. - And that's because we let them ripen on the bush because a blueberry does not get get any sweeter once picked - Is there anything that you've learned from tending these berries in all the years that you have? - You have very little control over nature and you should go with it, not against it - [Shawn] I like that! - [Chuck] So the blackberries are growing. - Well they certainly are. Look at this guy down here. - [Chuck] Yeah, see how big and plump it got! That's what you're looking for right there, that's a nice clean berry. - [Chuck] Oh yeah, that should be good. - I think I see one here too. - [Chuck] You gotta eat a few and pick a few. - [Eddie] Oh my god! - [Chuck] Huh, isn't it good? - That's the juiciest berry I've ever had. - Impromptu blueberry competition right now. I'll start, ready? - You think you got me huh? Oh yeah, there's no way. No he didn't, no he didn't! - I got it! Go ahead Lucky. Looks like we got a good amount here, you think this is enough for what you need. - [Eddie] Yeah man, we can make some cocktails with that. - [Shawn] Fantastic! I had no idea such sweet berries grew in Texas, but when it come to our next ingredient, there's no question, Texas does it well. At Pecan Lodge in the Deep Ellum neighborhood, locals line up in the street for a taste of the legendary barbecue smoked meats that owner Justin Fourton brings to the table. - What's up, good to see ya! - [Eddie] Nice to see you bud, how you doing? - He's just been screaming from the rooftops about this place, I'll tell ya. It smells incredible and it's packed! - I don't think there's a better smoker in the world than Justin right here. Dallas will put him up against anybody in the world. - That looks so incredibly good! - [Eddie] Look at this brother. - The anticipation is killing me. All right, I'm gonna start off with the brisket, which I feel like I can just cut with a fork, in fact, I can just cut with a fork. That is silly! - Isn't that something. - That's just incredible! - Oh my god the flavors! - The man himself, Justin, this is just insanely good. Job well done. - [Justin] Thank you. - I get a little starstruck when Justin's around. - How did you get into the barbecue smoking business, opening up you own restaurant. - It's always been kind of a passion of mine and we were lucky enough to be able to turn it into a business - It is a booming business if you ask me. - So, Justin what I need your help with here, is we are doing a smoked cocktail, I was hoping to use a kind of wood that you think would match better with that sweeter side. - We've got two kinds of wood here, the hickory and the oak and the hickory has more of a peppery quality but the oak is really nice and mild, there's some buttery components there that I think that would work real well. - How secret and safeguarded is your smoke room? - We don't let a lot of people in there, for the most part, but I'm happy to take y'all back there and show you what we do. - [Eddie] I feel like we're entering the secret lair. - [Justin] Well this is it. - [Shawn] This is the best smelling sauna I have ever been in. Whoa! - [Justin] Those are cooking for tomorrow. - [Shawn] That's awesome! - They're traditional pits, they're wood burning, there's no gas, no electricity, no thermostats, everything is controlled manually by the amount of wood that we put in and-- - We call that old school. - It's totally old school. We've got some of the pork vats that are going. You get a lot of the moisture in there. - Wild! - One of the main things that separates barbecue from just normal grilling is, where the fire is located, you can see here, the fire is completely separate from the meat and then all that you have going into the pit where the meat is cooking is the heat and the smoke. Its a gentler way of cooking and a lot of people will throw additional things into the fire box - So you can actually spice the meat without actually adding spices directly onto it - Exactly. - Is there anything that you would recommend that might add flavor to the smoke so the smoke has another smell to it? - I mean the first thing that came to mind is maybe the apple peel, you can probably get a little bit of that burning in there, it's a little bit drier than the meat of the apple. - That's a good idea. - Awesome! You're probably changing the game of mixology and you don't even know it - As long as I get to drink the end product, I'm good. - Would you pick us out a good piece of oak that we could take with us. - [Justin] Maybe start with this one, it will be easy to kind of peel off some of the little pieces for the bowl. - Oh, phenomenal! Hand selected by the man himself! - Justin, thank you so much your food is amazing! - This was such a treat man! - Thanks for having us. With delicious berries and oak for smoking in hand, we're heading back to Parliament to see what Lucky can cook up. Well Lucky, that was the most delicious field trip I have ever been on. - We've got a great Texas berries here from Blueberry Hill Farms and then we've got this great piece of oak from Pecan Lodge. I think we're gonna go with a more contemporary style cocktail and a little more composed cocktail here. I'm recommending we use a little Grey Goose Le Citron. - Yeah. - Alright, and I think the lemon is going to help lighten that smoke flavor. - [Shawn] Okay. - I wanna get started here right now by soaking some of the wood right in here. - A wood infusion? - That's exactly right. Lets break off a good piece here. - Well I've heard of people barrel aging in wood, never infusing in wood. - So it would be the some concept, the flavor should be a little more immediate and it will bring a slight tinted quality to the spirit here. Alright, so we're gonna start by muddling some berries here. Two black berries and four blueberries. - Got it, and the nice thing too, they were so fresh they're not gonna add a pronounced tartness. - These have no tartness to them whatsoever. Alright, this is yuzu juice, we're gonna do three quarters ounce of yuzu juice. - [Shawn] That's a decent amount of yuzu. - And this is our ginger thyme apple syrup, we're gonna do three quarters of an ounce of our ginger thyme apple syrup. - [Shawn] Okay. - [Eddie] Two ounces of our oak infused Grey Goose Le Citron five drops of Rum Spiced Bitters, known as Decanter Bitters. This is a little coffee tincture and I just use a couple drops of that to kind of just mellow out the spices. - [Shawn] Is there any methodology behind why you're stirring? - Generally as a rule, you shake citrus, but I didn't want to beat up those berries so I just wanted to slowly stir all those things together. So, we're gonna fine strain out all of that berry pulp and get this beautiful purple iridescent hue to our cocktail we've got out cocktail composed and ready, now we're gonna get our glassware ready, it is a globe, we're gonna add our garnishes now, blueberries, get our lemon peels wrapped around in there nice, thyme and some diced apples floating in our cocktail. - I like the color composition, it's gonna look like a cornucopia in a snow globe. - [Eddie] Lets bring our cocktail in over the garnish. - [Shawn] Crushed ice? - Mhm. Some absinthe mist. Okay, so now we're gonna smoke it. So this device is called the Smoking Gun. So we've got some oak loaded in there and Justin, over at Pecan Lodge, kind of inspired me by saying that, you know, you could add a little flavor over the wood chips, so I did a little orange, I just wanted a little citrus zest to kind of come thorough and lighten that smoke up a little bit. - [Shawn] Great. That's so cool! You look like a mad scientist right now. - Alright, we wanna cap it pretty quick to preserve all of that great buttery oak-y smoke. All right my friend, let's see how that turned out. - I mean the smell is-- It smells just like the Pecan Lodge, it's just oak-y - It's something else man. Pretty neat. - All those flavors really do work together, nothing really overpowers the other. - It's pretty wild. - Its a really well balanced cocktail, considering there is all these components so. I say job well done man. - That's great. - So last order of business, this creation needs a name. - I think we call it Storm on Earth. - I mean with all the components it is like a world of flavor and the smoke, yeah, Storm on Earth. And you made it work well so, who knew, berries and smoke. - Berries and smoke. - Not me. Thank you for showing me Dallas and I hope you had as much fun as I did. - Very cool. - Cheers man. - Cheers to you bud. - Thank you.