We are entering into summer, a time of year that the rest of the country knows as one of the “four seasons,” but what we Texans recognize as a months-long affair to be survived by engaging in one of the traditions we’ve perfected: backyard barbecues, pool parties, and imbibing cold drinks (doing all three at the same time is what we call the Texas Trifecta). As an assist, here are eight new Texas-made libations perfect for sipping all summer long.
White Rabbit White Ale, Independence Brewery
Earlier this year, Austin-based Independence Brewery released their popular Belgian-style white ale in cans. And thank goodness for that: it makes it much easier to tote along to your favorite lake, river, pool, or swimming hole. This medium-bodied has fruity notes of citrus, orange peel and spicy coriander.
Live Oak Pilz, Live Oak Brewery
Yes, the discerning palate might prefer an ale for its nuances of flavor and complexity, but when it comes to the brutal Texas heat, there’s really no substitute for something crisp and refreshing, like a well-made Pilsner. This lager-style beer made in the traditional Czech fashion is made with cold-fermenting yeast yielding a cleaner, smoother beer. It’s crisp and clean with a mild hoppiness and subtle malty flavor that makes it among the best in the state.
Tepache Especial, Argus Cidery
We Texans are certainly more accustomed to beer, but it’s worth noting the growing list of ciders hitting the shelves around the state. Argus Cidery was among the first in Central Texas making a limited variety of sophisticated dry apple ciders—not the syrupy sweet stuff you may be used to seeing at bars. This summer, they released something altogether new; a sparkling pineapple wine they have aptly named Tepache Especial after a popular Central American fermented pineapple beverage. Produced with both wild and commercial yeasts, this unusual drink has a rustic feel that offers distinctive pineapple and spice aromas while giving a zesty, minerally palate and a savory salinity to the finish. If you’re looking for a sweet cider, this is not your summer drink. The Tepache is bone dry and best enjoyed ice cold.
Gold Top Cider, Austin Eastciders
If you’re more interested in a traditional apple cider, Austin Eastciders hit the mark late this spring with their Gold Top cider. Made in a more restrained pre-Prohibition style using bittersweet apples, this cider has a smoother, drier taste than most commercial apple ciders, with just a hint of sweetness.
Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
Last year, Deep Eddy Vodka eased us into summer with the dangerously delicious Ruby Red Vodka infused with Texas-grown grapefruit. This year, they’ve added another juicy addition to their lineup with their new Cranberry Vodka. On it’s own, this souped-up spirit packs quite a punch with a strong, concentrated cranberry flavor. Be sure to dilute it in some way either as a layered cocktail or simply with a one-to-one ratio of Topo Chico and a squeeze of lime over ice.
The latest addition to the world of Texas-produced gins, Austin Reserve exhibits a distinctive six-botanical blend that includes the obligatory presence of juniper berry plus rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, grapefruit peel, and pink peppercorn. This particular gin works well as base spirit for cocktails (like adding Maine Root Ginger Beer and a squeeze of lime).
Swim Spot Vinho Verde, Lewis Wines
Texas has no shortage of celebrated swimming spots round the state, which is what inspired this particular wine. From Hill Country producer Lewis Wines, this light and refreshing white wine is like the popular Portuguese vinho verde style, using Blanc du Bois and Chenin Blanc for enticing floral aromas and a crisp, citrusy palate that has a hint of effervescence. Despite its pretty characteristics, this is a casual wine without any pretense. Don’t be afraid to serve it with a few cubes of ice in a Solo cup while floating in a cool spring-fed swimming hole —we won’t judge.
Les Copains Red, McPherson Cellars
Red wine isn’t always thought of as the best summer sipper. In fact, we’d much rather suggest a good rosé to pour for even the staunchest red wine fans. But McPherson Cellars has stumbled onto something pretty enticing with its recently released Les Copains Red, a blend of Red Rhone varietals including Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Carignan. Together, this blend reveals a medium-bodied wine that is fruity, yet dry with a touch of earthiness. As counterintuitive as this will sound to red-wine drinkers, chill it for about 20 minutes before serving (reds are meant to be served at room temperature in places where it’s 65 to 70 degrees—which is not Texas).