What was your first job in the beverage or hospitality industry?
I didn’t come to the food and beverage industry in the most traditional way. I had never actually worked in the industry at all, when I opened a cocktail bar called Anvil Bar & Refuge with Bobby Heugel and Kevin Floyd [in 2009].
What is your favorite spirit to work with at the moment?
Right now, I’m really leaning into and enjoying all of the new sotols coming into Texas from Northern Mexico, as well as the new ones popping up from distilleries around Texas. The flavor profiles are so complex and change drastically from producer to producer. We’ve had a lot of fun exploring how sotol plays as a base spirit in a wide range of classic cocktails.
Miss Carousel recently launched a new menu of ‘90s club cocktails; how are the 2022 versions reimagined?
We thought it would be fun to take a hard look at some of those popular cocktails that we now consider to mostly illicit an eyeroll. What we found is that inherently they’re not bad ideas, they were just executed poorly — bad ingredients to start with, poured with too much sugar, and no balance. Our approach is actually pretty simple: don’t take ourselves too seriously, use amazing ingredients and fine-tune the details to get a balanced and interesting drink.
Why do you think there’s such interest in these sweet, boozy and kitchy cocktails today?
I think people are worn out on the pretension that has become the norm in the modern cocktail movement. I think these drinks were lovable to start with and just circled the drain when people tried to make them as cheap and fast as possible.
Sugar and acid getting too much of a heavy hand speaks to modern America’s disposition of loving sugar in insane quantities. Hopefully we are moving away from that, but we really try to strive for balance. Not too much of anything, and just enough of everything.
What has been the most popular cocktail at Miss Carousel?
From day one, it’s actually been our Gin & Tonic, which we treat in a slightly Spanish-inspired way. Our base is a great London Dry-style gin from The Marfa Spirit Co., Suze, Falernum, clarified lime juice, elderflower tonic and basil — served in a big fishbowl-esque glass with a ton of big, beautiful clear ice. It’s complicated but still easy and refreshing.
What’s your own current go-to cocktail or beverage?
At home, I’ve been consistently making Sotol Rickeys. They’re pretty much the predecessor of the modern day Ranchwater. They’re super simple — chilled sotol, fresh lime juice and Topo Chico, built over a generous amount of ice in a highball glass.
Would you share one of your favorite drink recipes?
For sure. Our Eight Row Flint Ranchwater [at Agricole Hospitality’s whiskey/beer/taco bar Eight Row Flint] has been a customer favorite for years.
Eight Row Flint Ranchwater
- 2 oz. Sotol
- 1 oz. Fresh lime
- ½ oz. Lime oleo saccharum*
- Topo Chico mineral water
- Grapefruit peels
- In a tall Collins glass (12-14 oz.), combine sotol, lime juice and lime oleo.
- Fill to the top with ice.
- Stir to chill.
- Fill to the top slowly, with chilled Topo Chico.
- Garnish by expressing the oil into the glass of three fat grapefruit peels.