When the owners of one of Austin’s favorite local watering holes invited us over for an exclusive holiday cocktail making class, we immediately jumped at the opportunity. Located just a few blocks from home, Drink.Well has become a personal favorite bar + restaurant of mine… but after our team spent a few hours in a crash course taught by owner-mixologist Jessica Sanders, I’d say we all developed a new found appreciation for their crazy delicious drinks. As always, we thought we’d make a party of it and invited our team to don their glitziest garb for a truly holiday feel, then asked Paige Newton to snap up photos of the fun. We learned so much, and best of all, picked up a handful of craft cocktail recipes that we’ll be serving repeatedly this season!

Drink.Well opened in North-Central Austin about a year ago with the mission of serving up super high quality cocktails in a fun, neighborhood environment… without taking themselves too seriously!

“As with cooking, it all comes down to using the best possible ingredients — responsibly and naturally produced spirits, fresh-squeezed juices and local produce and herbs when possible.”

“Don’t spend $40 on a bottle of good gin and then not have the right gear to play with it. Hit up a restaurant supply store and invest in a proper set of cocktail tins, a couple of bar spoons, a Hawthorne strainer and mixing pint glass.”

Our first cocktail of the evening (and my personal favorite) was the Prancer’s Punch — aged rum, apple cider, demerara syrup, fresh lemon juice, and allspice dram. Punches are perfect for holiday entertaining because you can fill up a punch bowl or drink dispenser, then – as Jessica says – set it and forget it.

“Find amazing vintage bar tools and glassware at your local vintage shops. In Austin, Room Service and Hog Wild on North Loop have a great selection.”

We each took turns playing mixologist… Martha Lynn looks like a natural, don’t you think?

Next was the Autumn of ’75, a delicious blend of gin, cranberry-pear shrub, St. Germain Elderflower Liquer, and Argus Sparkling Hard Cider

As any holiday party would have it, we allowed time in between “courses” for chit chat and toasts.

The decor was simple: gold tinsel draped on walls and surfaces, with a festive red runner and scattered Christmas ornaments on the table.

Our third and final libation was the Gin Gimlet, made of gin and house made lime cordial.

“The Gimlet is a great example of the importance of fresh ingredients — rather than using Rose’s Lime Cordial (an artificial product that’s been on the shelf for who knows how long), make your own cordial with fresh limes and juice. Then, you can experiment with different herbs for variations, like tarragon, basil and cucumber.”

I’d be remiss to forget to mention Drink.Well’s stellar dinner menu. With simple and delicious pub food, a few rounds of shared apps were just what we needed after downing some serious cocktails.

Jessica’s advice: “Find one cocktail that you love – a martini, an Old Fashioned, a Gimlet – whatever it is and become obsessive about it.  A cocktail can be a woman’s best accessory in the right circumstances and is a great opportunity for self-expression.” Now that’s a lesson I can remember!

For favors, we each went home with a personal bottle of Drink.Well’s house made lime cordial so we could mix up our own gin gimlets.

photos by Paige Newton Photography

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