I have returned from my extra long weekend in Austin with my limbs and dignity intact, although I may have put back on some of the weight I’d lost in my Whole30 Challenge.
I ventured on this indulgent four-day trip of eating and drinking with my friends and coworkers Kayla and Josie. In advance of our getaway, our colleagues were taking bets on whether we’d all make it back alive and if so, whether or not we’d still be friends at the end of it.
I’m delighted to report that our bond has only been strengthened over many Uber rides, shared meals, and Instagram boyfriend style photo shoots.
Today’s cocktail, the “Tequila Surprise” is inspired by a fun game that Kayla and Josie created during our time in Texas. The game involves surprising me with a round of tequila shots, now fondly referred to as “sneaky shots.”
In spite of my affections for all varieties of alcohol, I really don’t like shots, especially not of the lukewarm bar rail variety. I prefer to enjoy my booze in the form of perfectly balanced craft cocktails. Also, I don’t care what kind of degenerate you are, a round of tequila shots at brunch is a rude awakening for anyone.
I happened to be the oldest member of our delegation to the Lone Star State and, as such, seem to have a much greater need for naps at regular intervals after a full eight-hour shift of day drinking. On Saturday, we put in overtime on the alcoholism with a flight of cocktails at brunch, followed by a spot of shopping for Western wares at Allens Boots. After we’d pick out a couple of Stetsons and a pair of cowboy boots for Josie, we continued on our merry way with some more cocktails, a round of sneaky shots, then made our way to the Austin Winery to sample four of their finest vintages.
After the wine, I had a good tilt going and retired for a quick nap while Kayla and Josie continued to imbibe while trying to learn a TikTok dance. Once my beauty rest revived me, I took it easy at dinner with a mocktail and mint tea but my companions were undaunted through dinner and into a brief stop at The Continental Club for some honky-tonk music.
Karen, the friendly bartender at The Continental Club spoiled us with a heavy-handed pour and for the paltry sum of $12.75 we walked away with two gin and tonics and one vodka soda, each with about four ounces of alcohol in them.
Our last stop is where things really started to get interesting. Half-Step is a cool cocktail bar on Rainey Street with a variety of classics on tap – like a margarita. There we enjoyed a short-lived friendship with a couple of young men from Mississauga and then, as Mother Hen, I felt it best we retire for the evening.
Josie and Kayla were not so inclined. Once we’d left Half-Step, as we stood on the sidewalk, my compatriots approached with a pitch. The key tenets of their case were as follows, “Yvonne (name pronounced as Uh-Vonne), we want to go to one more bar. It’s our only time in Austin, one more bar.”
This from two people who at this point can barely stand. I explained to them that a) they weren’t exactly upstanding citizens at the moment, b) no bar would admit them entry in their current state and c) if they did manage to cajole their way into a bar, they almost certainly wouldn’t be served.
All my reason and logic fell on deaf ears as they tried to drag me and one another in the direction of another watering hole. After a few stern words and a bit of physical force, I wrestled them into a cab where they immediately collapsed onto one another in the backseat.
Once we got back to our Airbnb, I made sure Kayla didn’t forget her brand new Stetson in the backseat of the cab and wrangled them into the building where they proceeded to clomp down the hall like a couple of drunk three-legged ponies.
How many people does it take to get off a pair of cowboy boots of a drunk person you ask? One sober-is person trying to do it gently and a second drunk person who is prepared to sacrifice life and limb in the process. In good news, Kayla didn’t go to bed with her cowboy boots on.
Possibly the best part of the entire evening came after the lights were out. Kayla and I were sharing the king-sized bed in the condo and Josie was on the pull-out couch in the living room. Once we’d managed to get her boots off, Kayla immediately collapsed onto the bed on top of the covers.
A couple of hours later I woke to her rustling beside me. Instead of climbing out on her side and walking around the bed to get to the bathroom, she decided to take the most direct route: over me. I watched with interest as she scooched over to my side of the bed. She sat upright with her legs on top of me as she tried to figure out how to use me as a human pommel horse and vault herself over me.
I would say, in this moment, she wasn’t very coachable. After trying to suggest a workaround to this problem she found herself in, I weakly said, “Okay, please don’t crush me,” and resigned myself to my fate. Once she made it over me, the human hurdle that I was, she meandered into the walk-in closet where I had to retrieve her and reorient her compass toward the bathroom.
Once she returned to bed, she flopped herself down and then promptly did a 180-degree spin under the covers so she was in a blanket cocoon, with no part of her flesh exposed to the elements, with her feet at my head. This is where I drew the line. I was not about to wake up with a broken nose by getting a swift kick in the face from a drunk slumber party. I made her flip around and sleep like a normal human with her head on the pillow.
God only knows what Josie got up to out there on the pull-out couch but I was relieved to find them both alive and high-functioning in the morning. As we were recounting the previous night’s events, Josie explained that they had held a private meeting to discuss sales strategy before pitching me with their plea to go to another bar. I told them to come prepared with a PowerPoint presentation next time and they might make it further on the Yvonne edition of Dragon’s Den.
Short shake all the ingredients (except the club soda) with 3 ice cubes, then strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube. Top with the club soda. Garnish with a fine grating of lime zest over the top.
Combine sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit at room temperature overnight.
Remove cinnamon sticks and store syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Recipe slightly adapted from: Fauchauld, Nick et al. “Golden Beautiful.” Death & Co.: Modern Classic Cocktails. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2014.