The low-ABV trend stirs nothing more in me than polite disinterest. Brunchtime day drinking elicits a shrug. Frankly, I thought no spritz could move me. But at Time Out’s Bar Awards Finale at the Chapel in San Francisco, I found the lesson I needed to make me a spritz believer.
Spritzes are typically light, airy things that dilute their spirits’ flavors in sparkling wine or water. But the Spicewood Spritz (Drambuie, mezcal, and Ancho Reyes) from Firehouse Lounge in Austin, Texas defied the traditional delicacy of the category. My scribbled notes from the evening describe the Spicewood Spritz “as if delicious herbal and spice flavors are suspended in a light, refreshing solution. Doesn’t taste light or low ABV. Forward, strong. This is what I want spritzes to be.”
Besides the great drinks, my favorite part of the evening was seeing the bar families on stage. From as near as Los Angeles and as far as Portugal, the teams arrived in San Francisco to celebrate their wins and tell us about their drinks.
Jared Lindsay’s speech about the Spicewood Spritz cemented the drink as my favorite of the evening. He shared that it honored a co-worker who passed away. I didn’t take notes, but he said something like “Drambuie was the challenge ingredient, mezcal for life, Ancho Reyes for spice.” I asked Time Out to tell me a little bit more, and here’s Jared’s awesome follow-up:
What I meant about our coworker passing away is, while we’d always been a very tight-knit bar team, his death is really what galvanized us into coming together to unconditionally support one another no matter what’s going on. You can see that philosophy in action every day at the Firehouse, whether we’re covering shifts or just checking on someone who’s having a rough night for whatever reason. Our coworker’s death is what turned us from a group of great friends into a family, but what I meant to address during that speech is that sometimes you reach a moment that will break you (and your business/team/etc) if you let it; we didn’t, and came out the other side stronger.
I watched the video, and apparently I said “mescal is life.” Mescal is life simply because the ritual of imbibing it is so precise, and traditionally done in celebration of a major event, which seemed apropos of representatives of the best bar families from around the world coming together to make some drinks and celebrate.
And that is why I chose to spill ink over a single drink from that evening. It’s a great story, an award-winning bar team, and a spritz that recast the category for me.
There’s more to the party! Check out Time Out’s pictures and recap.