A fundamental shift in our summertime lexicon is under way, and like most seismic upheavals, we missed the early tremors. “Firefly” someone whispered in 2008, and we took no notice. Heard later: “Sweet-tea vodka.” Quick visions of lazy days on the porch flashed through our basal brain, but still we overlooked the larger implication: No longer are “sweet” and “unsweet” the only options; you can take your tea hard. And thanks to the charming, button-down Austin entrepreneurs who created (independently) Sweet Leaf Tea and Savvy Vodka, you can Go Texan while you’re at it. Clayton Christopher of the former and Chad Auler of the latter make their product with aquifer water, Texas sugar and honey, column-distilled vodka, and whole tea leaves, and they’ve named it after the storied Austin swimming hole (now spring-fed swimming pool) Deep Eddy. Betty, the label’s bathing beauty, is lifted from the original attraction’s PR, as is the slogan: Take a Dip. Naturally, there’s already a cocktail named after Deep Eddy’s legendary pre-PETA diving horse.
The new spirit, distilled at the Savvy facilities while they build a distillery in Southwest Austin, made a popular local combo, the Sweet & Savvy, a one-pour experience, and although Sweet Tea Vodka sounds like an afternoon drink suitable for bingo halls and antique-shopping, we’re told it’s popular in the clubs. In SA, you can find it at the Green Lantern, the Gatsby, and the Longbar, which features it in a Texas Happy Hour. You can also buy a bottle of your own at Don’s & Ben’s and try the extremely sippable recipes below. Christopher claims the tea’s consistent mellow buzz will carry you through a late night without that Red Bull rollercoaster drop. We say as Southerners we’ll try any cocktail with tea in it on principle alone.
Deep Eddy Splash
(aka the John Daly, and appropriately it’s easy to make surreptitiously, in bulk, and on the go)
• 1/2 Deep Eddy Vodka
• 1/4 lemonade
• 1/4 club soda
Serve over ice in a tumbler. (Disclaimer: This is the way it was made for us in the office. We’ve also seen a recipe that’s half DEV, half water, with a lemon twist.)
• 2 oz. Deep Eddy
• 1 medium-sized Fredericksburg peach (peeled and pitted)
• 3 sprigs of thyme (for muddling)
In a mixing glass combine the peach with 3 sprigs of thyme, 1 dash of bitters, 1 dash of lemon juice, and muddle completely. Add 2 oz. of DEV and shake vigorously. Strain over ice in a collins or long glass, being sure to let all liquid drain out. Top off with an all-natural ginger ale. Garnish with a couple sprigs of thyme and a peach wedge.
Lorena’s Diving Horse
• 2 oz. Deep Eddy
• 1 oz. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients, shake for 20 seconds, and strain over crushed ice into a tumbler glass. Garnish with crushed basil leaves.