Dizzy Recap: SXSW

Wondering why I've been a little sluggish here lately? I'm still getting caught up from last month's magical mystery tour that was my nine-day excursion to Austin, TX for SXSW. I think a lot people are probably sick of seeing those four letters by now, so for a mini-recap: picture intelligent conversation with tons of creative thinkers, many with exceptional social skills, while getting handed lots of free things in the sunshine, then getting down with loud, epically melodic music at night--and indulging in decadent (not too expensive) food and drink while meeting  cool new friends. Win!

As far as Austin cocktail culture is concerned, I couldn't have asked for a warmer welcome, from my first "Conundrum" (Balcones baby blue corn whiskey, Plymouth sloe gin, Fernet Branca) at Fino to my Chartreuse-pickled Bloody Mary at Frank to my on-point Ramos Gin Fizz at Peche--clearly Austin knows what's up. Getting to know Mindy Kucan (East Side Showroom), David Alan (Tipsy Texan), Bill Norris (Fino), Beth Bellanti (Tito's Vodka), Russell Davis (Peche), Lara Nixon (Fino), and Ceci "angel" Norman was an absolute blast (house party especially). And keep an eye out for Graham Wasilition's absinthe this summer--I don't want to give away too much, but let's just say gin drinkers will be into it.

By some further stroke of luck, I was asked to participate in a Booze Blogging panel led by Lindsey "amazing" Johnson, founder of Lush Life Productions. I was asked to whip up a punch to serve for upwards of 50 people on the fly, so I went with a simple, yet seasonal rum punch. It went over well with the crowd full of bloggers, brand reps, booze nerds and other badge holders who wandered (smart choice) into our session. Inspired by my love for a simple daiquiri (and a chunk-less mojito), I went with "Spring Fever:"

.5 oz lime juice .75 oz pineapple juice .5 oz mint-infused agave nectar* .5 oz Benedictine 1 oz. Don Q Gold Rum

Multiply recipe by number of servings. Squeeze fresh juice into punch bowl. Strain mint-infused agave nectar. Add other ingredients, and add large chunks of ice or ice mold.

*Combine one bottle of agave nectar with equal parts boiling water to sterile, airtight glass container, add crushed mint leaves.  Shake, chill for at least four hours. Strain before serving.

Can't wait to get back!