When you walk into The Standard Pour in Dallas, Texas, a quick survey of the men behind the bar will show you one of the most creative barmen in Dallas. Just look for the one with the beard … in a hat … and usually a scarf when it’s not 101º.
That’s Austin Millspaugh.
For years he’s been slinging well-made cocktails to the masses, but always tries to take classics or his own creations to a new level with a unique ingredient, unexpected substitution, or over the top garnish. (I just had a thought … could it be his hats are his own garnish? I’ll give you a moment to discuss.) If you’ve spent any sort of time at his bar, you’ve seen the mad scientist at work. Whatever his chosen kooky element, he usually can find a way to make a thoughtful, unique cocktail from it.
So, when he recently won regionals in the United States Bartender Guild’s 12th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition presented by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin on May 31, Dallas celebrated, but we weren’t surprised. He was crowned regional winner and will compete against 16 other top barmen (and women!) from North America and England in London in September.
Those of us going to Tales of the Cocktail this week in New Orleans will have the chance to see Austin (and the other finalists) take on a training challenge to prepare them for London. Because practice makes perfect, no?
The cocktail that won the crown for Austin was his “Mi Cheng” cocktail. I’ve included the cocktail below … but let’s appreciate how f**king gorgeous it is. He knows that our eyes eat first.
2oz Bombay Sapphire
0.5oz honey blend (bee propolis and black garlic)
2.5oz coffee blend (2 beans/ 2 brewing methods)
Combine all ingredients and shake. Top with Cream Blend (condensed milk, egg yolk, heavy cream). Garnish with drizzled Cajeta
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT AUSTIN
Where was the first place you sold a drink in Dallas? Blackfriar, and my first cocktail was at Blind Butcher (R.I.P.)
How did you learn to bartend? I learned beer first because I was trying to get my cicerone certification. I never ended up getting the cicerone because I realized I needed to learn more about spirits before knowing “everything” about beer. So, I started as an enthusiast and bugged everyone by asking questions. Then I started cocktailing at Blind Butcher and then went to learn from Eddie Ekin to understand technique, specifics, and such.
What’s your favorite cocktail to drink? A Clover Club or a Bijoux—sweet, funk and spirit forward.
What’s your favorite Sunday night drink? I still explore to see what other people are doing. I look for the weirdest drink on the menu. I wish I could just stick with a shot and a beer, but curiosity gets me every time.
Who was your most formative cocktail mentor? I’ve been lucky enough to have many. The Dallas bar scene is full of supportive, inspiring people.
Omar Yefoon—he gave me the real advice, mostly to get my head out of my ass and pursue the industry and art of it all more aggressively
Vincent Paul Martinez—He was an amazing man that passed this year and he really had a lot to do with me seeing bartending as a viable career path. I was very lucky to know him.
Japanese or Leopold jigger? Leopold, all day
We all know you’ve come up with some really outrageous cocktails. What’s your favorite drink you’ve ever created? Oh, that’s easy … the fois gras cocktail at Meddlesome Moth. It was a fois gras fat washed-mezcal, sherry, and Averna, and it was all Barrel-aged for a month, then bottled served in a coupe served with dehydrated fois and a touch of truffle oil.
Stop in to see Austin at The Standard Pour in Dallas, Texas. He won’t be able to make you his award-winning cocktail (the ingredients are pretty damn complicated), but I’m sure he’ll mix you something incredibly creative and delicious. He is one of the 16 most imaginative bartenders, after all!