Clay Smith

10 People of 2012: John Spong

John Spong | Senior Editor, Texas Monthly

He’s partied with the best of them and had his share of dates, but with a new book on the making of Lonesome Dove and a new marriage, the big-hearted, beloved and award-winning journalist enters the next chapter.

10 People of 2012: Bill Powers

Bill Powers | President, The University of Texas at Austin

What starts here changes the world—President Powers looks to the future of the University of Texas.

Who wants Bill Powers’ job? Plenty of people might want the prestige that comes with being the president of the University of Texas at Austin, but consider what Powers contends with: as the head of a sprawling nonprofit educational institution, he undertakes a perpetual balancing act between leadership and faculty, productivity and mission—all with an eye toward the future of the university. For nearly seven years, Powers has thus led one of the most renowned public institutions in the country, securing its reputation as an innovator and pioneer in the realm of higher education.

The Distillers: Deep Eddy Vodka

Celebrated for the success he made out of Sweet Leaf Tea, Clayton Christopher speaks of Deep Eddy Vodka as a kind of gift to the city that espoused his first venture. “We wanted something that was part of the DNA of Austin,” Christopher says, mentioning that his business partner, Chad Auler, grew up swimming at Deep Eddy Pool. When it came time to brand their vodka, they sought a name that would both be memorable to customers outside Austin and ring true with homegrown Austinites. The result was Deep Eddy Vodka and its sweet tea-infused counterpart, Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka.

The Distillers: Fitch's Goat Moonshine

Moonshine gets a bad rap—all those antiquated notions of gut rot and involuntary blindness. It doesn’t help that Wikipedia defines moonshine as “any distilled spirit made in an unlicensed still.” Jeff Peace’s Bone Spirits, a distillery based in Smithville, is entirely legal and licensed and actually has three other farm-to-bottle drinks on the market besides their Fitch’s Goat Moonshine: Smiths Premium Vodka, Moody June Gin and Fitch’s Goat Whiskey.

The Distillers: Pecan Street Rum

Shaun Siems, the president of Spirit of Texas Independent Distillery, doesn’t pretend that the creation of his company’s Pecan Street Rum resulted from a lightning-bolt eureka moment—it was more of a “what if?” experiment. “One day, we were trying different yeast strains and I said, ‘What if we put some Texas pecans in there?’” Siems recalls, “and it turned this beautiful golden color, and the smell that was coming out was wonderful.”

The Distillers: Waterloo Gin

Austin rum aficionados already know about Treaty Oak Platinum Rum, the first offering from Treaty Oak Distilling, launched in 2007. That rum was notable for the fact that distiller Daniel Barnes found the last sugar cane mill in Texas (in Santa Rosa, in South Texas) to process the molasses he used. Last November, the company issued Waterloo Gin, another product invoking Austin’s history— not to mention one that can boast Texas ingredients as proudly as their first liquor does.

Barnes calls Waterloo Gin a “Texas-style gin.” If that has you scratching your head, try another geographical reference: Waterloo Gin, Barnes says, could also be called a London dry gin that has Texas flavors and botanicals anchoring it.

The Distillers: Garrison Brothers Whiskey

Dan Garrison used to work in high-tech until he woke up one day, and the company had been sold. The next logical choice? Buy a ranch with his family in Hye, near Fredericksburg, to create “the first real, authentic straight bourbon whiskey made outside of Kentucky or Tennessee.” The notion isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, though: in just a few hot summers, Garrison discovered that Texas’ cyclical climate can yield a bourbon that tastes like it’s been aged for decades.

Today, Garrison Brothers produces only a few hundred barrels each year, preparing each bottle by hand. And it’s not just the state’s climate that shapes its flavor profile—the distillery stresses the Texas-made quality of their ingredients, like the corn they acquire from Muleshoe, in the Panhandle, and the Hill Country rainwater they purify before using it in the distilling process.

The 10 Austinites of the Year: April Thomas Rose

Executive Director, Treefolks
Austin's top arborist gives us shade.

The 10 Austinites of the Year: David Bull

Executive Chef & Owner, Congress & Second Bar + Kitchen
Austin’s top chef has all of the talent and none of the usual bull.


The hectic bar scene isn't for everyone, so these Austinites are staying in and showing off their night moves around the card table.

Kelly Warriner has that look in her eye. From the way she pauses I have the feeling she’s about to reveal a grave secret. “You can tell a euchre player because they’ve worn out the cards from nine to ace in each suit,” she discloses as she draws her own well-worn deck of cards from her purse. She attempts to ascertain whether her insight has registered with me, but since she’s talking to someone whose knowledge of cards extends solely to Go Fish and Old Maid, the applicable value of her reconnaissance is lost on me.

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