Happy Hoopla in Texas

Many of us have experienced the not-so-fun in-laws family get together. Yet, how many of us have had the not-so-fun turn into happy hoopla! So went my recent extended weekend for a college graduation and grandpa’s 90th birthday celebration in Houston and Austin, Texas.

Texas symbol

Travelling from Boston, MA to Houston, Texas, was already a culture shock to the system: Tex-Mex on every corner, only to be outdone by guns and rifles. Add in 14 in-laws, cousins, friends, NON-drinkers and strangers and the potential for disaster teetered on the brink.


Upon arrival, Tiff and I were met by her niece Anthea and whisked off to lunch at Gringos for our first local taste of Tex-Mex.  Delicious. Shortly afterwards we met up with some of the in-laws and received a warm welcome. 

Not far behind was the arrival of the 2016 red Corvette convertible – all shiny and driven by a young French blonde – Perle, a friend of Anthea. Tiff and I are known as the party people (PP1 and PP2); Anthea has graduated to PP3 and Perle, this weekend solidified her status as PP4.


There were lots of pictures with the corvette; then Perle and I headed out for a spin around the block and a must needed stop at a liquor store for some local whisky. After the white knuckle ride, I was more than ready for a stiff drink.  The liquor store was small and the pickings were slim, so I bought a bottle of Texas produced and bottled, Rebecca Creek whiskey. Assuming that the whiskey would be on the lighter side, I grabbed a bottle of peach brandy and maraschino cherries. No bitters were to be found.

The group was meeting for the evening at Grandpa’s house. All he had was a mix of wine glasses in which to make my Rebecca Creek Surprise cocktail.  I mixed 2 shots of Rebecca and a ½ shot of the peach, added a cherry and a dash of the cherry liquid. Added lots of ice and the party was on.  Dinner was Vietnamese Banh Mi Thit sandwiches. Smiles abounded.


Friday morning the troops gathered and the caravan left for the 3 plus hour drive to Austin, Texas. Along the way we stopped for the locally popular kolaches at Hruska’s Bakery in Ellinger. We ate the sausage and jalapeno kolaches before I could snap a pic! The sweet kolaches were equally yummy for those of us with a sweet tooth.


The WOW factor kicked in when we arrived at our destination – a rental home on Lake Travis. Perched high on a hill overlooking the lake I felt as though I was transported to Lake Como, Italy – a world away from Texas. The hills around Austin are nowhere near the stereotype of flat, hot Texas cowboy country.


Nice house, OK, time to jump in the Vette and find some more whisky to get us through the two nights in Austin.  Perle had to cross two lanes of fast moving Texas traffic buzzing in each direction. I gave myself up to a higher authority and somehow lived to talk about it.  Let’s just say this car is very, very fast and the driver very, very heavy footed. Again, the local liquor store was paltry. I really wanted to buy Balcones Brimstone, but, nothing.  I did manage to score a bottle of Aberfeldy 21 YO on sale and was quickly appeased.  A bottle of Bulleit bourbon was added to the shelf with several Fuente Gran Reserva cigars for the late night agenda.


A few of the men purchased local beer – Austin Amber Beer, Big Bend, Shiner Bock and nitrogenated cold coffee – Black and Blue. All sorts of snacks filled the table and the party was on.  Grandpa was surprised and thrilled with his chocolate decadent cake and Perrier-Jouët champagne and all was well in the party house.

Saturday morning was graduation day from University of Texas, Austin, for niece Kimmy. Afterwards, some of us spent the afternoon playing mahjongg (and gambling) and a few went to shoot guns. Not me – ever! The graduate returned from an afternoon out for another cake – this one with raspberries and pistachio and more chocolate decadence – as well as more champagne. Kerlin BBQ supplied the food – brisket, pulled pork, sausages and all the fixings. Veuve Clicquot, the champagne.

Sunday came too soon and it was time to pack up the troops and head back to Houston and home across the country and Europe. 


Oh ya, there was a small incident with the Vette, the blonde and Genesis driver, who we will call Sam. Naturally, there was competition between Perle and Sam regarding their fast cars and who was the better speed driver. They finally went out Saturday night for a drive in the Vette. Next thing we know is a text from someone else saying the Vette was pulled over by the police. No surprise. Who was driving, no surprise there either.  About an hour later the Vette pulls up, Sam enters the house first and says “excuse me I need to change my underwear.” He was kidding but the police stop happened.  Rumor has it the car was travelling about 140mph when the police were spotted; the car slowed.  The policeman pursued and pulled them over then walked up to the driver’s side and very nicely said, “I didn’t think I would catch up to you. You were going 97mph.” The French blonde, “I was? I am not from here and I am trying to get my friend back to the house, he is not well.” Sam was indeed sweating and pale, but not from illness but from being stopped by the police. The blonde, “it is just a rental and I don’t really know how to drive it.” Police, “Do you know that this car costs than $70,000?” “No, really? Officer can you tell me how to get back to my house?” “Of course, now do be careful driving home.” “Thank you, bye.”

It’s true, blondes do have more fun and get away with all kinds of shi#!? And this  Corvette driving blonde appreciates good whisky. That a girl! No wonder we now call you PP4!


But, after five days of happy hoopla and in-laws, it is good to be home. Tonight I think I’ll have the Balcones Brimstone, at least I can purchase it in New England.

The three whiskies: Rank of 1 – don’t buy ever, to a 4 – buy all that you can its perfect.

  • Rebecca Creek, Texas. Privately owned – I rank it a 2. Easy sipping. It was perfect for mixing as a cocktail. Someone said, “more like a Canadian blend than a bourbon.” I agree
  • Bulleit Bourbon, Kentucky. Part of the Diageo portfolio – I rank it a 2+. Nice rye spiciness.
  • Aberfeldy 21 YO Scotch whisky. Owned by Dewar’s – I rank it a 3+. Rich, Delicious, hint of sweet.

The beers, cold coffee and champagnes, well, I’ll leave it up to you to decide, I have no clue. I tasted, I sipped, I went back to the Aberfeldy.

I raise a glass to happy hoopla, good whisky, and coming home. A special thanks to all who spent time planning the weekend. Awesome job!


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