Chef/Owner of Iconic Austin Ice-House Credited as Originator of Texas’ Ranch Water Cocktail

Ranch 616 opened in Austin in 1998, featuring the original Ranch Water cocktail, and has helped spread the drink through Texas

Austin, TX  (RestaurantNews.comRanch 616, the iconic South-Texas-style Ice House located in downtown Austin since 1998 and home of the original Ranch Water, receives long overdue originator credit in today’s The Washington Post article, “How to make Ranch Water, the tequila-lime cocktail that keeps so many Texans cool.”

“The closest I found to a plausible originator and namer is Kevin Williamson, chef and owner of Ranch 616 in Austin, who says that he has had the drink on the menu since it opened in 1998 … He’s firm enough in his claim that he has applied for a trademark on the Ranch Water name,” writes M. Carrie Allan, spirits columnist, The Washington Post.

This comes on the heels of the June 11 Thrillist article “This Unassuming Texan Cocktail Is Sweeping The Nation” by Kevin Gray, which also credits Chef/Owner Kevin Williamson with creating the original Ranch Water cocktail.

“If Kevin didn’t invent this drink at Ranch 616, then I don’t know who did,” says David Alan, author of the Tipsy Texan and director of trade education and mixology for Patrón.

“If you follow the Ranch Water’s chain of custody, one name keeps popping up: Kevin Williamson, owner of Ranch 616 restaurant in Austin,” says Thrillist.

Beyond creating the Ranch Water in the late 1990s for Austinites to enjoy, Chef Kevin Williamson popularized the cocktail throughout Texas by introducing it to the menu at the legendary Gage Hotel in far West Texas in 2010. Today versions of the Ranch Water are on menus throughout Texas and increasingly, throughout the United States.

The original Ranch 616 Ranch Water features Sauza Hornitos Reposado Tequila, Patrón Citronge, fresh lime, with a Topo Chico mineral water served on the side.

“It’s flattering that this Ranch Water phenomenon has taken off,” Kevin Williamson says, “and we’re happy to welcome folks to Ranch 616 in Austin, Texas to enjoy the original.”

Williamson’s love of cocktails goes beyond creating the Ranch Water. Another of his signature Ranch 616 cocktails, the “Fire-in-the-Hole” shot created in 2008 for the Austin Food & Wine Alliance was named the “Official Drink of Austin,” not just once, but again in 2009. The shot features a freshly cored jalapeño filled local Texas spirits, Tito’s Vodka and Paula’s Orange, as well as fresh lime juice. Often served with a Lone Star or Coronita chaser.

Williamson adds, “Luckily they haven’t figured out how to bottle or can the ‘Fire-in-the-Hole’ shot, but it’s already appearing on other Texas cocktail menus. We’re proud Ranch 616 is part of Texas’ strong cocktail culture.”

Ranch 616, the iconic South-Texas-style Ice House in downtown Austin (at West 6th and Nueces St) will celebrate its 25th Anniversary later this year. Due to the deep freeze in Texas in February, the interior and kitchen are undergoing renovation and expected to re-open this Fall. In the meantime, the Ranch 616 iconic cocktail menu can be enjoyed on its covered, outdoor “Pistol Patio,” every Thursday to Sunday starting at 5 p.m.,

Ranch 616
Pam Blanton

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