Sugar Rush: Artisanal Twinkies at drink.well, Austin
Over a year before Twinkies made waves by disappearing from, and quickly reappearing on, grocery store shelves, Austin's drink.well gastropub had already been crafting their own artisanal version.
Owners Jessica and Michael Sanders came up with the idea to put a twist on the retro treat when first conceptualizing drink.well. Their vision was for a friendly, neighborhood bar serving expertly crafted cocktails and well-made, classic American dishes. "And is there any confection that is more closely identified with Americana than the Twinkie?" Jessica points out.
Prep cook Samara Simpson, who has been dubbed the "Mixtress of Twinkies," bakes off only twenty four of the coveted cakes daily, in rotating weekly flavors. The Ginger Chai Twinkie is made from a spicy, spongy ginger chai tea cake and filled with a rich ginger liqueur cream filling. The bright, fruit-forward White Chocolate Raspberry features a tart raspberry cake balanced by a decadent white chocolate cream.
The King pays homage to Elvis with a slightly sweet banana cake and lush banana cream filling set off by a salty peanut butter ganache and savory candied bacon pieces. One unexpected favorite was a "black and blue" Twinkie consisting of a black cherry cake made with Luxardo maraschino cherries and stuffed with sweet and slightly pungent blue cheese cream filling—one of the best selling versions to date.
"Our guests love the Twinkies as much for creativity and bold flavors we bring every week as they do for the nostalgia of eating them," says Jessica, who also carries fond childhood memories of the cakes. "I was a big fan growing up, and I was so sad to see how they devolved over the years to be an over-processed, chemical-driven treat rather than the delicious (and somewhat natural) cream-filled spongecakes I had as a child."
If you do want to get in on the Twinkie action, you better show up early (they open 4 p.m. on weekdays and 12 noon on weekends), because these things sell like hotcakes!
About the Author: Veronica Meewes is an Austin-based freelance writer and food blogger who will travel for food but always comes back for breakfast tacos. Follow her on Twitter @wellfedlife and visit her blog.