The Riff

Well-Versed in Lenoir

By: Emily Havener

Lenoir in Austin serves up cocktails made mostly without liquor

Clinton Tedin has spent a lifetime in hospitality—starting young as a dishwasher, he gravitated toward the bar, where he worked with Austin’s Bill Norris at Fino and helmed the bar at Die Due. “I’m more of an introvert so I like bartending because it’s sort of a built-in social life,” he says. He’s also big on hospitality, staying away from the pretentiousness that can come along with craft cocktail culture: “If somebody wants a vodka soda, it’s my job to make them the best damn vodka soda they’ve ever had and give it to them with a smile.”

At Lenoir in Austin, where he’s headed the bar program since June 2020, Tedin develops the cocktail menu with what he refers to fondly as “a limited palate.” “We can’t purchase anything over 19% ABV. It’s sort of like writing a sonnet—no, that sounds really pretentious—writing a limerick. You have limitations that you have to work within.” The menu features cocktails made with lambrusco, sherry, vermouth, and a variety of aperitifs, along with the occasional sprinkling of mezcal or other liquor to add flavor without increasing ABV. “We always try to have several distinct sorts of cocktails available to appeal to the broadest range of what people are going to want,” Tedin says. He’s created riffs on an old fashioned and a Pimm’s cup, and always on the menu is the Como la Flor, a creation of a former beverage manager Jessica Martinez, that reimagines a classic martini with manzanilla sherry.

For three summery, low-ABV cocktails, Tedin uses cocchi di Torino, an herbal, dry red vermouth: the South Austin Iced Tea, “an Arnold Palmer for grown-ups” that makes a great batch for a crowd; the True Romance, which Tedin describes as if a mimosa and a sangria “got together and had a love child”; and the Palomino, named for the grape varietal used to make Fino sherry.


True Romance

Enjoy an unforgettable date night with herbal aromas and a subtle lemon garnish to suit anyone’s romantic palate. 


The Palomino

Named for the grape varietal used to make Fino sherry, Tedin presents The Palomino, a classy drink with summery underlying peach flavors.


South Austin Iced Tea

This “Arnold Palmer for grown ups” is just a bit fancier than the iced tea from Long Island.

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