Monday, October 2, 2017

Sixth Street Sector Roundup: East Sixth

It took less than a month to wrap up the whole quest. East Sixth isn't quite the densely-packed, walkable bar cluster that Dirty Sixth is, but it's getting there, and I was so eager to try some of the newer bars that it only took a handful of attempts to finish the street.


About those newer bars: East Sixth makes a convenient shorthand for a lot of the big arguments about Austin's history and identity that you may have noticed. Its connection to the black and Hispanic communities of Austin give it a very different history and present than the more genteel West Sixth or riotous Dirty Sixth, but while bars on West Sixth sink seamlessly into the neighborhood, and nothing short of an atomic blast could erase the character of Dirty Sixth, it's inarguable that many of the joints popping up on East Sixth bear little resemblance to what old-timers remember. While some people complain about skyrocketing rents and the accompanying demographic transformation, others enjoy the lower crime and nicer amenities, like fancy cocktail bars. Sure, it's not like the locals don't appreciate a good Manhattan, but if it's at the expense of a $1 Lone Star, different people have different reactions. Are these changes a good thing or a bad thing? Can one drink on East Sixth in good conscience? Well....

I've spent a good portion of this blog arguing in favor of change. My family moved to Austin when I was a year old, and nothing annoys me more than the "hey man, the city's full, and newcomers like you have ruined the paradise that it used to be" mentality that you hear all too frequently. Austin's best resource is its people, and to desire stasis is to desire decline. So, if you accept that pro-immigration logic about the city as a whole, which I think you should, how does that apply to an area which has historically been starved of the very kinds of investment and construction now transmuting it? East Austin is richer and more diverse than it's ever been, as you can see by the mix of bars, yet it's impossible to ignore the steady metamorphosis happening outside of the bars. Yes, East Austin is now the most racially integrated part of the city, but somehow the blacks and Hispanics who are getting priced out aren't moving to Travis Heights or (back to) Clarksville, they're moving to Kyle or Pflugerville. From a purely economic standpoint it's no different than anyone getting priced out of a successful city, and yet it would be naive to pretend like Austin's peerless growth has benefited everyone equally. I love drinking on East Sixth, and it's not like not drinking there would help anyone, but it's worth a pondering what used to be on the spot where you're now drinking a $15 craft cocktail.

And now for some statistics!

Top 5 Bars


Using a completely subjective formula that takes into account the quality of the drink, the ambiance of the bar, the friendliness of the bartender, and my own level of intoxication, here are my top five bars:

  1. Violet Crown Social Club
  2. Latchkey
  3. The Volstead
  4. The Eastern
  5. ​Mezcalería Tobalá

Booze Brothers participating


Total: 33

  • Aaron: 28
  • Travis: 9
  • Rome: 9
  • Hannah: 9
  • Vince: 8
  • James: 5
  • Davis: 5
  • Anthony: 5
  • Alexis: 5
  • Chris M: 4
  • Jeff: 4
  • Lisa: 4
  • Michael: 4
  • Kayleigh: 4
  • Karen: 3
  • Brent: 3
  • Misty: 3
  • Nick H: 3
  • Ryan: 2
  • Wolf: 2
  • Jackie: 2
  • Will: 2
  • Chris X: 2
  • Jessica: 2
  • Amanda: 2
  • Kason: 2
  • Cody: 2
  • Jackie C: 2
  • Kelly: 2
  • Haley: 2
  • Philip: 2
  • Tristan: 1
  • Kyle H: 1

Establishments visited


Total: 28

  • Bars: 23
  • Restaurants: 3
  • Breweries: 3
  • Coffeeshops: 1
  • Barbershops: 1

Drinks consumed


Total: 28*

  • Cocktails: 16
  • Shots: 1
  • Beers: 9
  • Other: 2
  • Wines: 0

* Obviously I drank WAY more than that.

Money spent


Total: $224.50*

* That doesn't include taxes, tip, or the food or extra drinks I bought.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

#117: Hops and Grain Brewery

The Bar


Hops and Grain Brewery. 507 Calles St #101, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/9/17 @ 8:30pm.

The Drink



Hops and Grain Dispensary IPA. $5.

Yup, that's a pretty lousy pour - not exactly the beer I wanted this quest to end on. But you take life as it comes, and even the substandard volume and egregious head (I totally disagree with the "head is good" school of thought) in this pour couldn't ruin a good beer. I had just enjoyed the Dispensary IPA at Hi Hat, and it was much the same here - a hoppy IPA with a solid bite to it, a high-ABV beer that goes down easier than it probably should. And so, as tends to happen, I was less upset with the pour the more I drank. Beer is a powerful vehicle for forgiveness, and I'm a firm believer in the idea that most beer is good beer, and the best beer is the one you're about to have. In that spirit, that the final beer of the journey left me thirsty for more is all too-fitting. Sixth Street may have ended, but I'm still not done!

The Crew


Aaron, Rome, Vince, Travis, Hannah.


Notes


Tucked away in a shopping center right where Sixth Street ends, Hops and Grain is a great brewery that has only continued to improve over time. Its origin story involves an amusing anecdote about founder Josh Hare's dog, and indeed six years later you can still buy those very same grain treats today, as befits a brewery that focuses so much on sustainability. I'm well past the brewery tour phase of my drinking career (there's only so many times you can be impressed at the size of a fermentation chamber), so these days when I go to a brewery I'm more interested in their beer consumption setup rather than their beer production setup: Hops and Grain has a decent indoor space, with rows of picnic tables in the air conditioning that seat a few dozen people, and also some more space outside in the sunshine, for those weekend days where you want to drink with friends outdoors and munch on some food trailer snacks. They converted their old "pay $10 for a glass and three beer tokens" model to a more reasonable "pay by the pint" taproom model (which is great, since I have far too many pint glasses already), and they're also planning to move to a brewpub model that allows them to sell beer to go. Anything that helps them distribute their excellent beer more widely is fine by me!

Friday, September 22, 2017

#116: Chicon

The Bar


Chicon. 1914 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/9/17 @ 7:30pm.

The Drink



Chi-lada. ​Rum, coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger. $9.

Out of all of the intriguing high-end cocktails on the Originals portion of the menu, I thought the bartender made one of the most intriguing picks. Based on the name, you might think that it was a home-rolled variant of a michelada, but instead it's almost closer to an alcoholic version of a Thai soup broth without the sour and spice, if that makes sense (probably not - just work with me here). The coconut milk is the primary flavor here, so it's very smooth, and the ginger adds a little kick. You really can't taste the rum at all, although there was a solid pour, so you're just left with a pleasant cocktail that leaves you ready to tackle the next drink. The rest of their cocktails run the full gamut of liquors from seemingly all over the world: the expected vodka, gin, bourbon, and tequila being joined by the rarer scotch, pisco, mezcal, and even Becherovka, a Czech herbal liqueur I'd never heard of before. We tried a fair sampling and they were all good, so if a rum cocktail isn't exotic enough for you (or for some strange reason a drink that reminds you of tom kha doesn't sound appetizing) you can still order with confidence.

The Crew


Vince, Rome, Aaron, Travis, Hannah.


Notes


I've never been to Contigo, the upscale restaurant which eventually spun off this successor, but it maintains a high-enough standard that I bet its most famous progenitor is also pretty nice. When we visited it seemed like most people were here for the happy hour, to score some cheap snacks, selected cocktails, whiskeys, and most of all wine - judging by the legions of drained glasses on the tables around us it seemed like every group but ours was on a mission to drink Chicon clean out of rosé. I really liked the interior: clean wood panels, exposed lights, a white ceiling floating like a big cloud over blue walls.... As far the food is concerned, we didn't try any, but what we saw looked appetizing. They seem to be going for more of a neighborhood hangout concept as opposed to a high-end destination restaurant concept, although I looked at a menu and a $15 fried chicken sandwich had better be pretty spectacular. The crowd was mostly young professional women (hence all the rosé), so if that's your demographic, either member-of or looking-for, you could do worse than Chicon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#115: Cuvée Coffee

The Bar


Cuvée Coffee. 2000 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/9/17 @ 7pm.

The Drink



Black and Brew. 512 Pecan Porter, cold brew coffee. $5.50.

There's a lot of great beer at Cuvée, more than you'd expect to find at a traditional coffee shop but right in keeping with combo coffee/bar joints like Radio, Cherrywood, and Thunderbird (RIP Strange Brew) that like to cater to a wide audience. Cuvée does really great coffee, though I'm far enough from a coffee snob that I couldn't pretend to offer an expert opinion. You can find plenty of pieces calling cold brew a garbage disposal for extra beans and the like, but I found this union of beer and coffee to be excellent. The Black and Brew is a play on the Black and Blue, their nitro cold brew coffee, which they mix in with a porter. They can change up which porter is paired with the coffee, but luckily this time I was given the 512 Pecan Porter, which has been my favorite porter ever since I first tried it. It's a little bit sweeter than most porters, but that actually goes really well with the nuttiness of pecans. And then when you add the smooth flavor of their coffee - oh man! Refreshing and delicious.

The Crew


Vince, Aaron, Rome, Travis (not pictured), Hannah (not pictured).


Notes


The term cuvée means "blend" or "batch" in French, typically and it refers to a particular run of a product, typically wine. The name makes sense given Cuvée's origins as a roaster of several varieties of high-end coffees. They moved to this location about three years ago, which gave them much more room for their operations as well as a little café space that reminds me of a brewery. They have a solid beer selection on their tapwall, as well as some wine and other more exotic concoctions like brewchata. I appreciate that they have locally sourced food like pastries and Tacodeli breakfast tacos to go with their other products - a warehouse generally doesn't emit the kind of inviting coffee shop vibes that you're accustomed to (and I expect that the café is fairly ancillary to their main wholesale operations), so every little bit of attraction helps, even if they're already fairly well-known around the city for the quality of their coffee and their ubiquitous cans of cold brew. However, even if their coffee was terrible (which it definitely isn't), they deserve plenty of fame as well for heroically defending common sense beer distribution, when their crowler machine was seized by those spoilsports at the TABC and they prevailed in court. Next time you fill up a crowler, thank these guys for standing up for beer drinkers everywhere.

Monday, September 18, 2017

#114: ​Mezcalería Tobalá

The Bar


Mezcalería Tobalá. 1816 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/5/17 @ 11pm.

The Drink



Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal. $10.

My recent acquired taste for smoky liquors has given me a newfound appreciation for mezcal, but it's still hard for me to give detailed tasting notes. I can tell you that Chichicapa, which like many of distillery's products is named after the small Oaxacan village where it's made, has a slightly sweet aftertaste to it that balances out the smokiness, and that it was full of all kinds of complex flavors that I would quite frankly be throwing darts at if I attempted to enumerate. Does "smoky, yet smooth" actually communicate anything? A few years ago the NY Times rated it #1 in their sample, and while I am still but a neophyte mezcal drinker it certainly was some of the best I've had so far. I am extremely impressed by the amount of info provided about the mezcal on the distiller's site; if you thought that a simple description of terroir was a bit much, then you will smile at least a little bit at discovering that Chichicapa is made with well water, and milled with a horse and wheel. By the way, that "San Judas Tadeo" votive candle is referring to Jude the Apostle, the patron saint of lost causes who has a special significance in Mexico, not the infamous Judas. I wouldn't want to pay 30 pieces of silver for a little terra cotta bowl of mezcal either.

The Crew


Misty, Aaron, Nick, Ryan (not pictured).


Notes


On Fridays and Saturdays only, the structure above the stone chapel of Whisler's opens up to the public in order that they might make the procession up the staircase to consume portions of mezcal according to their desires. It's a mezcalería, the kind of niche bar that not too long ago would not have been economical in Austin, but has now become possible thanks to this city's increasing affluence, neophilia, and sophistication of taste. As far as I know Techo on Manor, which is just a few years old, is the only other mezcalería in the city, so get to either of these establishments quick so you can brag that you were in on the crest of this mezcal wave. The owners of Whisler's/Mezcalería Tobalá have a genuine passion for mezcal and the drinking experience that surrounds it, so expect a singular decor - inside the small boxy room it's crammed full of stuffed heads, votive candles, and other bric-à-brac that encourages you to sit down and stay a while, soaking in the vibe. Soaking in the sweat, too: there's not a ton of seating because of the small proportions, so watch out for how sweltering it can get on those hot summer nights, when it more resembles a sweat lodge than a mezcalería. Come on in and get friendly!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#113: Hi Hat Public House

The Bar


Hi Hat Public House. 2121 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/5/17 @ 10pm.

The Drink




Hops and Grain Dispensary IPA. $6.

Hi Hat has a wide selection of craft beer, and my bartender was one of those bemused souls who wasn't quite sure how to respond to my spiel spiel about having him pick for me, so after several rounds of "what do you like? what you do you recommend? well it depends", I backed him into a corner and he poured me this beer. It's another American IPA, but in contrast to the milder ones I've had on this quest like from 512, Zilker, or Lazarus, this one is much hoppier, probably because it's dry-hopped. I can handle the stronger bite of high-IBU beers, and at 60 IBUs it's not even that hoppy as far as these go, but as I get older and my palate gets lamer I start to agree more and more with the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery:

“I find the term ‘extreme beer’ irredeemably pejorative,” Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, told me recently. “When a brewer says, ‘This has more hops in it than anything you’ve had in your life - are you man enough to drink it?,’ it’s sort of like a chef saying, ‘This stew has more salt in it than anything you’ve ever had - are you man enough to eat it?’ ”

Should you decide to drink it though, it is a great beer, and at 6.7%, just a few should give you a good buzz. They also have a decent wine selection, in case craft beer isn't your thing.

The Crew


Karen, Haley, Hannah, Travis, Philip, Aaron, Tristan, Amanda, Davis, Kelly, Ryan, Alexis, Nick, Brent, Jackie, Misty, Kason, Cody.


Notes


As the influx of new people into East Austin steadily transforms it, one challenge for those new residents trying to get their bearings is finding a good local bar to call their own. Since only a few venerable institutions like La Perla date back more than a decade or so, and many of those newer joints are more upscale or designed to attract tourists and Austinites from across the city, there are not as many choices for a good neighborhood bar for East Sixth locals as it might seem. So into the breach steps Hi Hat, which opened a few years ago right next to a bunch of the new apartment complexes sprouting on the street and has quickly become a mainstay. It offers craft beer, wine, coffee, upscale bar food (though opinions differ on their tacos), a jazz brunch option, outdoor patio seating for nice days, and also a stage for live music. Something for just about everyone. While Hi Hat might not currently have quite the old-school cachet of some of the more long-standing venues on this street, amidst the disputes and concerns about gentrification it's easy to forget that every old bar was once a new bar, and should Hi Hat stick around for a few decades to serve generations of Austinites both old and new, eventually people will forget that it was ever any other way.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

#112: Tamale House East

The Bar


Tamale House East. 1707 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/5/17 @ 9:30pm.

The Drink



Prickly Pear margarita. Agave tequila, simple syrup, lime, OJ, prickly pear purée, muddled jalapeños, house made chili salt. $8.50.

The first three quarters of the recommendation here were excellent, but it's a shame about the home stretch. Another aspect of frozen drinks I dislike that I haven't talked about much - besides the dulling of flavor and the potential for brain freeze if you try to drink at your own pace like a normal person - is the way that frozen drinks change flavor as you get to the end. Just as no one likes the ice cream soup left over from an over-filled bowl of it, the tepid watery remnants of even the most well-crafted frozen cocktail are almost guaranteed to disappoint. At the beginning, this was an excellent blend of sweet prickly pear (props on using that ingredient) and spicy jalapeño with chili salt (double props on that intriguing mixture of salt and spice). Even into the mid-drink phase, when we were standing around chatting, it remained a really tasty and boozy margarita. But 20 minutes later, the tequila had separated from the purée and syrup, leaving a film of liquor over a sickly-sweet stickiness, becoming more drinkable just as it become less appetizing. That's not the drink's fault: it's not bad, it's just mixed that way, and I bet if it had been made on the rocks I would have loved it to the end. If you can drink this faster than I can you will love it more, and their non-frozen drinks do not suffer from any of these flaws.

The Crew


Kason, Misty, Hannah, Nick, Travis, Aaron, Amanda, Haley, Kelly, Philip, Brent, Karen, Cody (not pictured), Jackie (not pictured).


Notes


The original Tamale House was one of those long-standing local joints that left a large shadow when it closed, as did its other descendants. In just one of the many ways I have failed to uphold the required cranky old Austinite standard, I failed to visit the mother restaurant when it was still in business, but maybe visiting the daughter counts as a penance, even if I neglected to try any of their legendarily massive tacos during my visit. The current incarnation of the Tamale House spirit is a surprisingly large restaurant with an even more surprising amount of parking out front - it might be the single largest property on East Sixth that I've visited so far. When we visited on a Saturday night there were a few other couples in some of the side tables, but we were able to command the central area (and center stage) no problem. They have a patio as well, but we were in more of an air conditioning mood. Though it is more of a restaurant than a bar, they have enough space to host events and act as the anchor for the Tamale House lineage into the future.

Monday, September 11, 2017

#111: Lazarus Brewing

The Bar


Lazarus Brewing. 1902 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 10pm.

The Drink



Lazarus 40 Days & 40 Nights. $5.50.

Our bartender was really enthusiastic about this beer, and I can see why. It's an American IPA, but like the similar 512 IPA it is not very hoppy, with hardly a hops bite to be felt at all, and a generally light body. It was great, not to mention strong: 7.5% ABV is not to be trifled with. I had thought that the name referred to the 40 days of the Easter season between the Resurrection and the Ascension, but evidently the phrase is not literal, and 40 days and nights is just a Biblical euphemism for a long time. You should check this beer out sooner rather than later, however.

The Crew


Vince, Aaron.


Notes


Another brewery, another warehouse. Lazarus has sited themselves in the classic converted warehouse so common to breweries who find old industrial neighborhoods a perfect fit for their business model and price point. This particular warehouse has been transformed into something akin to a beer shrine, with just about everything around reflecting some aspect of the religious theme. There's a big stained glass mural of Jesus and Mary on the patio, half the beers have religious names, the beautiful cut crystal glasses that look like chalices for the "patron saints" who invest in the brewery, and so on. It's a neat way to stand out in an increasingly crowded market, since let's face it - most breweries look pretty similar on the inside, and anything different is appreciated. An aspect of Lazarus we didn't experience but maybe we should have was the food: many people around us were snacking on tacos and some truly immense tortas, and if we weren't still full of food we would have dove in. By day they have more of a large coffeeshop atmosphere, so they're one of those places committed to attracting people all day.

Friday, September 8, 2017

#110: Whisler's

The Bar


Whisler's. 1816 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 9:30pm.

The Drink



Old-Fashioned. Rye whiskey, Angostura bitters, demerara syrup, cherries. $10.

Each time I think I've gushed about Old-Fashioneds enough, and that the well of superlatives has been utterly drained of any new dashes of praise for this oldest of cocktails, I strike a fount of new approbations for them, and the fact that these revelations usually happen in close proximity to the consumption of another Old-Fashioned is probably not a coincidence. Whisler's makes a damn good Old-Fashioned - and chilled, too. A simple drink done well is a thing of beauty, and though their other cocktails are quite nice, I would recommend making this your introduction to Whisler's if you've never been there before. I asked for dealer's choice on the whiskey and failed to capture exactly what it was, but it it was a rye that delivered on everything that has given rye such a colorful history. This was the first time I'd seen demerara syrup; it's made out of demerara sugar, which is a type of cane sugar that when processed into the syrup lends a pleasant caramel-ish taste to the drink. Not recommended if you like yours less sweet, but since this used rye instead of bourbon, it made for a great balance between the two. The cherries were great as well.

The Crew


Aaron, Vince.


Notes


Whisler's has a genuinely cool setup inside its building, conveying the atmosphere of an indoor chapel to dedicated to the god of whiskey and all the other liquors. There is not much space indoors, but what there is feels intimate, both for good and ill - a few candlelit round tables the corner is one thing, but ordering at the bar can get a bit cramped. There's a high vaulted ceiling with a chandelier that contributes to the dim, cozy, boozy atmosphere, and I can tell you from experience that once you get a few people ensconced in one of those corner tables, it's hard to stop ordering more rounds and hunkering down for the night. Outside is much more seating, where you can also hear live music when they've got it, and the stairs lead up to the hidden mezcal bar, about which I will have more to say later.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

#109: COLLiDE atx

The Bar


COLLiDE atx. 1802 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 9pm.

The Drink



Mai Tai. Plantation pineapple rum, Flor de Caña rum, orgeat syrup, lime. $9.

The Mai Tai is an interesting drink, and like all interesting drinks its history is a tangle of lies. It was unquestionably invented somewhere in California, which is about all that's definitively known: who first crafted it, at which bar, and using which ingredients are all under heavy dispute. It seems like history has deemed the Trader Vic's version the official winner, and so by cocktail cladistics every subsequent Mai Tai can trace its heritage to that humble tiki restaurant in Oakland. Collide's version uses Plantation for its dark rum and Flor de Caña for its light rum, but I didn't find out if they made their own orgeat syrup. Fun orgeat facts: the word "orgeat" is not pronounced "oar-geet", but "oar-zhay" in the French manner, and is cognate to the Spanish "horchata", although orgeat is primarily almond-based and not based on rice like its Hispanic cousin. An official Mai Tai should probably have curaçao in it as well, but I either forgot to record it or they declined to include it, and I don't recall tasting any; regardless, it was quite nice, and well worth the price.

The Crew


Aaron, Vince.


Notes


Collide (enough of this "wacky" branded capitalization) is another project from Dunlap ATX, the people who brought you half of Rainey Street. It replaced Burn Pizza very recently with a lot of different things at once: a co-working space, an art gallery, a restaurant, a live music venue, and oh yeah - a bar as well. They were in the latter two modes when we visited on a Wednesday night, hosting an acoustic guitar musician in the open space to the right of the entrance, with a number of patrons listening attentively around him and everyone else sprinkled throughout the interior or gathered outside on the picnic tables. I have to say that even if they do have a conceptual identity crisis it still works for them; we enjoyed our drinks, had some great conversation with fellow patrons, and even dug the tunes. Lots of bars try to firmly brand themselves as one or another of the basic bar archetypes - sports bar, college bar, etc - but there's value in trying to appeal to wide audiences as well. To put it in the kind of highbrow literary terms my readers have come to endure, some bars are foxes and some are hedgehogs, and while any individual bar might do better sticking to one strategy or the other, both foxes and hedgehogs coexist in nature just fine. Collide's flexibility and high quality should let it last in the rapidly evolving East Sixth ecological biome just fine.

#108: Bird's Barbershop

The Bar


Bird's Barbershop. 1107 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 8:30pm.

The Drink



Independence Power & Light. $0.

When we asked the hairdresser to put down her scissors and put on her bartending hat for a moment to recommend us a beer, out of the two available options she picked the Power & Light over the Shiner Bock. Great choice: I've loved Power & Light ever since it came out, and I even remember when I first bought it, on a sunny day in late 2014 at the now-closed Crestview Minimax IGA in order to have something to drink alongside some phenomenal pizza at Little Deli, when the sun was shining and the food right out of the oven....

Self-indulgent memories aside, Power & Light has remained a staple in my fridge ever since. It's a pale ale, so it's not too hoppy, it has a smooth flavor that's enjoyable without ever being too malty, and at 5.5% I can pace myself fairly easily. It seems to go with just about everything, though like I said it's particularly good with pizza. Best of all, it's fairly cheap, and I often see deals for $7.something per sixer at local grocery stores. Also, in a neat tribute to Austin's history its spiffy can art reflects the Seaholm Power Plant, to this day a big part of the city's face on Town Lake. Like I said, a great choice. Of course, ordering it was not quite as easy as it seems....

The Crew


Aaron, Vince.


Notes


Here's a helpful ordering hint: you can't actually order any beer at Bird's. You can receive a beer alongside your haircut, the service at which Bird's excels, but you can't simply walk up to the counter and exchange money in exchange for a beer, no matter how hard you try. Does this make it a bar? Under the strictest, most literal, most exactingly Jesuitical definition of the word, no. Actually, under pretty much any definition the answer is still clearly no: this is a barbershop that happens to provide beer to its paying customers, plain and simple. So including this is a bit misleading, especially since we didn't even get haircuts, we just showed up 30 minutes before closing time and threw ourselves at the mercy of the staff. But because they were kind enough to help me in my quest, I will give them a shoutout on this extremely influential, universally-read blog. Had I been in need of a trim, there are far worse places I could have gone: they have an Asteroid machine, a nice layout, and $25 is not bad at all for a short haircut, if I had needed one. Some people get blackout drunk and wake up with a tattoo, and though I didn't wake up with a new style (perhaps a hungover trim should be a "haircut of the dog"?), who's to say what might happen on some future bar crawling night?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

#107: Gelateria Gemelli

The Bar


Gelateria Gemelli. 1009 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 8/2/17 @ 8pm.

The Drink



Amaro flight. Sibilla, Cynar, Meletti. $20.

Getting more familiar with drink ingredients like amaro has been one of the great pleasures of this journey, so imagine my delight when I learned that there's a gelato joint that actually specializes in different varieties of the Italian liqueur. Requesting dealer's choice at this location got us not one, not two, but three separate amari, each with its own distinct character:


  • Sibilla: Strong flavor of anise (though I learned it's actually honey), low sweetness, and a harsh aftertaste.
  • Cynar: Sweeter than Sibilla, very herbal but smooth, I didn't guess that it was an artichoke flavor at the time but it totally makes sense after the fact.
  • Meletti: A slight bit of a medicinal bitterness at first, with more complex flavors later on.


The Meletti has been much appreciated whenever it's shown up in my cocktails, and I would rank the Cynar up there as well. You can get individual amari as well as cocktails, but I'm glad I got the flight. The more options, the better! Additionally, the combination of the liqueurs and the gelato that I got worked really well together; I joked at the time that it was a very romantic pairing, and I bet that this has made a solid date stop for a lot of people.

The Crew


Aaron, Vince.


Notes


2015 must have been a banner year for development on East Sixth, because it seems like every other bar in the area is a bit over two years old. Gelateria Gemelli has a can't-miss concept - booze and ice cream go well together (see Prohibition Creamery just a few blocks up on Seventh Street), and given that gelato is essentially just better ice cream, this merging of the two traditions could not have been more welcome. We had the fernet stracciatella and lemon gelato flavors, which were both excellent, and although neither of their products are exactly cheap (I have no idea how much they would go for in Italy but here a small gelato is $4 and a pint runs about $9), like all artisanal experiences you're paying for the novelty and the higher quality. I can only dream of the kind of lifestyle I would be leading where Gelateria Gemelli would be my neighborhood bar / ice cream shop, but for a single stop it was excellent.

Friday, September 1, 2017

#106: Zilker Brewing

The Bar


Zilker Brewing. 1701 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/29/17 @ 12am.

The Drink



Zilker Marco IPA. $6.

I like American IPAs - they're hoppy enough to have a good bite to them to them, yet are smooth enough that I don't get sick of them after one or two, plus there's usually some other interesting flavors going on. Zilker's entry in the famous category that played such a big role in the craft beer movement is no exception, with enough hops to be noticeable but not overwhelming, and a good malt background. My favorite IPA is still 512's superb edition, but this hangs right in there with it, and at 7%, it's nearly as alcoholic as 512's 7.2% contender. Plus they advertise it as being burnt orange in color, and while it might not be up to Pantone standards, as a shameless Longhorns fan I can't help but be charmed by such open pandering.

The Crew


James, Aaron, Rome, Wolf, Anthony.


Notes


If you've been to one brewery you've been to nearly all of them - big gleaming fermenters, spools of tubing, harsh fluorescent lighting over unadorned concrete floors, hastily scribbled-on chalkboards, long wooden picnic tables, and (most importantly) a row of taps for the beers. Zilker's layout checks off just about every one of those boxes, so don't go in expecting some kind of ornate, elaborate Settecento architecture. The focus is on the beer, as it should be. The brewery itself has been open for a bit over two years, although it feels like I've seen their beer around for longer than that. Has it really only been since 2015 since we've had the Coffee Milk Stout and the Parks and Rec Pale Ale? False beer memories aside, they've become a great meeting place on that stretch of East Sixth, a worthy place to grab a beer and wait for the rest of your party to show up before you go elsewhere. Or, in our case, a great place to end the night on.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

#105: Milonga Room

The Bar


Milonga Room. 1201 E 6th St., Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/29/17 @ 10pm.

The Drink



Milongüero. Bulleit rye whiskey, amaro meletti, Angostura bitters, orange. $12.

A milonga is a variety of tango, and güero (or güera) refers to lighter/paler persons, so a Milongüero might best be translated as a "white guy's dance". But, since we're here for mixology as opposed to the etymology or choreology, no matter how amusing the drink puns might be, I will concentrate more on the gustatory qualities of this riff on an Old-Fashioned than the linguistics. The major high point of this drink was the inclusion of amaro meletti, one of the many delicious Italian liqueurs I've become such a fan of. The meletti is not as astringent as some of the other amari, so it gave the Old-Fashioned a richer, more savory complexion than I'm used to, which was further reinforced by its lack of sweetness compared to an off-the-shelf model. We really liked ours, and since this was so good, we also had some other drinks: they made a killer version of a Last Word, an underrated cocktail if there ever was one, and the bartender was determined that we try a few selections from their legendary fernet selection. Well, if you insist!

The Crew


Anthony, James, Aaron, Wolf, Rome (not pictured), Will (not pictured), Jackie (not pictured), Chris (not pictured), Jessica (not pictured).


Notes


Milonga Room is nestled below Buenos Aires Cafe, an excellent Argentinian/Argentine restaurant with phenomenal food and a welcoming, homey atmosphere. Unfortunately "welcoming" is decidedly not an adjective I would use to describe Milonga Room, which follows the age-old speakeasy custom of artificially fostering an air of exclusivity solely to make its patrons feel like they're part of a club. Yeah, their reservation-only policy is not very different from many other places like Midnight Cowboy, but they were far harsher than they needed to be in accommodating members of my party that arrived separately, especially when we were nearly the only ones in there, spending heavily at the bar. I will never shake my affinity for the democratic spirit of the dive bar, even if I recognize that enforcing exclusivity makes the inside more pleasant than the outside. So if you have the stomach to make it past the door, you'll find an excellent little bar with a classy interior and some seriously skilled bartenders. There's one main room with a bar that seats about five or six, lined with benches and a few tables and couches, upholstered and wallpapered to evoke the kind of languorous Argentine brothel you'd visit after a good tango session. The lighting was at just the right mix between intimacy and darkness (dimtimacy?), and the drink service was pretty excellent. If you can handle some snobbery, a one-two combo of the restaurant upstairs and the bar below would make for a great date night.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

#104: The Grackle

The Bar


The Grackle. 1700 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/29/17 @ 9pm.

The Drink



Old-Fashioned. Draft. $10.

Before this bar crawl, the idea of an Old-Fashioned on draft would have blown my mind. Just imagine - the nectar of the gods on tap! Ingredient quality and mixology skill be damned, the convenience alone could be revolutionary, worthy of a slot in the Pee-Wee Herman breakfast machine. Of course, now that I've become an impossibly jaded drinking veteran, who's even received Old-Fashioneds in a can on Sixth Street, an Old-Fashioned on draft is a bit less revelatory than it might have been before. If you suspected that this wouldn't be the most immaculately prepared Old-Fashioned you've ever seen you'd be right - at least the ice and the peel were added by hand - but it was still a worthy cocktail, since The Grackle is justly famous for its liquor selection and there's no way they'd skimp of the underlying ingredients. I got a smooth, strong Old-Fashioned for about what a regular Old-Fashioned would cost, and it was very similar. I wouldn't call this the world's greatest innovation, compared to all the other great labor-saving inventions in history, but it was one of the more drinkable cocktail advances I've come across.

The Crew


Wolf, Jessica, Rome, Chris, Aaron, James, Will, Jackie, Anthony (not pictured).


Notes


In terms of animals in Austin, the grackle is far from the most loved. Armadillossalamanders, and even golden-cheeked warblers and black-capped vireos have traditionally gotten more respect than the grackle, which is just what you'd expect from a bird whose mass noun is an "annoyance". Yet maybe those heroic attempts to hipsterize the grackle have worked - even I have grackle socks from KUTX - and so perhaps we should learn to love those feathered hustlers as much as this bar does. They've been around for a little over 6 years, working as both a bar and a concert venue. I've seen some great bands like Magnet School and Peelander-Z here, as well as plenty of other SXSW bands; their outdoor seating is spacious and comfortable, to say nothing of the big caliche front lot where the bands actually set up. I dig the interior too, which gives their impressive liquor selection top billing while allowing for enough seating for you and your crew. I'm not sure what the mass noun is for drinkers, but either way, The Grackle is a good place to roost for a while.

Friday, August 18, 2017

#103: The Liberty

The Bar


The Liberty. 1618 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/29/17 @ 8pm.

The Drink



Party Radler. Jimador tequila, grapefruit Stiegl radler. $10.

Like most people, I get a little involuntary smile on my face whenever I'm presented with a giant pitcher of anything. "Quantity has a quality all its own", as the saying goes. More booze = better than. But there's a time and a place for everything, and so I was glad that instead of a pitcher of whiskey coke or Long Island Ice Tea, we got something more appropriate to the miserable summer heat. A radler is a shandy, a low-ABV mix of beer and some type of fruit soda. Stiegl's grapefuit radler is no exception, at 2% ABV and a nice grapefruit flavor. However, any reduction in strength provided for by the shandy was easily outmatched by the tequila, except that all you could taste was the refreshing tang of the radler. If you can handle tequila and grapefruit, this might be the ultimate summer patio drink, a tasty way to get hammered in the sunshine.

The Crew


Rome, Wolf, Aaron, Anthony.


Notes


The Liberty is another member of the family that includes its siblings Shangri-La, the Grackle, and the Brixton. It's existed for 8 years with a silent owner - to most bar managers, the best kind of owner - on the same rapidly changing stretch of road as my namesake apartment complex the Arnold, as well as famous concert/festival promoters C3 Presents. I know that the category of "upscale dive bar" was designed to be mocked, but it seems to leap naturally to the mind when I try to describe The Liberty. The interior is dim, but it's clean; the drinks are cheap, but the selections are varied and there's nicer cocktails; the clientele includes a lot of regulars, but they seem like they all live in loft apartments. Even the bar food is awesome: East Side King has a trailer set up out back to serve up its incredible Asian fusion, so you don't have to worry about being stuck with the same old burgers-and-fries options when you're a few beers in. I'll be honest, when we were out relaxing on their spacious back patio, sipping away at our refreshing tequila pitchers, snacking away on some karaage chicken and jasmine rice, it was tough to leave. If this is what a profanation of the concept of a dive bar is like, then bring on the sacrilege.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

#102: Hotel Vegas

The Bar


Hotel Vegas. 1502 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/29/17 @ 7pm.

The Drink



Lone Star. $3.

Another refreshing Lone Star! Apparently this bar was the top-selling Lone Star vendor on all of Sixth Street for 2016, and they even have a plaque to that effect affixed to the wall behind the bar that was bestowed by the brewery itself. I can't find any statistics on Lone Star sales in Austin, let alone on Sixth Street specifically, but knowing the local love for Lone Star, that's an impressive feat. I wonder how you would do the Fermi problem for this:


  • Hotel Vegas' sales = (Total sales) / (Austin's share of total sales) / (Sixth Street's share of Austin) / (Hotel Vegas' share of Sixth Street)


As with all math involving alcohol, this problem would best be tackled after about three beers, which is enough to start wondering about numbers like this, but not so many as to get belligerent when you realize that you can't even guess at the relevant quantities involved. The third Lone Star is known as the "mathematician's Lone Star" for precisely this reason, and as it happens, this was the third Lone Star I was recommended on this quest. I leave the solution as an exercise for the reader.

The Crew


Rome, Aaron, Wolf, Anthony (not pictured).


Notes


I've seen a lot of great shows at Hotel Vegas. Like I've mentioned, it's the sister bar to the Volstead, and it focuses more on live music as opposed to being "just" a bar. The stage is centered in the room when you walk in, so that it gets really really loud during each band's set. Of course, if for some reason live music isn't your thing yet you happen to be at the bar anyway, you could escape to the outdoor patio... except that sometimes there's bands playing there too! At least outside you can sit down on their park benches, under tents that protect you from the burning sun, which is an amenity that not all bars remember to provide. It might not matter during the winter, but during the appalling Texas summer there's not much worse than feeling yourself cook like an egg under the pitiless gaze of our greatest nemesis. One feature of Hotel Vegas that I can't believe I never noticed was the apartments on top. According to the bartender they used to be the rooms of a brothel, which is a fun historical tidbit. Those days are sadly long gone, thanks to the grim march of gentrification (and the onset of the age of Tinder), but as colorful as the epoch of the no-tell motel must have been, I'm glad that it's become Hotel Vegas.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

#101: The Volstead

The Bar


The Volstead. 1500 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/26/17 @ 10pm.

The Drink



Irish Tenant. Jameson Caskmates whiskey, lemon, apricot, almond, Bittermen's ‘Elemakule Tiki bitters. $8.

For this night only, their specialty drink got renamed to "The One With Whiskey" because there was a Friends trivia night going on when we visited. Much as I'm sure everyone is dying to hear my opinion of Friends, it has nothing to do with the drink, which I would have preferred on the rocks. Just as all frozen drinks do, the Irish Tenant forces you to drink it slowly. I'm not sure if this is one of those angry-old-man things, but I've found myself increasingly irritated by drinks that force me to go at their pace and not at mine, even if taking it easy might be a good idea after a few rounds. If I want to pass out in the gutter like a Flann O'Brien character that's my right! I had never heard of Jameson's Caskmates brand, but it's interesting - a whiskey that's aged in a barrel that was previously used to condition a stout, which was itself conditioned in whiskey barrels. The circle of life complete! You are unfortunately not able to taste any of this cosmic journey through the whiskey Lifestream because the drink is so damn cold; that's what happens when you turn what would have been an excellent cocktail into a snowcone flavor. However, the drink itself was still not bad at all, with a pleasant sweet taste, and it even introduced me to a new and excellent type of bitters, which is from Austin. Not bad!

The Crew


Hannah, Travis, Kaylee, Aaron, Michael.


Notes


For a long time, like years and years, I wasn't really sure what the deal was with The Volstead and its next door neighbor Hotel Vegas, so eventually I did what I should have done from the very beginning and just asked the bartender: it has the same owner but a different manager than its sister bar. Mystery solved! There's a very loose separation between the two, and I've seen drunk people try to cross back and forth many times. This is the more bar-focused venue, as opposed to the more show-focused Hotel Vegas, though there is often a DJ for regular hip hop nights. When we were there it was Friends trivia night, as I said, so every square inch of the spacious outdoor patio was crammed with people who wasted their lives memorizing details of that terrible show. Those people made it a drag to get to the awesome food trucks in the back, to get more of the great drinks from the bar - it was awful! Nothing is worse than other people having a good time that has nothing to do with you.

Monday, August 14, 2017

#100: The Eastern

The Bar


The Eastern. 1511B E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/26/17 @ 9pm.

The Drink



Lone Star. $3.

"We're a dive bar, man, so what you see is what we are." Thus spake the bartender, shortly before handing me a Lone Star, which is for me the beer that truly defines not just Sixth Street, but a huge percentage of my drinking life. I know that Austin Beerworks' Pearl Snap is the "official beer of Austin", and that there are plenty of other pale lagers that rank even higher than Lone Star on review sites, and there are hundreds of individual beers on tap across the whole length of the street, but for me it doesn't get any simpler than a Lone Star. Even though its parent company Pabst is now partly owned by a Russian and headquartered in LA, which I can hardly believe, Lone Star itself has such a strong connection to Texas that no one would mistake it for anything other than a cheap and reliable standby beer. This was only the second time I had been recommended it, and the first on its own. But as long as your tastes run towards the cheap and simple, you can't go wrong with anything else here.

The Crew


Kaylee, Michael, Aaron, Travis, Hannah.


Notes


The bartender was exactly right about what kind of a joint this is; among my circle the Eastern possesses a certain amount of infamy for its particular brand of squalor and peculiar clientele. Though property values on East Sixth are rising fast enough to make your head spin, The Eastern remains resolutely low-rent; the kind of place where, when you're asked what kind of whiskey you want, the answer is always "well". Normally they have live music, typically hip hop on the weekends, but this Wednesday was fairly silent. That gave us the space to start chatting with the bartender about the venue, its history, and Austin more generally, but you shouldn't expect that kind of intimacy on regular nights, when it's all about inhaling as many cheap but potent drinks as possible and seeing what kinds of fascinating people you bump into.

Friday, August 11, 2017

#99: Kuneho

The Bar


Kuneho. 1600 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/26/17 @ 7:30pm.

EDIT: Kuneho is now closed.

The Drink



Cheeky warbler. Suntory Toki whiskey, Blanco tequila, yellow chartreuse, honey butter gardenia syrup, orange, lemon, absinthe, passionflower sprig. $15.

As Kuneho is relatively famous for their craft cocktails, despite only recently opening, it would have been a crime not to order the craftiest of them all as determined by my bartender. Wonderful choice: this was one of the smoothest cocktails I've ever had, to the point where I would have bet money on this having some egg white in the mix. The combination of whiskey and tequila might give some people pangs of incipient hangovers, but the mix was quite congenial. Suntory itself is a global behemoth, and the Toki brand is one of its blended whiskies. You can't really taste it, since there are so many other flavors in here, but they all blend to a really creamy, harmonious whole. Sometimes you get a cocktail that you want to savor like a meal, and this was one of them. I would call this a high point in cocktail-drinking, except for the very next one I ordered....


Rosso G&T. Genius Old Highborn gin, cannonau tonic, Topo Chico. $12.

I loved the last cocktail so much I decided to order a second, and because it was one of the greatest gin and tonics I've ever had, I decided to include it here as well. The first thing you're probably thinking when you look at it is "Why does a gin and tonic look like a watered-down Bloody Mary?" That's because the tonic is infused with cannonau grapes, a variety of Grenache red grapes primarily produced in Sardinia.You can read all kinds of those amusingly dubious articles about how wines made with those grapes make you live longer; marketing nonsense aside, the resulting tonic was absolutely delicious, with a rich wine flavor that went incredibly well with the gin. Old Highborn is a product of the Genius distillery from right here in Austin, and I can vouch for how smooth the gin is on its own, with some really tasty botanicals. With the tonic, it was incredible. This might in all seriousness be the best gin and tonic in Austin, and if it isn't, someone needs to tell me where a better one is pronto.

The Crew


Travis, Aaron, Hannah, Kaylee, Michael.


Notes


Kuneho is another Paul Qui product, which very recently replaced the modestly-named Qui. The name is Tagalog for "rabbit", which presumably indicates that there's some sort of continuity between the last restaurant and this new "concept" (I hate that term - why can't a restaurant just be a place to get food?). I never ate at Qui, and we didn't eat here either, although I have been to Uchi and Uchiko, but Kuneho looked of a piece with the new wave of high-end restaurants washing up on the shores of Sixth Street: classy, elegant, expensive. The bar has a very carefully curated bottle selection, and the rest of the restaurant has plenty of wood paneling and minimalist design accents to "enhance the value-add proposition", as they say. The bar section itself is not very large, but the service is excellent, and the bartender was funny, helpful, and quite good for having only worked there for a month and a half. I don't think I'll ever make enough money to be the kind of person who comes to Qui frequently, but their cocktail selection is so good that between our party we tried every single one on the list.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

#98: La Perla

The Bar


La Perla. 1512 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/26/17 @ 7pm.

The Drink



ArModelo. Modelo Especial, Tabasco sauce, lime juice, salt. $3.

A humble specialty for a humble establishment, this working-class tribute to the noble animal so beloved in Austin gives one of the least pretentious beers out there just a few sidekicks in a sort of very low-key michelada. There's a ritual to consumption: after the bartender pours the additions on top of the beer, you pop the top, let those additions mix in a bit by tilting and rotating it, and then drink it either fast or slow, depending on your tolerance for Tabasco in your beer. I had never thought to put Tabasco in my beer before, although I've had it in cocktails (and, regrettably, in shots), and it turns out that Tabasco sinks to the bottom and makes the final few sips an unpleasant vinegar stew. I should have chugged it faster - aren't specialties generally meant to be savored, not to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible? - but perhaps that's my fault for treating a beer like a Scotch. Read the room! This would be a good first beer to buy your friend on a birthday bar crawl.

The Crew


Aaron, Kaylee, Michael.


Notes


Despite what Google tells you, La Perla is not related to either the lingerie maker or to the South Austin oyster joint, although I'm sure some entrepreneurial mind has had visions of synergies dance in their head in the past. It's a traditionally Hispanic working-class bar with a multi-decade-long history in one of the fastest-changing parts of Austin, sharing basically nothing with the upscale craft cocktail joints and high-price restaurants springing up around it. In a different world, La Perla might be considered in the pantheon of beloved longstanding dive bar institutions like Deep Eddy Cabaret or Buddy's Place, but instead it'll probably end up like Poodle Dog, shuttered and sent off to a Sixth Street upstate one day. There's a documentary about its place in the community in the works, but for now it's still here, a cheap, dingy, not especially well-lit bar with a small drink menu and loads of regulars. Tejano on the jukebox, fútbol on the TV, borrachos at the bar. You can tell a lot about a bar by its decor, and this is the kind of place that coats its walls with graffiti and curling Polaroids of regular patrons from decades past rather than polished sconces or $400 abstract paintings. For that exact reason it's unlikely to attract enough new patrons to be able to keep up with the rising rent and property taxes in this area for too much longer, but for now you can still step in and be transported back to a different era of Austin. We shouldn't romanticize the past - this is, objectively, not a fantastic bar for an outsider - but we shouldn't forget it either, and I'm glad that this place is still perched on its street corner.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

#97: The Brixton

The Bar


The Brixton. 1412 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/21/17 @ 1am.

The Drink



Brixton mule. Tito's vodka, ginger beer, lime, jalapeño. $8.

A fairly standard take on the Moscow mule, with the daintily floating jalapeño the lone deviation from the mule script. Nothing fancy, which suits me - despite Tito's not actually being "handmade" (it's just as industrial an operation as you'd expect anything selling over a million cases a year to be), it and fellow hometown hero Deep Eddy are my favorite vodkas, and they don't need any special twists to shine in a drink. One thing that I've learned throughout this journey is that it really doesn't matter much to me how closely drinks adhere to their traditional formulas. I've had excellent drinks that fit the dictionary definition to a T, and excellent drinks that share nothing but the name with their supposed archetypes. That infamous American Standards Association Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis document which declares that vodka "is never employed in a dry martini" is both a laudable attempt to provide some clarity to drink preparation, and a Sisyphean struggle against the human desire for novelty. Sometimes you want a classic, sometimes you want to roll the dice, but either way, only the skill of the bartender and the quality of the ingredients stands between you and disaster. I survived this experience just fine.


The Crew


Aaron, Alexis, Chris.


Notes


I first knew The Brixton as a punk-themed bar, named after the Clash song of course! They've undergone some changes in the years since they've opened, most famously due to their appearance on Bar Rescue. I'm not sure how accurate this account of that interaction is, but I'm glad they declined to stick with the stupid "Rocket Room 6" name that the show suggested. It's one thing to spruce up the interior, get nicer cups, and add some higher-margin drink options to attract more patrons, even if that's hardly the "punk" thing to do; it's another thing to pick a name that was almost certainly inspired by some consultant literally just looking around the room ("The name was inspired by a rocket tattoo on Tim’s arm with the number due to the bar being at Sixth Street"). In its current form, The Brixton is somewhat cleaner than it's been, with the hardly the scuzzy atmosphere you'd normally associate with punk. I vividly remember it being the very first place I ever saw Shiner Ruby Redbird on draft, which converted me from a hater to a fan. They've usually got multiple movies showing on the TVs around the interior - I've seen everything from Godzilla to Escape From New York to Independence Day playing. To even further enhance the viewing experience, they've also added a projection screen outside, which was showing The Craft when we were there. Also not the most punk movie! Oh well, at least the bartenders are still friendly, and if you can hang onto that, then you've got most of what counts.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

#96: Revelry

The Bar


Revelry Kitchen + Bar. 1410 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Visited 7/21/17 @ 12am.

The Drink



RKB Mint cherry limeade. ​Zodiac black cherry vodka, mint syrup, lime, Topo Chico. $8.

Sometimes it pays to read. When I saw this drink on the menu right before the bartender suggested it to me, I was hoping it would be an alcoholic version of the famous cherry limeade from Sonic, one of the best fast food drinks out there. I've drank gallons of Sonic's copiously-iced beverages over the years, so I had an immediate reaction when the taste of Revelry's liquor drink did not quite match up: it had a better cherry flavor (though I was quite fond of Sonic's wildly artificial cherry syrup), less lime, and far more mint than I was expecting, even though it's basically the first word in the title of the drink. Maybe I should pay more attention sometimes! I don't know how you feel about the combination of sweet and minty flavors: sometimes it works, as in the mint julep; sometimes it feels a bit off. I think I honestly would have preferred the equivalent of some vodka dumped into a Sonic cherry limeade, but perhaps that says more about where I was at that point in the night than the drink itself - you really can't blame a bartender for the low class and dull palate of her patrons.

The Crew


Chris, Alexis, Aaron, Lisa, Jeff.


Notes


Revelry was one of the places that wasn't on my list, so I had to find it the hard way: on foot, as a serendipitous discovery right before The Brixton. You get to it by climbing up some stairs, where you're greeted by a patio centered around a massive, beautiful old pecan tree. The pecan tree is rightly the state tree of Texas and a valuable part of the Austin treescape, even if we have far more ashe junipers, cedar elms, and live oaks by the numbers, and despite our esteemed governor's pontifications, I think the economic, environmental, and social benefits of our efforts to preserve our trees results in much more pleasant buildings, even bars. The interior also makes great use of wood, as seen in the bartop, the tabletops, the exposed rafters, and so on, so as long as your idea of great decor involves varnish, spalting, and chatoyance, you'll be in heaven. They've got a bunch of TVs and an excellent kitchen as well, which makes it one of the more inviting establishments on the street for a long stay. I could see myself spending a pleasant afternoon here if I wanted the amenities of a sports bar without the atmosphere.