Friday, April 28, 2017

#75: Big Bang

The Bar


Big Bang. 412 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/26/17 @ 9pm.

The Drink





Flaming Dreamsicle. Pinnacle whipped cream vodka, Licor 43, orange Fanta. $8.75.

Drinks that involve fire are cool; on this I think we can all agree. I would have thought that they're as exasperating for the bartenders to make as they are exciting for the patron to drink, but on a slow night like it was, the bartender practically demanded that we try these, I guess as opposed to him having to make his ten millionth plain-Jane Jameson shot. Here's how it works, if you have somehow never had a flaming drink before: you stand back while the bartender holds a mouthful of booze in his mouth, splashes a bit more on the bar and lights it, then dips his finger in the puddle's flame, holds the lit finger to his mouth, and spits fire across the row of drinks, which ignites them all in a spectacular fireball. The flaming shots fall into the beers and are instantly extinguished in time for you to then grab your glass and chug, to the general approval of the bar. The Flaming Dr Pepper is the gold standard for this type of drink; this differs only in that it tastes like an orange Dreamsicle thanks to the Licor 43, a Spanish citrus liqueur with 43 "secret ingredients". That seems like an excessive number of secret ingredients for a citrus liqueur (it's not a fried chicken recipe or a nuclear warhead), but the end product was exactly the kind of childhood taste memory in a glass you'd want. They also have plenty of other, more complex shots that looked great.

The Crew


Travis, Hannah, Rome, Aaron, Davis.


Notes


I didn't put this together until the bartender told me, but Friends, Big Bang. and Cheers are all part of the same TV show-themed bar family. I personally would quibble with some of those specific choices, but the general concept is sound, and of course I suppose there are far worse things to start naming your bars after: war criminals, venereal diseases, and so forth. Keep in mind that these bars share only the name with their respective shows, so don't walk into this bar expecting the same level of laugh-a-minute zaniness that's kept that lovable band of misfits a prime-time network television comedy sensation for so many years; this isn't that kind of place. It's fairly low-frills: a small dance area beside the door leads up to the main and only bar, with the typically narrow queueing area eventually leading to the back of the establishment. Nothing fancy, but you're not reading this for the architectural details, right?

I say this a lot, but going to bars on a quiet weeknight like Wednesday gives you a vastly different experience than going at peak times. Sure, the nightlife is turned down a little, but the opportunity to have a good time with your own crew more than makes up for it, as long as your crew is good (it is, right?), plus you get vastly better service, especially when the bar staff is as friendly as Big Bang's was. I think what a lot of people get wrong about Dirty Sixth is that they're looking for each interaction to knock their socks off at all times, and they put far too much weight on the flashiness of the bar. In reality, the bars are for the most part fairly similar, staff are generally pretty competent, and it's the attitude of the patrons that makes the biggest difference in how much fun a bar is. Most of the time, you bring your own happiness with you, and we had a blast here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

#74: Burnside's Tavern

The Bar


Burnside's Tavern. 413 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/26/17 @ 8:30pm.

The Drink



Burnside's Bulldog. Ketel One vodka, Boulaine coffee liqueur, whipped cream, Coke. $8.

This drink was delicious, which is exactly what you'd hope for from a signature cocktail. The rich coffee base with whipped cream on top, livened up by a splash of Coke, means it would be a perfect after-dinner dessert-style drink, if you're one of those people who actually plans ahead to pair drinks with food. We were only there to have our one drink and leave, but it felt like something I should have been enjoying after I'd finished a big fancy dinner, my napkin folded beside the remains of my meal, the candlelight reflected in my glass, with my high-backed chair pushed away from the table to better appreciate the roaring fire beside the frost-tinted windows. They also offered a comically huge Moscow Mule in an oversized mug that requires four people to be present to order, but I'm glad we chose this instead.

The Crew


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


Notes


Veteran Sixth Street patrons might have a hard time getting used to the fact that this location is no longer Treasure Island, one of those magical bars that sold 25 cent wells yet somehow mysteriously stayed open. Well, not so mysteriously - when you run drugs on the side, it's really easy to run a bar as a charity. Now in in its fourth year, Burnside's seem to have established its own identity. The bartender was very proud of how popular it was among college students, proudly pointing out the Best College Bar plaques to the left of the picture of General Burnside in our photo. Of course, any title like that is going to be heavily bogus, but in the cutthroat environment of Dirty Sixth, you grab any marketing edge you can get. It's also established its own identity in the sense of being rebranded heavily around the famously shaved but infamously incompetent General Ambrose Burnside, who has no ties to Texas that I know of. Why Burnside and not Sherman, Sheridan, or Grant I don't know, but in a city that makes a big deal out of facial hair like Austin does, maybe the sideburn angle is another marketing win. While you're there you can gaze at the many pictures of the General with hilarious quotes about how inept he was, play beer pong, listen to live music, chill on the dance floor, or just hang out at the bar, safe from being sent to get blown up in a crater or be used for target practice by Confederate artillery.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

#73: The Lodge

The Bar


The Lodge. 411 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/20/17 @ 1:30am.

The Drink



Pickleback shot. Jameson, pickle juice. $5.

What this country needs is a really good $5 pickleback. Unlike the unfathomably overpriced edition we received at The Library, The Lodge's version came in at a mere five bucks, a boon to all the budget-conscious shot-takers out there. I already talked the drink to death so there's not too much else to say about this near-ideal union between whiskey and pickle juice, other than that I still really enjoy them. Evidently there are haters out there somewhere, but I firmly believe that they just need to open their hearts to this two-part shot and savor some brine time.

The Crew


Gary, Stephanie, Aaron.


Notes


I'll be honest, I don't remember much of this stop. I do dimly recall a friendly divey atmosphere, the kind of shabbiness that sits on the comfortable side of the line between homey and tacky. Tons of taxidermy adorn the walls, so they're going for a sort of hunting lodge vibe, as opposed to the "wacky" vibe you get from places like The Jackalope that also do that sort of thing. One moose head is eclectic; several moose heads is a theme. I wonder if that's how all interior design trends start, with one designer finding something he really likes and using it over and over again, turning an eccentric quirk into a theme by sheer dint of repetition. If Piet Mondrian had just drawn some lines and colored blocks once, people would have thought he just didn't know how to make art; but by refusing to stop doing it, he paint-by-numbered his way right into the canon. Same with Andy Warhol and his soup cans: one soup can and you were probably bored and couldn't think of anything interesting to paint; many soup cans, and you surely have something deep and thoughtful to say about society's relationship to the products of consumer capitalism.

In conclusion, any place with reasonably priced drinks will get a thumbs up from me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#72: Toulouse

The Bar


Toulouse. 409 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/20/17 @ 1am.

The Drink



Adios, motherfucker!. Tequila, whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, triple sec, blue curaçao, sour. $5.75.

I honestly thought that these drinks were a joke when I first encountered one at Peckerheads, but now that I've found another specimen in the wild, it's apparent that they're real, and they're spectacular. At a whole $.25 more than the Peckerheads varietal, Toulouse's rendition of what is somehow a standard cocktail does not offer the cheapest Adios, motherfucker! you can find on Sixth Street. That might be a real drag for those of you saving your quarters for laundry day, but at least for my money they added a lemon garnish, which I appreciated since I'm one of those people who puts a lemon or lime in basically everything I drink, especially ice water. Did you know that the discovery that citrus prevented scurvy caused a global boom in lemon prices, eventually leading to the foundation of the mafia as a protection racket for Sicilian lemon growers? It's true. I'm not sure what you'd do with that knowledge, since to the best of my knowledge the mafia has moved on to other activities besides beating up fruit rustlers, and citrus cultivation is no more or less exploitative than that of other globalized agricultural commodities, but it's something to think about as you enjoy a drink with a lemon in it, especially a drink like this which will shortly remove your ability to think about anything at all.

The Crew


Stephanie, Gary, Aaron.


Notes


This is evidently the second incarnation of the Toulouse brand on Sixth Street, although I didn't have a chance to speak with anyone in charge to get any more backstory on their departure in 1996 or their later return a few doors down the street from their old location (which is now Peckerheads, funnily enough). ​They also don't seem to have much of an online presence either. Theoretically Toulouse has a Mardi Gras theme; in practice it's more of a generic party theme, and when we were there, the main area was dance party central. If you're the kind of person who minds random girls dancing up on you while you're in line for a drink then stay away, but normal people should be just fine. Once we'd gotten our massive drinks we took a quick visit to the back patio to check it out, but we quickly retreated. It's larger than you would expect, but enclosed in a way that makes it feel claustrophobic, and although normally cigarette smoke is just one of those things you put up with in smoking areas, the smell was oppressive here. Plus, the patio is still cozy enough that you're close to the other clusters of people, and you end up making that awkward eye contact with them as you unavoidably eavesdrop on whatever they're chatting about. It's just not the kind of place you want to spend a lot of time, so we didn't. The dance floor is a good place to watch drunk girls grind on each other, though.

Monday, April 24, 2017

#71: The 512

The Bar


The 512. 408 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/20/17 @ 12am.

The Drink



The 512. ​Frozen rum and coke, Sailor Jerry's rum, amaretto, simple syrup. $7.

Naming a drink after the bar itself is a bold move. Is it safe for any individual drink to bear the reputational weight of the whole bar upon its shoulders like some Atlas of alcohol? If customers don't like the drink, is it the eponym's fault, or could they be holding a grudge against the ambiance, the clientele, some subtle confluence of ill mood during the evening? The drink, and the bar, can breathe a bit easier, since Austin's original area code 512 is absolutely ubiquitous around town as a symbol of True Austin (sorry 737-havers!), and therefore the drink can get only positive vibes from the association. The 512 itself is... well, to be honest, it tasted like I imagine the legendary "Super Squishee made entirely out of syrup" did: extremely sweet, to the point where my teeth started to hurt a few sips in. I appreciated that they took frozen rum and coke and added even more rum to it, since it was plenty strong, but man, not even the most dedicated aspiring Junior Camper could stomach more than one of these per session, at least not without their own dental plan.

The Crew


Aaron, Gary, Stephanie.


Notes


In keeping with the goodwill bestowed upon the bar by its name, The 512 endeared itself to me right away, since no sooner did we walk in than the DJ started playing I Wish, one of the greatest hip hop songs of all time. Good background music makes a big difference in a bar's atmosphere, if you're one of those people who walk around with an imaginary soundtrack in your head, or if you like to jam out on the dance floor. There's two levels: the dance floor below, the lounge area above. There wasn't anyone upstairs (or downstairs, for that matter), so we had plenty of time to hang out on the upstairs balcony, awash in the light from colored raver LEDs, and gaze out at the street below. I was intrigued that the upstairs balcony had some peculiar glasswork (which you can see behind the benches in front) that I've only seen at the 1940s-vintage Barton Springs bathhouse. The buildings on this stretch of Sixth are old enough that it wouldn't be completely out of the realm of possibility for some past owner to have installed fancy glasswork, though the neon lights playing upon it here seemed as modern as you could want. The current owner is independent operator Benjamin Scott, which surprises me in this dense bar cluster since you would expect the property to be fiercely fought over by guys with big pockets. I hope there's always room on the street for newcomers to try to make their own mark.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#70: The Library

The Bar


The Library. 407 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/8/17 @ 1am.

The Drink



Pickleback shot. Jameson, pickle juice. $10.

$10 is a steep price for any shot, let alone one that's half pickle juice, the cost of which can't be more than a few pennies. It's especially galling coming from a bar that used to be as cheap as The Library was back in the day. However, yet again I can't fault the bar or claim ignorance: if you're a bartender on a Friday night, when some guy comes up to you and asks you some involved question about a drink showing off the bar with his three friends in tow, are you going to neglect the other patrons and spend 5 minutes crafting some complex cocktail that the rest of the gang may not even like, or are you going to go for the most quickest and high-margin drink you can make? Well, the joke's on them, because I actually love picklebacks. I don't care if it smacks of "I'm a poor college student and all I have in my dorm room fridge is a bottle of whiskey and a jar of pickles". Whiskey's great, of course, but I sincerely love pickle juice: I savored it when I was a kid getting pickles at school lunch, it's surprisingly versatile in food contexts, and as a chaser it's great at eliminating those infamous post-shot "whiskey shivers" your body produces as it attempts to recover from the great wrong you have just visited upon it. I'll still chafe at the price, since this is essentially just a $10 shot of Jameson, but the combination itself is a classic.

The Crew


Karen, Cecilia, Travis, Aaron.


Notes


I went to The Library a lot when I was in college. One of the traits which set it apart from the zillion other Dirty Sixth bars it sits near, which guaranteed it an affectionate spot in the night's rotation, was that it was cheap. Like, "I ordered 7 beers and still haven't hit the $10 credit card minimum" cheap. Traditions are very important to people, even or perhaps especially for college students, and so I can't count the number of G&Ts I ritualistically inhaled on the ground floor or up on the balcony level while all our troubles drained into oblivion, accompanied by really loud music. They're not as cheap now, which is a tragedy and impetus for a bookshelf of Why I Hate Austin Changing thinkpieces in itself, but ironically the only visible change from a decade ago is that instead of the books cut in half on the shelves behind the bar, there are now only flatscreen TVs. Perhaps the replacement of books by television could be interpreted as a subtle metaphor for society's embrace of superficial discourse, or a veiled protest against cost overruns at Austin's always-almost-finished new downtown library. Or maybe they realized that drunk people whose attempts to hit on the person next to them failed would be more readily pacified by those annoying Chive TV feeds showing YouTube compilations than a bunch of unreadable half-books gathering dust on the shelf. The Library is not a place for literacy.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#69: The Rooftop

The Bar


The Rooftop. 403 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/8/17 @ 12:30am.

The Drink



Unicorn cum. Grenadine, sweet and sour, Sprite. $6.

I used to go to a lot of concerts, before I got old and decided to save the rare occasions when I crawl out of my home to go drink next to college students and out of towners. Since I normally went to see smaller local bands, usually the concert bills would have even smaller and more local bands underneath the headliner. If you've ever been to local scene shows, you know that at least one of those opening acts is nearly guaranteed to have a name that's much better than their music, and so for a long time I had a sort of joking theory about the inverse relationship between a band's name and how good they were, until I found some counterexamples who were actually good. I mention this only because this recommended shot has a mildly funny name, but was one of the worst shots I've had so far. It's weird, too, because individually there's nothing wrong with any of the ingredients, yet collectively they tasted awful, without any of the pomegranate flavor that grenadine is supposed to provide. $6 isn't much for a shot on Sixth, but for an all-mixers shot it was still a big disappointment. Sometimes a comically-named drink can surprise you, other times it's just a ruse played on the unwary, as bad as it sounds.

The Crew


Karen, Cecilia, Travis, Aaron.


Notes


"Rooftop" is kind of a misnomer, since nowhere in this bar do you get to stand on the building's roof. You do have to go up some stairs to get to the bar, but it's not called "Stairstop" or "The Landing", so fans of truth in advertising be warned. Once you're up the stairs and into the parlor room of this house of lies, a pair of poles greet you (maybe not literally). On the Good Idea - Bad Idea spectrum, I think dancing poles are firmly on the Good Idea end: when drunk girls decide to ride the pole, it's a good time for everyone else no matter what happens. Thoughtfully, they even have one of those little troughs of beer on ice right near the poles, so you can buy some expensive Coors Light bottles and watch some light entertainment before hitting up the main dancefloor. Inside the big room is the actual bar, with a modestly-sized open floor lined at the edges with a DJ and some drink railings. You could call it cozy, or you could call it cramped, but either way we didn't call it home for very long, departing immediately after we finished our round.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

#68: Aquarium

The Bar


Aquarium. 403 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/8/17 @ 12am.

The Drink



Starfucker shot. Crown Royal whiskey, watermelon schnapps, Red Bull. $5.

I know lots of people who are into craft cocktails, but nobody's into craft shots, and the entire concept of a "craft shot" is pretty funny. There are standard shots - evidently the Starfucker shot is one of those - but you can't really consider anything that's designed to be consumed as quickly as possible a "craft" anything. Where's the creativity, the artisanship, the extremely expensive boutique ingredients designed to be savored? $5 for a shot on Dirty Sixth during Friday night peak hours is downright proletarian. Besides, this has Red Bull in it, and I'm absolutely positive that nothing with Red Bull could be a craft shot. Luckily, this was really tasty (my love for watermelon at work again), so I'm fine with it.

The Crew


Aaron, Travis, Cecilia, Karen.


Notes


Even if Aquarium hasn't been around literally forever, it feels like it, because I remember hearing about it even when I was in high school, long before I ever stalked the pavement of Sixth to purchase a beer under my own power. I'm positive I've been there before, but perhaps I've got another case of false drunk memory, because if I actually had been here, surely I would have noticed the bar's most hilarious feature, which is the faulty one-way mirror between the men's bathroom and the main dance floor. Theoretically, dudes going to the bathroom should be able to go about their business safely unobserved by the floor of drinkers, but the lighting inside the bathroom is just bright enough so that once an outsider gets close enough, they can trade waves with the urinal users. What's up dude! To the more distant casual observer it just looks like a face-height mirror, but wallflowers be warned - you're about to get real friendly with someone in an intimate moment.

You would think that a bar called Aquarium would have lots of fish, but that is not the case. There's a small bank of aquariums (aquaria?) on the wall opposite the bar, but the number of fish was in the low single digits when we visited, and they didn't seem in particularly high spirits, even for fish. Perhaps they were just tired of people like us gawking at them and wanted a nap - sleeping with the fishes probably takes effort on a Friday night. There were a decent number of people there, but even though the upstairs was closed the place never got too cramped. I've heard that this place does shot pong, and though that sounds like the worst idea ever, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued.

Monday, April 10, 2017

#67: Mooseknuckle

The Bar


Mooseknuckle. 406 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 4/7/17 @ 11:30pm.

The Drink



Whiskey Coke pitcher. $10.

While not quite the blockbuster deal that you can get at Shakespeare's or Peckerheads, a big ol' vat of whiskey Coke for $10 is still worth a second look, if that's the kind of mood you're in. Something you might want to take into consideration, though, is that while you'll definitely get a buzz off the pitcher, you'll also get brainfreeze. The sheer displacement of these drinks means that unless you want to spend an hour carefully sipping an endless supply of well whiskey and Coke, you'll have to start chugging. And that means sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia! It actually sort of reminded me of high school: Jack In the Box once sold the Quencher, a 44 ounce drink bucket that my friends and I would fill to the brim and try to drink as fast as possible. There's more booze in these than in my high school soft drinks, but the overall experience is similar in how it firmly transitions from novelty to drudgery about halfway through the pitcher. We were struggling. Definitely not recommended if you're ordering at any time when there's a risk of a bathroom line, but on a less crowded night, anyone too lazy to get more than a single drink will find their needs amply served.

The Crew


Travis, Cecilia, Karen, Aaron.


Notes


Mooseknuckle has three different bars inside its walls, the kind of scenario that presented me with a conundrum when I was starting out. I had toyed with the idea of ordering different drinks at each multi-bar venue, just to really and truly get "every bar" checked off for the hundreds of thousands of loyal readers this blog was destined to accumulate, but I quickly realized how tedious, expensive, and ultimately pointless that would be, unless I actually wanted to get down to the level of reviewing individual bartenders. I picked the second one of Mooseknuckle's three bars, after the sodden scrum of the entryway but before the patient queue at the outside bar. There's not much about its interior that separates it from other bars on Dirty Sixth - it has the same historical stonework overlaid with modern touches like flatscreen TVs and backlight liquor racks. Same for the music, which was the same loud DJ-spun club music you'll find anywhere. We spent a lot of time on the smallish back patio dancing a bit and watching local bros hit on out-of-town bachelorette parties. I've spent a long time rhapsodizing about how friendly Austin is, and I guess trying to get laid with a 30something Dallasite could count as friendliness too, or at least as a way for her to cross something off one of those bachelorette party lists. We didn't stick around long enough to see whether anyone was successful, but best of luck to all parties involved.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

#66: Jackalope

The Bar


Jackalope. 404 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 3/29/17 @ 10:30pm.

The Drink



Sake bomb. Ace pear cider, sake. $4.

I think this might have been my very first sake bomb ever, meaning a beer or cider with a shot of sake. I've had plenty of boilermakers (beer with whiskey) and Irish car bombs (also known as "peacemakers" at Trinity Hall in Dallas, due to historical baggage, but they're Jameson and Bailey's with Guinness either way) before, but I can't say I've ever had a sake bomb. As with all drink + shot combinations, its true value lies not in the flavor of the drink but in the performance of the drinking, so as a group we engaged in that time-honored ritual of a chug-off. Judging by the appreciative reaction from the rest of the patrons around us, we managed to fulfill our duties as the entertainment du jour - even more so after one of us (I won't use his name, but it starts with "V" and is spelled the same as "Vince") claimed he didn't realize when we were starting and demanded a rematch. Spoiler alert: he didn't win that time either. But it was worth it, because it turns out that the combination of cider and sake is actually pretty good, with the cider's sweetness mellowing the bite of the sake. Our bartender picked it perfectly.

The Crew


Vince, Davis, Aaron.


Notes


As weird as this sounds, in what most be almost a half-dozen trips to Jackalope, this was the first time I ever went there solely to drink. I've mainly known Jackalope for their food, which is excellent - their massive NY style slices of pizza, their gargantuan burgers, and their truly excellent waffle fries. Seriously, just look at these beauties. I've always thought that waffle fries are the best fries, due to the high surface-to-area ratio for maximum flavor. I respect those that prefer steak fries, even though their lower surface-to-area means that the double-frying has to be done right, and the underlying quality of the potato has to be higher since there's less room to hide behind tricks of dip or seasoning. There's just something great about the more complex structure of the waffle fry, which gives you more exciting angles to dip from, as well as a more interesting eating strategy. You'll never be bored with a plate of waffle fries, and one order of them here is easily enough for two people, or even more if you get the waffle fry nachos.

In, uh, other news, Jackalope has a pretty cool interior. Besides the gigantic statue of a jackalope right in front of the entrance, which has the drunken photo op upside without the downside of the mechanical bull mishap like you'd find at Trophy Club. There's also a ton of pinup art on the walls, just like you'd find at their sister bar Chupacabra up the street. Pinup art is cool, it brings a fun atmosphere to the bar without the weird overtones of a breastaurant like Bikini's, and given all the other goofy illuminated or stuffed items over the ancient brick walls, it fits right in. The crowd is also a bit different than your typical Destination: Wasted crew. After you spend enough time on Dirty Sixth, the seemingly subtle differences between what look like identical barfronts become as bright as roadside flares, some guiding you to high-dollar cocktails, others directing you to cheap shots, others pointing you to waffle fries and sake bombs. Don't miss this place.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

#65: Peckerheads

The Bar


Peckerheads. 402 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 3/29/17 @ 9:30pm.

The Drink



Adios, motherfucker!. Tequila, whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, triple sec, blue curaçao, sour. $5.50.

I love that Dirty Sixth offers drinks like these. A bunch of liquors together in a glass? Why not: no matter your preferred liquor, this drink has got you covered. This neatly solved my "drink that best represents the bar" question as well, since it's basically the Venn diagram intersection of every cocktail at once, so it was win-win for both me and the bartender. I don't see any mezcal or scotch hiding in there, but in true trash can punch style you wouldn't want to waste your higher-end liquors on this kind of slumgullion anyway. The only actual flavor you can taste in this drink is "blue", thanks to the sour and the curaçao; don't worry, underneath it, the alcohol is definitely working its magic. That they serve this giant glass with an extremely strong pour for $5.50 is either highly concerning, if you're a TABC agent, or a noble act of public service, if you're me. I had thought that Shakespeare's Long Island pitcher was Dirty Sixth in a single drink, but this is certainly a strong contender as well.

The Crew


Aaron, Vince, Davis.


Notes


Peckerheads is a kind of semi/quasi/unofficial Longhorns bar, at least judging by how often the staff mentioned all the members of the football team who had allegedly been drinking within these hallowed walls. Their amazing wall decoration, a riff on the iconic Jo's coffee shop mural, is certainly evidence that their hearts are in the right place, and as you can see, we bleed burnt orange as well (crank that song loud). I would feel right home in a bar like this - even though it's only been around for about 10 years, it feels like generations of just-turned-21 kids fresh off a victory in the Red River Shootout have been ordering gigantic drinks that cost almost no money for forever. On the Wednesday night that it was, we were the only patrons, so we had plenty of time to explore the cozy darkness of the venue, which you reach by climbing up some stairs from the street. Once I get done with this bar crawl I'm going to think on if being on the second floor changes the bar's vibe at all. There's no balcony here, and the interior has the sort of unwindowed dankness which makes it feel like it could be at the bottom of a mineshaft and you'd have no idea, but it felt more like a refuge than many other places I've been to. We watched our bartender spill a bunch of liquor all over herself and have to run to the CVS for some new flip flops and shorts, and return to talk about what it's like to have seen Austin change over the years. Good thing fandom never changes.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#64: Old School

The Bar


Old School. 401 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 3/29/17 @ 9pm.

The Drink



Ginger special. Deep Eddy lemon vodka and blueberry vodka, ginger beer, soda. $5.50.

Originally this drink had no name. When I was giving my spiel about wanting the drink that best showed off this bar, our bartender suggested a cocktail, and after we assented, he thought about what would be best for us to make and whipped up this simple refreshing drink in no time at all. Deep Eddy makes such great vodkas that even an oddball pairing like lemon and blueberry ends up tasting delicious, even over the ginger beer. I didn't grow up drinking ginger beer, so it has always tasted like a cocktail ingredient to me rather than something to drink on its own, but like with many things, it tastes better when you add vodka to it. After we all finished off our drinks, I went up to the bartender and asked him what he called it. He was stumped until his coworker suggested naming it after his bright red hair: the Ginger Special. My mother is a redhead (I have dark hair, though not due to any kind of climate change factor), so I've always found the whole "wow, a ginger!" thing to be kind of weird, but you don't pass up a marketing opportunity like that.

The Crew


Vince, Davis, Bobby, Aaron.


Notes


I'm pretty sure this place isn't named after the hit film from 2003, but it really seems like the kind of place that Will Ferrell would have gotten into. Right after we wandered in, fresh from having seen Blade Runner: The Final Cut and still having a heated nerd argument over whether Deckard being a replicant makes any sense at all (the correct answer is no, it destroys all narrative tension and logic in the movie), the bar staff started setting up for a beer pong tournament. Dear friends and loyal readers know that I have a real weakness for beer pong, the king of bar sports, and we were sorely tempted. Old School has a weekly tournament with free entry and cash prizes, and if only there had been another team for us to play against we might have stayed. However, the fact that it was a Wednesday night, and that we are old, meant that we decided to leave. Old School just looks like a fun place to spend an evening watching your opponents drain their cups, maybe with some streaking towards the end of the night. It has the same owners as Night Owl, a newish bar on Burnet that I still haven't been to. If they're as fun as Old School, I'll have to check them out soon.

Monday, April 3, 2017

#63: Chupacabra

The Bar


Chupacabra. 400 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Visited 3/29/17 @ 6:30pm.

The Drink



House margarita. Milagro silver tequila, Solerno blood orange, agave, lime. $5.

Austin is a big Tex-Mex city, so naturally you find a lot of margaritas around here. The margarita's origins are shrouded in mystery, as is so common, but it's become ubiquitous. With so many bars offering nearly identical takes on the classic, I enjoy finding places with slightly different versions, and in an environment as margarita-saturated as this one, adding Solerno counts as different enough from the norm for me. Solerno comes from Sicily, and it lent a really great citrus flavor to the margarita. I've been loving all these Italian liqueurs that bars have been sneaking into my drinks, and this is one of the best I found so far; next time I'm in a requesting mood I should specifically ask for a drink that features it a bit more. Since we were still in happy hour, this was a great bargain for the margarita. Our bartender was really friendly too, which didn't hurt either.

The Crew


Davis, Aaron.


Notes


As you can see by the guac girl pinup behind us, Chupacabra has a playful attitude. It's the sister bar of Jackalope, a few doors down the street, and so they both have novelty drinks like the "Cockfight", a cocktail served in a comically oversized martini glass and other offbeat items like that. Also like Jackalope it serves food in addition to beverages, though Chupacabra has more of a Tex-Mex flair - fish tacos and the like (yes yes, I know those are more of a Cal-Mex thing). We didn't get to hang out for very long, since we were just killing time with a drink before seeing Blade Runner: The Final Cut at the Alamo very shortly (I like that cut although I've become more anti-Deckard-replicant than ever - maybe more on that later), so we watched a bit of OKC @ ORL before leaving for our movie. I would definitely return.