Milonga Room. 1201 E 6th St., Austin, TX 78702
Visited 7/29/17 @ 10pm.
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!
Anthony, James, Aaron, Wolf, Rome (not pictured), Will (not pictured), Jackie (not pictured), Chris (not pictured), Jessica (not pictured).
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.