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. ​Mezcaler√≠a Tobal√°

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.