There are two types of people in the world when it comes to cocktails: those who will stand by their regulars until the day they die, and those who are intrigued by the bizarre.
Story by Elise Horsak
Illustrations by Esther Shin
You know that a restaurant has a good bar when the bartenders look like a cross between an alchemist and a child who is given free reign at a serve-yourself yogurt shop. While there is nothing wrong with sticking with a classic cocktail, bartenders around Austin are letting their imaginations run wild and pushing the boundaries with conventional drinks, giving them the most unusual twist.
For those who cannot say no to their curiosity, here are a couple of hand-selected concoctions that will trick your taste buds and leave you wondering what exactly was in your drink.
"Sunbelt Sour" - Central Standard
Secret Ingredient: Egg Whites
Not only do they make the meringue on your pies fluffy, but now they do the same to your beverages too. Egg whites are now a necessary ingredient in several bars because of their ability to add a frothy consistency to a drink. This particular drink includes Kimo Sabe Mezcal, agave and lemon, making it a summer drink that can carry over into Austin’s warm fall.
In addition, you can feel good while enjoying this beverage because $2 of the proceeds from this drink will go towards Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Now that is something we can cheers to.
"Coffee and Cigarettes" - Nightcap
Secret Ingredient: Pipe Smoke
Fair warning: this drink is a little more intense. Combined with Old Forrestor bourbon, coffee liquor and Carpano Antica, this cocktail is for those who like a bold drink. If you're wondering how on earth they put smoke into a drink, the secret is in the presentation!
Prior to pouring the beverage, the glass is placed upside down over burning pipe tobacco. The smoke from the tobacco seasons the glass, giving extra flavor to the mixture of liqueurs and filling your nose with the smell of smoke with each sip.
"Cassava Nova" - Whislers
Secret Ingredient: Boba Pearls
Whisler’s is the perfect example of letting bartenders run wild. At this East Austin gem, you will find a variety of craft cocktails that are made with house made syrups, bitters and infused liqueurs which change seasonally or by the choice of the mixologists.
This particular fall drink is definitely on the sweeter side and you don’t need to look hard for the secret ingredient. Mixed with scotch, nux, alpina, coconut milk and honey, the boba pearls add a fun twist and color contrast to an already phenomenal drink. Be sure to swing by and get this one while you can before the seasons change.
"Fig Manhattan" - Péché
Secret Ingredient: Fig Foam
Did you know that “Péché” is French for “sinful”? Well, this restaurant gives nothing short of sinful decadence. With a mix of French taste and pre-prohibition style, topped with the flair of Austin culture, you are bound to encounter tastes that are so good, they must be a sin.
Looking at one of the classics, their Fig Manhattan is made with rye, sweet vermouth, house cherry-vanilla bitters and then topped with fig foam. The foam ties this bold yet sweet drink together, giving it a smooth texture that also mingles with the flavor as it melts down. Paired with the ambiance of the restaurant, you will return to the prohibition days when it was too good not to walk on the wild side.
"The Black Pearl" - The Roosevelt Room
Secret Ingredient: Liquid Silver
No need to fear Captain Jack because the rum is not all gone at the Roosevelt Room. This drink is quite the mixture, including Johnnie Walker Black Label, talisker storm, Smith & Cross Rum, Barolo Chinato, walnut liqueur, Abbott’s bitters, charcoal powder and their edible liquid silver. Not only is the taste impressive all on its own, but the presentation takes it to the next level in a clove-smoked treasure chest. Whether you get it as a single drink or buy a 12-drink order for the table, this one is sure to please the crowd.
"Lady Ann" - The Townsend
Secret Ingredient: Aloe Vera Liquor
Another good quality of any bar is the ability to converse with anyone there, including bartenders. The Townsend is just the place for this interaction It is upscale but still comfort. With no television in sight, the Townsend is all about the conversations you have while sipping one of their cocktails.
The Lady Ann, composed of Aylesbury duck vodka, lemon, peach purée, aloe vera liqueur and peychaud’s bitters, is a personal favorite. The aloe vera liquor compliments the fruity flavors perfectly, making it a crisp and refreshing drink to enjoy while listening to live music.