Cocktail guru Justin Elliott is leaving Qui for a very different bar project that’s now opened on Congress Avenue.
The Townsend, located in a historic building across the street from the Paramount Theatre, is bringing Elliott on as director of hospitality projects, where he’ll oversee much more than the cocktail menu. That’s because the Townsend is doing something few other bars have attempted: a royalty program that will give guest bartenders a 1 percent royalty for every original drink of theirs that’s purchased. This residency system will start next month.
In the meantime, Elliott is gearing up to say good-bye to his coworkers at Qui, who have “been my family for two years,” he said.
He originally started with the Townsend in a consulting role, crafting the launch menu of drinks, but decided to make it more permanent when he realized how good of a fit it was. “Steven (Weisburd, owner of the Townsend) just believed in a lot of the stuff I believe in,” he said. “We’re creating a culture here of hospitality and creativity, but not in a super showy way. We want to give this part of Austin a really great, (everyday) kind of bar.”
That means “you won’t see any five-ingredient syrups,” he said. Instead, the Townsend is embracing simplicity and restraint — and timelessness, too.
“There’s something about this historic building that really inspired some of the cocktails,” Elliott said. “My aim has been to create cocktails that look like they could be found in any vintage cocktail book but aren’t. I want them to seem timeless. I don’t want anyone to see my hand in the cocktails; I don’t want my fingerprints on them.”
Look for a more extensive story on the Townsend, opened 4 p.m. every day at 718 Congress Ave., next week in this blog.