The food and beverage director at the Townsend, one of Austin’s top new bars, has just received a pretty hefty honor: Thrillist has named him as one of America’s best bartenders, on a list that also includes such renowned names as New York’s Ivy Mix and Portland’s Jeffrey Morgenthaler.
Justin Elliott was, in fact, the first name on the list for his work at local places like culinary hotspot Qui and, now, the Townsend, which made national news in July upon opening because of its focus on giving guest bartenders royalties for their original drinks.
About Elliot, Thrillist wrote: “From OG absinthe revivalist Peche, to $5 Old Fashioned haunt Volstead, to cooler-than-thou reservation speakeasy Midnight Cowboy, to elevated restaurant-bar Qui, to his most recent station slinging gimmick-less cocktails at The Townsend (which he hopes will transcend all of the aforementioned trends and just be a damn good place to drink), Justin Elliott’s resume reads like a road map of the city’s cocktail evolution.
“And yet, he’s not one of those bartenders with a PhD in ice block engineering or a collection of vintage suspenders; he’s simply the guy behind the bar who’s friendly enough to help you order exactly what you want, but grumpy enough that you know he’ll make it just right.”
I don’t know about grumpy — he seems pretty happy to be pouring drinks for just about anyone with a love of well-made cocktails — but this recognition is well-deserved.
The only other Texas bartender to make it on the list was Alba Huerta, a powerhouse in Houston’s cocktail scene.