That’s what many other Qui projects (including East Side King and Thai-Kun at Rock Rose) call happy hour, and Kuneho’s looks like a good one. The restaurant, which serves sushi and globally inspired bites at 1600 E. Sixth St., will now have happy hour deals on both food and drink from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Here’s the “happy happy time” menu:
Asahi Super Dry, $3
Super Ape: Smith & Cross rum, Giffard Banane du Bresil Liqueur, lime and turbinado sugar, $8
Punch glass: daily concoction, $5
Carpe Diem: blanco tequila, London dry gin, rose, coconut water, lemon and grenadine, $20 (serves 2 to 4 people)
Perfect Bites: morcilla a la dinuguan, $2; tuna larb tostada, $3; enoki mushroom and tamari, $2; crispy onion, $2; and salmon nigiri with marinated ikura, $2
Crudo: saba escabeche with East Coast mackerel, ponzu and tomato, $7; kinilawin with cobia, coconut vinegar, coconut milk, red onion, and cilantro, $8
Maki mono: Austin roll with fish cake, pickled salsify, avocado, sweet chili vinegar, $5; fried shrimp roll with green apple and dashi aioli, $6; Mama Mia with big eye tuna, cucumber, avocado, kuro tempura flakes, $6
Snacks: seasonal tempura vegetables and tensuyu, $3; root vegetable lumpia with daikon, cilantro and peanut sauce, $6; kimcheese with kimchi, velveeta and an egg roll, $4; and chicken karaage with fish caramel, $4.
Kuneho (which means “rabbit” in Qui’s native Tagalog) has a variety of other cocktails, sake and wine available beyond happy hour as well through the restaurant’s Borough Bar, such as the playful Rockin’ Bird with pisco, Fruity Pebbles, curacao, pistachio orange syrup, lemon, orange and an Aperol float.
It’s been two years since the Capitol was filled with lawmakers and their staffs for the 84th legislative session, and downtown Austin has changed a lot in that time. Wondering where to get a drink nearby if you’re one of the legislators and staff or the lobbyists, civic-minded citizens and journalists who will be at the Capitol through the end of May for the 85th session? Here’s a guide to downtown bars that have opened within the past two years.
Ah Sing Den, 1100 E. Sixth St. ahsingden.com. Replacing the former East Side Showroom, this Asian-inspired bar opened last summer with flavors in both the food and drinks that draw from Asia, South America and beyond. Ah Sing Den was named after the owner of one of East London’s most infamous opium dens, but the only thing you’ll get addicted to here is the menu.
Eureka, 200 E. Sixth St. eurekarestaurantgroup.com. This burger bar is an import from California, but it’s nonetheless found a home in Austin just west of the popular Sixth Street drinking drag by focusing on two of our favorite things: craft beer and whiskey. The chain pleases local palates with boozy offerings from Texas breweries and distilleries.
Irene’s, 506 West Ave., irenesaustin.com. The ELM Restaurant Group’s easygoing newest concept is whatever you want it to be, whether that’s a restaurant with vintage pieces, a bar with a welcoming back patio or a grab-and-go breakfast spot. Irene’s specializes in comfort food, strong cocktails and an Instagram-friendly outdoor area.
The Roosevelt Room, 307 W. Fifth St. therooseveltroomatx.com. Step into this darkened den for a veritable history lesson with the knowledgeable bartenders as your educators. They can whip you up any one of the 53 classic cocktails on the menu that represent different eras in America’s boozy past — or one of their original drinks, too.
Small Victory, 108 E. Seventh St. smallvictory.bar. This tiny, dimly lit bar located on the second level of a parking garage keeps to the classics when it comes to cocktails, with menu items like the tropical Singapore Sling and an entire flowchart of choices available for you to craft your preferred martini, whether it’s extra dry or sans olives.
The Townsend, 718 Congress Ave. thetownsendaustin.com. Is there anything this classy joint doesn’t do well? With food worthy of making the Statesman’s top 25 dining guide, the Townsend also offers an intimate room with good acoustics for live music shows and cocktails crafted by one of Austin’s best bartenders, Justin Elliott, formerly of Qui.
The new cider, available now at bars like B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub, Haymaker and both locations of Pinthouse Pizza, was aged in Treaty Oak Distilling rum barrels for six months and has taken on a ruby hue and fun flavors as a result.
Though it’s still an apple-forward cider, you’ll notice it has “prominent notes of oak and vanilla and undertones of molasses,” as well as a mildly tart finish thanks to the barrel-aging, according to an announcement about the cider.
It’s not the first cider that Eastciders decided to age in barrels, or the first time that the cidery collaborated with a locally based spirits company to do it. Austin Eastciders also produced a tequila barrel-aged cider using spirit-soaked wood from Dulce Vida Tequila, whose corporate headquarters are located here, and a Cabernet wine barrel-aged cider as well.
Bourbon barrels are most commonly used in the barrel-aging process — because distillers making bourbon can only use the barrels once — but other boozy liquids can impart their own particular flavors in the resulting barrel-aged product, whether that’s beer, cider, another spirit or even wine.
In this case, the Austin Eastciders fermentation team acquired barrels that had previously housed Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum, which matures in first-use oak barrels for a minimum of two years. As a result of the first-use run and duration of aging, rum’s sweet character (in particular, notes of dark chocolate and vanilla bean) is going to be present in the cider.
“Both fans of our cider and fans of Treaty Oak Rum will enjoy this release,” Dave Rule, vice president of marketing for Austin Eastciders, said in the announcement.
The aged cider might sound boozy, but it clocks in at a comfortable 6.9 percent ABV. Find it at Black Sheep Loudge, Eureka!, Central Market North, Loop and Lil’s Pizza in Lockhart, Porter Ale House, Red’s Porch, Violet Crown Cinema, Sean Patrick’s and Zelicks Icehouse in San Marcos, as well as the other bars listed above.
Started last year at the restaurateur’s various establishments — such as the Spanish-focused Bullfight and Italian-centric Olive & June — the series highlights a specific spirit from around the world, with each of the classes featuring a tasting, an educational component and small bites. Parkside Project’s beverage director and advanced sommelier Paul Ozbirn will lead each course.
“Each class is designed to offer an in-depth understanding of the complexities of each spirit, from its origins to subtleties in flavors,” Ozbirn said in a press release.
The first one launches on Feb. 6 at Bullfight, where attendees will learn about the Spanish fortified wine known as sherry and “the rich history of the region of Jerez,” where it’s produced. People will get to taste the range of sherry styles, from dry to sweet. Spots are limited with only 36 tickets at $32.50 per person, so don’t delay in reserving your seat.
Another coming class will be at Olive & June on March 27 and features the “brandy-based Italian after-dinner drink, amari,” which you’ll get to sip on while “discussing its history, tradition and its exciting revival on the American cocktail scene,” according to the release. That one will also be $32.50, but tickets don’t go on sale until Feb. 28.
Future classes will focus on gin, rum and mezcal. For more information about the series or the restaurants where the classes are being held, visit parksideprojects.com.
At the largest competition of American wines in the world, Texas wineries proved they can hold their own against some of the top wine producers in the country — taking home seven best-of-class awards for their wine and a total of 158 medals.
“Texas wine may have reached a tipping point, in its development and national reputation, with the recently released results” of the wine competition, Pat Brennan, owner of Brennan Vineyards in the Hill Country, said.
One of his wines, Brennan Vineyards’ 2015 Reserve Viognier, won a Best of Class award, while two others, the 2015 Roussanne and the 2014 Tempranillo, got gold medals. (Best of Class tops gold as the highest honor to receive.) Brennan’s and other Texas wines were up against more than 7,000 wines from 28 states, all tasted blind by a panel of 60 wine experts. There were more than 100 categories for the wines to be entered into.
Brennan noted that California winemakers earned accolades in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for their chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines — two French varietals that the Pacific Coast state typically dominates at making.
“Unfortunately, many Texans do not realize the some of the best wine in the United States is made right here in the Lone Star State,” he said. “We hope more and more people will ask for Texas wine at their favorite restaurants, visit Texas wineries and pick up a bottle at local retailers.”
Here are the seven Best of Class winners:
Brennan Vineyards 2015 Reserve Viognier
Haak Vineyards & Winery Tempranillo 2015
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Sweet Blush Colibri
Messina Hof Winery Merlot 2015
Perissos Vineyards & Winery Dolcetto 2015
Trilogy Cellars Malbec 2015
Wedding Oak Winery Sweet Alyssum 2015 (white blend)
Texas isn’t the only state with a burgeoning wine region. In Oregon, the Willamette Valley makes arguably some of America’s best pinot noir — as well as other wines that have the world’s wine experts excited about the Pacific Northwest.
On Thursday, more than 60 of the Willamette Valley’s winemakers will be at Pinot in the City, a 6 p.m. tasting that will showcase their pinot noir, as well as other top grapes like pinot gris, chardonnay and pinot blanc. The winemakers, along with winery owners and other notable people in the industry, will pour their wines to introduce local oenophiles to a place that Wine Enthusiast recently named as the Wine Region of the Year.
About an hour south of Portland, the hilly region is relatively young, having gotten officially approved as an American Viticultural Area in 1983, but already, “Willamette Valley Pinot Noir can challenge Burgundy in its ability to capture the nuance and power of the grape,” according to Wine Enthusiast’s article about the honor.
That’s no surprise for people like David Millman. He’s the general manager of winery Domaine Drouhin, which has made a name for itself with a philosophy of “French soul, Oregon soil” and specializes in — you guessed it — pinot noir.
Having lived in Oregon for 12 and a half years, he’s noticed that many wine lovers are still learning about Willamette Valley wines but love them once they do.
“There is still this sense of discovery about Oregon wine,” he said. “Oregon feels like this exciting place because it is, and there’s a lot of energy reflected in the wines and the range of wines that we make. For people raised on certain styles of wines, they suddenly have a huge diversity of often elegant, earthy, place-driven wines to dive into that are beautiful, that they can connect with, and they do.”
Like Texas, a majority of Willamette Valley wineries (total, there are about 530 of them) are family-owned to this day and making 5,000 cases or less, Millman said. The goal for them in making wine is to celebrate the lush, fertile land and cool climate that has rewarded grape growers there with a flourishing crop. Oregon winemakers are collaborative, “just alive with curiosity and passion, and there’s still a pioneering spirit,” he said.
The pinot noir, you’ll find, is the best of both Burgundy and California: balancing the minerality and higher acidity of Burgundy pinot with the brighter, more fruit-forward profile of California pinot.
“Pinot noir is almost synonymous with Oregon,” Millman said.
Become enchanted with Willamette Valley wines — from wineries including Erath Winery, King Estate Winery and Moffett Vineyards — starting at 6 p.m. Thursday with $75 general admission. Pinot in the City will take place at the J.W. Marriott at 110 E. Second St. and will have pinot-friendly appetizers and hors d’oeuvres to pair with the wines.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.
Having become specialized in Belgian-style and barrel-aged brews, Adelbert’s is expanding its beer-soaked horizons by debuting a line of bottled fruited sours.
First up is the Passion Fruit Sour, which releases on Feb. 10 — just in time for any romantic Valentine’s Day dates you might be planning.
To craft this ale, Adelbert’s blended passion fruit (a sweet, slightly tart tropical berry with an enticing aroma) with house yeast strains during the beer’s 18 months of aging in oak barrels, with the result that the Passion Fruit Sour tastes like a tropical sour ale with oak notes, according to a press release.
The North Austin brewery already has a couple of other beers in the fruited sour series in the works: one a raspberry sour, the other a blueberry sour. Adelbert’s founder, Scott Hovey, said in the release that each one will be “unique” because of the barrel-aging process Adelbert’s implemented.
That process starts when the brewery carefully selects several barrels for each of the sours — some of which have been inoculated naturally with microorganisms, others of which are introduced to yeast strains of Adelbert’s choosing.
It doesn’t get any more precise from there: Adelbert’s is so intent on keeping the resulting beer funky that the brewery doesn’t rely on a “standard house yeast strain or base beer recipe,” Hovey said in the release. “We change what we put into the barrels each time to give more complexity to the blends.”
Because many of the variables in this aging process are beyond the brewers’ control, there are several other beers in the fruited sour series still in testing phase.
The Passion Fruit Sour, however, will be ready to go in a few weeks. The bottle is going to be sold only at Adelbert’s, which switched to a brewpub license early last year so that it could start selling beers to go from the taproom, some exclusively so.
If smaller-batch brews like the Passion Fruit Sour and the Blackberry Barrel of Love, released at the end of last year, have a strong response from taproom visitors, Adelbert’s might consider releasing them more widely.
A longtime fixture on Sixth Street is expanding into another Austin neighborhood.
After 16 years in business, B.D. Riley’s Irish Pub will open a second location in the town center of Mueller a week or two before St. Patrick’s Day. Like the first, it will have a focus on beer and whiskey, comfort food and family-friendly activities in an authentic setting — built largely by Irish carpenters and craftsmen.
Owner John Erwin had been wanting to expand his business into another part of town but hadn’t found the right spot until one of his oldest employees convinced him to visit the Mueller area. There, he found exactly what he was looking for: a neighborhood feel, he said, and a wide, walkable main street with the likes of the Thinkery, the soon-to-open Alamo Drafthouse and other coming attractions dotted alongside it.
For the most part, the second B.D. Riley’s will be very similar to the first, albeit with a more vibrant storefront modeled after Dublin, Ireland’s most famous pub, the Temple Bar. The bar and restaurant also aims to fit into Mueller by being even more welcoming to families than it already is, Erwin said.
“Because of the neighborhood feel, we can do some of the things we do here, but we can enhance them out there,” he said.
At 204 E. Sixth Street — just west of the high-volume bars along the popular drinking drag — the current B.D. Riley’s has been offering an open mic night on Mondays for the past 12 years, encouraging kids to come “to develop their stage presence and musical skills” in front of a crowd that isn’t just their mom and dad. On Wednesday nights, B.D. Riley’s also hosts a pub quiz.
Those will take place at the new location as well, along with a couple of other new events. Erwin’s friend might teach classes on the Gaelic language on Saturday mornings, for example.
“We’re looking to do different and other things,” he said.
A longtime Austinite, Erwin knows opening a business here isn’t easy, but he’s hopeful the Mueller location of B.D. Riley’s will catch on because of the family vibe he has established that makes the pub a homey place to be.
“We’ve got a lot of people working for us that have been here for a real long time,” he said. “They know each other and treat each other like family, and I think that gives us a giant advantage in expansion.”
His employees aren’t the only ones he’s relying on to establish the second B.D. Riley’s. As with the first location, the pub was built in Ireland — with consultation from Erwin and his business partner — and then shipped to the U.S. In a couple of weeks, Irish craftsmen will travel here to assemble the pub piece by piece, from the furniture to the facade, the bar to the cabinetry, erecting it exactly as Erwin has envisioned it.
That’s how even Irish pubs built in Ireland are put together, he said: created off-site first, then moved to the proper location and assembled. Having Irish contractors handle the construction, he said, “adds to the authenticity, and it’s something they’re good at. They go around the world and do this.”
He’s also having a local company, Blue Genie Art Industries, design a water tower shaped like a 17 foot tall Guinness pint. The tower will recycle rainwater from the roof. Blue Genie — which is also in charge of creating many of the pieces for the Alamo Drafthouse Mueller’s carnival-themed bar — will “stick a beer tap on it, paint it black and put our logo in front of it. It ought to be very weirdly Austin, I’m hoping,” Erwin said.
B.D. Riley’s will open across the street from the Alamo in March. For more information, visit bdrileys.com.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will hold its last show in May. Before that, in mid or late February, Unbarlievable plans to open as a “decidedly offbeat” spot, “shrouded in eclecticism and whimsy,” according to the bar’s Facebook page.
One of Rainey Street’s century-old bungalows is housing the bar and is currently being renovated to incorporate the circus theme, with walls of sky blue, fire-engine red and sunshine yellow getting painted into chunky stripes. A wrap-around bar will serve up a full menu of beer, wine and “creative cocktails,” which people will be able to enjoy either inside or in Unbarlievable’s backyard.
There will also be food, although details about that and the beverage list are still being finalized.
Despite the shuttering of America’s biggest circus, the theme is flourishing in Austin. We’ve long been home to the Carousel Lounge, which is decorated with elephant and lion tamer murals on the walls, among other related items, and we’re about to get the Barrel O’ Fun bar in the newest Alamo Drafthouse location at Mueller.
When David Wilson, John Wamer and Randy Williams served in the same Marine Corps unit during the Iraq War, they knew they wanted to do something very different once their time in the military was up.
It’s taken a decade for the three friends to get their business up and running, but it has finally, thankfully happened: Ruggedman Brewing, in the New Braunfels-San Marcos corridor, is celebrating its grand opening this weekend.
Those long days and nights fighting a war overseas have become a piece of the identity of Ruggedman in the same way they have for each of the men, now all in their mid-thirties. Each of the beers — which include a variety of blonde ales and some Belgian-style brews — are named after tools or parts of a machine, such as the Big Rig Blonde and the Blowtorch Black IPA.
“We thought there had to be a better way to make a living,” Wilson said. “We were all interested in brewing beer and thought that might be what we’d pursue when we got out.”
None of them were able to immediately open a brewery, however. After serving two eight-month tours in Iraq together, the Marine veterans parted ways, “doing our own thing for a couple of years until we could pay for the brewery,” Wilson said. Being able to open the business without any outside investment or help was important to them.
Once the homebrewers decided they were financially ready for Ruggedman in 2014, it took a year-and-a-half to secure a space — but finding it somewhere in Central Texas, where all three of the brewery co-founders now live, was a no-brainer for them.
“We thought that because Texas is a growing market, versus San Diego or the Pacific Northwest, it would be a great market for our beer,” Wilson said, noting that he has set up roots in Canyon Lake, while Wamer, the head brewer, is in Kyle and Williams lives in Lockhart.
They have named the brewery after a slang term that nods to the way Marines might look and feel in the field after a hard month’s work — rugged. Because the co-founders want to welcome everyone to Ruggedman, they have rejiggered the word to refer to “all working men and women in all jobs,” Wilson said. “Because you can be an accountant and still be rugged after a long day in the office.”
Ruggedman Brewing’s beers also don’t refer to tools used exclusively in the Marine Corps, although the Machine Gun Stout, Wilson said, is a tribute to the role that he and Wamer held as machine gunners.
“When your head brewer is a former Marine Corps Infantry Machine Gunner, a beer this big and powerful was bound to happen,” according to a description of the dry, roasted dark beer on the Ruggedman website.
Here are some of the other beers to expect this weekend during the three-day grand opening festivities.
The Gold Pan Blonde: The American blonde ale is one of the mainstay styles that will constantly be on tap at the brewery in between New Braunfels and San Marcos. It’s got “a smooth lager-like finish,” according to the website.
Anchor Line Amber: More malty than hoppy without being sweet, this darker-than-typical amber ale is one of the Belgian-style beers that Ruggedman has chosen to focus on.
Blowtorch Black IPA: It looks like a stout but tastes like the pine and citrus flavors of a classic IPA — the best of both worlds. “Ample amounts” of Simcoe and Chinook hops dominate, but there are also complex roasted notes from the Carafa malts.
Bee Hive Blonde: For this one, Ruggedman started with a base beer similar to the Gold Pan but then added unpasteurized Texas honey after the initial fermentation to give it a floral and fruity aroma. The brewery also makes a Belgian-style blonde called Big Rig.
Ruggedman Brewing makes these and other sudsy offerings on a 7-barrel brewhouse and a half-barrel pilot system. The pilot system is especially helpful as Wamer, Wilson and Williams figure out which beers will appeal to their customers the most and also allows them to experiment with styles from beyond Belgium and America — English, German and Mexican-style beers are also interesting to them.
“We want to be very diverse with our beers,” Wilson said.
Because of Ruggedman’s brewpub license, visitors can take growlers to go from the tasting room — as well as newly launched cans. For now, these are only available from the brewery, but once they are more officially designed, the cans will be distributed around town.
During tasting room hours, the Mi Ranchito food truck will serve up Tex-Mex barbecue.
The grand opening party will run from 2 p.m. Friday through 6 p.m. Sunday this weekend and will include the four mainstay brews (the American and Belgian-style blondes, the amber and the stout) and 10 small-batch offerings. Regular taproom hours are 2 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 12 to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 12 to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Ruggedman Brewing is located at 7600 S. Old Bastrop Hwy., in the New Braunfels area. For more information, visit drinkthedamnbeer.com.