The new Alamo Drafthouse in Mueller is gearing up to open with a focus on kid-friendly activities by day and more adult-centric fun by night — in addition to offering six theaters with reclining chairs, gender-neutral bathrooms and plenty of validated garage parking. It opens March 9 for the general public.
There’s no doubt film fans are going to love the second-story walk to each of the theaters; as with other locations, the Alamo Drafthouse has decked out the long hallway with film posters and other wall art, as well as a Devil’s Tower with Spaceship installation that acts as the Mueller location’s photo op spot, in a nod to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
But perhaps the biggest highlight of the sixth Alamo Drafthouse in Austin for many will be the carnival-themed Barrel O’ Fun space on the ground floor, which the company has gone above and beyond to make sure it straddles two very different audiences.
By day, the Barrel O’ Fun — the entrance to which is, in fact, shaped like a gigantic barrel — provides family-friendly fun; by night, starting at 8 p.m., the place transforms into a bar (so that’s when you call it the Bar O’ Fun, OK?). But there are elements of the hangout that people of all ages will enjoy.
For instance, the room has functioning boardwalk games, such as Eggs in a Basket, Chunk the Puck and Toss Off. One side of the barrel-shaped drinks menu at Barrel O’ Fun is entirely nonalcoholic, but they aren’t your typical Coke and Dr. Pepper offerings. Instead, even adults might gravitate toward house-made sodas like the Cherry-Lime Rickey (cherry syrup, lime and seltzer) and floats and ice cream sodas like the Snickerdoodle (ginger beer and Mexican cinnamon ice cream).
Flip over the menu for the alcoholic potions. The program, originally designed by the Alamo Drafthouse’s beverage director Bill Norris, takes a focus on barrel-aged cocktails, highballs and flips. Bar O’ Fun bar manager Ryan Hollowell, fresh from other esteemed bar programs in town like Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, is excited to soon put his own stamp on the boozy offerings with an upcoming secret shots menu.
He’s particularly excited about the barrel-aged drinks like the Perfect Martini (London dry gin, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and orange bitters in blue corn whiskey barrels). Bar O’ Fun also has 45 beer taps, with an opening menu that includes the Oasis, TX Brewing Slow Ride Pale Ale, Independence Austin Amber, (512) Dubbel, Community Mosaic IPA and Zilker Coffee Milk Stout.
No matter what time of day you’re there, Hollowell said, you’ll find something on the drinks menu that will appeal to you.
“We went with a soda fountain theme, so there’s a lot of really cool kind of throwback-inspired (nonalcoholic) cocktails,” he said of the Barrel O’ Fun side. “We make our own syrups in-house, really beautiful black cherry soda, awesome traditional Brooklyn-style egg creams as well. At night, we took all of those ideas and transitioned them into cocktail menus. Our highballs are all based on those syrups, those homemade natural elixirs and tinctures that we’re working with, as well as adult egg creams and milkshakes.”
At night, a stage at the far end of Bar O’ Fun will enliven the space with DJ sets and bands, especially during happy hour. The games will be available to play in the later hours as well. Food includes a focus on wood as well, with items like wood-planked broccolini (cheddar cheese polenta and wood-roasted broccolini).
The upstairs theaters — which range in size from 43-person to 136-person rooms, all with comfy reclining seats — will also have their own food and drink menus. The food side, in particular, is going to have new items, without abandoning fan favorites.
“We definitely are holding onto a lot of the classics here that we’ve been successful with in the past, but to be really honest, we noticed there was certain areas of our menu that we wanted to update,” Alamo chef Trish Eichelberger said. “This facility is a really great place to start testing and updating, making an effort to be even more hands-on, to have an even more from-scratch menu… We have a wonderful tofu banhi mi-type sandwich; we have a roasted pork sandwich. We’ve got a couple new pizzas.”
It’s also worth noting that the gender-neutral bathrooms, the sound of which could stir up a fuss, guarantee you complete privacy, with floor-to-ceiling walls — not just stalls — in between each toilet and doors for each one. The 36,559 sq. ft. Mueller theater has six separate urinals for men and two family-accessible bathrooms with changing tables upstairs as well.
The hours for Barrel O’ Fun are 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sundays. Alamo Drafthouse Mueller is located at 1911 Aldrich St., in the up-and-coming Mueller town center known as the Aldrich Street District.
For more information, visit drafthouse.com/austin/theater/mueller.