Second Bar + Kitchen launches happy hour at revamped downtown bar

When fine-dining restaurant Congress closed at the end of 2015, making way for an expansion of sister spot Second Bar + Kitchen, the bar that connected them, Bar Congress, shut down, too.

But the recently renovated space is back as the Second Bar and has begun offering happy hour every weekday from 4 to 6 p.m., with a small selection of cocktails that you can only order during that time.

Photo by Jody Horton. Second Bar + Kitchen’s famous black truffle pomme frites are on offer during the new Second Bar’s happy hour.

The cocktails range between $5 to $7, and happy hour specials also include a $1 off draft beer and half-off select bottles of wine. Pair those with snacks like black truffle pomme frites, bacon-wrapped dates and flank steak satay while you sit in the bar or on the outdoor patio that faces the bustling Congress Avenue.

Here are those happy hour-only cocktails. Thirsty yet?

  • Bennett: choice of gin, vodka or tequila with lime juice and peel, turbinado and Angostura bitters
  • Sidewinder’s Fang: Kong’s Island Spice Rum, passionfruit, orange and citrus with tiki preparations
  • Brown Derby: Kentucky bourbon, honey, grapefruit and lemon
  • Normandy Sidecar: Cognac & Calvados, Cointreau, lemon and a fine sugar rim
  • Shandy: Miller High Life pony with lemonade

Second Bar + Kitchen and the adjacent Second Bar are located at 200 Congress Ave. The former Congress is now Congress Hall, a private dining and events area with an airy, modern design aesthetic that mirrors Second Bar + Kitchen.

For more information, visit secondbarkitchen.com/second.

Austin’s drinking events calendar, April 2017

Photo by Tyler Malone. Live Oak Brewing, owned by Chip McElroy, is celebrating 20 years this month with an anniversary party.

Saturday, April 1

Pinthouse Pizza’s Fully Adrift Coffee-Infused Bottle Release, 11 a.m. The third beer in the brewpub’s Lost at Sea series is a double IPA infused with Houndstooth’s Tweed Coffee.

Starkbierfest with Dai Due, 5 p.m. Raise a stein to Austin Saengerrunde with this tasting of strong beers (like springtime doppelbocks) and a six-course paired dinner from Chef Jesse Griffiths.

Sunday, April 2

Texas Wine Revolution, 1 to 5 p.m. The tasting event at William Chris Vineyards returns with a focus on more than 25 Texas-made rosés from some of the state’s best wineries. $50.

Crawfish Boil Fundraiser at Bluebonnet Beer Co., 3 to 7 p.m. The Round Rock brewery’s first-ever crawfish fish benefits a good cause, the Muscular Dystrophy Association. $25.

Divine Chocolate & Beer Pairing at Black Star Co-op, 4 to 6 p.m. Seven of Black Star’s house beers will be tasted alongside fair-trade chocolate bars; pay for the flights, but the chocolate is complimentary.

Monday, April 3

Massican Wine Release Party at Italic, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The Italian restaurant is hosting Massican owner and winemaker Dan Petroski, who has free pours of his latest vintage.

Friday, April 7

Dutch Party at Brentwood Social House, 6 to 9 p.m. Bring your own drinks to this celebration of European food such as stroopwafels, bitterballen and maybe even herring.

Saturday, April 8

Pinthouse Pizza’s 1st Annual Hootenanny, 11 a.m. In addition to a petting zoo, caricature artist, Jim Jim’s Water Ice and more, the South Lamar location will release a special IPA every two hours throughout the day.

Real Spirits Launch Party, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Real Ale Brewing is finally launching Real Spirits Distilling with three new products: a gin and two aged whiskeys. All three will be in bottles to go.

Texas Beer & Crawfish Boil at Texas Beer Co., 1 to 10 p.m. Make the drive to Taylor for an afternoon of beer, live music and crawfish from legendary cook David Terrell of the Austin BBQ Company.

Sunday, April 9

St. Elmo Brewing Crawfish Boil, 12 to 10 p.m. The afternoon will include beer and live music from Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces, in addition to a Vietnamese-style crawfish boil from Soursop.

Easy Sunday with Austin Beerworks, 2 to 6 p.m. Easy Tiger will have $1 cans of beers like Pearl-Snap Pilsner and Bloodwork Orange IPA, as well as other Austin Beerworks brews on draft.

Monday, April 10

The Craft Series at the Driskill, 6 to 9 p.m. This month’s beer pairing dinner at the Driskill’s 1886 Cafe & Bakery will feature brews from the DFW area’s Community Beer Co.

Wednesday, April 12

Hops & Games at Hops & Grain, 6 to 10 p.m. It’s the monthly board game night at the brewery; you can either bring your own or play some of the games provided.

Meet the Brewer: BOM Brewery at Mort Subite, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Bert Van Hecke of BOM Brewery, which does all its own malting, will be at the Belgian beer bar with a curated selection of BOM beers.

Thursday, April 13

Spring Wines & Chocolate Pairing, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Chocolaterie Tessa is partnering with Mark Rashap, of KOOP Radio’s Anothe Bottle Down, for this delectable tasting. $55.

Friday, April 14

Flight of the Baptist at Flying Saucer, 11 a.m. There will be a mouthwatering flight on offer of all Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist variations, including Son of the Baptist and Baptista.

Saturday, April 15

Austin Beerworks Sputnik Event at Pinthouse Pizza, 11 a.m. Sputnik and all of its variations, as well as another Austin Beerworks brew or two, are going on tap for this celebration of the Russian imperial stout.

2nd Annual Crawfish Boil at Whip In, 12 to 8 p.m. Get to the party promptly at noon for a cheap early-bird beer menu and enjoy crawfish and New Orleans-style music all afternoon. $24 for two people.

Live Oak Brewing’s 20th Anniversary Party, 12 to 10 p.m. Enjoy food truck grub from Quality Seafood, Texas Chili Queens and others while toasting to the East Austin brewery’s big birthday.

Monday, April 17

Rosé Tasting at the Austin Shaker, 6 to 9 p.m. Drink pink with the East Austin liquor store, which is hosting a tasting of several different rosé wines from France and the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, April 19

Brewery Rep Death Match at Flying Saucer, 6 to 9 p.m. Two Colorado breweries, Odell Brewing and Avery Brewing, are facing off for pride and glory, with much swag to be had for the spectators.

Spirit Tasting & Class: Scotch Edition at Craftsman, 7 to 10 p.m. Craftsman’s boozy classes exploring various spirits continue, this time with a focus on Scotch from Glenlivet. $22.09.

Thursday, April 20

ATX IPA Throwdown, 4 p.m. Star Bar has created what is sure to be a heated competition, with some of the city’s favorite IPAs going hop to hop against each other.

Austin Beer Guide Release Party, 6 p.m. The spring and summer issue of Austin Beer Guide is releasing at this Draught House party that will have special tappings and more.

4/20 Fest at Banger’s, 6 to 9 p.m. Celebrate the quintessential stoner holiday with beer, with a tap list that includes such themed suds as Sweetwater Hash Session and Independence’s Hop Brownie.

Saturday, April 22

Friends & Allies Brewing’s Grand Opening, 12 p.m. Celebrate the official opening of the East Austin brewery with all your favorite Friends & Allies beers.

Real Ale’s 21st Birthday Kegger, 12 to 5 p.m. This old-school kegger is a nod to the days when beer was simpler, so for this year’s anniversary beer, simply being called 21, expect a pre-Prohibition lager. $20.

Texas Keeper Cidery’s Earth Day Gardening Party, 12 to 5 p.m. Learn about tree grafting, heirloom plants and more while enjoying the cidery’s second collaboration cider with Blue Owl Brewing. $4.

Sunday, April 23

Geraldine’s On Deck, 5 to 8 p.m. Relax poolside at the Hotel Van Zandt, where you can sip cocktails made with Treaty Oak Distilling spirits and listen to hot tracks from Mixer Rogers.

Tuesday, April 25

Boston to Austin Tap Takeover at Whip In, 5 to 10 p.m. Infamous Brewing and Samuel Adams collaborated on a beer together, the BOSxAUS, a smoked oyster stout. It’s tapping along with other beers from Infamous and Samuel Adams.

Whiskey and Cheese Pairing at Craftsman, 7 to 8 p.m. Teeling Irish Whiskey will prove that wine isn’t the only alcoholic beverage that can pair with one of our favorite foods. $16.82.

Wednesday, April 26

Whiskey Roundup at TenOak Bourbon House & Lounge, 6 to 9 p.m. You’ll get to try six of a variety of different whiskeys and meet the makers behind them; plus, food and cocktails available for purchase. $15 in advance; $20 at the door.

Friday, April 28

Dapper Devil Bottle Release at Blue Owl Brewing, 12 to 10 p.m. Love the raspberry Belgian strong ale that sour mashing brewery Blue Owl makes? It’ll be in bottles, with a limit of one case per customer.

Austin Food & Wine Festival, 5 p.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Sunday. The fest returns to Auditorium Shores with top chefs, savvy sommeliers and talented winemakers from across the country. $250-$625.

Saturday, April 29

Zilker Brewing’s 2nd Anniversary Party, 12 to 6 p.m. The East Austin brewery will have an extended tap list in honor of its birthday, as well as live music, food and more.

Return of Tiki at Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling, 12 to 10 p.m. Delicious tiki cocktails, Polynesian-inspired food, live music, hula and fire dancers, and a live demonstration of tiki carving by Doug Moreland await you.

Love Belgian Beer Fest, 1 to 8 p.m. Taste local Belgian-style brews and authentic imports, as well as enjoy live music and comedy, for a good cause. The event benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Austin. $53.74-$111.77.

Sunday, April 30

Bluebonnet Beer Dinner at Greenhouse Craft Food, 6:30 to 9 p.m. The Round Rock restaurant’s regular beer dinners continue, this time with a Round Rock brewery. $64.12.

Where to celebrate National Margarita Day in Austin

No doubt you’ve got your favorite place in town to drink a margarita, whether that’s at a Mexican food joint like the inimitable Matt’s El Rancho or at a cocktail bar like Backbeat where the margarita is going to be one classy drink.

You’ve also probably got your preferences for how you like to drink it: on the rocks or frozen, with a salted rim or without, or served in some crazy way — with a floater of beer, perhaps, or maybe with strawberries instead of limes. (Or how about with this Ancho Chile Reyes liqueur for a blast of heat?)

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Whether you like your margarita frozen or on the rocks, Austin restaurants like El Mercado will have them for you on National Margarita Day.
Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Whether you like your margarita frozen or on the rocks, Austin restaurants like El Mercado will have them for you on National Margarita Day.

However you like your margarita, just make sure you have one today, on this most auspicious of fake holidays, the one and only National Margarita Day.

Here are some Austin bars and restaurants where you’ll be able to take advantage of this very big excuse to drink. (Not that we, in Texas, ever need a reason to have a margarita, of course.)

The Brixton: It’s a full-on fiesta at the East Sixth Street bar starting at 4 p.m. today, when the Brixton will have complimentary chips, salsa and crock-pot queso on hand for you to enjoy with frozen margaritas, which are on special all night.

Corner at the J.W. Marriott: This hotel bar specializes in tequila cocktails, so you can bet the margarita is good. For National Margarita Day, Corner is offering $2 off its signature drink, the Corner Marg, with Sierra Vieja Reposado Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, agave syrup and lime. The deal lasts all day.

Curra’s Grill: Arguably one of the most classic margaritas in Austin is Curra’s bright green avocado margarita, but the Mexican restaurant on Oltorf Street has a variety of other ones to try as well, like the Lucky ‘Rita with Suerte Tequila, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice and Jarritos grapefruit juice.

El Burro: One of Austin’s newest Tex-Mex spots, from the team behind neighboring restaurant Vox Table, also has an avocado margarita, with Cimarron Tequila, avocado, cilantro, lime and simple syrup. If you’re in the mood for something sweeter, try the frozen mango margarita instead.

El Mercado: The margaritas are on special tonight in honor of National Margarita Day. So are Mexican martinis, which means you get your pick of tequila cocktails.

El Naranjo: Tequila is essential in a margarita — almost. The only reasonable substitute for the agave spirit would be its cousin of mezcal, which pours plentifully at this Rainey Street restaurant in its most popular margarita. The drink also has muddled serrano peppers, basil agave nectar, lime juice and pineapple juice.

El Sapo: The Manor Road burger bar with a Tex-Mex twist is offering $5 house margaritas from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today in honor of National Margarita Day. Might we suggest the O Gurl, a frozen potion with Chamoy, Mexican candy and the El Chile Group’s signature salt rim.

Contributed by Cultivate PR. Fixe's Abita 'Rita mixes beer with tequila, two favorites of Austinites.
Contributed by Cultivate PR. Fixe’s Abita ‘Rita mixes beer with tequila, two favorites of Austinites.

Fixe: How about a margarita with Southern flair? The Abita ‘Rita highlights a Louisiana favorite, Abita Amber, which is mixed in with Avion Silver, Grand Marnier, lime juice and orange juice.

Guero’s Taco Bar: From 6 to 8 p.m. this evening, sip on margaritas with Dulce Vida Tequila, an Austin-based brand, in the Guero’s garden while listening to tunes from Sun Radio’s musical guests this week, Rich Hopkins and Sour Bridges. National Margarita Day doesn’t get much better than that.

Juliet: A margarita at an Italian restaurant? Go with it. The bar manager is even showing you how to make ’em yourself — one regular, one spicy — in a video on Juliet’s Facebook page, but if you’d rather pair your tequila treat with a heaping helping of spaghetti carbonara, head to Juliet for lunch or dinner today.

Maudie’s: One of Austin’s quintessential Tex-Mex restaurants, which has multiple locations around town, is celebrating with another Austin brand, Dulce Vida Tequila.

Contributed by Picnik. Having dragonfruit in this Pitaya Margarita from Picnik gives the drink its striking color and gives you important nutrients like magnesium.
Contributed by Picnik. Having dragonfruit in this Pitaya Margarita from Picnik gives the drink its striking color and gives you important nutrients like magnesium.

Picnik: OK, a margarita will never be the healthiest item on the menu, but at the paleo-minded brick-and-mortar restaurant on Burnet Road, the Pitaya Margarita, named for the bright pink dragonfruit in it, comes pretty close.

Searsucker: You should have the downtown restaurant’s margarita for its playful name alone. Thankfully, the Jale Berry is also very good and features house-infused strawberry jalapeño tequila with lime, agave and salt.

Trace at the W: The hotel restaurant has one of those crazy twists on the margarita, called the Papa Dulce, that might be fun to try if you’re feeling adventurous, with Z Reposado Tequila, sweet potato syrup and lime. The Living Room Bar at the W will have more traditional margarita offerings as well.

Trudy’s Tex-Mex: A veritable rainbow of margaritas is flowing at all Trudy’s locations on one of the biggest days of the year for the brand, with $4 ‘ritas and $7 Mexican martinis available from 2 to 7 p.m. today.

USE OUR GUIDE: GET TO KNOW AUSTIN’S BREWERIES, DISTILLERIES AND MORE IN THE AUSTIN360 BOOZERY GUIDE

Paul Qui’s Kuneho, newly open, launches weekday happy hour

Feast on discounted food and drink during happy hour at the new Kuneho, Paul Qui's latest project.
Contributed by Kuneho. Feast on discounted food and drink during happy hour at the new Kuneho, Paul Qui’s latest project.

After replacing Paul Qui’s eponymous restaurant on East Sixth Street in early January, Kuneho — also founded by the James Beard Award-winning chef — is launching the best two hours in our work day: “happy happy time.”

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:

Drinks

  • 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)

Food

  • 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.

For more information, visit kunehoatx.com.

Capital drinks: 7 bars to check out within a mile of the Texas Legislature

Thao Nguyen for American-Statesman. The tiny Small Victory bar is hard to find but worth it once you do.
Thao Nguyen for American-Statesman. The tiny Small Victory bar is a little hard to find but worth it once you do.

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.

Sellers, 213 W. Fourth St. sellersaustin.com. The owner of Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street wanted something different for his second bar project and found it with this underground basement lounge in the Warehouse District. Sellers is styled with 1970s design touches and features cocktails named after defining films of that decade.

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.

For an extensive list of dining spots near the Texas Capitol, visit Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam’s roundup of these places.

Health-conscious Picnik on Burnet Road debuts happy hour and cocktails

The Berry Basil Smash at Picnik on Burnet Road features potato vodka and a variety of fruit and herbs as a sweet, refreshing sipper.
The Berry Basil Smash at Picnik on Burnet Road features potato vodka, fruit, herbs and kombucha as a sweet, refreshing sipper.

The month of January, when we’ve made our New Year’s resolutions to eat better and get back into shape, is the time for health-minded restaurants like Picnik to shine.

And we don’t have to abandon the booze, either.

Picnik’s brick-and-mortar location on Burnet Road has just added happy hour and a small list of signature cocktails, for those of us who haven’t cut alcohol out of our diets completely but still want healthier options to sip on.

Like the restaurant’s food menu, the drinks program is gluten-free and filled with natural ingredients — and it even includes a margarita. Here’s the full list of cocktails:

  • Pitaya Margarita: organic tequila, pink dragonfruit, lime, local honey, Himalayan sea salt rim
  • Mezcal Old Fashioned: mezcal, maple syrup, orange, bitters
  • Gin + Jam: potato gin, berry and pomegranate jam, local honey, lemon
  • Berry Basil Smash: potato vodka, blackberry, basil, ginger, local honey, lime, botanical kombucha

Enjoy these during the newly established happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. In addition to $2 off cocktails, Picnik is offering other happy hour deals during that time, including half-off shareable plates on the food menu, $2 off wine by the glass, $2 off cider (except for Texas Keeper) and $2 off beer (which, in case you were wondering, is also gluten-free. This place walks the walk).

Picnik, which opened its brick-and-mortar space last year, is located 4801 Burnet Rd. The food truck version of Picnik is at 1700 S. Lamar Blvd. For more information, visit picnikaustin.com.

Austin restaurants create cocktails full of fall & winter flavors

Contributed by Punch Bowl Social. The Pumpkin Spice Libation at Punch Bowl Social incorporates juiced pumpkin, rather than artificial pumpkin spice.
Contributed by Punch Bowl Social. The Pumpkin Spice Libation at Punch Bowl Social incorporates juiced pumpkin, rather than artificial pumpkin spice.

A Texas winter might not be much colder than a Texas summer, but area bars are still getting in the spirit of the season by offering cocktails full of the ingredients so desired this time of year, from whiskey and aged rum to food flavors like apple, pumpkin and even sweet potato.

Here are a handful of cocktails from six Austin bars that will get you in the mood for our coming cold front.

Punch Bowl Social: Pumpkin Spice Libation

Pumpkin might seem like a tired ingredient in seasonal dishes and drinks, but the chef at Punch Bowl Social in the Domain has revived the fall treat by juicing real pumpkins for this bourbon punch, rather than by having the bartenders add pumpkin spice. The result is that pumpkin has returned to its roots, imbuing the punch with a vegetal flavor, surprisingly low on sweetness, that pairs easily with the remaining ingredients of apple and lemon juices, citrus syrup and allspice dram.

Contributed by Jacoby's. The Sweet & Toasty is reminiscent of Thanksgiving in the moutains of the Pacific Northwest for one creative bartender.
Contributed by Jacoby’s. The Sweet & Toasty is reminiscent of Thanksgiving in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest for one creative bartender.

Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile: Sweet & Toasty

Jacoby’s head bartender Mike Paulus was able to relive his childhood Thanksgivings growing up in the mountains of Washington State with this bourbon drink featuring Cognac, sweet potato, molasses, smoke and toasted marshmallow.

“My sister always cooked up this dish with sweet potatoes, molasses, and toasted marshmallows, a flavor that will always remind me of home,” he said. “With help from chefs Austin Ewald and Albert Gonzalez, we were able to recreate a truly reminiscent experience.”

Vox Table: Bear Rug Cuddles by the Fire

The restaurant that likes evocative cocktail names — Tom Selleck’s Mustache, with rye whiskey, might be my favorite — keeps the creative christening coming with this riff on the sherry cobbler, a classic cocktail made with the Spanish sherry, muddled citrus, sugar and lots of crushed ice. Head bartender J.R. Mocanu, like Paulus, was able to play around in the kitchen and came up with an autumnal version: apple brandy, cherry-spiced Pinot Noir and Bittercube Trinity bitters. Taste it and it’ll feel as cozy and comforting as bear rug cuddles by the fire.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Hightower recently added a couple of seasonal cocktails to the menu, including the Gold Coast.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Hightower recently added a couple of seasonal cocktails to the menu, including the Gold Coast.

The Hightower: Gold Coast

Although it might not have felt like fall, the technical change of the season marked a big spike in bourbon cocktail sales at the East Seventh Street restaurant. The obvious result? A couple of additional whiskey drinks were added to the menu, including this one, to answer the demand. The Gold Coast has bourbon, Hoodoo chicory liqueur, curaçao and house cocoa bitters — a winningly boozy combination for lovers of chocolate and coffee. Let the stirred potion sit for a bit and those flavors, particularly the dark roasted notes of chicory, shine through.

Barley Swine: Apples to Ashes

Another Austin bartender has crafted a drink based off her memories of somewhere else: living in Boston, where she and her friends in the bar industry would treat a clarified milk punch as “a welcoming aperitif.” But Barley Swine’s Kasey Pierce used to adapting to the seasons at the venerated farm-to-table restaurant brought “a whole new dimension to the experience. The Apples to Ashes begins with smoked apples infused in El Dorado 12-year rum, a black tea concentrate, baking spice syrup and lemon juice. Then, boiling milk is added to clarify the cocktail as a whole.” Drinking it, she says, promises a unique experience.

Freedmen’s: Black Manhattan

The recent addition of barrel-aged cocktails to the bar menu at the barbecue spot turned out to be timely. Though the drinks will be available for ordering year-round, the Black Manhattan in particular will feel suited for this time of year. The warming blend of Angel’s Envy Rye, Nonino Italian grappa and fresh orange is full of citrus and spice and serves as the perfect accompaniment to brisket and the cold blast of winter we’re still hopeful will come.

Freedmen's, in the campus area, has a few barrel-aged cocktails on the menu, including the Black Manhattan, the Flight Path and the Vieux Carre.
Freedmen’s, in the campus area, has a few barrel-aged cocktails on the menu, including the Black Manhattan, the Flight Path and the Vieux Carre.

Italian restaurant in Mueller, L’Oca d’Oro, adds happy hour

One of Austin’s most promising Italian restaurants is adding one of our favorite things — happy hour.

Jay Janner / American-Statesman. Enjoy happy hour at Mueller's L'Oca d'Oro starting on Oct. 17.
Jay Janner / American-Statesman. Enjoy happy hour at Mueller’s L’Oca d’Oro starting on Oct. 17.

The Mueller eatery L’Oca d’Oro will have food and drink specials on the menu starting on Monday. The goal behind the restaurant’s happy hour, which will run 5 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, is to have snacks, small plates and creative drinks not on the regular menu available at lower prices. (The restaurant is closed Tuesdays.)

Here’s what you’ll get during L’Oca d’Oro’s hour-and-a-half of dining deals.

Drinks:

  • Beet-chelada: spicy mezcal-beet puree with 10 oz. of Live Oak Berliner Weisse. $3.
  • Argento Americano Spritz. $4.

Snacks:

  • Mozzarella sticks with dandelion-hazelnut pesto. $6.
  • Grilled sourdough with Bagna cauda. $4.
  • Spiced chicharrones. $4.
  • Pickle plate. $4.

The Statesman’s restaurant critic Matthew Odam just published a glowing review of L’Oca d’Oro, located at 1900 Simond Ave., in this week’s Austin360 and on mystatesman.com. Read up on what to expect before you go.

For more information, visit locadoroaustin.com.

The Scoot Inn opens new lounge space in honor of 145th anniversary

In one of East Austin’s most historical buildings, the Scoot Inn has reliably been a venue for live music and events, but after renovations in honor of the space’s 145th anniversary this year, it’s hoping to become much more than that.

Tom McCarthy Jr. for American-Statesman. The Historic Scoot Inn has always been a music venue for bands like Low Cut Connie, but starting Thursday, expect more of a lounge feel, too, after renovations to the space.
Tom McCarthy Jr. for American-Statesman. The Historic Scoot Inn has always been a music venue for bands like Low Cut Connie, but starting Thursday, expect more of a lounge feel, too, after renovations to the space.

The Historic Scoot Inn’s owner, Doug Guller of ATX Brands, is throwing a grand re-opening on Sept. 22 to highlight the changes — namely, a revamped interior lounge called Ivy’s Room. It’s a name that serves as a nod to the building’s former owners, Aubrey “Scoot” and Hattie Ivy.

With the eclectic lounge, the Scoot Inn is about to become more of a casual hangout where locals can come for beers and listen to a live piano player or to one of the songs they select from an authentic 8-track tape player. These changes are intended, just the like name, to highlight the historical significance of the venue, according to a press release.

Ivy’s Room “has been highly curated and filled with furniture and fixtures that are reminiscent of past eras that the Scoot Inn team has collected over the years,” according to the release.

Also renovated, the outdoor area will have bar games and lots of seating.

And with these updates, Austinites will be able to stop into the Scoot Inn earlier in the day — it’ll open at 4 p.m. during the week and at 2 p.m. on the weekends, to offer happy hour and other events that weren’t possible when the venue opened its doors at 6 p.m.

Plus, the Scoot Inn is bringing in a regular roster of food trucks, and the live piano players will perform in Ivy’s Room every Wednesday through Sunday, with a DJ in the outdoor area on Fridays and Saturdays. But rest assured that concerts, of course, will continue in the Scoot Inn’s outdoor area.

At the grand re-opening party that kicks off at 4 p.m. Thursday, expect live music, grub from food truck the Mighty Cone and drink specials that include $1.45 Lone Star beers.

The Scoot Inn is located at 1308 E. Fourth St. and will be opened 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. To learn more about the venue — including a history of the building erected in 1871 as a grocery store — visit scootinnaustin.com.

Trump and Clinton cocktails? Try ’em at Omni Barton Creek

The POTUS Punch is one of the 2016 election-themed cocktails available at Omni hotels through Election Day.
The POTUS Punch is one of the 2016 election-themed cocktails available at Omni hotels through Election Day.

Everyone from political pundits to your next-door neighbor thinks they know who will (or who should be) the next president of the United States, but the Omni brand of hotels is making its prediction a little less conventionally.

Each hotel under the Omni umbrella — including the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in West Austin — is offering a menu of presidential election-inspired cocktails as a way of guessing the outcome of the election. The cocktails, which are available now through Election Day on Nov. 8, include three created with Republicans in mind, three mixed up for the Democrats out there and one to appease all the Independents of the country.

Guests who visit participating Omni locations can “cast their ballot” by ordering a cocktail off the special election-themed menu, according to a press release. In Austin, the menu will be at the cozy Bartons Lounge in the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa.

“Drink orders will be tallied and the overall consumption rates will be tracked and posted online every Wednesday from the previous week,” according to the release. “Once the electoral results have been announced, Omni will be able to determine if the promotion’s ‘popular vote’ was truly a predictor of the next president.”

The idea sounds ludicrous, of course, but as the Omni website notes, “if a groundhog can predict the seasons and an octopus can predict soccer matches, then cocktails can surely predict the next president.”

Here are Omni’s boozy presidential offerings.

Republican cocktails:

  • The Trump-tini: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, lemon and cranberry juices, Domaine Chandon and a sugared rim
  • The Right Manhattan: Maker’s 46, apricot preserves and lemon juice, muddled with mint and topped with club soda
  • The Ruby Red Pence: Deep Eddy Ruby Red grapefruit vodka, cranberry juice and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

Democratic cocktails:

  • The Hilla-rita: Tres Generaciones Reposado Tequila, orange juice, agave and DeKuyper Amaretto, and a sugar and salt rim
  • The True Blue Mule: Tito’s Handmade Vodka, ginger beer and blueberry reàl-infused syrup
  • The Sugar Kaine Smash: Maker’s 46, fresh mint leaves, simple syrup, topped with club soda and a cherry

The Independent cocktail is the POTUS Punch, with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, grenadine, fresh orange and lemon juices and muddled blackberries.

For more information, visit omnihotels.com/drinkthevote.