Celebrate Dad at Estância

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Spend this Father’s Day weekend at Estância, and receive a gift card to use at a future date! Delicious food? Check. Upscale environment? Check. Sure to impress dad? Check. Bonus gift for you? Check!

On Preak: Reinventing the Black Eyed Susan

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Nothing can truly top Kentucky bourbon, or the Kentucky Derby, but we can’t ignore the fresh seafood, or exhilarating Preakness Stakes in Maryland. Recently, I took up a challenge to reinvent the classic Preakness Cocktail, The Black Eyed Susan, but with Maker’s Mark bourbon. The best of both worlds! Adding to the recipe my own easy-on-the-sugar twist, I think you’ll be fan.

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This recipe can be easily edited to suit your tastes, though prepared my way will turn lean itself more to the tart and zesty side. Just how I like it! Here’s how to make the cocktail:

  • 1 shot Maker’s Mark
  • 1/4 shot Paula’s Texas Orange Liqueur (or any orange liqueur)
  • Squeeze of 1/2 Cara Cara or Blood Orange
  • Lemon wedge
  • Sparkling water (lemon/orange flavored works well!)

Add the first set of ingredients to a tumbler filled with ice, filling the glass the rest of the way up with sparkling water. Feel free to add more juice or liqueur. Heck, if you’re me, you’ll likely be adding another half shot of bourbon! Bottoms up, and may the odds be ever in your horse’s favor.

Note: I received bourbon samples without payment to make this blog post. Recipe and opinions are all 100% by me.

Speak Easily: Milonga Room

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The folks behind Buenos Aires Cafe have opened a dark, intimate, and romantic speakeasy just below their east Austin location.

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Dubbed Milonga Room, this rustic (and faaaaancy) cocktail bar provides a secret retreat from the frantic static of the nightlife venues above.

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The menu boasts handcrafted cocktails, focuses heavily on Fernet, and even has a spectacular wine selection. The vintage furniture, obsessive attention to detail, and and serene 1920s vibe make this the ideal date spot. As with any speakeasy, the door is password protected. Be sure to follow Milonga Room on social media for access to their South American Prohibition-era oasis.

The City Guide to Cocktails

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It’s that time again! The Austin Food Blogger Alliance has released the best damn guide to where to eat and drink in Austin, and I have once again taken on the laborious task of writing about cocktails. I expect a thank you card from each and every one of you after what I put my liver through. (I loved every minute of it!)

Bribery Bakery, Photo by Arianna Trevino
Bribery Bakery, Photo by Arianna Trevino

Bribery Bakery 1900 Simond Avenue  Austin, TX

A colorful, whimsical bakery with an array of tasty, fruit-forward cocktails. If you’re hanging out near Mueller, it’s definitely worth a try even for the ambiance alone! Happy hour is weekdays from 3-6 with $2 off all cocktails, beer and wine.

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The Townsend

The Townsend 718 Congress Avenue Austin, TX

This elegant space has got to be 1 of my top 5 cocktail experiences, ever. Maybe top 3. Okay, definitely top 3. The space is luxurious, the staff are masterful in their knowledge and ability, and they even have delicious food. One of my favorite cocktails there is the Bottom Buzzer, which is even adorned with a delicate pink flower. The Townsend has an obsession with detail, and it shows. If you’re looking for a great cocktail experience, then definitely come here. (Also, I know I’m not supposed to be talking about food, but they serve some of the most tender octopus in town.)

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The Townsend

Nightcap  1401 W 6th St, Austin, TX

One of the newest, and most impressive spots in town. This adorably renovated house feels modern, sleek, and even somehow cozy. The cocktails are as easy on the eyes as they are on the lips. The Honeymoon Suite may look like it’ll taste like dessert, but it brings a delicate balance with the tart dried berries they sprinkle atop to make it appear like rose petals on sheets. Their Legs in the Air cocktail (they like to have fun the with the names) adds a lovely herbal note with violet, and the I Would Hit That is perhaps their most visually arresting.

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Nightcap’s Honeymoon Suite

Small Victory 108 East 7th Street Austin, TX

An intimate speakeasy tucked away downtown. The space is small, but never feels crowded, and the bartenders truly know their stuff.

Whisler's Taven's Eastside Queen
Whisler’s Taven’s Eastside Queen

Whisler’s Tavern 1816 E 6th St, Austin, TX

It appears unassuming, but the interior is absolutely breathtaking at this craft cocktail bar. Expect amazing drinks, and equally exceptional food trucks at this slightly off-the-beaten-path bar.

Weather Up 1808 East Cesar Chavez Street Austin TX

Infinitely secretive, and hardly advertised, this place draws the crowd that wants to be ‘in the know.’ The cocktails are expertly crafted, and they have an obsession with ice, which clearly works in their favor.

Midnight Cowboy 313 East 6th Street Austin, TX

This small, luxe space was formerly occupied by a massage parlor, hence the name. Mystery abounds, reservations are practically mandatory, and this bar eschews loud, club-like scenes for intimate booths with cart service; you get your drink made table side, and the bartenders truly know their stuff.

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Nightcap

Techo 2201 Manor Rd, Austin, TX

This intimate mezcaleria offers balanced, artfully crafted cocktails. The menu boasts over 20 mezcals currently, and the owners tirelessly obsess over the quality of their products, and take great care in carefully curating their selection. There’s a great patio, and I consider this bar to be one of the best kept secrets in town.

Techo, Photo by Nicolai McCrary
Techo, Photo by Nicolai McCrary

The Hightower 1209 East 7th Street Austin, TX

This spot, known mostly for their incredible food, also boasts an incredible cocktail program. Many of the current offerings are perfect for the patio, including their Tequila Fresa Press, and wine gimlets. I personally love the Oaxahappened, a smoky mezcal cocktail with salt bitters.

The Hightower
The Hightower

El Sapo 1900 Manor Road austin, TX

This tasty burger spot offers more than just frozen margaritas. Their impressive cocktail program includes several creations made with house-infused spirits, including the tequila-based El Cucuy which is infused with jalapeños. If you’re looking for something balanced and light, look no further than their cucumber and gin drink, the Sureño.

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El Sapo’s El Cucuy

Barley Swine 6555 Burnet Road Austin, TX

Beverage manager, Robert Stevens, has created a menu using seasonal ingredients from local farms. Many of the components, including shrubs and sodas, are made in house. Select drinks are available for their Swine Time happy hour Monday-Thursday from 5-6:30.

Garage Bar 503 Colorado Street Austin, TX

This absolutely hidden space (it’s inside a parking garage) is worth the hunt. The space is dark, sexy, and their upscale drinks list will appease any liquid appetite.

Isla 208 West 4th Street Austin, TX

Isla’s Caribbean cantina makes the best Daiquiris and  Mai Tais in town, with several delicious creations of their own. They have an impressive selection of rums, and do offer flights. Happy hour runs all night on Wednesday and 4-7 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

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Nightcap

Peche 208 West 4th Street Austin, TX

Peche (next door to Isla) is known for absinthe, and pre-prohibition cocktails with a twist. Not sure what to order? Tell the bartender what flavors you usually like, and they’re sure to make you something you’ll love. Happy hour (all night Sunday and Monday, and 4-7 Tuesday-Friday) offers $5 select cocktails. 

Roosevelt Room  307 West 5th Street Austin, TX

This place was named Austin’s Best New Cocktail Bar 2015 by Thrillist. The menu celebrates the 7 major drinking eras since the cocktail’s birth in the 1800s. Don’t stop at the downstairs bar, there’s also an intimate lounge upstairs. Happy hour is all night Tuesday, and 5-7 any other day.

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School House Pub’s Extra Credit

School House Pub 2207 Manor Road Austin, TX

This unassuming pub offers more than just elevated bar fare, they also have a solid selection of specialty cocktails that you can get for $2 off from 3-7. I recently had the Extra Credit which had just a hint of sweetness to match a slightly bitter flavor, and was balanced all around.

 

 

Estância Churrascaria: Because Meat is the Language of Love

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Estância Churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse with an endless salad bar, and delectable cuts of meat.

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They don’t stop at beef: there’s also pork, poultry, sausage, lamb, and an intoxicating (get it!) wine list. Do you need any more reasons to go? Well, I’ve got you covered…

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Dine in this Friday-Sunday, and get a complimentary gift card to use later! Now you have an excuse to have deliciously prepared proteins not once, but twice! Besides, I’m a huge fan of any excuse to celebrate Valentine’s Day (since, you know, it’s my birthday and all). ;)

So, You’re Visiting My Town…

Photo: http://newtononeill.com/whislers/
Photo: http://newtononeill.com/whislers/

Austin is a popular destination for work conferences, weekend get-aways, extended vacations, and straight-up moving. I can’t open Tinder without at least 5 matches messaging me: “I’m in Austin for the first time. What should I do here?” Fear not, 30-year- old-man-petting-a-tiger-in-your-default-photo, I’m here to help.

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My favorite piece of advice to give to newcomers is to start at Whisler’s Tavern on east 6th, then work your way west. There’s so much to do, and it’s all within walking distance! Grab a pricey cocktail, and compensate for the cost by eating from East Side King’s Thai-Kun food truck. It’s practically attached to the bar. A favorite of mine is the oh, so spicy Waterfall Pork. If Whisler’s isn’t your thing, save a few bucks by starting just a little further down the road at Liberty Bar. There you’ll find cheap beer, and another popular East Side King location. Pro-tip: Try the crispy beets. Now, keep walking west…

Photo: http://texashotelvegas.com
Photo: http://texashotelvegas.com

You’ll pass by the famous Qui, which you should consider eating at if you recently won that billion dollar Powerball, and hit Hotel Vegas. This place is great for dancing, meeting exceptionally drunk individuals, making horrifying one-night-stand-related choices, and is ripe for people-watching on their back patio, which is shared with 2 other bars. Fun fact: Paul Qui, owner of Qui, is a Top Chef winner, and also owns those aforementioned food trucks. I’m not advertising for the guy, but all of his food  is truly amazing. So, pick your Paul Qui spot based on your budget. It’ll be good at any tier.

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Now, it’s decision time. You can cut across the street, and round the corner at Cisco’s to visit White Horse (which is a mix of hip and honky tonk), or you can keep going in the same direction down 6th Street. I’m not a huge country fan, not even ironically, so I don’t really make this detour, but a lot of people do. Do you want to get your ‘Texas’ on? Go nuts. Otherwise, if you continue west, you’ll be coming upon a mediocre-unless-you’re-drunk food truck park, and even more bars!

For cheap, strong pours I recommend Violet Crown Social Club, which is connected to the famous Via 313 Pizza. If you prefer a more ‘fancy’ type of drink, then swing by East Side Show Room, which has expensive-yet-good food as well. As you continue, you’ll see more restaurants, and no less than 8 staggering drunks asking you for cigarettes. Reader, beware! If you go too far on this path (past IH-35), then you will find yourself on Dirty 6th, which is the “true” 6th Street, and the one puking frat guys, Bourbon Street fans, and lost tourists love. Mufasa says it best:

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Rocksbox: A Sparkling Subscription


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Do you cycle through jewelry more than you do Tinder matches? Fret not, my friend, thanks to Rocksbox you can try, buy, or send back jewelry items in the blink of an eye.

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For just $19/month you get a curated box handpicked by a stylist. You can browse their collection and ‘favorite’ things you like, and more often than not you’ll get at least one of those items! The more you review, the more personalized your box gets.

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If you love an item, you get to purchase it at a discounted price; or you can simply return the box, and get a fresh set of things to try! I like that I can send it back whenever I want, though I did find it hard to part with some pieces. (I should’ve just bought them with the discount!)

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The pieces are by known designers, with fashion-forward reputations. If you like to try before you buy, then this is the box for you!

How to Spend An Epic Day on E. Cesar Chavez

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You may have visited E. 6th for the numerous restaurants and bars, but have you considered going a few streets down? This is my very walkable guide to having an epic, though possibly intoxicated day on a street near and dear to my heart. Take a bus there, and Uber back. Problem solved! Let’s start…

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Kick things off with a mimosa at Cenote. It’s at the far end of E. 1st, and near IH-35. You’ll grab some mimosas, maybe some snacks, and enjoy the patio. It gets packed though, so be competitive. If someone’s getting up, you better set up camp ASAP. Once you’ve got your morning buzz going (caffeine or booze), pack up and walk to the Blue Cat Cafe. You’ll get to snuggle adoptable buddies, who’ll probably be more interested in sleeping than touching you, and check out about a million cat toys. There’s a vegan food truck attached, so go nuts! You might want to pace yourself though…

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Is it lunch time? IT’S LUNCH TIME! Hike a few yards up, and you’ll be at the world-famous La Barbecue. If you’re not from Austin: go there. If you are from Austin: go there. Just go there. Trust me. You’ll enjoy it, or I’ll eat my hat. (Joke’s on you! I don’t own hats.) (Really though. It’s world famous. Jimmy Kimmel swears by it, and I think that counts for something? Maybe? Either way, it’s up there with Franklin, but with way better lines.) I should probably remind you to pace. yourself. Don’t be in no meat coma. You better keep your calm on that La Barbecue. Order about 1/4th of what you think you want.

Wait! Are you vegetarian, and didn’t eat at the cat cafe?! Fret not, my friend. Skip the flesh, and head to Counter Culture Cafe, a vegan/vegetarian restaurant, up the road. They’re amazing, and they also have beer.

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Walk it off! Now that lunch is over, take a stroll to some of the super cool shops down there. There’s a great South American art importer called Corocoro that’s close by, or you can hoof it all the way down to the Pleasant Valley side and hit up Friends & Neighbors. They’re famous for their teepee in the backyard, but I go for the wine. They also have coffee, vintage clothing, jewelry that I want but can’t afford, and hand-crafted condiments from other cities that actually are awesome. Pricey, but awesome. Tired of spending? See some art at grayDUCK Gallery. Or maybe do spend… I support local artists. Is it happy hour yet?

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If you’re laying a trap for me, just tell me there’s half-off bubbly somewhere. I’ll gladly walk into that cage, and this is true of Juniper. They have half-off sparkling, $7 wagyu skewers, and a few other delectables for their 4-6 p.m. happy hour (keep in mind they’re closed Sun-Mon). Not hungry yet? Stay Gold opens at 3! They’re a bar with an acceptable wine list, that also happens to be attached to a food truck specializing in toast/sandwiches. I’m noticing a food truck theme here… Don’t eat more yet! Okay, are you ready? Is it dinner time? Let’s cheat a little and walk a block away on a side street for Launderette. There’s no happy hour, but I don’t care. It’s delicious small plates with a ton of seafood. If you want to go full seafood though, you can head to Monger’s, a very popular more-than-oysters joint.

Are you stuffed yet?! Still sober?! Drinks Lounge and Craftsman have you covered! Craftsman even has Prosecco on tap! That should do the trick. I suspect that by now, you’ve had the best day ever.

Mission Cute: A Box With A Conscience

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What could make a monthly subscription box filled with cute, useful goodies better? How about sourcing from small businesses and non-profits? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me!

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That’s exactly what Mission Cute is doing, and I love it.

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Each box contains items made from often local businesses, and artisans. Not only that, but they also partner with a non-profit for each box to help spread awareness a bout their mission, and give them half of the net proceeds!

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As you can see from my delightful first box, I received a gorgeous bracelet, shimmery hand-made necklace, print, body scrub, Apple scented candle, and I got to learn about the work they’re doing over at Karam. (I also got candy!) Celebrate the holidays by giving this gift, that truly gives back.

Cooking with Shef’s Kitchen at Patricia’s Table

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I’ve loved Indian food ever since I had my first taste of it in high school. The only Indian restaurant was a 45 minute drive away, and you can bet that I made that haul almost weekly, possibly more.

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When I was invited to an Indian street food cooking class by Shef’s Kitchen at Patricia’s Table, I was absolutely beside myself! And no, not just because the classes are BYO…

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First off, the space is gorgeous. It’s well-lit, well-stocked, and well-staffed. It’s so pristine, in fact, that a couple came in off the street wanting to to dine there thinking it was a restaurant. I learned that this is not uncommon.

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Shef herself was incredible. She was so at ease that it made it feel like we were family members learning how to cook in her own home, which I loved! The fact that she has a medical background, and focuses on healthy, flavorful eating were all bonuses. I’m a bit of a health fanatic, so for food to be good + taste good is very important to me.

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At the end, we all dined at a large communal table. I think I was the only one who smuggled in wine from my purse, but that’s to be expected from me (again, it was BYO!). I made some new friends, learned some new tricks, and feel a lot more comfortable with some ingredients I hadn’t been brave enough to work with before. If you’re looking for something new to try/do/learn then definitely take a class!