Gerald Rich is a Senior Entertainment & Features Writer for The Daily Texan His cheeky and well-researched Thirsty Thursday columns have become a must-read for students (myself included) who need to finish off a long week with a big drink, whether it be a Ramos Gin Fizz or a Four Loko. Mr. Rich was kind enough to recommend his 3 favorite drinking spots in Austin as well as a recipe for any of you adventurous enough to whip up your very own cocktail.
1. Péché – If you want pre-prohibition cocktails without having to worry about Carrie Nation taking a hatchet to the liquor bottles, try this bar. It’s got one of the more comprehensive cocktail and liquor selections in Austin and has numerous $5 cocktails during happy hour if you’re not wanting shill out $10 to $15 on a well-crafted drink. Named “Best Bar Staff” for the Austin Chronicle’s 2010 Awards, Péché also has some of the best pomme frittes in town with their own homemade ketchup.
2. Aviary – This is the bar where everyone really does know your name, even if it’s your first time going. The home decor store with a wine and beer bar is lovingly run by Marco Fiorilo and his wife Shanna Eldridge and they’ve never steered me wrong when it comes to picking a drink. Their selection isn’t huge, but they always have new, exotic wines and beers for some amazingly affordable prices. Try their charcuterie plate with some locally made, fresh cheeses if you’re feeling peckish.
3. Cactus Cafe – There are those days where you just want a nice cold pint of beer. That’s when I walk on into UT’s Cactus Cafe. With a $2.75 pints of Shiner or a $5 shot of Maker’s Mark, you don’t really need anything exotic or elaborate. It’s location also makes it perfect for me to meet friends on campus. You can even bring your friends who are under 21 inside for a non-alcoholic drink, but don’t even try buying them anything stronger than water.
Standard Drink: Manhattan
It doesn’t get any more classic than a Manhattan. Made with the simple 2:1 ratio of whiskey to sweet vermouth with a dash of bitters and a maraschino cherry, the savory drink is an American bartending standard that has never fallen too far out of style for more than 100 years.
Another notable trait is that it’s also the perfect first drink to judge a bartender’s knowledge or your own prowess. When done right, a Manhattan is stirred, not shaken and the vermouth should balance the sweetness or bitterness of the whiskey used.
Manhattans have been around long enough that there are a number of different variations for whatever your palate desires. Whether your want Bourbon, Rye or Canadian whiskey with some sweet, dry or both types of vermouth, the possibilities are numerous. Even a lemon peel instead of a cherry is entirely acceptable.
So whether you are trying to be a Mad Man or are just overwhelmed with cocktails choices, try a Manhattan to set you off on the right foot.