Contributor Paula Disbrowe discovers that cozy booths, a secret buzzer, and killer cocktails crafted tableside make Midnight Cowboy the best incarnation of a speakeasy around.
Not in Texas? We’ve included a recipe from the bar menu you can mix up at home!
THE FRIENDLY BARKEEPS: Beverage director Bill Norris, known around Austin for his knack for giving classic cocktails a modern spin, and general manager Brian Dressel collaborate with the staff on a rotating menu of cocktails.
THE VIBE: Prohibition-era speakeasy. Housed in a former massage parlor on Austin’s notorious East Sixth Street, Midnight Cowboy opened last year and is still gaining buzz with adventurous drinkers for its highly skilled bartenders and the space’s private parlor-like elegance.
FIRST ROUND: Try the White Pizzazz, made with cognac, Chartreuse, and chocolate-orange aromas courtesy of crème de cacao and orange bitters, with a touch of buttermilk to balance the flavors.
SECOND ROUND: You can’t go wrong with the Scotch-based Smoke and Mirrors, enhanced with the essential oils of an orange peel warmed by a flame. (For an at-home version, see recipe below.)
TIP JAR: You might go thirsty if you show up unannounced. (Make reservations online.) However, if the vacancy sign above the door is illuminated, walk-in tables are available.
PSST: For entry, ring the buzzer labeled “Harry Craddock,” a wink and a nod to the author of the 1930s The Savoy Cocktail Book. Also, silence cell phones at the door. You won’t exactly be reprimanded for snapping an Instagram photo, but the staff kindly requests you not let gadgets kill the intimate mood. “We’ve designed the booths to be private, so it’s like you are having friends over for cocktails in your home. You can barely see the other patrons in the bar.”
TRY IT AT HOME
SMOKE AND MIRRORS: Stir together 1½ oz. single-malt Scotch, 1 oz. orange sherry (such as Bodegas Gongora Duque de Carmona Orange Sherry), 1½ oz. Bénédictine liqueur, and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters in a glass. Add ice; stir 30 times. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist—minus the flame, of course.
313 East 6th Street; 512/843-2715