No more 'happy endings' here, unless you count the Kalamazoo Julep (and we do)
Reviewed by Claudia Alarcón, Fri., April 27, 2012
313 E. Sixth, 843-2715
When the Alamo Drafthouse hired Bill Norris as beverage director, I knew it would soon delve deeper into craft-cocktail culture. Sure enough, Norris' own boozy playground opened in March in the space formerly occupied by the infamous Midnight Cowboy massage parlor. After a thorough cleaning and redesigning by Joel Mozersky, the low-lit, Prohibition-era speakeasy features a vintage bar, black leather booths, and three private rooms. Admission is by reservation only, with capacity for 48 guests; instructions for entry through the unmarked door are given upon reservation confirmation. Reservations are for two-hour visits only, and there are rules to be obeyed, such as no cell phone use (there's a back patio for those who cannot detach themselves from their phones). And while I've read complaints about this being elitist, to me it's just another example of classic quirky Alamo fun. Grow a sense of humor, for crying out loud.
The ample menu consists of a rotating selection of classic and signature cocktails by Norris and manager Brian Dressel, formerly of Fino, East Side Show Room, and Bar Congress. All cocktails are priced at $12 and are featured as house cocktails, obscure classics, and "friends of Midnight Cowboy," which is a selection of modern favorites from bartender friends in other cities. They're prepared from a tableside cart when possible, using high-end and artisanal ingredients and spirits.
The menu gives us the kid-in-the-candy-store feeling you get when every single item sounds delicious. On our visit, we enjoyed the refreshing and unique Kalamazoo Julep made with fresh celery; the superb Pisco Sourgrass, made with house-made sorrel-honey syrup; the warm and boozy Scotch- and sherry-based Smoke and Mirrors; and the exotic South of Bangkok, featuring gin, coconut, fresh lime, Thai lime leaf bitters, and Thai basil. We can't wait to go back to try others, and look forward to seasonal, summery offerings. This is truly an oasis for cocktail connoisseurs seeking a quiet environment to enjoy extraordinary libations in an atmosphere devoid of loud frat types, hipsters on cell phones, and obnoxious music.