The new Lakeline location of the Alamo Drafthouse opened last month, and with it, the theater’s second standalone bar in Austin.
The first bar, 400 Rabbits, is part of the Slaughter location and features all things tequila. The new bar, Glass Half Full, focuses on craft beer. The concept was first launched at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton, Colo., and another was added in Ashburn, Va., shortly after.
Each bar features a handpicked selection of craft beers native to the area. At the Austin location, 32 beers grace the tap wall (including nine set aside for special releases and seasonals), with an array of bottles and canned beer to supplement.
The bar also features a collection of beer cocktails devised by Beverage Director Bill Norris, who says he wanted to come up with a concept that would bridge the gap between craft beer and craft cocktail drinkers.
The menu is divided into three sections: beer cocktails, beer mixes and classic cocktails. Beer cocktails have been sprinkled on many menus across town over the past few years by notable bartenders and bar programs, including back when Norris was at the helm at Haddingtons. Most recently, the Brew Exchange launched an entire menu featuring beer cocktails. But the menu at Glass Half Full is the most refined and progressive take on the concept in Austin right now.
A section of “beer mixes” features traditional beer combinations like the Half and Half (Guinness and Austin Amber) and Black Velvet (Guinness and sparkling wine). There are also a few spins on classics, such as the sweet Elderflower Snake Bite, a mix of Austin Beerworks Pearlsnap Pils and Ace Cider and a splash of St. Germain, and the Lager and Lime, with Pedernales Lobo Texas Lager and house lime cordial.
Norris also decided to go beyond the relatively simple beer-based mixes to include a section of craft cocktails that incorporate beer in interesting ways.
“I looked for ways to use beer differently in the drinks. It’s easy enough to drop a splash of something into a drink in place of bitters,” he said. “Making a syrup out of sugar and porter, you get bitter and sweet in the same pour, which not only tastes good, but it makes it faster to make also.”
The standouts on the beer cocktail list included the Hopped Gimlet, which is made with gin or vodka and hopped lime cordial. The vodka gimlet tastes a bit like a perky limeade, but the gin one blossoms into a burst of botanical beauty. The incorporation of hops was subtle in each of the drinks.
The bold Full Scotch-Irish Breakfast was also a big hit. Composed of bonded rye, stout, maple syrup, lemon curd, whole egg, mole bitters and nutmeg, it’s creamy, complex and rich, making it ideal for the chill of a dark movie theater.