Despair not! It is possible to purchase a classy drink and snack after the game.

Hopfields' drink chef Carter Wilsford and I watched a chunk of the Longhorns-Cowboys mixed blessing at Trudy's Texas Star. Nothing has changed at this cheery diner since my grad school days in the 1980s, except that it's busier, mobile devices now connect the harried staff, and the salsa is measurably hotter and tastier.

After the football fun, Wilsford directed me to a fresh spot — Cherry Street on Lavaca Street. Filling the former Hog Island Deli location, this cafe and bar feels bright and brisk, but comfy and reassuring.

I asked the bartender, formerly a fixture on West Fourth Street, to make something creative with bourbon. He returned with a Manhattan-like drink that delivered just the right measure of sourness and hint of sweetness. Very grown up.

Liking it, I sent two of these unnamed cocktails over to Kara and Matt Swinney of Do512 and Austin Fashion Week. When first spotted across the room, I thought admiringly: "The Swinneys are so alert to nightlife news." Turns out four-hour-old Cherry Street was simply where they parked their car.

Next we headed east, which swims with activity these nights. At hyper-hip Hillside Farmacy on East 11th Street, we absorbed the glory of the meticulously decorated former drugstore, even more evocative at night.

We switched to light white wines as we lingered over briny oysters from British Columbia and Rhode Island.

I was glad to note that, deep into the evening, the customer mix was more varied than expected.

Hillside is not just for hipsters.

Another gem: Cantina El Milamores, the inviting bar behind Takoba, that mecca for interior Mexican cuisine on East Seventh Street. It specializes in "mezcales and sotoles," so I tasted a tantalizing Summer Sotol cooled by a single block of ice.

Among the clientele, who gathered around a mural that vibrated with South of the Border images, were post-game revelers and upscale visitors from Latin America.

We escaped the big crowds along the Far East Sixth Street district to light on East Cesar Chavez Street.

There we tested Weather Up in the old Shuck Shack spot. A colony of the Brooklyn, N.Y., and Tribeca bars of the same name, this retreat is decorated with urban tiles set in small barrel vaults, rather like a subway station.

Hundreds of ingredients crowd the bar. One may choose from a drink booklet, logically organized by major spirits, or from a short seasonal list. I had no choice but to try the Satan Cocktail, also not unlike a Manhattan, climaxed by a small, dark, thoroughly soaked marischino cherry (not one of those plump, sweet things they sell in stores).

This place rivals Midnight Cowboy on East Sixth for elevated cocktail rituals and potable consummations devoutly to be wished.

Contact Michael Barnes at mbarnes@statesman.com or 445-3970