Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Food Matters: Mexican Manhattan at the W, Johnson City's new brewpub and more

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Manhattan with trace more spice at W

Trace and the Living Room, two of the bars located within the W Hotel, recently released a "S.I.P. (Social Interactive Playtime)" menu that's available daily during happy hour from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

The new cocktail menu expands on the original flagship menu that was created by international mixology superstar and Hendrick's Gin ambassador Charlotte Voisey. The W's official "Libationist" Joe Thompson, who was part of the opening staff of the W bars but will leave his post in early September to return to Pennsylvania, made his mark on the S.I.P. menu by incorporating some original recipes such as the Lone Star Classic and the Happenstance cocktail. As it stands today, the majority of the menu was developed by Thompson, with the exception of three concoctions (The Bluegrass, Açaí Caipirinha and Jalapeño-Cucumber Lemonade) made by Voisey.

During my recent visit, Thompson mixed up a few cocktails, one of which stood out as particularly outside-the-box. The Mexican Manhattan was Thompson's first original recipe on the Living Room menu, and his snarky answer to Austin's wildly popular Mexican Martini. This drink adopts the structure of the classic Manhattan and spices it up with new ingredients. It's bold, rich and smooth like a Manhattan, yet a little more exotic. The Port softens and rounds out the oaky Añejo, and the Aztec chocolate bitters provide a dark, slightly spicy undercurrent. The recipes for several of Thompson's other cocktails can be found our online cocktail database at austin360.com/go/cocktails .

- Emma Janzen

Mexican Manhattan

2 oz. Herradura Añejo tequila

3/4 oz. Fonseca 27 Port

4 dashes Aztec Chocolate Bitters

Dash of agave syrup

Orange twist garnish

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

- Joe Thompson, Trace

Food Briefs

• You can hardly pick up a food magazine these days without finding some mention of an Austin restaurant, but the write-up in this month's Bon Appétit was a little different. Andrew Knowlton, who most recently got a big egg on his noggin for falling head-over-heels hard for Franklin BBQ, named Congress one of the best new restaurants in the country in the September issue. "(Congress) occupies the ground floor of a luxe new condo building - not my preferred restaurant location - but I'll go anywhere for executive chef David Bull's distinctly American comfort food, which includes everything from chicken-fried olives and avocado fundido to short rib 'pot roast,'" he writes.

• The last time "The Next Food Network Star" came casting in Austin, two Austinites (out of several hundred who showed up) ended up on the show. (To watch a video of the last casting call, go to austin360.com/food.) The reality competition series is coming back to the Hyatt Regency, 208 Barton Springs Road, for a casting call from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 10. Bring a completed application (available at foodnetworkstarcasting.com), two photos of yourself and your résumé. Email fns8austin@gmail.com with questions.

• Batter Blaster, the Austin-based spray waffle product that has made national waves in recent years, earned another notch it its belt earlier this month when it took home the Consumer Packaged Goods Award for Innovation and Creativity from the Grocery Manufacturers Association, one of the biggest trade shows of its kind.

abroyles@statesman.com; 912-2504

Taste Lady Bird's Wit at new Brewpub

Johnson City now has its own brewpub. Pecan Street Brewing, at 106 E. Pecan Drive, directly across the street from the historic courthouse, has been open since June 25, but owners Tim and Patty Elliott threw a grand opening party last week .

Brewer Sean Elliott, Patty and Tim's son, says he's looking forward to making beers based on a number of brewing traditions and styles. "One of the big benefits of being a brewpub is the ability to brew a wide range of styles and to experiment," Sean Elliott says.

Current offerings include The Lady Bird's Wit, a Belgian brew spiced with orange peel and coriander; the Catcher in the Wheat, an American wheat; the malty English-style Jackalope Brown Ale; and a County Jail Pale Ale, an American pale ale with a lot of citrusy American hops and a biscuity malt background, Patty Elliott says. Next up on the to-be-brewed list? A Scottish ale and an American stout.

The menu features pub fare, including pizzas, burgers and salads, as well as dinner specials that recently have included Cajun salmon, steak frites and fish and chips. In addition to the housemade beers, Pecan Street serves wines from neighboring winemakers, including Becker Vineyards and Texas Hills Vineyard. Open for dinner starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, as well as lunch Thursday through Saturday, starting at 11 a.m. 830-868-2500, pecanstreetbrewing.com .

- E.J.

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Opening today : Sully's Side Bar, a tacos-tequila-and-beer offshoot of Sullivan's Steakhouse at 300 Colorado St. Sullivan's has renovated the former Ringside jazz bar space and given head chef Carlos Garcia a chance to cook food, mainly tacos, that he grew up eating on his grandmother's farm in Mexico. Tacos, including one of the better fish tacos to be found in the city right now, are the primary focus, but don't miss the sweet potato chips and guacamole, made with garlic juice and finely grated smoked Gouda cheese. (It sounds like an odd combination, but everyone at our table at a media tasting last week agreed it was one of the best bites we had.) The drink menu is built around tequila and cocktails, but you'll find a number of local brews and tequila on tap. 495-6504, sullivansteakhouse.com/austin-details.php

• Open: Graze. The team behind Graze Catering has opened a restaurant at 1707 E. Sixth St. that serves a limited, but interesting and mostly locally-sourced menu, including duck confit tostadas, yucca cakes topped with curried beef short rib, burgers made with wagyu beef, tomato jam and grain mustard aïoli, herb-brined chicken and wine-braised pork shoulder. 391-6225, grazeaustin.com .

• Open: Biscuits and Groovy, the second location of the biscuits-and-gravy trailer at 1104 E. Sixth St. Both the new location and the original (5015 Duval St.) feature a number of variations on biscuits that are smothered in vegan or non-vegan gravy. 804-8285, iwantbiscuits.com

• Open: Carnevore Tacos , a trailer at the corner of Fifth and Trinity streets serving Laredo-style tacos, including carne asada. Search `Carnevore Tacos' on Facebook.

• Open: Snap Pod, the third location of the ready-to-eat nutritional foods company Snap Kitchen. Located in a recycled shipping container at 215 Congress Ave., Snap Pod features a rotating menu of Snap Kitchen favorites, as well as the option of ordering freshly cooked proteins, including ahi tuna, salmon and grass-fed beef. snapkitchen.com

• Closed: Chez Moi Bistro, the breakfast-and-lunch bistro at 1403 Lavaca St.

• Closed: Dog Almighty, the hot dog eatery at 3005 S. Lamar Blvd.

• Closing today : Triumph Cafe, the Vietnamese restaurant at cafe at 3808 Spicewood Springs Road.