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New spots on the ground floor of the Austonian building mix it up with a one-two punch of sophisticated cocktails

Emma Janzen

Drinking enthusiasts, prepare your taste buds for a welcome double assault. The corner of Second Street and Congress Avenue just got a lot more interesting with the opening of two new bars dedicated to the creation of artisanal cocktails.

As part of chef David Bull's new restaurants at the Austonian, Second Bar + Kitchen and Bar Congress boast a carefully designed selection of beer, wine, spirits and cocktails targeting downtown's growing demand for sophisticated drinks. The bars join the ranks of establishments like Peché, Fino and the East Side Show Room as places where you can find interesting and well-made cocktails.

A couple of former East Austin cocktail heavyweights run the show from behind the bar. Previously from the Good Knight, the affable William "Bad Billy" Hankey commands the role of lead barman at the casual Second Bar + Kitchen, which opened Dec. 26. Bar manager Adam Bryan (formerly of the East Side Show Room) showcases his spirits knowledge and mixing expertise in the adjacent upscale Bar Congress, which opened a couple of days after Second Bar + Kitchen .

Both bars feature inventive recipes featuring fresh ingredients, with a handful of classic cocktail interpretations thrown in for good measure.

Second Bar + Kitchen

Appleseed Cup

2 oz. Laird's apple brandy

3/4 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

1/4 oz. lemon juice

2 dashes pastis

2 dashes rhubarb bitters

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Golden Arrow

2 oz. Maker's 46

1/2 oz. saffron-infused honey syrup

2 dashes cranberry bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into a Nick & Nora Glass. Garnish with a candied lemon slice.

Second Bar + Kitchen, 200 Congress Ave. www.congressaustin.com . 827-2750. Hours: Sundays thru Thursdays, 11 a.m. to Midnight. Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Bar Congress

Anise Anise

1 oz. Legendre Herbsaint

2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters

1/2 oz. lemon juice

Build the drink in a Collins glass. Fill with crushed ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with 2 additional dashes Peychaud's Bitters, one star anise and Lemon twist.

Preferred Lies

2 oz. Earl Grey-infused Bourbon

1/4 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. apple vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with Domaine de Canton ginger foam and a cherry.

Bar Congress, 200 Congress Ave. www.congressaustin.com . 827-2755. Hours: Tuesdays thru Saturdays, 5 p.m. to midnight.