Spent New Year’s Eve in Austin, Texas this year — specifically at one of the classiest joints in town, the lounge within the Four Seasons hotel, a fixture of downtown Austin and a bar which I’ve visited dozens of times. (I had martinis here before hanging out with Leaving Las Vegas director Mike Figgis, even.)
Normally the bar is quiet and mellow — New Year’s is, of course, a different bag (complete with $25 cover charge). I don’t hold that against them, of course — most nights you’ll find things quiet and upscale here, not chock full of twentysomethings looking for Mr. Right/Rich.
The cocktail menu features a few interesting originals, many driven by the bar’s Texas roots. Tito’s Vodka and Treaty Oak rum figure prominently, as do South-friendly fare like margaritas and mojitos. The favorites of the (long) evening included the Batini Black (Tito’s, blackberries, fresh grapefruit juice, and Champagne) — with the bat-shaped berry and mint leaf garnish really sealing the deal — and the Mojotini, essentially a straight mojito with Prosecco instead of a splash of soda. Its a nice twist and one I may rely on for future mojitos.
Less thrilling: The Raspberry Mojito (mojito plus raspberry puree), which didn’t taste strongly of either of its namesakes, and (worse) the Lychee Martini (Ciroc Vodka and lychee juice), which tasted watery and would have been better with lychee liqueur or St. Germain instead of this thin mix.
I also sampled a couple of Scotches and was downright shocked to see how much was served in a glass (snifter, not an old-fashioned glass). Check out the photo below for some idea… I figure the pours were at least 2 1/2 ounces.
At $11 to $12.50, cocktails aren’t cheap, but hardly out of line for a four-star hotel. There’s also a capable bar food menu, but I was sad to find that the guacamole garnishing various plates was definitely out of a bag, not freshly made (heresy in Texas cuisine). A small knock on an otherwise solid bar — just make sure you order wisely from the cocktail menu.