Monday, September 02, 2013

A Massage Parlor/Brothel Turned Speak Easy

Monday, September 02, 2013
One of the best evenings of the trip was Sunday because of the dining and drinking experience. We started the evening with reservations at the massage parlor/brothel turned speak easy at 6:45 pm. The reservations are for two hours and there are even house rules like no phone calls or rowdy and loud guests. After making our reservation we were given instructions on how to enter the nondescript bar that has no signage or store front. We were to walk to the address and we would know the correct door by the one red light bulb above the door way. Once there, we buzzed "Harry Craddock" among the other names on the call box. Harry Craddock is one of the most famous mixologists during the prohibition when speakeasies were in full swing. When the door swung open, the greeter repeated our friends name to us confirming that we were the reservation. The way he so casually said her name, like as if expecting a dinner date over to his house, made us feel like rock stars.
The greeter led us to the back of the bar, past the black vinyl diner booths, past the petit bar, and to enclosed rooms that once functioned as massage rooms. We picked a room large enough to seat the five of us which included S and I, our friend, our friend's roommate, and our friend's brother. Our room included a curtain in case we wanted privacy, and was equipped with a light switch connected to a red light bulb outside of the room. This was to signify when we were ready to order a round of drinks. It was a nice touch that paralleled the red light bulb outside, and made a nice balance of privacy and service. 
The plan was to each pick something different so that we could all experience a variety of the many interesting drinks. For tiny glasses, each drink packed a kick and was not shy with the alcohol. Although the drinks were decently strong, none of them were too overwhelming and had good balance of flavors.
One of the lures of this place is that many of the drinks were made table side. The mixologists rolled a bar cart down the hallway and made some of the cocktails right next to us. Of course, for the first round we were all in awe and were quiet during this sort-of performance. After he lit our friend's drink on fire, we were content with the show.
I could go on about all the different drinks we had but some to note were a whiskey and red wine cocktail that I had to try since one of my favorite bars back home in Orlando does something very similar. I could be biased, but I think I prefer the one back home. My second cocktail for the night was a dry gin martini, which I have never ordered before, but I thought it appropriate considering Harry Craddock popularized the drink. S ordered one drink that was made with egg whites which was trendy in the twenties. For me, I'm normally so adventurous but I don't think I can wrap my head around drinking frothy egg whites and alcohol at the same time. S, however, enjoyed himself. 
The atmosphere of this bar is the kind that I seek for my go-to places. It was quiet, chill, had an interesting menu, and had a bit of an interactive show which our generation loves. It's a place that I wish I had back in Orlando because I would visit monthly. We joked that it was a great place to bring a first date because of how impressive it is. 
We ended our night at the Salty Sow with dinner reservations after our two hour soiree at the bar. I read some great reviews about this restaurant and was looking forward to the menu. For drinks I had a jasmine tea and whiskey cocktail while our new friend ordered a very "Austin" drink made of Deep Eddy's vodka, grapefruit, and Topo Chico. Deep Eddy's is a vodka company based in Austin and Topo Chico is a seltzer that the area adores, something we don't have in Florida! We started our meal off with roasted bone marrow and chimichurri for the table, which was delicious. Bone marrow is one of my favorite foods because of the flavor. It reminds me a bit of oxtail, because it has that rich and buttery quality.  Kind of sweet, kind of minerally, and all kinds of fantastic. For my meal, all I wanted was the cheese and meat plate to sample and try all little bits. The proscuitto was banging, salty and soft, so good. My favorite, however, was the chicken liver mousse, another favorite food of mine. These tastes on some thin, crusty baguette slices and I was set. Our friend ordered the slow-cooked beef shoulder and it was phenomenal. It was served in a medium sized pot with potatoes and an egg. It was a contender for my "last meal" - that's how delicious it was.
There you have it, a recap of my favorite night and experience in Austin, TX. This was truly the epitome of what I was looking for when planning my visit. But don't worry, there are still plenty of fun things that I did with my friend that I will share too! I hope everyone is having a great start to their week and happy labor day!

16 comments :

  1. This is right up my alley and looks like so much fun!

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    1. It was so great! Both Midnight Cowboy and Salty Sow are on my list of repeats when I return to Austin in the future for a second visit!

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  2. your pallet is so much cooler than mine. i feel like i am pretty adventurous in eating but compared to you i may as well be a picky seven year old ;) i have never had oxtail, bone marrow or chicken liver. i guess after being a vegetarian for 18 years meat is still a little hard for me to be adventurous with. and that drink! i have never heard of such a thing. though when i was in egypt i ate 90% of my meals with local people i met (i did have pigeon there!) but they served me eggs, just raw eggs scrambled up in a giant platter to dip my bread in. not my thing ;) that place sounds so cool. i don't know but austin is sounding a little cooler than portland . . . you will have to come here and do a comparison. xo

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    1. I'm just adventurous when it comes to food but even I have my limits (like the egg drinks!). That's awesome that you had pigeon! That must have been the trip of a life time too. And I would love love love to come to Portland and not so much compare - but definitely see what it's got to offer!

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  3. Speakeasy bars are my favorite, and we have two pretty awesome ones here in Philly. Prohibition type bars with really thoughtful, high quality cocktails, including one with an egg! J tried one of those, I'm like you and couldn't bring myself to do it, though I'm sure it was delicious. In one bar, Franklin Mortgage Investment Company, a funny name for a bar, hidden at the bottom of a set of stairs, all the waiters and bartenders wear suspenders. And there is no vodka in the whole place, since Americans didn't drink it before or during prohibition! You learn something new every day, haha. I hope they really scrubbed and cleaned that massage parlor with tons of bleach before letting people back in ;) xo

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    1. This was the best speakeasy bar I've ever been to! I really love that the one near you doesn't serve vodka - so perfect in it's theme-ing! I love when themes are done right :) And yes - this place apparently went through a massage renovation before it could be a bar!

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  4. The bar sounds amazing; fun, relaxed and great drinks. And don't even get me started on the food. Im hungry now!!!!

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    1. It was an awesome food and drink night! One I wish I could play on repeat :)

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  5. This place looks really awesome and historical. And, I'm sure the drinks were great too!

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    1. The drinks were delicious! The best part was all ordering something different and trying them all!

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  6. Ahhh I'm dying to experience a speakeasy. I've actually heard of a couple right around our neck of the woods but have yet to venture there. Might just need to make some concrete plans to go there though!

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    1. It's so much fun - feels super classy too. The atmosphere is definitely different and refreshing from your typical bar.

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  7. Woah, I am obsessed with that floral wallpaper. I must have it...

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    1. I know! It was a great touch. I wanted to peak into the other rooms to see if the wall paper was all different or all the same!

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  8. I'm loving reading all of your Austin recap posts! I really missed out on some interesting places when I was there! My husband and I are planning to go back soon, so I'll definitely be coming back to these posts! Is this speakeasy a private sort of place? I'd LOVE to visit.

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    1. Thanks Kelsey! There is always time to visit again! I think it's definitely a city with enough to offer to go twice :) The speakeasy isn't technically private, you just have to make a reservation. You can find it by googling Midnight Cowboy ;)

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