This is the second post in our new “How To” series that will share fresh ways to bring more style into everyday life.
Nestled underneath the offices of one of Austin’s most respected (and Mad Men esque) ad agencies, McGarrah Jessee, is what will soon be the city’s hottest watering hole — Garage. Filled with original art deco design details, co-owners William Ball, Bron Hager and Connor Oman enlisted the help of metal worker/welder and all around Renaissance woman Mickie Spencer to design the space with unique light fixtures and furniture pieces throughout the history-filled spot. The entrance in to the dark, inviting space is literally in the garage of the five-story American National Bank building that was built in 1954. Garage’s space used to be the valet ticket booth, where valet boys would take a fireman’s pole down to the ground floor after parking a car. When it came to finding the perfect recipe for making a martini, we went straight to the spot where Sinatra himself probably would have sat at the half-circle marble bar and asked bar manager Chauncy James to hear his take on one of our favorite cocktails. Start with the key ingredients — Junipero Gin, Cocchi Americano, Regan’s Orange Bitters and a lemon twist.
Chauncy starts his martini making process by putting a glass of ice water in to the martini glass. He stirs the water to get the glass as chilled as possible. “Pouring a cold cocktail in a warm glass will raise your temperature and ultimately diminish enjoyment,” he says. “Every quality beer and spirit starts with the water, and the ice you use to mix your drinks should be no different. There is no substitute for large ice cubes of purified water. Home bartenders can really improve the quality of their drinks (especially the martini with this one little step.” For sourcing locally in Austin, he heads to the Austin Wine Merchant who carries large format ice trays and curated selection of spirits.
In a mixing glass, pour 2.5 ounces of Junipero Gin into the glass, add in .5 ounces of Cocchi Americano and a dash of Regans Orange Bitters. Then, add your ice, and gently stir. Chauncy says: “The martini is a very elegant cocktail. The stirring process delicately mixed your ingredients, incorporates the water and brings your drinks to temp.”
After you stir for a good minute, empty your iced water cocktail glass. Using a strainer, slowly pour your martini into the chilled cocktail glass. “The drink should have a silky appearance and be crystal clear. I prefer my martinis with a lemon twist, but choice olives or pickled veggies are delicious too. Dealers choice — garnish your drink with whatever you like.” The way Chauncy zested the lemon over the top of the drink allowed the oils to scatter and perfume to the top of drink, making for an extra delicious flavor (and scent).
Native Austinite and one of Garage’s three owners, Bron Hager, is looking forward to Garage’s opening in early March…just in time for SXSW festivities.
Chauncy’s hand written instructions atop the stunning marble bar. This design feature is a new addition, but the red bricks and green tiles that line the walls are all original to the building.
At the end of our shoot, Camille sampled the delicious concoction. “I never thought that a drink that was mostly gin could be so smooth and dangerously easy-to-drink. The hit of lemon kept me going back for just one more sip!” she says. And, she just may have found her new date night spot. “Garage has an exclusive, tucked-away vibe…like that secret spot that only the cool kids know about. When I want to add a little excitement to our ‘dinner and a movie’ nights, this will definitely be one of my favorite new spots to end the night!”
photos by kate lesueur