Bar Congress at the foot of The Austonian on Second Street has garnered more national attention, this time as one of Esquire Magazine’s “Best Bars in America.”
The tiny lounge is nestled inside an 8,000-square-foot restaurant complex that includes Second Bar & Kitchen as well as Congress, a well-received restaurant headed up by local chef David Bull.
While Esquire highlights the hot spot’s cocktails and “super cozy” 22-seat arrangement, the writer also points out downtown Austin’s residential growth and recession-fighting abilities. The article hits newsstands next months, on the heels of a New York Times piece spotlighting Austin’s up and coming Second Street District. Bull’s carrot citrus mousse, garlic chive potato gnocchi and braised oxtail got a solid mention in the May 5 piece.
On top of that, the May/June issue of national mixology glossy Imbebe called Bar Congress a place where “cocktails go nonpartisan.”
Who can argue? With names like Preferred Lies — a cocktail of infused bourbons, apple drinking vinegar and ginger foam — partisanship seems as distant as Washington D.C. And there’s no high fructose anywhere in sight. The place outlawed it, opting to even make its own sodas and tonic.
Despite all the national attention, a spokesman for the tiny bar said success comes from micro-actions, such as remembering regulars’ names and employing career bartenders, not just someone looking for part-time work.
Apparently its working. A quick check of state comptroller receipts showed the place had one of the highest numbers in sales of all downtown food and beverage establishments this past month.