Austin’s Barlata

Austin’s Barlata

At Austin’s Barlata, a handwritten sign hanging above well-loved cast iron pans and

a flaming stovetop encourages patrons to “sit back, take your time and enjoy the

essence of Spanish life.” This is the working credo for the restaurant and it shows.

When customers sit down at the bar, they are greeted as friends, no inkling of the

stoic 4th wall separating the bartender from the patron, but instead a genuine feeling

of affability. Folks are just folks and are treated as such. Jen Tran, Barlata’s manager

echoes this sentiment.

“The customers are not uptight. They’re young folks enjoying time with

friends,” she says. “We’ve established ourselves as a part of the community and are

not unattainable. We’re a welcoming bar.”

This atmosphere of easygoing sociality is what drew Jen to Barlata in the first

place. Her parents first owned a pool hall in Vietnam. That is, until her father, a

helicopter pilot for the alliance, rescued her mother by landing a packed chopper on

the bridge of a Navy destroyer at the tail end of the Vietnam War. They eventually

landed in Kansas, buying an Italian restaurant where Jen began her foray into the

industry. After college, Jen worked at stalwart Austin eatery, Trudy’s, before refining

her craft at more upscale eateries.

“When I got to [now shuttered Austin bar] Pleasant [Storage], I learned how

to fine tune my cocktails, balance my ingredients and become more particular and

methodical.”

Eventually, she landed at Barlata. “I immediately loved working here,” she

says. “It really feels like a mom and pop place and I became part of the family.”

Her ethos shines in the drinks she crafts, “I see creating cocktails as not a

pretentious thing,” she says. “But the patrons are looking for something refreshing

and refined.”

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This attention to detail tempered with the relaxed ambiance of the bar

shows in her Mestizo Mezcal cocktail, The Lucia, an eponymous homage to a good

friend, a Spanish musician. The cocktail is a mestizo of her time spent playing in

Austin psych-rock band The December Boys and her time in the industry.

“I wanted it to be fiery and smoky. Just like her,” she says. “The Mestizo

Mezcal Joven was a perfect fit.”

As promised, the cocktail is a deep red, fiery, smoky and complex. The

mesquite forward Mestizo Mezcal Joven is present, but subdued, so to be palatable

for newbies to the mezcal world. The heat from the habanero lingers but is softened

by the cool cucumbers. It will be an enjoyable accompaniment to our lengthy Austin

summers but with enough heat to sustain us in the cool weather to come.

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The Lucia

1. 2 oz. Mestizo Mezcal Joven

2. 1⁄2 oz. Aperol

3. Dash Rhubarb Bitters

4. 3⁄4 oz. honey syrup,

5. 1 oz. lime juice

6. 2 muddled cucumbers

7. Slice of habanero

8. Drop of hellfire bitters

Shaken and fine-strained into a coup rimmed with paella salt (Spanish

paprika, black pepper and salt)

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