From annual holiday bars to brand takeovers, boozy pop-ups have become ubiquitous in Austin. Leave it to one of the country's hottest nightlife destinations, however, to bring some dazzle back to the trend.
Nickel City co-owner Travis Tober tells CultureMap that Houston's Anvil Bar & Refuge will be making its way to the east side favorite on January 13. The Tex-Mex takeover will showcase some of the state's most iconic flavors in unexpected ways.
"I thought it'd be fun to play with Tex-Mex as a reference for this event because it's such a unifying element of being a Texan," explains Anvil owner Bobby Heugel, who is a sixth generation Texan. "It's nostalgic and something that never takes itself too seriously, which is exactly how I would describe my sentiments towards Nickel City and explains why it is such an incredible bar."
Among the offerings will be the Fajita Colada with Hendrick's gin, grilled pineapple, coconut, and lime; an avocado margarita with tequila, avocado leaf, and pink Himalayan salt; and the Red Neck Ramos made with habanero-infused gin, lemon, cream, egg white, orange flower water, and, naturally, Big Red. Anvil's take on the classic Tex-Mex combo platter will involve a choice of two cocktails — Negroni, Paloma, or Colorado Bulldog mixed together.
The irreverent approach to drink making is part of what has made Anvil the most decorated bar in the state. Opened in 2009, it was Houston's first bar devoted entirely to classic cocktails, and has since been recognized by World's Best Bars, an offshoot of the prestigious World's 50 Best Restaurants list. It also has a staggering eight James Beard Award nominations.
Nickel City, a frequent home for pop-ups like its viral Moe's Tavern activation, has also received its share of plaudits. In addition to nabbing the coveted Bar of the Year title during the 2018 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, it was a 2019 nominee for the Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar award from Tales of the Cocktail.