Austin is a cocktail city, but even some of the area's most in-the-know drinks experts might not have discovered Watertrade yet. The intimate, omakase-style cocktail bar is located next to Otoko in the South Congress Hotel, and it mirrors the omakase experience of its neighbor.
"Omakase" means "I'll leave it up to you," and those who sidle up to the eight-seat bar would be wise to leave their drink order to the whims of bartenders Whitney Hazelmyer (a Tastemaker Award nominee in 2017) and Ricky Cobia (a Tastemaker Award nominee this year).
The duo masterfully crafts cocktails based on ingredient availability and seasonality, pulling from extraordinary Japanese whiskey and sake selections along with tequila, mezcal, rum, vodka, and gin.
Guests can choose from the carefully curated menu or ask for the omakase experience for a drink designed just for them. If you opt for an established cocktail, there's a wide range from which to choose.
The Japanese spirit shochu is a popular ingredient, thanks to its neutral flavor (kind of like vodka) and lower alcohol content (definitely not like vodka). Try it in the Good Intentions, which features lemongrass shochu, swedish punsch, and yuzu, or the R. Gordon Wasson, which combines suntory toki, shiitake shochu, and ginger.
Looking for a cocktail with a kick? The Crimson peps things up with Nikka coffey vodka and balsamic shrub while the Chochinbi mixes together tequila, rum, coffee, mole, and smoke.
Those who are fans of the classics won't be disappointed if they order these traditional sips that have a slight exotic twist: Lobby Boy (gin, Aperol, egg white, and sparkling wine); Goma Fashioned (rye bourbon, toasted sesame, and vanilla); or Babekyu (bourbon, lemon, and lapsang souchong tea).
Watertrade opens at 5 pm Wednesday through Saturday. Follow Watertrade's Instagram account to get a glimpse of the libations you'll want to be drinking — as soon as you get off work, that is.