Barmaster Bridget Dunlap is opening a mezcal bar, Bar Illegal, in the Rainey Street neighborhood this Thursday. Hold up: didn't she say Container Bar was going to be her last Rainey Street bar? Well, Bar Illegal is technically on Davis Street behind Dunlap's Clive Bar. Tricky.
Anyway, about the mezcal: the bar will serve Mexican liquor from Ilegal Mezcal, a small batch Oaxacan distillery. Also, they will serve Victoria beer, and it kind of sounds like that's it. Here's a press release with more:
Bar Ilegal to Open Behind Clive Bar on Rainey Street
(September 20, 2011) Austin, TX — The imaginative masters behind the Rainey Street neighborhood’s collection of successful bars are preparing to open Austin’s first mezcal-only cantina. Bridget Dunlap, known for her reign as the bar queen of Rainey Street, and Director of Operations Scranton Twohey will open Bar Ilegal, a tiny, Mexican-style cantina housed in the striking, historic stone building that shares the property with Dunlap’s Clive Bar at the corner of Davis and Rainey Streets. Artisanal mezcal has at last arrived in Austin, and it can be found at Bar Ilegal.
Set to officially open Thursday, Sept. 22, Bar Ilegal will serve only handcrafted, small-batched Ilegal Mezcal, made by mezcaleros in Oaxaca, Mexico, and known as one of the top-quality mezcals available in the United States. Ilegal Mezcal is made using the heart of the espadin agave plant that is baked underground over volcanic rock, then crushed by a traditional millstone drawn by a horse. It is distilled in small batches and hand-bottled and numbered. Ilegal’s resulting Joven, Reposado and Añejo mezcals provide a smooth, smoky flavor and beautifully reflect the spirit and culture of Oaxaca. Bar Ilegal will serve Ilegal Mezcal flights and individual sippers, and will likely add a variety of mezcal cocktails and infusions inspired by the mystery and romance of the world’s oldest spirit. Additionally, the drink menu will include Victoria Beer, widely known as one of the oldest Mexican beers.
Unlike any other bar in Austin, Bar Ilegal evokes the feel of a true old-style Mexican cantina, with rustic, recycled wood elements bedecking nearly every surface, and intriguing black and white photos hung with tattered wire. The small, candle-lit space accommodates only 20 or so patrons, providing a dark and sexy ambience for sipping the world’s best mezcal. The eight-foot bar is made from ancient hand-hewn pecan plank cut from a tree on the property years back. Above the bar is a rusted candelabrum that holds a dozen votive candles. The liquor shelf was fashioned from old picket-fence boards, and many of the bar’s architectural elements are coated with the same powdered paint applied to the colonial walls of Oaxaca. In one corner of the bar stands a wooden statue of the Pagan saint Maximon, god of gamblers and drinkers, a shrine of sorts where bar patrons can pay homage by tipping back some Ilegal. The detail is all the more magical in the flickering candlelight.
Mezcal, welcome to Austin. It’s about time.
The future home of Bar Ilegal. [Photo: Clive Bar / Facebook]