Pleasant Storage Room will bring two underrepresented trends to Austin this December: Caribbean cuisine and rum punch. Paul Hargrove, who previously helmed the kitchen at East Side Showroom, is the operating partner and will be devising the food menu. Alfonso Hernandez, also previously of East Side Showroom, is serving as head barman and punch-deviser. He worked closely with John Kelly O'Hare, the ESSR bartender whose punches inspired Pleasant's. O'Hare has since moved on to Sonny's Hideaway in Los Angeles.
Eater spoke with Hargrove and Hernandez about their forthcoming project, as well as why rum deserves more respect and how Pleasant will fit in with the booming downtown cocktail scene.
Hernandez says Pleasant chose a rum focus because its diversity is "underrepresented" in Texas. Rum's colonial influences include "British, Dutch, Spanish, and French" distilling practices, and each island has its own unique varieties. Hernandez argues rum is as "complex" as bourbon or scotch, but lacks the types of regulations and restrictions that protect those other spirits. "'Anejo rum' doesn't mean much right now." Hernandez calls punch "a lost pastime," and Pleasant will offer is both by the glass and by the bowl to share with a group. There will also be a "rum-centric" cocktail menu mixing classics and new drinks.
Hargrove says Pleasant will be "primarily a bar," and the food menu will draw on Caribbean influences. The fifty-foot bar in the old Stacked space inspired a Hargrove to put in a "raw bar" that will serve 6-7 different types of ceviche. They will also serve up a "street food" menu of items like jerk chicken and Cuban sandwiches.
When asked about how Pleasant fits into the burgeoning downtown craft cocktail scene, Hargrove says Pleasant's focus on rum and punches makes it a "perfect compliment" to Peche across the street, and the downtown scene in general. The space is also intended to be more casual and warm than other downtown spots. The decor will draw heavily on bright, sunny Caribbean influences, especially those from Havana and the opulence of pre-war Cuba. Renovating the historic downtown building has presented challenges, but Hargrove and Hernandez hope to by open by the end of the year.
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