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Ivy League-Themed Bar Coming to Austin Is Already Exhausting

The former Bar Rescue expert’s new establishment will feature “ambient scents and pheromones”

Academia on West 4th Street
Academia on West 4th Street
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

Featured mixologist on television show Bar Rescue, Russell Davis, is opening a new bar in downtown Austin. While the press release is not quite at the Vespertine-level, it is still something else. Academia is pegged as “an Ivy League university of drinking,” and a “figurative faculty lounge for late, great literary icons such as Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson.” It’s opening in the former Isla space on West 4th Street this fall.

Per the press release, Academia seeks to use cognitive psychology to “exalt those most positive effects of inebriation — creativity and eloquence.” The bar’s more unique features include:

  • A “custom application to curate playlists that can be programmed to sync up with the beats per minute of guests’ hearts.”
  • The introduction of “ambient scents and pheromones.”
  • Lighting designed by a Cirque du Soleil director to “influence moods, trigger memories and evoke emotions.”
  • A “professional quality camera system installed to facilitate live streaming and produced content.”
  • High-top tables with electrical outlets and USB ports “conducive to intellectual pursuits” (because nothing facilitates conversation like a charged phone).

Academia’s self-described “complex simplicity” drink menu includes classics like a fresh-pressed Cosmopolitan, and more off-the-wall cocktails like Raw Dill (with Linie Akvavit, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, St. Germain, saline, dill, and caviar — since caviar just screams simplicity). There will also be sharable bar snacks.

Davis, a Texas native and current Austin resident, started his rise to bartending fame as bar manager at Peche. He was a regular on Spike Network’s Bar Rescue. The show visits troubled bars to turn them around, and has generated its fair share of controversy, including one involving The Brixton.

“Austin is one of the best bar cities in the world, and also where I learned to be a barman,” Davis told Eater about his decision to open Academia in the city. “I have traveled the world, yet I feel that Austin and I have unfinished business.”

Academia will be open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day. The West 4th address used to be Isla, the island-inspired restaurant from Peche owner Rob Pate. It shuttered in May. Before that, it was Caribbean rum bar Pleasant Storage Room, which closed in late 2014.


208 West 4th Street, , TX 78701 (512) 981-7079 Visit Website