East Sixth Street gets a new drinking destination with the opening of Last Straw, the very relaxed bar from booze expert JR Mocanu. With the tagline “serving vacation by the hour,” the menu focuses on easygoing drinks (tiki, frozen, fiery Scorpion bowls, and more), as well as food that works well for late night hours, on 1914 East 6th Street.
“It’s just this idea of escapism,” Mocanu said, explaining why he wanted to open Last Straw. “People want to get away from the shit that’s going on in the world right now.”
Last Straw’s cocktail menu highlights lighter drinks, what it calls “flavor savor” cocktails (“What we really like to drink,” Mocanu explained), boozier concoctions (like the Old Fashioned meets Manhattan with the Cocktail a la Louisianne), frozen cocktails (the C.R.E.A.M. is a classier take on TGI Friday’s Mudslide drink), larger punch bowls, as well as the usual beer, wine, and boilermakers.
Sprinkled throughout the drinks are interesting house-made ingredients, like pomegranate molasses, apple butter, and the coconut cream (the latter of which which helps keep the Breakfast Club cocktail keep its bright blue color).
The names of the cocktails draw from various pop culture references, think Titanic, Lion King, Burt Reynolds, Britney Spears. “It’s really personal to us,” said Jayson Black, a member of Last’s bar team. “We want [the customers] to get that kind of experience. We want them to relate to it.” Rounding out the staff are Jayson Black, Dan Regener, and Steven Tucker.
(And since straws have been so topical lately, Last Straw won’t use plastic straws, sticking to reusable ones instead.)
For the food, chef Johnny Romo set out to make “easy and simple food that you’d want to eat at 1 a.m.,” as he explained. This meant a wide-ranging menu with Asian and Texas feels and a touch of nostalgia. Fried rice is topped with beef tongue, grilled cheese sandwiches can be made with kimchi and sambal, both dumplings and taquitos are options, and there’s the large ssam with pork shoulder. Scope out the full drink and food menus below.
Eater photographer Courtney Pierce previewed the space ahead of its opening, which was designed by Mocanu’s partners Will Bryant and Cody Haltom. Their approach was making sure there was a “good mix of high and low-brow,” which also extended to the food and drinks, explained Bryant.
“Something that felt fun,” Haltom said. “We weren’t trying to be too old world with references. It was really just about bright colors and vibrant aesthetic that we could have fun with.”
They had to transform what had been the rustic and warm Chicon space into the bright and open oasis on East Sixth that is Last Straw. The room was opened, a big bar was added, and the walls were painted in massive vivid pops of colors and gradients.
“We wanted to do a monochromatic treatment of this space that wouldn’t be used anywhere else,” Bryant said. That led to the little tucked-away blue nook featuring gradual blue wall panels, a blue vinyl-treated window, and a small portrait of Tobias Funke from television series Arrested Development.
Elsewhere in the space there are images of E.T. and John Candy, with more to come later. The duo teased a potential mural of that viral meme of rapper Jay Z on a jet ski and placing him in Barton Springs.
The centerpiece of Last Straw’s main room is the fun splashy mural depicting what Haltom described as a “weird fantasyland,” with a central and West Texas vibe full of “sun and happiness,” Haltom said.
The bar is even offering a special lifetime members club, where the $1,000 fee will get people free drinks, 25 percent off food, and special goods. Hours are from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with weekend lunch hours to come later.