Bar Congress bar manager Jason Stevens chose the small batch Russell’s Reserve 6 Year Rye for the leathery spice it adds to this dark and smoky cocktail. (The smoke comes from the bold flavor of Del Maguey Chichicapa Mezcal.) Averna Amaro and Vermouth di Torino add deep cherry richness and balancing bitterness.
Shy Lion ($13)
Subtlety is the theme of this aperitif. Anchor Genevieve is enrobed in bright and herbal Lillet Blanc, and chamomile infused grappa adds to the cocktail's floral nature.
St. Martin ($12)
Gin and Green Chartreuse are a seamless pair. A splash of Vermouth di Torino adds a bit of sweetness and earthiness for a cocktail with flavors that invoke fresh green herbs and ginger.
Vieux Carre ($12)
After experimenting obsessively to create his variation on his favorite classic cocktail, Jason Stevens claims that he can now "write a thesis on this drink". His version is made with Rittenhouse rye, Armagnac, vermouth, Benedictine, and bitters for an exceptionally smooth cocktail.
Apricot Beret ($12)
For this Texan interpretation of the Pisco Sour, Stevens makes an apricot preserves with fresh apricot purée, cooked apricot jam, and apricot liqueur. He dry shakes the sticky preserves and egg white with a spring in the shaker to froth it up properly. Aperol adds a hint of bitterness to balance the intense apricot flavor.
He then adds "Purple Rain Drops" as a tribute to Prince (Apricot Beret, get it?), which is his own concoction of cardamom tincture, Creme de Violette and Green Chartreuse.
Lambic Peach Cobbler ($12)
Stevens created this drink as a play on peach iced tea. He explained that the Cobbler was first introduced at the 1878 Paris World's Fair and quickly became a crowd favorite. Back then, it was a loose combination of wine or spirits (sometimes with fruit juice) over crushed ice, garnished with mint. Today, he mixes peach and black tea-infused bourbon with a syrup he made from Lindemans Peche Lambic Beer. He adds a dash of port to the fruity and sour drink to add complexity.
The Scarlet Lantern ($12)
A fresh berry and pink peppercorn shrub stars in this bright and fruity tequila cocktail, bringing a vinegary punch to the drink. To weave in a bit of earthy fruit-pie flavor, Stevens adds Zucca Rabarbaro, a rhubarb based Italian amaro.
The Collins Family ($9)
Stevens loves the Collins but thinks it's sad how often they're carelessly prepared. At Bar Congress, he breathes new life into the drink by creating an entire family of Collinses, inspired by 6 classic cocktails: Bee's Knees, Rum Swizzle, Paloma, Bourbon Sour, Jack Rose, and Lemon Drop. For each drink, he matches one spirit with citrus, bitters, and a housemade syrup, then tops it up with seltzer for easy-drinking refreshment.
Dark and Amari ($10)
A fresh variation on the same old Dark and Stormy, made with Cynar instead of rum. Stevens sweetens the drink with clove-spiced Velvet Falernum, then adds Averna, lime juice, and spicy ginger beer.
For his spin on a gin and tonic, Stevens soaks Amarillo hops in gin to create a complex floral and bitter base. He makes his own tonic by combining over 20 ingredients, including herbes de provence, grapefruit peel, cassia, and black pepper. His hopped grapefruit bitters tie all the flavors together.
Socks and Sandals Swizzle ($12)
Dissatisfied with just one rum, Stevens combines four in this tiki drink: Coruba Dark Rum, Appleton 12 Year Old, Smith & Cross Jamaica Rum, and Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum.
Using a swizzle stick, he mixes the rums with Kronan Swedish Punsch and Hum Botanical Liqueur, cinnamon and clove-infused honey, grapefruit and lime juice. This boozy drink is smoky, earthy, and spicy all at once, and ready to conquer the Texas heat.