The Townsend smells like the water from my grandmother’s faucet. The smell is a strange one for a bar and I want to turn around and walk out, but I’m beat from SXSW week so I decide to sit anyway. The bartenders are friendly yet the place looks like it belongs in a hotel. The back bar is neat and organized, the space long and Texas narrow (not the same as New York narrow). I order the Harringbone (old granddad bonded bourbon, metaxa 5-star, cardamaro, guignolet, aromatic bitters). I sub the bourbon for mezcal because I do that now, apparently. “Will that work with the flavors?” I ask.
“I think so. We will try it and if it doesn’t, well throw it out.” The bartender offers. It had taken a while for her notice I was ready to order. Three people to my right are drinking Underberg bitters and Lone Stars, talking about saving caps. The two men to my left are talking about cocktails on tap, the one obviously a bartender, explaining the pros and cons. His theory is that strong flavors mellow out over time when they sit together in a barrel or tap idea. I eavesdrop harder. One of the three Townsend bartenders climbs on the back bar to stock liquors on the top shelf.
Meanwhile the flavors in my drink have mellowed and I think on the theory proposed by the man next to me. They receive their drinks and close out, move to a table. My entertaining eavesdropping is gone, I focus again on the odd smell. What causes that? It’s almost sulfuric.
Two more people approach the bar to my left. Texans are too polite sometimes. The bartenders don’t notice, arranging things and shifting objects around. Finally the woman requests her tab, moves the half empty water glass from the previous men aside. The place is too stale, not enough eye contact. Working in a dive bar/music venue for a week has make me value the head nod vastly apparent.
I pay my tab and move on, unimpressed by the spot suggested by the Eater heat map.