Smile Politely

I sipped Watson’s cocktail made with a special rye whiskey

Watson's cocktail, a twist on a Vieux Carre drink in a glass etched with flying ponies, garnished with an orange and two rosebuds on a rooster toothpick.
Alyssa Buckley

The Downtown Unity trio of Watson’s Shack & Rail, Punch! Bar, and Big Grove are at it again with another collaborative special whiskey barrel pick — and signature cocktails to go with. This time, the barrel pick is a rye whiskey aged three years called Restoration Rye from Castle & Key distillery.

I sipped Watson’s cocktail, a fall take on the Vieux Carré cocktail. Made with the complex Castle rye from the barrel pick, of course, and mixed with yellow chartreuse liqueur, Calvados, and red vermouth, the drink tasted well balanced. Thanks to the apple brandy in place of cognac, this cocktail had a fruity, autumnal apple flavor at the start with a deliciously smooth whiskey finish. The dried tangerine garnish smelled lovely as I sipped, enhancing the citrus notes of the special rye, and the two roses cold-steeping in the cocktail brought out floral characteristics in the chartreuse and brandy. Served in a large (and very cool) vintage glass etched with happy horses, the ice in the drink mellowed the booze, so it was really easy to drink.

The chicken shack serves cocktails with rooster toothpicks, and that cute detail usually influences me to pair my drinks with the restaurant’s crispy fried chicken. Watson’s also recently started offering Weird Meat Boyz sauces as an option for the chicken wings appetizer. Aim to dine for dinner because Watson’s just cut their weekday lunch service except for Fridays. On Fridays, Watson’s serves their full menu plus specials including $5 draft beer and nectar slushies, a salmon salad, and four kinds of wraps, all made with El Milagro tortillas plus a cup of housemade ranch and choice of side.

The DUB single barrel release Restoration Rye is available by the pour and bottle at all three bars. In addition to Watson’s fall Vieux Carré, sip the special rye in a cocktail at Punch! with a coffee ice cube and at Big Grove in a drink called THE BEE.

Watson’s Shack & Rail
211 N Neil St
M-T 4 to 9 p.m.
W+Th 4 to 10 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. + 4 to 9 p.m.

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