I’ll be honest. I was nervous going to The W Austin to sample their new Primetime Happy Hour Menu. I mean, The W is upscale. It’s trendy. It’s where the rich and fabulous go. Meanwhile I’m over here drinking Lone Star and covering the scuffs in my boots with Sharpie.

But that night there was also a preview of the Cherrywood Art Fair, one of my favorite local shopping events of the season. So I bucked up, put on a skirt, and made my way 2nd and Lavaca.

Yes there were plenty of beautiful, hip people sipping cocktails and munching on the hand-cut fries… but The W’s Living Room area is designed to make you feel comfortable. I started off ordering the Savannah made with E.H. Taylor small batch bourbon, karo syrup, and house made pecan bitters. As a whiskey lover I have to say this drink was as close to perfect as I could have asked. It wasn’t too sweet, but you can definitely taste the savory pecan and herbs of the house made bitters in the smooth finish. We spoke with Dustin Courtright, The W’s lead libationist (how fancy) who told us the Savannah was a cocktail three months in the making. It’s well worth the trip just to try it. 

The W Austin Living Room

My lovely companion Kelly ordered the All Fall Down- a vodka drink made with Ketel One, Pimms #1, allspice dram, orange, lemon, and house made ginger syrup. It was a callback to the summer we spent in London, but with just a bit more strength. Afterwards we tried the sweet Cream Dream made with Nolet’s gin, Frangelico, raspberry, cream, and ginger ale. Definitely advise trying to take it slow with that one– it tastes so much like a cream soda we hardly noticed the alcohol.

While we enjoyed our drinks I checked out some of the wares presented by the Cherrywood Art Fair vendors. I especially loved the modern designs and mixed materials from Son of a Sailor. Their patina accented necklaces are definitely going on my ‘to-buy’ list. Wandering around a gentleman excitedly pointed us towards a table of oils. “You have to smell these,” he said. I was surprised to find out it wasn’t even his stand, it’s just that Watson’s Apothecary is that good. I have a feeling Lita’s handmade beard oil is going to be a big seller, though I was partial to her specialty serum that left my skin feeling impossibly soft and lightly fragranced. If those two vendors are any indication, there are going to be some amazing things to find at Cherrywood this year. Find them and over 85 other artists and vendors December 13th and 14th at Maplewood Elementary.

Son of a Sailor

After awhile all the shopping made me feel a bit peckish (not that I ever need an excuse to nosh) so we made our way back to a booth in the Living Room where our very friendly waitress recommended we try the duck nachos. Or maybe she didn’t recommend them, I don’t know… I’m pretty sure once I saw the words “duck” and “nachos” I had, like, epicurean tunnel vision. These tiny discs of delight are simply topped with cojita cheese and a cilantro-lime cream which contrasts really nicely with the savory duck. We scarfed them down before I was able to even think of taking a picture. Sorry.

Other nibbles available on the new menu are old favorites like pulled pork tacos, fish ‘n chips, and brisket sliders. Try them with the refreshing Tamarind Margarita, a can of Austin Beerworks brew, or the Roca Patrón-based El Cochito. Lighter fare includes black truffle/white cheddar popcorn and pâté campagne served with spicy beer mustard. If you’re the type who likes a meal in a drink, the Brisket Mary made with Dickel Rye, Zing Zang, Pearl Snap Pilsner, and infused with house smoked brisket before topped with homemade pickles. You can see the whole nibbles menu below. 

I may have entered apprehensive, but I left really happy with my Primetime experience. The W is way more approachable than I initially thought while still keeping a stylish and modern feel to separate it from your average happy hour. There’s something to be said when people work so hard to create beautiful, intricate drinks that appeal to even the most unsophisticated palate (yeah… that’s me.)

Try the menu with half-price cocktails seven days a week from 7-10pm… perfect for a wind-down rendezvous when office hours run late or for kicking off a night in the Warehouse District. Wednesday through Sunday enjoy local DJ sets by artists including W Austin resident DJ Bird Peterson, Go Go Garcia, DJ Ash, and IWannaBeHer.