May 7, 2014

Austin's newest custom cocktail lounge: The Pleasant Storage RoomGet a taste of island rum by heading over to the newest custom cocktail lounge in Austin – the Pleasant Storage Room. This establishment offers customers deliciously mixed cocktails along with Caribbean street food and even a ceviche bar to get an authentic island experience right in the heart of Austin.

Head barman: Alfonso Hernandez
The master of mixology, Alfonso Hernandez, wanted to create a bar experience that was different from other traditional watering holes. He created a comfortable environment around his cocktail bar where guests can feel free to talk with the bartender, ask questions and explore the basis for much of the drinks – rum. The interior design reflects pre-Revolutionary Havana and features plenty of vintage items on display to contribute to a vintage ambiance. The exposed brick walls lend a natural elegance to the establishment and vibrant floral chair cushions provide just the perfect splash of color and character.

Hernandez has been labeled as one of nine Austin bartenders to watch by Zagat. He got his start at the East Side Showroom – a family owned restaurant and craft cocktail bar located in Austin’s East Side neighborhood. He has now made his way over to the Pleasant Storage Room developing rum and overproof punch cocktails. Overproof rums often contain higher concentrations of alcohol than most available for sale in the U.S. Hernandez describes the bar menu at the establishment as “traditional recipes infused with tropical modernism.” He believes that rum is underappreciated when it comes to cocktails. It’s often bourbon or scotch that step into the spotlight. Through complex and delicious flavors, he is making a new name for rum and punch. The drinks are visually appealing, using colorful glasses and fresh fruit garnishes. The punch is served in a mini punch bowl, and customers can serve themselves using vintage-like glass teacups.

The establishment had a soft opening on Friday, April 11, where they served overproof rum punch and ceviche. The menu may have been limited, but the options sure were delicious. Guests could pick from Caribbean delicacies like snapper ceviche, cubano sandwiches and jerk chicken. Enroll in an Austin culinary arts program to learn how to develop these flavors on your own. Head chef Paul Hargrove designed the menu. Much like Hernandez, Hargrove also worked at the East Side Showroom, but as an executive chef. Growing up, Hernandez developed an appreciation for locally grown foods, as his stepfather owned a farm and worked six days a week from dawn until late in the evening. This has helped to shape Hernandez’s love for the taste of fresh local foods, and he continues to use those authentic flavors in his dishes to this day.