Christin Rowan-Adams had an idea one night three years ago while tending bar in Downtown Austin. She turned to a coworker and said, "Hey, do you want to open a restaurant that serves sparkling cocktails and desserts?" And that's how Nightcap was born.
Rowan-Adams's idea has finally materialized in a converted 1920s bungalow on Sixth Street in Austin, a thoroughfare infamous for its wild nightlife. Opening Tuesday, Nightcap is tucked away on the quiet western end, so rowdiness isn't encourage. "I want to take care of people during their special night with us, whether it's a date or an anniversary," Rowan-Adams says. "My goal is to show people a good time, have fun, make some money while I'm doing it and be happy."
That means there will be plenty of cocktails. Relying on her years of bartending experience, Rowan-Adams prefers to keep drinks simple. "I'm a big fan of things tasting the way they should taste without really adding anything extra," she says. A lavender milk punch made with almond milk and bourbon will be on the drink menu, along with a few reinterpreted classics like a daiquiri and a Negroni.
Chef Annabelle Turner will be crafting the whimsical and nostalgic sweets. "Dessert should be really fun," Turner says. "I really like to do classics and make something more updated . . . by using those flavors." One standout on the menu is a riff on coffee and doughnuts with smoked coffee gelato, hazelnut ganache, hazelnut custard and a cardamom doughnut.
In addition to plated desserts, expect boozy milkshakes like the one made with vanilla bean ice cream, bourbon, cinnamon, orange liqueur and crunchy honeycomb candy bits. Chocolate lovers, on the other hand, will want to try the Black Russian-inspired shake with chocolate ice cream, Kahlúa, vodka and crispy chocolate pearls.
While Nightcap has its own thing going on for sure, dessert bars have been popping up all over the country. Dominique Ansel of Cronut fame has recently started serving a reservations-only dessert tasting menu at U.P. in Manhattan. And more casual dessert bars like Butter & Scotch in Brooklyn, Bittersweet in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Red Light in Washington, D.C., have also opened recently.
Though desserts will dominate at Nightcap, executive chef Drew Dunston is also planning cheese and charcuterie platters and some savory small plates. "It's going to be dessert forward with savory small bites and a full bar," Rowan-Adams says. "I envision it to be a romantic date-night spot."