Kinfolk Lounge & Library Serves Refined Craft Cocktails Below Moonshine Grill
The moody basement bar pays homage to the building’s history with delicious drinks served in era appropriate glassware
By Darcie Duttweiler
Photos by Matt Lankes
Cocktail photos by Jasmin Porter
Even if you technically know where Kinfolk Lounge & Library is, it can still be slightly surprising to enter the 20-seat speakeasy, especially during the daylight.
Guests can enter through downtown Southern hotspot Moonshine Patio & Grill and politely inquire about their Kinfolk reservations at the host stand. Then, someone will magically whisk you away, and you’ll descend down the stairs next to Moonshine’s massive wooden bar. Once you finish your descent, the door opens, and you’re suddenly in a secret, dark underground cellar that feels like a lifetime away from the hustle and bustle upstairs.
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To the left — a gorgeous bar full of vintage glassware and a mixologist lighting small fires, shaking cocktails and stirring glasses. To the right — luxurious brown leather banquettes and cozy chairs adorning four small marble tables. Dimly lit sconces decorate a delicate blue paneled wall. Farther in, your eye catches a room in the back, warmly illuminated through thousands of liquor bottles, with a large communal table. All around you is limestone original to the 1835 building, built long before the cellar space served as an illegal liquor mash distiller during Prohibition.
All of this is to say, once downstairs — and after acclimating your eyes to the darkness compared to the stark, bright sunshine — you feel utterly transformed back in time.
“We wanted to write a new chapter in the Moonshine history,” Larry Perdido, Moonshine Grill co-owner, explains. “And, basically the space told us it should be a cocktail lounge.”
While the Moonshine Grill had originally housed its massive wine and spirits collection in the cellar previously — and hosted a few intimate dinners down there — it wasn’t until a pipe burst and the space needed to be renovated did the team see the original limestone walls (complete with empty liquor bottles from the 1920s) and decided to create something that “elevated the cocktail game in Austin to a whole other level,” according to Perdido.
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And it all happened very organically. Known for being a bourbon, whiskey and scotch aficionado himself, Perdido’s own home bar style became an inspiration for Kinfolk.
“We just listened to the space and its raw ingredients. Everything was designed to complement the spirits, which we hold in such high regard,” says Erin Fohn, Branding and Marketing Consultant of Victory Dog Marketing.
Besides the gorgeously comfortable yet elevated space inspired by Perdido and Director of Operations Joe Ngueyen’s personal spirits collections, Kinfolk is also expertly designed around the history of its building, as well as a menu conceptualized of a cocktail family tree that encapsulates tipples from the 18th and 19th centuries. It highlights four categories (Fancy Drinks, Old Fashioned & Improved, Daises and Fizzes) and the genesis of each cocktail from its ancestral version into the classic and modern iterations. Every cocktail is lovingly curated by master mixologist Tom Koerner and refined and served in era appropriate glassware.
In addition to its curated menu, with thousands of different liquor bottles, from mezcal to scotch, including dozens of one-of-a-kind finds, sipping a glass of a spirit neat or on the rocks feels like both uncovering a secret while also feeling like you’re comfortably enjoying a drink in a friend’s den, which is intentional, according to Perdido.
“We talk often about the Southern hospitality that exists at Moonshine, and with Southern hospitality, it really is just a matter of kind of an extension of our family,” he explains. “So, in other words, the extended family is kind of like our kinfolk. It’s our guest relationships.”
Although completely different atmospheres, that Southern hospitality is indeed alive and well at Kinfolk.
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