When the American National Bank building opened in Austin, in 1954, it boasted such marvels as the first escalator in town, au courant interior furnishings by legendary designer Florence Knoll, and a sophisticated parking system by which valets would retrieve cars by riding a chain-hoisted “elevator” to the desired floor. Once considered a candidate for demolition, the building recently underwent a loving rehabilitation and has been restored to its mid-century glory.
The bar Garage, true to its name, occupies the former office of the flying valets, at the foot of the columnar space encircled by the ramps of the parking garage. You have to know it’s there to find it, which adds to the charm. To locate the Formula 3 on Garage’s menu, cruise past the Custom, Vintage, and Refurbished models and head straight for those marked GTO. Made from WhistlePig rye, Belle de Brillet, and Cardamaro, the Formula 3 is a paragon of simplicity, not unlike the modernist gem that houses the bar.
The engine that drives this cocktail is the WhistlePig, a 100-proof rye distilled in Alberta, then finished in bourbon barrels and bottled in Vermont. Belle de Brillet, a cognac-based pear liqueur, adds elegant sweetness and tames the rye; the Cardamaro, a gently bitter, slightly nutty Italian digestif made with cardoon-infused moscato, serves double duty as both the vermouth and the bitters in this Manhattan-like elixir.
At $18, it may at first seem like a rather extravagant cocktail. “But it’s really something of a bargain, when you consider the small fortune it would cost to assemble this at home,” says bar manager Chauncy James, a longtime fixture of Austin’s nightlife scene, before excusing himself to go flip a record on Garage’s hi-fi.