Exposed | Justin Elliott

Former Qui bar manager Justin Elliott is behind the bar in a whole new way this summer. After leaving his post as lead bar man at the Paul Qui mainstay to join Penumbral Strategic Ventures as Director of Hospitality Projects, he took his place this July as head of the cocktail program at recently opened downtown bar, The Townsend. Needless to say, as one of Austin’s most notable names in cocktails, Elliott's pretty in tune with the imbibing among us. Here, he chats with TRIBEZA about his favorite drink, a cocktail even a novice should know, what to expect from his new venture, and more.


These days, I tend to gravitate toward a traditional daiquiri. It’s a pretty good barometer for everything from house style to bartender technique — it’s a very flexible drink. I’ve very rarely met an actual rum, lime juice and sugar daiquiri that I have not enjoyed. Also, a Palmetto — essentially a rum Manhattan — is a classic. These drinks have endured for a reason.


We’re trying to create something that’s timeless. I would love it if people didn’t think that much about The Townsend, but instead just came to The Townsend all the time. It shouldn’t be hard to sit and enjoy a nice cocktail in a high-class environment without having to worry about it — it should be easy. But I don’t want my fingerprints all over this cocktail program. I want this to be a bar that feels like it’s been there forever and will be there forever.


The Townsend, 718 Congress Av e ste 100

The Townsend will launch a guest bartending program which gives mixologists a percentage of every drink sold.


I’m tired of overwrought menus. Lately, it seems that some people are more impressed with how a drink sounds than they are with how it tastes. You don’t have to tell me everything that’s in it. Tell me the key stuff, and make it not sound like a mess. These compound syrups and saffron bitters and coffee maple syrup reductions — you don’t need to list all of that. That’s not to say these aren’t delicious concoctions — many of them most certainly are. Just keep a little to the imagination, you know?


My favorite cocktail bar in town right now is Garage. There’s a tone to the space and the cocktails that just hits me in the sweet spot. I think my favorite thing about it is that while it still has the familiar trappings of a cocktail bar, it doesn’t feel like a reproduction of a better-known cocktail bar from a larger market. Plus, it’s a couple blocks from The Townsend, which doesn’t hurt. Of course there’s The Liberty — we pretty much lived at that place when closing down Qui every night. Drink.well is also fantastic. It’s one of those neighborhood places that I wish there were 10 more of. I also do a lot of drinking at Clark’s. I have some oysters and a couple of martinis at lunch and I feel like a real classy fella.


No question — an Old Fashioned. Everybody likes an Old Fashioned. Forget the unnecessary muddling of copious amounts of fruit and the iterations thereof. All you need is sugar, spirit, bitters, and water.


This was a decision mostly based on my family. I’m 35, and it just felt like it was time to own something, time to make something for my family. Qui was amazing, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t my name on the door — it was Paul’s name — and I want to build my own thing. I’m really excited about this opportunity.


Photography by Hayden Spears

Related Articles

  • 0f8dfbf1-b6d6-4c56-b842-05d45acda39c.gif
  • image1.JPG
  • Elite 25_300x250.gif
  • unnamed-37.jpg
  • Copenhagen_Feb2015.jpg



  • 1cb151d1-621d-47f9-941e-7259eea04612.gif
  • Subscribe.jpg
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 2.07.04 PM.png

As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.

For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.


The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...


Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.



Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.

Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?

From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...


As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.

Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...