Dozen Street Bar, located at 12th and Chicon, is more than just an art bar. The cocktails, live music, unique events and inviting decor create a welcoming space for Austinites to feel at home, whether they’re artistically inclined or just admirers.
Once I spotted the mirror mosaic peacock door, I was more intrigued than ever to enter Dozen Street. While walking in, I was greeted with moody lighting above two pool tables, and walls textured with square panels of different materials.
Strolling further into the long venue, a full color peacock mosaic caught my eye. The welcoming bar, stage and cozy seating completed the indoor experience.
The back patio opens up to seating under a tent of fabric, a fence painted like a piano and Unconventional Oven, the resident pizza trailer.
At this point, I was already thinking about who I was going to invite to come out to Dozen Street the next time I visited, to experience the homey yet funky feel with me.
Sitting at the Bar
After my initial tour, I felt excited to get to know the people who give Dozen Street its warmth. I sat down at the bar and, after glancing over the menus and trying to hide my giddiness over the stellar cocktail selection, I ordered an Aviation from the bar manager, Mathias. Mathias is full of knowledge about cocktails, and his excitement and interest in the history of these drinks and the ingredients that make them is very contagious.
Dozen Street’s gin drinks feature Austin Reserve Gin, and I highly recommend giving them a taste. If you are not a gin drinker, Mathias can still dream up something delicious for you.
While warming up with my cocktail, I met Ashley, who makes a special nonalcoholic drink featured at Dozen Street called Kava Chill. Kava is made from a root, and this earthy tasting drink is not available in many Austin locations.
Kava Chill is made in-house with a secret recipe and is sweeter and smoother than most kava. After drinking it, a tingling or numbing sensation may take place in your lips or mouth because of the anesthetic properties. After about 30 minutes, a relaxing sensation takes over.
Creating an Atmosphere
Dozen Street Bar has already evolved. It opened in late May 2014, but — due to complications — they were not able to put out their own signage until September. Though the venue is still new, they already have regulars thanks to word of mouth, friends and neighbors and hosting events 7 nights a week.
To learn more about how Dozen Street opened, I spoke with owner Maydee Distefano. Maydee wanted to create a space where all kinds of people could feel comfortable and at home. Dozen Street even has events on holidays, like their recent Thanksgiving Potluck.
Along with the diverse crowd, focus on soul and funk music and “be nice or go home” attitude, Dozen Street has cultivated an eclectic family-like atmosphere. Speaking further to the family vibe, Maydee’s sister, Stefanie Distefano, who I recently interviewed about her unusual home, created the wonderful mosaics seen at Dozen Street.
Unconventional Oven rounds out the family feel as this pizza trailer (complete with wood fire brick oven) is owned by a husband and wife team.
Maydee’s successful career in the theater in Philadelphia has given her a great appreciation and understanding of what makes a dynamic stage. A German piano, over 100 years old, sits on the the Dozen Street stage, which already has a budding history of great performances.
As soon as Maydee finished building the stage, she immediately performed a bare-bones version of her award-winning one woman show, Popsicle’s Departure, 1989. (Popsicle’s Departure, 1989 focuses on the late 80s hard-core scene in Boston).
Another one of Maydee’s favorite memories of the stage took place during a Friday happy hour. Ezra Reynolds was playing piano when a man approached the stage rapping. Gradually, they both started improvising off of each other.
Needless to say, there is an incredible amount of creativity floating around in Dozen Street.
A Tasty Event
Following my interview with Maydee, I joined in on the special event of the evening – cookie decorating! During the holiday season in Philadelphia, Maydee held a cookie decorating party with hundreds of blank sugar cookies ready to be painted with colored icing and sprinkles. Since knowledge of the cookie decorating festivities has not become widespread in Austin yet, I felt like I was getting to experience it before it becomes an Austin holiday staple.
Everyone was in good spirits, and people chatted with me enthusiastically even when they had no idea I was writing an article about the bar. Thoughtfully, while stuffing myself with cookies, cocktails and some hushpuppies that wondorously appeared in front of me, I decided – I want to become a regular.
Becoming a Regular at Dozen Street
Dozen Street Bar is located at 1808 East 12th Street. Check out their website, Facebook and Twitter for weekly events. They are open from 5 PM-2 AM every day, and there is usually free parking across the street. I’ll see you there!
@MadameKLM wants to know:
Do you have a favorite cocktail at Dozen Street?
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