Russell Davis, Bartender of the Year award winner and former Bar Rescue co-star soft opened Academia in the heart of Austin’s resurgent warehouse district, with a grand opening to follow. The brainchild of acclaimed bar consulting firm Unlimited Liabilities, comprised of Davis and partner Danny Ronen, along with industry vet and partner, Chris Daus, was designed as a figurative faculty lounge for an Ivy League university of drinking where the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson could be found.

The scene at Academia will exalt those most positive effects of inebriation – creativity and eloquence. Bar patrons will nightly raise expertly crafted cocktails to toast some of history’s most prolific and profound tipplers. Academia incorporates the latest innovations in applied social and cognitive behavioral sciences to enhance the guest experience. Meticulously designed lighting, sound, and seating will stimulate visitors and promote habit-forming behavior:

  • Sound: HumanMusic, Grammy-nominated sound engineers, is developing a custom application to curate playlists that can be programmed to sync up with the beats per minute (BPM) of guests’ hearts.
  • Light: Peter Thompson, Technical & Lighting Director for Cirque du Soleil, will program the custom lighting of the space using varying colors and brightness to influence moods, trigger memories and evoke emotions.
  • Olfactory: Ambient scents and pheromones will be introduced to prompt sensory reactions and heighten moods within the space.
  • Seating: The floor and seating plan will be designed to spur guest interaction and guide feelings of relaxation or energy.

Of the utilization of cognitive psychology, Russell says: “These sciences have been proven to work and are used by some of the world’s largest corporations, such as Disney, yet have never been executed on this scale. We will be setting the new standard for when it comes to setting drinking atmospheres. We can change the bar industry forever.”

A guest-focused staff of seasoned industry professionals from around the country will promote showmanship, efficiency and quality behind the bar by marrying the finest ingredients with technical know-how. Hinging on the concept of “complex simplicity,” Davis and his team will execute a menu of properly made, uncomplicated yet thoughtful cocktails and strategically source the best ingredients already available. Cocktail offerings include:

  • Fresh Pressed Cosmopolitan with vodka, house-pressed cranberry, lime, Cointreau, orange oil
  • Trinidad Sour with Angostura Amaro, rye, oregat, lemon, Angostura bitters
  • Raw Dill Linie Aquavit, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, St. Germain, saline, dill, salmon roe

The bar space features high ceilings, fitting of an academic hall or institution of higher learning. Brick, wood and iron are the dominant building materials inside. Custom-designed banners, seals and crests are hung throughout and chalk scribbled nods to literary heroes will adorn the walls. Lounge areas will provide for a more intimate setting, while some long high-top tables featuring electrical outlets and USB ports will be more conducive to intellectual pursuits.

Bartenders are center stage and will sometimes be featured using a professional quality camera system to facilitate live streaming and produced content. Inspired by the atmosphere of high-minded, high-level hospitality, guests will be encouraged to take part in nightly orations, often transforming the scene from a classy and memorable party bar into a familiar community gathering space.

Industry News, NextGen Casual