The Texas Whiskey Experience landed in Austin, Texas, this weekend to participate in the Texas Whiskey Festival on April 19th. But first, we had some time to explore the Austin whiskey scene and our first stop was Nickel City on E 11th and Lydia St.

As I pulled up to the curb, the building gave off that “dive bar” vibe…old, dirty brick building, retro signage, nothing flashy or fancy. But inside, this bar has all the makings of a classic neighborhood watering hole, complete with pinball machine, jukebox, and most importantly…an amazing selection of whiskey. This whiskey wonderland has 200+ bottles in stock and includes some rare finds like Heaven Hill 27 Year Old, Old Fitzgerald 9 & 11 Year, several Wild Turkey Premiums like Diamond Anniversary, Master’s Keep Revival and Decade, and Pappy Van Winkle Years 15, 20 & 23. For the Texas Whiskey enthusiast Nickel City has Garrison Brothers, various Balcones expressions, TX Bourbon & Whiskey, and the whole Treaty Oak line.

“Nickel City is not just about whiskey. The real bonus is the food.”

During my visit, I had the opportunity to speak with Brandon Hunt, one of the owners of Nickel City. Brandon, a native of Detroit, explained to me how he and his friend Travis Tober of Buffalo, dreamed of owning a bar and what that ideal bar would look like. They wanted to create a neighborhood watering hole with a great selection of whiskey, but they also wanted it to be approachable and that’s why it was important for the staff to be knowledgeable guides for customers exploring whiskey. This was an understatement. Ruby, the bartender, was my guide through this whiskey paradise. His knowledge of this vast collection was amazing! As I pointed out bottles, he knew something about each and every expression. A knowledgeable staff is just another hallmark of a great whiskey bar.

Nickel City is not just about whiskey. The real bonus to this place is the food. Outside, Nickel City has their food truck, The Delray Café. Being from Detroit, Brandon explained to me how there wasn’t a good coney dog to be found in Austin. Not being a connoisseur of coney dogs, Brandon gave me the complete run down on what makes a great coney dog. He ships these dogs in from Detroit because they use whole cut meat and natural casing with a sweeter meat. This sweetness then contrasts with the mustard and chili that is loaded with Greek spices to make the perfect coney dog. He wasn’t kidding. You can taste the difference and it was delicious! And oh by the way, he made a point of letting me know, coney dogs came from Detroit, not Coney Island! The great food doesn’t stop there. Just across the street there is a food truck “trailer park” of sorts with trucks offering tacos and BBQ and Thai, Jamaican, and Pakistani grub.

If you like whiskey and you’re in Austin, be sure to stop by Nickel City and be part of the Texas Whiskey Experience!