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【Exclusive Interview】Chris Bostick – the Half Step Bar

2023.11.11 / 最終更新日:2023.11.25

Let us introduce to you, the classic style cocktail bar in Texas, the Half Step bar! They are located in Austin, Texas. Amazing bar members always welcome you with your desired drink. Their crystal clear ice gradually changes the taste of the drink in an amazing way, which makes your experience more memorable.

Basic information of the Half Step Bar

Logo of Half Step

Bar’s Name Half Step Bar
Year of Establishment 2014
Owner Chris Bostick
Location

75 1/2 Rainey, Austin, TX 78701, United States

Official Website Half Step Bar
Instagram @halfstepbar.

Bar Owner: Chris Bostick

Chris Bostick

The owner of the Half Step Bar, Chris Bostick, is well-experienced bartender who used to work both in New York and Los Angeles. Now he is back in his hometown, Austin TX, bringing joy to all customers and others with genuine hospitality. “Ichigo-ichie” is one of his favorite Japanese words which means “Once, a meeting”. It also means “in this moment, an opportunity” and that’s how much he valued on meeting new people and discovering something new.

About Half Step Bar

Half Step Bar

Dear WHISKY:
Could you tell us about the site?

Chris:
This bar was built in an old house that was originally built 100 years ago. We decided to renovate the house and we built the bar out of the house. In the back of the house, we have another house called an “ice house”. We have a machine there which a lot of people use to make the big blocks of ice. It’s called a “Klein bell machine” which makes the ice side by side 300 to 400 pounds.

Concept and Menu

Old school bar atmosphere are complemented by the live music.

Photo cited from their Instagram: Half Step. [@halfstepbar]. (2023, January 26)

Dear WHISKY:
Could you give us a brief explanation of the bar theme/concept?

Chris:
It is simple and elegant, nothing too fussy. At the Half Step bar, I have my amazing partners and teammates who really believe in the original vision of the bar.

Dear WHISKY:
Could you give us an explanation for the menu theme?

Chris:
Our menu stays relatively short and sweet. It’s only a handbook of cocktails that show what we recommend. Every cocktail opens a door in its style to other styles that we are capable of.
In addition to 6 or 7 cocktails, we have a bartender’s choice which is our opportunity to have a conversation with you and to see what you like. If there’s something we can suggest to you based on your preference, we can find a way to make it a real, genuine and sincere connection to you.

Cocktails are poured into ice cold glasses.

Photo cited from their Instagram: Half Step. [@halfstepbar]. (2022, June 25)

Dear WHISKY:
It sounds like an amazing experience that bartenders make cocktails through the conversation.
What is the motivation behind it?

Chris:
It is very important that our bartenders have a connection to their source of knowledge, so that they can share their passion for creation with others. The connection with the guest is the most important thing when it comes to hospitality. 

Please let us do the hardest part, to decide what you drink. I just want you to come in and trust us that we have your back, and we’re here to all have fun together.

The menu is about how we can find a way to connect with our guests. It’s important for us to have laser focus not to make customers confused about what they want to drink. We just want you all to enjoy everything about this bar, and come back to us to get another drink.

Chris’s favorite drink

Dear WHISKY:
What is your favorite cocktails? 

Chris:
I have so much love for the classics because the classics are like jazz standards. If you don’t know the classics, it’s like you don’t know the jazz standards. Such as having no saxophone player in the jazz band. From the perspective of classics/old fashioned cocktails, it’s the original combination of sweet and strong and soft.

Dear WHISKY:
What makes you love old fashioned cocktails so much?

Chris:
It’s not only about the whiskey itself, but how the ice transforms into whiskey is important for the taste too. Because the first sip of an old fashioned is very different from the last sip, the delight in drinking an old fashioned is to experience the transformation of the taste slowly.

The old fashioned to me is just the pinnacle of drinking whiskey. It’s a good way to hold a steady baseline of whiskey when you try different types of whiskey cocktails, because if the recipe stays the same, the whiskey will have different moments to shine.

Bourbon whiskey and Rye whiskey are certainly popular in Texas, especially with gravy.

Photo cited from their Instagram: Half Step. [@halfstepbar]. (2022, November 17)

Dear WHISKY:
What types of whiskies do you use at Half Step Bar?

Chris:
We enjoy many Japanese whiskies at the Half Step bar. However, we drink a lot of American bourbon and rye whiskies since we’re located in Texas! We love to use rye whiskey for many of our cocktails. I believe that’s been kind of a go-to cocktail professionals for a while now. 

About the Ice

Dear WHISKY:
What is the most important thing in your cocktail-making? 

Chris:
For me, ice is something that is the most precious thing that we can think of when it comes to making cocktails. From the Ice House, we pull it out ice once it’s frozen solid. It’s a very slow process which takes 2-3 days for the ice to fully form. However, once it’s fully frozen, it’s beautiful and crystal clear. Then, we take chainsaws and break it down into smaller pieces to smaller cubes.

Different cocktails comes with different ices.

Photo cited from their Instagram: Half Step. [@halfstepbar]. (2021, December 17)

Commitment to the ice

Dear WHISKY:
What types of ice do you use in Half Step Bar?

Chris:
We use different sizes of cubes for different cocktails. For example, we have ice for old fashions, ice for highballs or cocktails. We have a machine called a “Scotsman” which makes a little pebble ice for tropical style drinks. We also have smaller ice rocks for shaking and rocks for hand cracking.

Dear WHISKY:
Why ice is so important?

Chris:
The attention to detail that we pay was something that is very sacred, which I believe is ice, because the ice is how we control the rate at which the drink dilutes. It’s not just about the surface area of the liquid that comes into contact with the ice, but it’s very much about the time it takes for the water to melt. As the drink is made, it immediately starts to transform. 

I want to mention that more control that we can give on the timing of the transformation of the drink, the better we’re able to control the quality and what the final outcome of the desired cocktail.

Caring for the details and moments

Dear WHISKY:
Where did you learn your skills of cutting ice?

Chris:
One of my business partners, Eric Alperinhe, who was one of the founders of a bar called “The Varnish” in Los Angeles where I learned about cutting ice and the importance of ice. That knowledge was passed down to me through people like Sasha Petrosky of “Milk and Honey” in New York City, and Richie Baccato of “Little Branch” in New York.

Huge and clear Rock ice.

Photo cited from their Instagram: Half Step. [@halfstepbar]. (2022, Novembrer 29)

Dear WHISKY:
Thats a lot of people getting involved into your passion.
Where does this energy and commitment come from?

Chris:
We have been using this base of knowledge as a resource. The people that I’m involved with know how much I care about ice. It’s important that we respect the process because I think that the process is what gives us the ability to make simple things memorable. We care about every detail, every moment, and how special it is. It’s kind of like a tea ceremony. Everything is very present!

There’s a lot of secrets and magic held within frozen water. When we stir it into our lives, as it slowly transforms, it opens up and tells us its secrets. 

Thoughts on Japanese Whisky

Dear WHISKY:
What do you think of Japanese whisky?

Chris:
I think Japanese Whisky is one of the highest quality whisky brands in the world.  The spirit and its detail tells us that Japanese people care for everything that they do when they make things by hand. To me, it is very special.  When I taste Japanese whisky, I can taste how much they care about the spirits and I feel so thankful for the hands that made the spirits. I can imagine being somewhere beautiful in Japan while I’m sipping the whisky. Haha

Dear WHISKY:
What is your favorite Japanese whisky?

Chris:
Some of the Japanese whiskies that I’m familiar with are “Yamazaki” and “Hakushu 12th”. Those are my absolute favorites! Those are just lovely and delightful, and it reminds me of walking through a green forest.

At Last

Bar counter.

Photo cited from their Instagram: Half Step. [@halfstepbar]. (2023, August 23)

Again, it’s not about how fancy it can be! It’s about the freshest ingredients, the best well-made ice, good tequila and lots of heart and soul. Plus, what makes the Half Step Bar special is that we put that “ichigo ichie*” mind-set into our work. *Ichigo Ichie:  a Japanese proverb meaning can be translated as “one lifetime, one encounter” or  “in this moment, an opportunity”.

He was also a consulting member of abother bar called “Denata Cantina”, which you can feel the Texas atmosphere with tacos and tequila. Their margaritas is fantastic. 

If you visit Texas, these are the must-visit bars!

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