Cask and Barrel
1431 Del Paso Boulevard, Sacramento
Situated on the triangular corner of Del Paso Boulevard and Arden Way like a shorter, rounder art deco version of the Flatiron Building, Sacramento restaurant Cask and Barrel gives off a funky vibe.
The orange building once belonged to the restaurant Enotria, which last year transitioned into a catering/events company in partnership with Cask owner and chef Gabriel Glasier. Weddings and parties have ample indoor and outdoor space behind Cask and Barrel, but the front of the building is reserved for the restaurant.
For happy hour, take a quick Lyft ride or hop on the Blue Line after work, because you only have from 5–6:30 p.m. Take your pick of the bar in the back of the room, the long and wide communal table directly in front of the bar or the plushy outdoor front patio seating for happy hour service.
Given the place was empty at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday and it was more than 100 degrees outside, our party of four chose the communal table.
A few things that catch the eye include small wooden barrels behind the bar holding drinks like the restaurant’s Old Fashioned with house-made whiskey.
Before continuing I should probably mention that this is a serious meat and whiskey shop. For someone who loves menus, it was extremely difficult to put down the well-used booklet of 100 varieties of whiskey that are available to try in wee drams (half-ounce pours) or drams (one-ounce pours).
The 79-hour slow-cooked meats include everything from pork shoulder and sausages to beef brisket and turkey legs. The cocktails and food menu follow the seasons. This particular evening’s offerings showcased watermelon, strawberries, lavender and light IPAs.
Back to reality and the happy hour menu, we settled on $6 daiquiris and strawberry margaritas, the $5 house-made whiskey, and $4 drafts of Jackrabbit Oatmeal Stout. And maybe a few other non-happy hour drinks, but I’ll keep this under $10 per person.
The cocktails tasted tart and frothy, and not too sweet, which can sometimes be the case when ordering anything that pink.
The fruity pastels of the cocktails dotted with lime slices sat in stark contrast to our smoky brown wee drams and stouts, but everything was worth trying. If you like whiskey, the happy hour includes a couple bucks off flights, which can range from around $15 to $30 for wee drams.
Our waiter was helpful in narrowing down a whiskey and explaining our happy hour food picks, which included coffee-braised pork tacos with strawberry salsa, fried deviled eggs, fried mixed pickles and chicken liver mousse with mulberry jam on sourdough. Each was $5 except for the tacos, which were $6 for two.
Most items are locally sourced. A few meat items come from nearby farms, but Cask and Barrel strives to use Sacramento for all its produce and herbs.
The tacos had a dark flavor that didn’t totally fit well with strawberry, though my husband, who also had a house scotch from a peated sherry cask to pair, loved them.
The deviled eggs, with their whites lightly enclosed and fried in batter, tasted bright and vinegary, holding up well to the cocktails and whiskey. The only downside was the plate came with three halves. What happened to the other half of the second egg?
The fried mixed pickles ended up being my favorite happy hour dish because of the mix of hefeweizen tempura-fried items. We tasted pickles, super juicy tomatoes, zucchini and green beans. Fried red tomatoes dipped in that bourbon hot sauce aioli should be a dish on their own. What a great way to showcase a Sacramento farm staple.
Finally, the chicken liver mousse also lacked in amount, with three small toasts on a plate, but the dollops of mousse on top of jam on perfectly toasted sourdough was a great way to serve. The mousse needed to be slightly colder, but was fluffy and light to the taste.
What wasn’t on the happy hour menu but is totally worth getting over any of these $5 small plates: the pork belly with grilled watermelon for $12.
The dish comes beautifully plated with large charred chunks of pork that are soft on the inside, shoestrings of cucumber and piles of pulverized cashews that stick to the watermelon for a unique flavor. On a hot day, when you don’t feel like doing your own grilling, order this dish.
Several of the dishes coming out of the kitchen caught our attention, so I definitely want to give Cask and Barrel another shot. I’m looking forward to trying their meats and macaroni and cheese, as well as their desserts, made by pastry chef Kristel Flores, Glasier’s partner at the restaurant and their business, Chef and Baker Events and Catering. The chocolate fried pie with salted duck fat caramel sounds intense.
If you can get a half-pound of ribs for $14, paired with a beer for $4, you have yourself a much happier hour.
Cask and Barrel is open Tuesday to Saturday 5–9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Happy hour is 5–6:30 p.m. at the bar, the communal table and the patio. Call (916) 922-6792 for more info.