Your night out wouldn't be complete without a cocktail. To make sure you're only imbibing the best, we've painstakingly assembled the top spots for a proper libation -- we're talking classically executed, mixed with house-made shrubs (sounds like a plant -- not a plant!), infused, rinsed, perfectly balanced, and topped with a Luxardo cherry. Or maybe some orange peel that was just lit on fire?
Quite possibly the best thing to happen to Dirty 6th EVER. You’ll need a reservation to guarantee entry to this former brothel-turned-secret (well, secret-ish)-speakeasy. There’s no sign, you just walk up and ring the buzzer titled "Harry Craddock”. The reinvented classic cocktails (some prepared tableside) are spot-on, the atmosphere’s sexy, and the respite from the shrieking and occasional vom-landmines of 6th is more than welcome.
East Side Show Room
When you enter East Side Show Room, you’ll feel as if you have entered another place and time, where beautiful people drink under the glow of Edison bulbs and gypsy music fills the space (but not gypsies, that's a different place and time). This half-luxe, half-industrial food and drink den has some of Austin’s most skilled (and best dressed) bartenders turning out everything from flawless Old Fashioneds to Einstein on the Beach (gin, amaro, Cherry Heering, lime & pineapple).
The interesting thing about drink.well. is that while it masquerades as a neighborhood pub, the level of culinary and cocktail artistry could easily suit a much flashier joint. The owners and staff are constantly shifting and tweaking their revolving drink menu, so if you’re lucky you may end up being a (very willing!) guinea pig for one their experimental concoctions.
The third installment of the Brooklyn-based craft cocktail mini empire, Weather Up in Austin is a mellow, subway-tiled, coppery gem of a bar. Don’t bother looking for a sign, there isn’t one -- but there are expertly crafted drinks (the comprehensive menu's broken down by spirit and preparation) and an atmosphere that lends itself to casual groups outside or an intimate date inside. Or an intimate date outside, if that's your thing.
Located in the heart of the Warehouse District, this hidden treasure boasts an insane liquor selection (as in it’s great, not as in it was made by crazy people), vintage ambiance, and a creative pre-prohibition style drink menu that will make you wish you had the liver capacity to explore it all. Come for the plethora of absinthe choices, stay for the seriously delicious French food. And more absinthe.
This tiny bar, nestled between sister restaurants Congress and Second Bar + Kitchen, boasts big-time libations both classic and creative, often taken up a level with housemade mixers. Make like Keanu Reeves and seek out the Oracle with Templeton Rye, Amaro Averna, Cocchi di Torino vermouth, Chichicapa mezcal, and New Orleans coffee bitters.
The Lobby Lounge at the Four Seasons
Even though visiting a high-end hotel bar sounds counter-intuitive to most Austinites, the bar staff here is friendly and they know how to mix a damn good (and strong) drink. The lounge itself is beautiful and to say they have a "nice lawn and patio" is an understatement. As a bonus, you’ll always find yourself chatting with tipsy out-of-towners and occasionally, the semi-famous.
New-ish and located at the far east end of 6th St, this place has got all the bases covered. While they are definitely catering to patio-types with most of the seating being outdoors, there is a cool, dark inside bar full of repurposed goodness and bartenders who can create your signature drink just by looking at you.
207 E 53rd St, Austin, TX 78751
This American gastropub specializes in craft cocktails and fresh ingredients. Although drink.well lives up to its name, boasting over 75 different whiskeys and a whole menu section devoted to tiki cocktails, their food does not suffer in spite of the imbibing. Try the Spicy Kimchi Reuben and wash it down with a homemade twinkie. Yes, they change flavors weekly.
2. Midnight Cowboy
313 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701
Once part of Austin's red light district, The Midnight Cowboy, pays tribute to its former brothel glory as a reservation only, "buzz in" cocktail lair, where clients are encouraged to flirt with staff as long as they abide by house rules.
208 W 4th St, Austin, TX 78701
Consciously attempting to recreate the European art of mixology that was largely lost in America as a result of Prohibition, Peche is a genuine cocktail paradise, and it's the only place in Austin that you can experience absinthe "in its true form".
5. Bar Congress
200 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
The bar counterpart to Second Kitchen, Bar Congress' craft cocktails use only pure, artisan ingredients in their signature drinks, which accompany an extensive collection of wines and sakes. The bar also serves an array of small plates, snacks, and entrees that are specifically tailored to house spirits.
8. Weather Up
1808 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702
Weather Up's wide selection of cocktails are categorized by their respective spirit, allowing for a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style experience. A large, outdoor garden area makes this the perfect place to imbibe when the weather's looking...well you get it.