To successfully navigate Austin's sprawling bar scene, it's important to know a few geographical rules -- hipsters stick to the East Side, yuppies opt for Rainey St or West 6th, and historic (aka "dirty") 6th St is where college sophomores go for $.25 wells. But whether you're looking for mustachio'd mixologists, world-class beer bars, or just a Tri Delt to stare at, Thrillist editor Dan Gentile knows where to go. Best Club: Despite playing host to a ton of awesome DJs, Austin doesn't have many true clubs. Kingdom changed that. Although the crowd can be a little obnoxious, the sound system is unparalleled, and there's no other space in Austin where you'll feel uncomfortable not dancing. Plus, they've actually got a solid beer selection. Best for Work: The Cloakroom. Located a block from the capitol building, the walls of this basement dive have heard 30yrs' worth of legislative secrets. Best for Partying: Just walk down 6th Street and pick the bars with the most ridiculous names. Although it's avoided by most locales over the age of 22, if you're really looking to rage, there's no better place than Dirty 6th. Easiest Place to Get Laid: See above. Hottest Girls: Again, see above. Best Cocktail Bar: Midnight Cowboy. It's an enclave of amazing craft cocktails in a sign-less space that formerly housed a brothel. You have to make a reservation, so call ahead and be prepared for the two-drink minimum. Best Drink: El Cubico at La Condesa. The tequila is house-infused with tobacco, the glass is rimmed with volcanic salt, and they're a steal during the half-off happy hour. Best Beer Bar: The selection at Banger's is absolutely ridiculous. They have over 100 taps, and their $8 executive lunch, consisting of a pint and a sausage, is one of the best deals in town. Best Local Beer: Live Oak's Hefe is an absolute classic. It's a category-defining beer for me, and Live Oak is a brewery that's paved the way for the city's bustling beer scene. Best Brewery: This is tough considering how many upstarts are out there doing great work. The guys at Jester King get the nod for innovation, but, for taste alone, I go with Austin Beerworks. Each of their beers bursts with flavor, but the Pearl Snap is my favorite. It manages to hit you with some serious hops while still being refreshing enough to drink as a session beer. Best Place to Day Drink: Yellow Jacket Social Club. The peanut gallery of crusty hipsters will make you feel much better about yourself. Best Wine Bar: The Red Room Lounge. The somm's great at walking you through their selection, and there's not much that's hipper than an underground wine bar. Best Jukebox: Gotta go with Longbranch Inn. As a DJ, I have a certain disdain for jukeboxes, but I've always appreciated that you can walk into Longbranch and hear everything from James Brown to Refused, and it all seems to make sense. Best Outdoor Spot: Cheer Up Charlie's. What started as a dingy vegan hangout spot has slowly transformed into a totally cohesive space, with design touches that you'd never think would work but create the coolest aesthetic around. From the carpet-sample-lined bandshell, to the parachute canopy, to the AstroTurf seating installations, there are just so many amazing details.
An editor's guide to drinking around town
1. Live Oak Brewery3301 E 5th St, Austin
2. Kingdom103 E 5th St, Austin
3. Cloak Room1300 Colorado St, Austin
4. Midnight Cowboy313 E 6th St, Austin
5. Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden79 Rainey St, Austin
6. Jester King Brewery13005 Fitzhugh Rd, Bldg B, Austin
7. Austin Beerworks3009 Industrial Terrace, Austin
8. Yellow Jacket Social Club1704 E 5th St, Austin
9. The Red Room Lounge306A E 3rd St, Austin
10. Longbranch Inn1133 E 11th St, Austin
11. Cheer Up Charlie's1104 E 6th St, Austin
Practicing European brewing methods that are uncommon in the USA, Live Oak Brewery is a small Austin start-up that offers brews for those seeking unique and different flavors.
Kingdom is an innovative, electronic dance club featuring local, renowned DJs that spin everything from dubstep to techno that fit into the dance genre. Try their selection of over 20 brews on tap including a few local favorites like Red Ale and Thirsty Planet or get down with a house-made cocktail.
Hit up Cloak Room for a jukebox that pumps out the likes of Johnny Cash and Otis Redding, and a clientele heavy on in-session legislators looking to get their drink on.
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.
Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden not only provides over a 100 beers on tap, but it's also home to one of the district's largest biergartens. Enjoy live music and all the sausage that you can eat.
Located in the heart of Hill Country, this brewery puts out both year-round and limited edition beers with awesome monikers, including Black Metal (a farmhouse imperial stout), Commercial Suicide (farmhouse mild), and Atrial Rubicite (ale refermented with raspberries... but you knew that already).
Austin Beerworks is "hell-bent on excellence", and their devilish-sounding brews (all canned) back up that claim: try a Black Thunder (German schwarz) or a Fire Eagle (American IPA).
This high school mascot-inspired bar has a late-night patio with plenty of ambiance, booze, and not-so-bar-like snacks. Locally soured ingredients make their handmade paninis and apps as tempting as that second drink.
The Red Room Lounge provides a great atmosphere for consuming multiple glasses of wine and relaxing.
Longbranch is a laid-back East Austin bar with a lived-in vibe, sometimes accented by live music.
Stop by Cheer Up Charlie's (a bar/coffee shop/bodega hybrid) for exotic grab-and-go snacks (fresh Thai young coconuts, Tom's Tabouli...), and beverages ranging from bottled beer to on-tap "kombucha" (fermented hippie-tea).