Food & Drink

The Most Beautiful Bars in Austin

Sam Sumpter Published On 10/20/2015 Published On 10/20/2015
Courtesy of The Living Room Bar

Living Room Bar

Upon hearing a bar is located in the W, it’s no surprise to hear that it’s also impeccably decorated, and you can consider this spot -- with its couches, fireplaces, and bookshelves -- a more refined version of a living room.

Courtesy of The Driskill

The Driskill

The Driskill was built in 1886, yet the look and feel of the bar & lounge are timeless. The space is defined by overstuffed caramel-colored leather sofas; ornate copper ceilings; and plush carpets. (There are also a few requisite Texas touches in the form of cowhide and the occasional piece of taxidermy.) It’s also said to be haunted, which might not make much of a difference in a strictly aesthetic sense... but it does certainly make for some interesting ambience.

Courtesy of Craftsman

Craftsman

A relatively new spot located next to Stay Gold on East Cesar Chavez, Craftsman is set up in a converted home, with a big front porch, a picnic table-filled backyard, rooms stocked with mismatched antique-looking furniture, and a gorgeous wood-hewn bar serving both Prosecco and a selection of cocktails on draft. Oh, and there’s tether ball, a stage for live bands, and on Sundays, $3 mimosas in flavors like raspberry-cinnamon and blackberry-ginger. We can probably all agree that those are pretty beautiful things, too.

Hannah Presley/Courtesy of Garage Cocktail Bar

Garage Cocktail Bar

If we were to break out the metaphors, this drinkery would be the pearl inside of an oyster. But instead of an oyster there’s a parking garage, and instead of a pearl, there’s a beautiful cocktail lounge. Here you’ll find cozy conversation nooks, a sleek circular bar, and soft lighting (perfect for making both the bar and its patrons look attractive). Head toward Fifth and Colorado and look for the word “Cocktails.” And we won’t even get into how easy the parking is.

Courtesy of Juliet

Juliet

In a wonderfully Shakespearean turn, Juliet took over a space formerly occupied by Romeo’s. (Because would an establishment, by any other name, be as sweet?... sorry.) And though the Italian joint may technically qualify as more a restaurant, given its two chic bar areas -- a gorgeous white marble number occupying the clean, elegant interior, and another situated on the spacious garden patio -- it certainly qualifies for this list.

Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy

From the outside, the only indication of this bar’s existence is a single red bulb and a buzzer, but once you make your way in, you’ll find a gorgeous bar space that belies the intentionally sketchy exterior. The people behind Midnight Cowboy have worked hard to establish and maintain the vibe of a classic cocktail lounge, and you can expect soft lighting, leather booths, and top-notch mixology in the form of tableside-crafted drinks.

Courtesy of The Townsend

The Townsend

Occupying an ooh- and ahh-inspiring historic space on Congress, The Townsend is an upscale (but not stuffy) cocktail bar and performance venue featuring what they’ve dubbed “chic, throwback dĂ©cor.” Think chandeliers, long leather banquets, a shining bar, and gorgeous couches -- Predominantly the kind you will be absolutely terrified to consume red wine within a 15ft radius of.

Courtesy of Rhino Room

Rhino Room

A relatively small bar and lounge on East Sixth St, Rhino Room has a focus on specialty martinis, which are served up in the kind of warm and inviting atmosphere that makes it terrifyingly easy to accidentally stay for six hours. (Just us?) The bar’s exterior is emblazoned with its name in lights, almost visible from the horizon, while the inside is characterized by leather seating, shiny woodwork, low lighting, and, of course, a cool rhino insignia.

Weather Up

Weather Up

One of three Weather Up locations in existence, Austin’s occupies a large, essentially unmarked house on Cesar Chavez. Sip a drink al fresco while lounging in the expansive backyard, or pull up a stool and slam back a few indoors, where the decor includes a copper bar top, leather-topped stools, and subway tiles -- an homage, perhaps, to the two New York locations.

Whisler

Whisler's

While the outside of Whisler’s may seem pretty ordinary, the bar’s unique brand of elegance is evident inside, where the juxtaposition of different elements makes for a truly lovely place in which to do your drinking. Chandeliers and candles cast a glow on stone walls, while a few tiny tables exist for quiet conversation. Drinks are muddled behind a gleaming wooden bar, and other unexpected touches -- intentionally cloudy mirrors, the occasional piece of art -- combine to create a one-of-a-kind feel. (Note: just as stunning as Whisler’s is the mezcal bar, Mezcalería Tobalá, which you’ll find upstairs. Yeah, you should definitely go upstairs.)

Courtesy of Spider House Patio Bar & Cafe

Spider House Patio Bar & Cafe

An ATX institution, Spider House occupies a building dating back to 1931, but while the inside is undeniably nice, it's the patio by evening that really steals the show. Decked out with enough string lights to adorn a thousand Christmas trees (not to mention the fountains, statues, and mismatched patio furniture), it's a captivating mix of charming and funky.


Sign up here for our daily Austin email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Sam Sumpter is an Austin writer who thinks ALL bars are beautiful in their own way. Follow her on Twitter at @Its _Sam_Babaaay.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. The Driskill Hotel Bar 604 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

So smack dab in the middle of Southby action that its street'll be closed to traffic, this historic hotel bar's a great place to chill out on a leather sofa, order up some housemade beef jerky or wild boar corn dog minis, then get into an argument with the giant mounted bull's head hanging above the fireplace because he was looking at you funny for ordering both a vodka Brazos Brasiliensis Batini and a seasonal draft from local operation Live Oak.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Craftsman 2000 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

This East Cesar Chavez bar, housed in the former Cap’s Gameroom, set up shop amongst fellow bars Stay Gold and Drinks Lounge. The concept is simple: maintain a casual "house-party vibe" with live DJs, draft cocktails, and cheap tallboys & wells. Come to expect events like yoga brunch and tetherball games.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Garage 503 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

One of the most exciting drink menus in Austin is also one of the most hidden. Keep your eyes peeled as you head to dark, industrial Garage: it's tucked inside the parking garage on Colorado and marked by a turquoise neon sign. Feeling something citrus-y and herbal? Go for the Indian Paintbrush (vodka, grapefruit, lime, rosemary). Looking to go bold? Consider trying the Forked Tongue (sotol, jalapeno, lime, green chartreuse, saline).

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Juliet Ristorante 1500 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Juliet combines modern and classic Italian influence to deliver unique, rustic dishes with seasonal ingredients. Boasting an expansive outdoor dining area and an airy interior with a marble bar, this place has an elegant, joyful and comfortable vibe.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Living Room 200 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701

With four different rooms, this cozy bar has something for everyone. Carefully-crafted cocktails are offered amid comfortable couches, fireplaces, and bookshelves.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Midnight Cowboy 313 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

Once part of Austin's red light district, The Midnight Cowboy pays tribute to its former brothel glory as a reservations-only, buzz-in cocktail lair, where clients are encouraged to flirt with staff as long as they abide by house rules. Reservations are for two hours and there’s a two-drink minimum per guest. With so many expertly crafted cocktails to choose from, you can’t really go wrong -- some of them are even prepared table-side.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. The Townsend 718 Congress Ave Ste 100, Austin, TX 78701 (Congress District)

Located in the middle of Congress Ave, The Townsend serves as a natural go-to happy hour spot for Downtown nine-to-fivers. There's a bustling, upscale vibe to the place, and occasional live music nights really bring in crowds. Open from 4pm - 2am every day, The Townsend is a great place to order a small plate and a signature cocktail after a long day at work.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Rhino Room 1012 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

This quaint bar and lounge is known for its specialty martinis and relaxed atmosphere. Customer favorites are the Katie Mae (vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit juice, and champagne) and Southern Love (Deep Eddy Ruby Red and lemon, Angostura bitters, soda, and Sprite).

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Weather Up 1808 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702 (Central East)

Coming to Austin via NYC, this sophisticated cocktail haunt'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. Booze isn't the only thing on the menu here, though; we like to do brunch here with a spicy Bloody Mary and picks from their fancy brunch menu which is still somehow flying under the radar.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Whisler's 1816 East 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Whisler’s is the the go-to patio on the East Side for great classic cocktails, spicy eats from Thai-Kun, live music shows, and ample seating. And, while the outside of Whisler’s may seem pretty ordinary, the bar’s unique brand of elegance is evident inside, where the juxtaposition of different elements makes for a truly lovely place in which to do your drinking. Chandeliers and candles cast a glow on stone walls, while a few tiny tables exist for quiet conversation. Drinks are muddled behind a gleaming wooden bar, and other unexpected touches -- intentionally cloudy mirrors, the occasional piece of art -- combine to create a one-of-a-kind feel.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Spider House Cafe and Ballroom 2908 Fruth St, Austin, TX 78705 (Utwest Campus)

A concert house and event space that's known for the red velvet curtains that drape it's walls. But those puppies aren't just for show: the Ballroom has been consistently ranked one of the best venues for sound in the whole city. Spiderhouse's cafe doles out inventive cocktails, an assortment of drafts, and savory bar bites.

Clickbait