An editor's guide to drinking around town


An editor's guide to drinking around town
An editor's guide to drinking around town


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.

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1. Live Oak Brewery 1615 Crozier Lane, Austin, TX

This European-style microbrewery in Del Valle, TX provides quality beer for thirsty patrons in addition to brewery tours. They feature a rotating selection of Austin's finest food trucks to sate any hunger that arises after sipping HefeWizen and Pilz, the brewery's most popular beers. There's a biergarten open in the warmer months, and the expansive two-acre property is perfect for roaming with beer from a choice of 10 taps in hand and playing disc golf.

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2. Kingdom 103 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

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.

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3. Cloak Room 1300 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

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.

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4. 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 reservation 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 great cocktails to choose from, you can’t really go wrong here. Some of the drinks are even prepared tableside!

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5. Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden 79 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

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.

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6. Jester King Brewery 13005 Fitzhugh Rd, Bldg B, Austin, TX 78737 (West Austin)

Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, this bespoke craft brewer puts out both year-round and limited edition beers with witty monikers. Get your hands on these sough-after ales and lagers, including a heavy metal inspired farmhouse imperial stout ("Black Metal"), a mild, lemon-y Pilsner malt ("Vulgar Affectation"), and a fig-fermented smokey Munich style brew ("Figlet").

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7. Austin Beerworks 3009 Industrial Terrace, Austin, TX 78758 (North Central)

Hop heads go crazy for this Austin brewer’s complex, hop-forward suds, but pale ale drinkers will be just as satisfied. These brewers are hellbent on excellence and showcase this from their brewery tours to their exclusive use of cans. They do this to preserve the quality of their beer and to keep them cold as long as possible. Stop by the taproom for exclusive seasonal brews and eats from various Austin food trucks.

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8. Yellow Jacket Social Club 1704 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78702 (Austin)

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.

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9. Red Room Lounge 306A E 3rd St, Austin, TX 78701 (Downtown)

The Red Room Lounge provides a great atmosphere for consuming multiple glasses of wine and relaxing. This tasting room is helmed by Alex Andrawes, owner and operator of Personal Wine, and his team of experienced somms who maintain an impressive list of newer and some of the most rare vintage wines on the market. Oak barrels, guitars, and leather-upholstered furniture adorn the space, creating the perfectly-laid-back environment you want in a wine lounge.

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10. Longbranch Inn 1133 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702 (East Austin)

Longbranch is a laid-back East Austin bar with a lived-in vibe, sometimes accented by live music.

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11. Cheer Up Charlie's 900 Red River St, Austin, TX 78701 (Red River)

This spacious bar and music venue in Red River is home to kombucha on tap, organic juice cocktails (be sure to try the Golden Ticket, made with kombucha, whiskey, and ginger) local beers, and biodynamic wines. The equally large outside patio has everything from picnic tables to upholstered lounge areas. Cheer Up Charlie's also hosts regular drag shows and performances by bands.