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Hottest Bars: Where to Drink in Austin Right Now

By Megan Giller
October 7, 2013
Photo by: Emma Jansen

Austin is a city that knows how to drink. Lucky for us, new places are constantly opening to keep our whistles wet. Whether you’re looking for a fine craft cocktail, a local beer or someplace fun for happy hour, here are 10 of our favorite spots get our drink on.

  • Whisler’s

    The old grungy Rabbit’s Lounge has been replaced by a somewhat-less-grungy cocktail bar (don’t worry, the Johnny Cash graffiti mural is still intact). The drink menu from Lustre Pearl veteran Scranton Twohey features house libations like a chai bourbon ginger cocktail as well as the classics, and the open-air bar with picnic tables provides a casual vibe. We like the mirrors in the women’s bathroom, which have been covered with cardboard and read “You are beautiful.” Be sure to check out the Dumpling Happiness trailer in the backyard too.

    1816 E. Sixth St.; 512-480-0781

  • ABGB

    A person can only drink so many craft cocktails before they start jonesing for some craft beer. The new Austin Beer Garden and Brewery from Uncle Billy’s alums provides just that, with unusual artisanal pizza to boot. The Oltorf locale just opened, but it has immediately become the place to drink on a casual afternoon or night.

    1305 W. Oltorf; 512-298-2242

  • Haymaker

    Manor Road keeps on winning the jackpot, with more and more restaurants and bars opening shop on the strip. The hottest right now is Haymaker, where you’ll find craft beers, craft cocktails and “regionally inspired comfort food.” The neighborhood showed its enthusiasm immediately, packing the place on the first night of the soft opening and taking advantage of the very large TVs to watch some sports. The bar features a mouthful of Texas beers on draft as well as craft brews from out of state and a lengthy bottled and canned list, plus burgers, sandwiches and poutine.

    2310 Manor Rd.; 512-707-2744

  • Drink.Well

    Speaking of trendy strips, the North Loop area is becoming quite the place to be. The relaxed yet well-designed vibe at this neighborhood bar means you can stay for one drink, grab dinner (the spicy kimchi reuben and Texas Kobe burger get us every time) or hang out all night. Try creative cocktails like the Royale with Ease (Tenneyson Absinthe Royale, hibiscus cordial, fresh grapefruit and lime juice, allspice dram, Angostura bitters) and the Lazy Dog (Hops and Grain’s Zoe lager, bourbon, strega, ginger syrup, fresh lemon, grapefruit bitters), or go for a craft beer on draft.

    207 E. 53rd St.; 512-614-6683

  • Midnight Cowboy

    What would a list of the hottest bars in Austin be without our city’s favorite speakeasy? The upscale cocktail bar from the Alamo Drafthouse and mixologist Bill Norris delivers craft drinks made tableside (like the Joe Buck, pictured, with blue corn whiskey, mustard syrup, ginger beer and lemon juice), and the locale, a former “massage parlor” redone with dark wood and leather, makes it feel illicit in the swankiest way possible.

    313 E. Sixth St.; 512-843-2715

  • Wright Bros Brew and Brew

    Housed in the old Progress Coffee location on East Fifth Street, Wright Bros officially opened at the end of September. But it has quickly become the place to drink, whether you want Flattrack Coffee or craft beer. They have 39 taps, including three nitros and a cask engine, most of which feature local breweries like Hops and Grain. The food menu is nothing to sneer at either: breakfast, bar snacks, charcuterie and sandwiches like a Niman Ranch pastrami and Hops and Grain Alteration-braised brisket.

    500 San Marcos St.; 512-493-0963

  • Weather Up

    New York City bartender Kathryn Weatherup opened the Austin location of her eponymous bar a while back, but it’s still a staple on our list. Blink and you’ll miss the locale on East Cesar Chavez, but once you find it, the back patio provides the charming, slightly dilapidated look that has come to epitomize this town. The craft cocktails, custom ice and food menu from chef Kristine Kittrell (caviar, foie gras, scallops) make it a destination for an all-night hangout.

    1808 E. Cesar Chavez; 512-524-0464

  • East Side Showroom

    This East Sixth Street spot brought fine craft cocktails to Austin a while back, and it’s still going strong. The uberdesigned speakeasy vibe makes you feel like you’ve time traveled back to the Prohibition era, and the silent movies projected on the wall and live bands playing 1920s-era classics complete the fantasy. The bartenders play the part here too, with mustaches, suspenders and other hip accouterments.

    1100 E. Sixth St.; 512-467-4280

  • Craft Pride

    Do you have a Texas-shaped tattoo? Do you like craft beer? Well, we have the place for you. This Rainey Street bar is entirely Texas themed, including the beer selection. There’s Adelbert’s, 512 Brewing, Hops and Grain, Independence and more, as well as Texas-themed decor, like a wood carving in the shape of the state on the ceiling. Add a few slices from the Via 313 pizza trailer in the backyard, and you have a winningly addictive combination.

    61 Rainey St.; 512-428-5571

  • Black Star Co-op

    Of course Austin is home to the only beer co-op in the world. Black Star started its life as a microbrewery, but a few years back it opened as a brewpub too. Try year-round beers like the Vulcan (citrusy and hoppy) or the Truffle Dee (a cask-conditioned version of another Black Star beer with dry hops and fresh black truffles). The food is stellar as well: we can’t get enough of the fish 'n' chips (thick-cut steak fries, here we come).

    7020 Easy Wind Dr.; 512-452-2337

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Places Mentioned

Midnight Cowboy

Bar • Downtown

Atmo.25 Decor24 Service23 CostE
 
 
 
Drink.Well

Bar • North Loop

Atmo.22 Decor23 Service21 CostE
 
 
 
Weather Up

Bar • East Austin

Atmo.24 Decor22 Service19 CostE
 
 
 
The ABGB

American • South Austin

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Haymaker

Sandwich Shop • Cherrywood

Food- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
 
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