Coming Soon

Half Step Bar Opens on Rainey February 4

By Megan Giller  |  January 27, 2014

Sure, Rainey is great, but until now it’s been missing one thing: cocktails. Fortunately for us, on February 4, partners from the Varnish in L.A. are opening Half Step, a swanky craft cocktail bar in the heart of Austin’s hottest party street. We checked out the new digs ahead of time to give you the scoop on the - in partner and seasoned mixologist Chris Bostick’s words - “slightly sultry and grown-up” bar.

The Drinks: The small menu (only five drinks) means that the mixologists can focus on quality. Note that most drinks are pretty boozy, like a take on a Manhattan and a Julep. We liked the Floradora (pictured above) best, though, with gin, lime, ginger and a hint of raspberry syrup. Then there’s the bartender’s choice - tell the talent behind the bar what you like, and they’ll draw from their huge knowledge of classic drinks dating back even to the 1800s to craft you something you’ve probably never tried. For example, we we offered up bourbon and cherry and they made us a Fancy Free, a classic cocktail that’s a take on an Old Fashioned. Eventually the bar will also have two cocktail taps as well as beer, plus plans for bottled cocktails are in the works. 

The Decor: Think Midnight Cowboy meets Bangers. The cushioned bar counter is sans seats to encourage patrons to interact with their bartenders and other comrades. A hostess manages the next room, which features plenty of classy wooden booths as well as a private corner for a more intimate environment. Impressive wooden doors open into a private room for bigger parties or special events. The low lights add atmosphere to the refurbished house overall. “The more mise en place, the bigger you can go,” Bostick told us. Check out the outside patio for an even more casual vibe as well as the separate ice house with a Clinebell ice machine (the only one in Texas!).

The Crowd: We predict that the bar will be a hit with the usual Rainey rowdiness but will eventually calm down to those who like their cocktails strong and a little pricey.

The Cost: On that note, prices are a bit steep here. Cocktails run $11 and other drinks run between $6 and $12.