The 10 Hottest Bars in Austin

By Veronica Meewes | October 6, 2015 By Veronica Meewes  |  October 6, 2015

From an eastside izakaya with a wealth of sake choices to a historic Downtown dive bar turned cocktail lounge, Austin certainly has no shortage of watering holes. Here are our picks for the 10 hottest spots in town right now.

  • The Townsend

    Why it's hot: This summer, Justin Elliott (formerly of qui) took the reigns as food and beverage wrangler at The Townsend, a classy new bar serving thoughtful dishes and cocktails in a historic building on Congress Avenue.
    Must-drink: The Carriage House (Ransom Old Tom gin, Tequila Ocho Reposado, Cynar, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino) and the Herringbone (Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, Metaza 5-Star, Cardamaro, Cointreau Guignolet, aromatic bitters).
    Insider tip: Follow on Facebook to stay in the loop about special events and guest bartender spotlights.

    718 Congress Ave. #100; 512-887-8778

  • The Roosevelt Room

    Why it's hot: Previously only open for special events, The Roosevelt Room just recently expanded hours so there are now six days a week to try more than 70 cocktails crafted by co-owners Dennis Gobis and Justin Lavenue (just recently named one of Food & Wine's Best New Mixologists and one of Austin's 30 Under 30).
    Must-drink: Lavenue won a recent bartending competition with The Poet's Muse (Bombay Sapphire gin, Poet's Cordial, a citrus blend and an umami tincture).
    ​Insider tip: Gobis renovated the back bar at The Roosevelt himself and the team plans on combining the property with its next-door-neighbor space, The Madison, to create one 10,000-sq.-ft., three-concept restaurant and bar in the next year.

    307 W. Fifth St.; 512-494-4094

  • Photo by: Fukumoto


    ​​Why it's hot: This recently opened eastside izakaya features more than just amazing sushi, yakitori and tempura. They also have over 20 types of carefully curated sakes from which to choose.
    Must-drink: The Oka Cherry Bouquet has a delicate floral flavor which makes it a great accompaniment to food, and the unfiltered Kamoizumi Summer Snow is a perfectly sweet, robust end to a meal.
    ​Insider tip: They are also offering several sake cocktails and stay tuned for more soon!

    514 Medina St.; 512-770-6880

  • The Golden Goose

    Why it's hot: Though we were sad to say goodbye to the historic Horseshoe Lounge (until it reopens elsewhere), at least its shadowy, intimate atmosphere is preserved in The Golden Goose — in addition to perks like creative cocktails and the new ability to pay by credit card.
    Must-drink: The Pickle Drip (Dipping Springs vodka martini with pickle juice) and the Disiac (fresh beet juice, Hendrick's gin, Cointreau, lime, sugar, soda).
    Insider tip: Weekends mean $5 frozen drinks and Bloody Marys — plus $2 mimosas — from 11 AM to 7 PM.

    2034 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-362-8683

  • The Drafting Room

    Why it's hot: Tucked behind the French comfort-food walk-up window at L'Estelle House on Rainey Street, The Drafting Room is open every Thursday through Sunday.
    Must-drink: They offer beer, wine and Prosecco on tap, which goes down easy in their courtyard, a stylish respite from the rowdiness of Rainey Street.
    ​Insider tip: Follow them on Facebook for more info on events like their Sunday markets, which feature local pop-up shops and brunch drink specials.

    88 1/2 Rainey St.; 512-626-8411

  • Lala's Little Nugget

    ​​Why it's hot: When rumors started flying about this Austin insitution's closing, regular patrons were devestated. Luckily, the team behind the Mean Eyed Cat took over Lala's, saving it from certain demolition, and don't plan to change much about the dive bar (outside of adding a patio with a Stubb's BBQ walk-up window).
    Must-drink: Lala's signature Bloody Mary is a must — and the team even got her original recipe, which is written in "doots" and "dits" (which they interpret as dashes and pinches).
    ​Insider tip: Not only will the year-round Christmas decorations stay up, but expect to find Lala's same famed jukebox plus foosball and pool tables.

    2207 Justin Ln.; 512-487-5297

  • Photo by: Nick Simonite

    Midnight Cowboy

    Why it's hot: What's hotter than a speakeasy-inspired bar in a former brothel where you can reserve a private room and "turn on the red light" to place your cocktail order?
    Must-drink: The Gin Soaked Goy (pink-peppercorn-infused Ford's gin, fresh sage, and sage gastrique served on crushed ice, julep-style) and the Yellow Rose, a take on a traditional "Jack Rose" cocktail (Laird's Jersey Lightning 100 proof un-aged apple brandy, Yellow Chartreuse, lemon, white grenadine). 
    ​Insider tip: Visits are by reservation only. Be sure to book ahead of time online and wait for instructions on finding the unmarked door and ringing the correct doorbell...then enter this cocktail oasis in the middle of boisterous Sixth Street.

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

  • Photo by: Half Step Bar

    Half Step

    Why it's hot: On a street where the vodka sodas flow, Half Step is a beacon of light for cocktail enthusiasts.
    Must-drink: While you can't go wrong with Bartender's Choice (trust your bartender!), the Cider Julep (calvados, dry cider, mint, sugar and angostura) is the perfect fall take on what's typically a warm-weather sipper.
    ​Insider tip: On a bar crawl or in a pinch? Their outside bar features two cocktails on tap at all times. Right now, it's a ginger Paloma and a margarita.

    75 1/2 Rainey St.; 512-391-1877

  • Photo by: Zilker Brewing Co

    Zilker Brewing Co

    ​​Why it's hot: Not only did Zilker Brewing Co just open this spring, but this "American Belgo-style" brewery is located right in the middle of eastside Austin, making it one of the most centrally located breweries in town.
    Must-drink: They just released their first cans this week, so keep an eye out for their Marco IPA debuting with a colorful striped design.
    ​Insider tip: Follow them on Facebook for announcements on special tappings and beer flights.

    1701 E. Sixth St.

  • Photo by: Brian Flannery


    ​​Why it's hot: Located at the edge of the East Sixth Street strip, this former biker-bar-turned-ambient-cocktail-lounge features a spacious patio and Eastside King Thai-Kun food trailer, so it's pretty much the best place to start (and end) your night.
    Must-drink: The Pipsqueak is a great warm weather refresher, made with gin, genepy, basil, celery, lime and black pepper,
    Insider tip: Follow the outside stairs to enter Mezcalería Tobalá, a speakeasylike mezcal bar that will make you feel transported to 1970s Oaxaca.

    1816 E. Sixth St.; 512-480-0781

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