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Kinfolk.
Jasmin Porter

17 Essential Austin Cocktail Bars

Where to enjoy expertly crafted drinks in the city

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Kinfolk.
| Jasmin Porter

Bars are important to Austin, where drinking is a time-honored ritual. The city overflows with bars, so it’s important to pay respect to the city’s essential cocktail bars, where well-crafted drinks come first.

Here are the best bars that hold the craft of the cocktail in utmost respect, where bartenders pay dedicated attention to building excellent drinks. There is the longtime classy spot the Driskill, knowledgeable bars including Roosevelt Room, the need-to-know space of Small Victory, and welcoming neighborhood spot Nickel City, among others. Sit back, sip, and enjoy.

While, yes, a majority of these cocktail bars are found in/near downtown Austin, the city has way more boozing options. Navigate newer bar offerings with the cocktail heatmap, versatile bars for every drink preference, iconic dive bars, great restaurant bars, and speakeasies.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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The Tigress Pub

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The North Loop bar is one of Austin’s earlier cocktail bars, serving up well-made classic, house, and low-abv cocktails in an easy space, led by mastermind Pam Pritchard. The bar is open for indoor and outdoor service; takeout cocktails can be ordered online.

Drink.Well

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The North Loop favorite serves up excellent craft cocktails from owner Jessica Sanders and her stellar team which includes the highly talented Caer Maiko Ferguson of Asian cocktail pop-up Daijoubu. There are indoor and outdoor services.

A bar with padded bar seats.
Drink.Well.
Drink.Well

Small Victory

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Industry vet Josh Loving's intimate downtown cocktail haven serves up well-done classics. There is indoor dine-in service (reservations are available).

A bar with a bar top on the left and tables with a long blue banquette on the right.
Small Victory.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

Nickel City

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The neighborhood bar successfully highlights all sorts of cocktails, from common yet well-made classics like Old Fashioneds to other drinks that don’t get as much love. There are indoor and outdoor spaces.

A bar with yellow banquettes.
Nickel City.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

Here Nor There

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While it seems like it’s difficult to get into the hidden downtown bar, it actually isn’t. Just download the app and book a required reservation (read: you don’t need to be a member). Once in, you’ll find thoughtfully put-together cocktails in a fun vibey space. There is indoor service only.

The Driskill Bar

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The mezzanine lounge of historic downtown Austin hotel offers a sense of history and class with its many nooks and crannies to explore. It is the place to dress up and feel fancy with solidly classic drinks. There is indoor service only.

Firehouse Lounge

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The hidden bar behind a bookcase inside an actual hostel features a fun vibe and excellent cocktails. There is indoor service only.

Much like some of the other bars on this map, it’s difficult to find the entrance of the fittingly named downtown cocktail bar. But once there, find classic and original cocktails in a snazzy, dim space. There is indoor service only, and reservations are available.

The Roosevelt Room

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Nerd out over the downtown cocktail bar's sprawling cocktail menu, which spans drinking history from the early years to modern classics. There is indoor space with reservations available, and takeout cocktails can be ordered online.

A bar with table seating on the left.
Roosevelt Room.
Marc Swendner

Milonga Room

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The downstairs bar at East Austin Argentinian restaurant Buenos Aires focuses on amaro and South American cocktails. There is indoor service.

Kinfolk Lounge & Library

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Another speakeasy in the cellar of downtown restaurant Moonshine Grill, this one emphasizes whiskeys, alongside other liquors. There is indoor service. Reservations can be made online.

Whisler's

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Scranton Twohey’s East Sixth bar was an immediate hit with its neighborhood-friendly massive outdoor space and approachable intriguing cocktail list. Sneak upstairs to Mezcaleria Tobala for a smoky-tasting tour of mezcals. There are both indoor and outdoor areas.

A bar with stone walls.
Whisler’s.
Mark Weatherford

Little Brother

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Perhaps Austin’s smallest indoor bar on Rainey also serves up a great cocktail lineup, from well-crafted classics to really fun frozens. There is a patio too.

Half Step

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Another shining bright light amidst the bars on a busy drinking hub, industry veteran Chris Bostick brought his art of the cocktail over to Rainey Street. He even geeked out with an in-house ice machine, where chunks of frozen water are particularly crafted for each drink. There are indoor and outdoor spaces.

A bar with people seated.
Half Step.
Claire McCormack

Tiki Tatsu-Ya

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The immersive tiki bar courtesy of the Tatsu-ya team takes the experience of drinking to a whole other level. Drinks include classics like the Painkiller and takes on the originals like Slurping Bastard There are indoor dine-in services. Reservations are highly recommended, and bar seating is available for walk-ins.

Watertrade

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The hidden South Congress Hotel bar offers thoughtful cocktails within its intimate space. There is indoor service. Reservations are recommended, and bar seating is available for walk-ins.

Little Drinks Lounge

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The South Austin bar and its counterpart in East Austin serve up excellent and easy cocktails and frozens. There are indoor and outdoor areas.

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The Tigress Pub

The North Loop bar is one of Austin’s earlier cocktail bars, serving up well-made classic, house, and low-abv cocktails in an easy space, led by mastermind Pam Pritchard. The bar is open for indoor and outdoor service; takeout cocktails can be ordered online.

Drink.Well

The North Loop favorite serves up excellent craft cocktails from owner Jessica Sanders and her stellar team which includes the highly talented Caer Maiko Ferguson of Asian cocktail pop-up Daijoubu. There are indoor and outdoor services.

A bar with padded bar seats.
Drink.Well.
Drink.Well

Small Victory

Industry vet Josh Loving's intimate downtown cocktail haven serves up well-done classics. There is indoor dine-in service (reservations are available).

A bar with a bar top on the left and tables with a long blue banquette on the right.
Small Victory.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

Nickel City

The neighborhood bar successfully highlights all sorts of cocktails, from common yet well-made classics like Old Fashioneds to other drinks that don’t get as much love. There are indoor and outdoor spaces.

A bar with yellow banquettes.
Nickel City.
Robert J. Lerma/Eater Austin

Here Nor There

While it seems like it’s difficult to get into the hidden downtown bar, it actually isn’t. Just download the app and book a required reservation (read: you don’t need to be a member). Once in, you’ll find thoughtfully put-together cocktails in a fun vibey space. There is indoor service only.

The Driskill Bar

The mezzanine lounge of historic downtown Austin hotel offers a sense of history and class with its many nooks and crannies to explore. It is the place to dress up and feel fancy with solidly classic drinks. There is indoor service only.

Firehouse Lounge

The hidden bar behind a bookcase inside an actual hostel features a fun vibe and excellent cocktails. There is indoor service only.

Garage

Much like some of the other bars on this map, it’s difficult to find the entrance of the fittingly named downtown cocktail bar. But once there, find classic and original cocktails in a snazzy, dim space. There is indoor service only, and reservations are available.

The Roosevelt Room

Nerd out over the downtown cocktail bar's sprawling cocktail menu, which spans drinking history from the early years to modern classics. There is indoor space with reservations available, and takeout cocktails can be ordered online.

A bar with table seating on the left.
Roosevelt Room.
Marc Swendner

Milonga Room

The downstairs bar at East Austin Argentinian restaurant Buenos Aires focuses on amaro and South American cocktails. There is indoor service.

Kinfolk Lounge & Library

Another speakeasy in the cellar of downtown restaurant Moonshine Grill, this one emphasizes whiskeys, alongside other liquors. There is indoor service. Reservations can be made online.

Whisler's

Scranton Twohey’s East Sixth bar was an immediate hit with its neighborhood-friendly massive outdoor space and approachable intriguing cocktail list. Sneak upstairs to Mezcaleria Tobala for a smoky-tasting tour of mezcals. There are both indoor and outdoor areas.

A bar with stone walls.
Whisler’s.
Mark Weatherford

Little Brother

Perhaps Austin’s smallest indoor bar on Rainey also serves up a great cocktail lineup, from well-crafted classics to really fun frozens. There is a patio too.

Half Step

Another shining bright light amidst the bars on a busy drinking hub, industry veteran Chris Bostick brought his art of the cocktail over to Rainey Street. He even geeked out with an in-house ice machine, where chunks of frozen water are particularly crafted for each drink. There are indoor and outdoor spaces.

A bar with people seated.
Half Step.
Claire McCormack

Tiki Tatsu-Ya

The immersive tiki bar courtesy of the Tatsu-ya team takes the experience of drinking to a whole other level. Drinks include classics like the Painkiller and takes on the originals like Slurping Bastard There are indoor dine-in services. Reservations are highly recommended, and bar seating is available for walk-ins.

Related Maps

Watertrade

The hidden South Congress Hotel bar offers thoughtful cocktails within its intimate space. There is indoor service. Reservations are recommended, and bar seating is available for walk-ins.

Little Drinks Lounge

The South Austin bar and its counterpart in East Austin serve up excellent and easy cocktails and frozens. There are indoor and outdoor areas.

Related Maps