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Kinfolk.
Kinfolk

15 Essential Austin Cocktail Bars

Where to enjoy expertly crafted drinks in the city

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Kinfolk.
| Kinfolk

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 drinking options. Navigate newer bar offerings with the cocktail heatmap, versatile bars for every drink preference, iconic dive bars, great restaurant bars, and speakeasies. Those looking to go the nonalcoholic route are covered with this map.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

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. Takeout cocktails can be ordered online; there are indoor and outdoor areas.

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, especially those choose-your-own-adventure martinis. There are indoor dine-in services.

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 Central East Austin 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. The creamy frozen Irish coffees are also fantastic. There are indoor and outdoor areas.

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 this 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. Ground-floor colorful sibling bar In Plain Sight is also worth a visit for similar fun cocktails. There are indoor dine-in services.

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 are indoor dine-in areas.

Much like some of the other bars on this map, it’s difficult to find the entrance of the downtown cocktail bar (the name is a hint). But once you’re there, find classic and original cocktails in a snazzy, dim space. There are indoor service services; 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. Takeout cocktails can be ordered online; there are indoor dine-in services with reservations available.

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 are indoor services.

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 are indoor services; reservations can be made online.

Whisler's

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Scranton Twohey’s East Sixth bar was an immediate hit when it opened in 2013 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 indoor and outdoor areas.

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

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; the bar seating is available for walk-ins.

Holiday

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The Govalle bar won Eater Austin’s best bar of 2023 award for a good reason: co-owner Erin Ashford and her team are geniuses when it comes to crafting perfect, fun cocktails. The frozen Mexican martini is a work of cold, briny, acidic art; the punches are fancy and dainty; and the Virgo’s Groove is a savory wonder. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Watertrade

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The hidden South Congress Hotel bar offers thoughtful cocktails within its intimate space plus access to Japanese bites from next-door sibling spot Otoko. There are indoor services; reservations are recommended; the bar seating is available for walk-ins.

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. Takeout cocktails can be ordered online; there are indoor and outdoor areas.

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, especially those choose-your-own-adventure martinis. There are indoor dine-in services.

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 Central East Austin 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. The creamy frozen Irish coffees are also fantastic. There are indoor and outdoor areas.

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 this 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. Ground-floor colorful sibling bar In Plain Sight is also worth a visit for similar fun cocktails. There are indoor dine-in services.

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 are indoor dine-in areas.

Garage

Much like some of the other bars on this map, it’s difficult to find the entrance of the downtown cocktail bar (the name is a hint). But once you’re there, find classic and original cocktails in a snazzy, dim space. There are indoor service services; 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. Takeout cocktails can be ordered online; there are indoor dine-in services with reservations available.

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 are indoor services.

Kinfolk Lounge & Library

Another speakeasy in the cellar of downtown restaurant Moonshine Grill, this one emphasizes whiskeys, alongside other liquors. There are indoor services; reservations can be made online.

Whisler's

Scranton Twohey’s East Sixth bar was an immediate hit when it opened in 2013 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 indoor and outdoor areas.

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

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; the bar seating is available for walk-ins.

Holiday

The Govalle bar won Eater Austin’s best bar of 2023 award for a good reason: co-owner Erin Ashford and her team are geniuses when it comes to crafting perfect, fun cocktails. The frozen Mexican martini is a work of cold, briny, acidic art; the punches are fancy and dainty; and the Virgo’s Groove is a savory wonder. There are indoor and outdoor dine-in services.

Watertrade

The hidden South Congress Hotel bar offers thoughtful cocktails within its intimate space plus access to Japanese bites from next-door sibling spot Otoko. There are indoor services; reservations are recommended; the bar seating is available for walk-ins.

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