Sips and Spirits: Your Ultimate Guide to Austin’s Top 5 Craft Cocktail Bars

As vibrant as Austin’s live music scene and as innovative as its culinary landscape, the city’s craft cocktail bars are a world unto themselves. If you get a kick out of exquisitely mixed libations or simply wish to explore Austin’s bustling nightlife – this guide will deliver an exclusive lowdown on the Top 5 Craft Cocktail Bars in Austin. Get ready for an unforgettable journey as we stroll through sophisticated lounges, speak-easy secrets, and award-winning haunts coloring Austin’s drink culture.

1. Midnight Cowboy: A Stroll into Prohibition-Era Glamour

Midnight Cowboy, a revered icon on Austin’s legendary 6th Street, once a massage parlor and brothel, has found new life as an intimate cocktail retreat. This hidden gem revives the dazzling allure of the Prohibition era, offering a marvellous blend of history, sophistication, and top-tier cuisine.

Immerse in the Midnight Cowboy Experience

  • Reservation-Only Entry: Ensuring an intimate and exclusive experience, Midnight Cowboy operates strictly on an appointment-only basis. Imagine having no accidental encounters, just reserved elegance.

  • Rolling Elixirs: Create lasting memories as bartenders push their carts to your table to mix your chosen cocktail right under your gaze. The theatrical element amps up the overall experience.

  • A Carnival of Concoctions: The menu shifts seasonally, ensuring you encounter unique house recipes on every visit. Explore an adventurous range of craft cocktails – from classic revivals to experimental “dealer’s choice.”

  • Magic Coctelera: Curated for two, Magic Coctelera is a unique large-format presentation that pairs two cocktails together that you can enjoy at your pace as you bask in the ethereal aura of Midnight Cowboy.

  • Relaxed, Unrushed Savoring: The bar operates a 2-hour time slot to accommodate all patrons without ever making you feel rushed. Every sip is an unhurried indulgence, every interaction, a chance to enjoy unmatched elegance at your leisure.

2. Roosevelt Room: A Toast to Timeless Elegance

The Roosevelt Room is a famed darling of Austin’s cocktail landscape. It invites you on an epic journey across the history of mixology. Every sip promises a unique story that traverses generations of cocktail innovations.

The Roosevelt Room: Where Every Sip Unfolds a Story

  • Prestigious Mix-Masters: The Roosevelt Room is the brainchild of seasoned bartenders, Dennis Gobis and Justin Lavenue, who brings his experience as a national spirits competition winner to the table.

  • Embrace the Eras: The drink menu is an immersive journey across various eras in cocktail outgrowth – from the Early Years (pre-1880) to the dark Prohibition (1920-1933), all the way to Modern Classics (2000-present).

  • Bartender’s Brainchild: Do not miss the “Bartender’s Choice” – a list of fresh cocktails created by the prodigious mixologists. These drinks capture their journey, influences, and creativity.

  • Knowledge Over Drinks: Take part in one of their cocktail classes. From novice enthusiasts to proficient mixologists, there’s an enriching class for everyone. Bond with fellow spirit enthusiasts as you learn and create your concoctions.

  • The Deco Room: Rent out their event space, The Deco Room, for private gatherings. Accommodating up to 165 guests, the stunning space combines vintage charm and modern amenities with a dash of Roosevelt Room glam.

3. Firehouse Lounge: A Whisk into the Hidden Realm

The Firehouse Lounge is Austin’s worst kept secret. Tucked behind a sliding bookcase in a downtown hostel, it’s a speakeasy-style cocktail bar that reels you into an otherworldly realm – where history, mystery, and alchemic drinks merge.

Discover Austin’s Speakeasy Secret at Firehouse Lounge

  • Fresh and Seasonal: The ever-changing craft cocktail menu keeps patrons guessing and palates thrilled. Each drink offers a novel kick, a new story unfolding.

  • A Melodious Escape: Visit during live music nights to experience a magical blend of melodious musings and pioneering cocktails. Regular showcases by local bands make Firehouse Lounge a haven for music lovers.

  • Ambience of Allure: The ambience carries the mystery of a speakeasy joint and the coziness of a lounge. Its intimate setup allows for relaxed conversations, making it perfect for date nights or quiet outings.

  • Continental Fare: If you find yourself craving a bite, the Firehouse Lounge serves a delightful selection of small and large plates inspired by continental fare. Think spicy meatballs, cheese boards, and shrimp cocktails.

4. Garage: The Cocktail Alchemist’s Haven

Built into an actual parking garage, Garage offers a new dimension to the concept of hidden bars. Amidst the buzz of downtown Austin, Garage stands as a serene oasis where vivid crafts, modern aesthetics, and aromatic drinks serve up a memorable experience.

Uncoil in the Sophisticated Charm of Garage

  • Art of the Drink: Garage celebrates the science and creativity behind cocktails. Their ever-evolving menu is a testament to this vision, featuring innovative and well-balanced drinks.

  • Taste of the Town: Their Indian Paintbrush – a heady mix of vodka, grapefruit, lime, rosemary, Peychaud’s – was crowned ‘The Official Drink of Austin’ in 2015 and continues to be a local and tourist favorite!

  • Industrial Elegance: As an automobile repair shop turned modish cocktail lounge, Garage spotlights the beauty of structural bareness. The raw concrete walls, ambient lighting, and minimalist decor highlight the sparse industrial allure.

  • The Timeless Tunes: The subtle rustle of soft jazz playing in the background wraps up the evening in a trance, making each visit memorable.

5. Half Step: For the Discerning Cocktail Lover

Residing in a restored house in the bustling Rainey Street district, Half Step embodies Austin’s unique sophistication. It raises the bar remarkably in craft cocktail creation, pouring passion and precision into every drink served.

Savor Exquisite Blends at Half Step

  • Relentless Quality: Every cocktail here is a result of tireless perfection. From hand-cut ice cubes (drafted to enhance each specific drink) to house-made ingredients, no detail is small enough to be overlooked.

  • Making of Your Drink: Half Step’s Clinebell program births flawless ice blocks over the course of several days. They’re then sculpted to achieve the optimal temperature and dilution in your glass.

  • Starlit Indulgence: Their back patio offers a serene outdoor space for patrons to enjoy their meticulously-crafted drinks under the starry Texas sky.

  • Groove with Glamour: Enjoy your drinks against a lively backdrop of regular live music slots and swing dance nights.

Uncover the spirit of Austin by exploring these exceptional craft cocktail bars. They each offer a unique and mesmerizing experience that embodies the essence of the city’s vibrant nightlife, rich history, and fervor for innovation. Whether you’re seeking a glamorous night out, a relaxed evening with friends, or a night to remember, these Austin favorites are sure to elevate your drinking experience.

(And as always, remember to drink responsibly. Respect the establishments’ rules and enjoy a safe, unforgettable visit!)

Now, there’s nothing left but to delve deeply into Austin’s thriving cocktail scene and find your favorite sip among its myriad offerings! You’ve been equipped with a local’s insight – all that’s left is to embark on your cocktail journey. Here’s to discovering your next delightful poison in Austin. Cheers!

This guide has been designed to help you savour the magic of Austin’s cocktail craft, with no additional detail or direction needed – just pure sipping joy. Enjoy!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

Receive the latest news

Get the Inside Scoop!

Austin’s latest events and eats, straight to your inbox. Subscribe now!