Austin’s Liquor Legacy: A Toast to the Top 5 Historic Pubs

Welcome, fellow history buffs and fans of fine libations! We’re embarking on a journey to explore Austin’s exciting history one pub at a time. This is your essential guide to the city’s most storied watering holes where periods of the past meet pour decisions. Take off your historian’s hat, grab a pint, sit back, relax and let’s soak in the tales of Texas in these timeworn taverns.

1. Scholz Garten: Savoring History Since 1866

Let’s begin our tale with the venerable Scholz Garten, a pub so entrenched in Austin’s history that it stands as possibly the oldest operating business in the entire state. But don’t let its age fool you! Scholz Garten serves up lively spirits in abundance, and we’re not just talking about the drinks!

Situated comfortably right next to the State Capitol, this beer garden is a significant heartbeat in Austin’s vibrant downtown life. It sees the confluence of Texans from all walks of life, coming together to revel in camaraderie. As soon as you step in, Austin’s past leaps out from the preserved wood paneling, the historic memorabilia adorning the walls, and the well-etched tradition of Texas Longhorns gatherings.

What To Look For:

  • Craft Brews: Scholz Garten’s heritage is steeped deeply in German roots – it was, after all, established by German immigrant August Scholz. And what’s a German establishment without bountiful brews? Here, you’ll get to swig an expansive selection of prime German lagers and ales, each with its own tale of heritage and craft.

  • Authentic German Fare: Scholz Garten pairs its brews with hearty German fare. Don’t miss out on their signature bratwurst. Cooked to perfection, it’s a taste of authentic German cuisine that has remained unchanged since 1866. Aand of course, finish off your visit with some traditional German pastry!

2. Driskill Bar: A Classy Quench In The Historic Driskill Hotel

If Texas is a song, the Driskill Bar serves as one of its most elegant notes. Residing within the historic Driskill Hotel, built in 1886, it’s an embodiment of Austin’s affinity for the refined. Amidst the ornate decor, the golden light bathing the bar from the stained-glass dome, and the unmistakable sophistication in the air, you might even stumble upon a friendly ghost tale or two. After all, what’s a historic tavern without a timeless specter spun into its narrative!

What To Enjoy:

  • Victorian Era Vibes: As you stroll through The Driskill, the richly decorated ceilings and intricate woodwork transport you a century back. The gorgeous stained-glass dome, the luxurious leather seating, the historic artworks lining the corridors – it all melds to give you a unique taste of Austin’s gilded yesteryears.

  • Signature Cocktails: The cocktails at Driskill Bar aren’t just fine drinks. They’re expertly curated experiences that invite you to time-travel through your taste buds. Their Old Fashioned, in particular, is a standing testament to their commitment to quality. Swirling with layered flavors made up of house-infused spirits and the finest bitters, each sip is a drink to the essence of Austin.

3. The Tavern: Haunts, Sports & More!

Missing the Roaring Twenties? Well, make your way to The Tavern – an Austin icon whose legacy dates back to that very era! Known for its white facade and landmark neon sign, it’s a 24-hour pub that’s a magnet for sports enthusiasts, history nerds, or simply those in search of a good brew.

Dive In For:

  • Historic Sports Legacy: As you enter, the airwaves seem to echo with chatter and cheers of historic sports moments. Breathe in the legacy of celebrated Texas athletes showcased through memorabilia and murals at every turn.

  • Ghostly Encounters: History seeps from every corner at The Tavern – even in spectral form! As local lore goes, a friendly ghost named Emily haunts the pub. Known to make occasional appearances, her presence adds an extra layer of antique charm and intrigue.

4. Donn’s Depot: Your Stop For Old-School Vibes

Step into Donn’s Depot, an old Missouri Pacific train station lovingly reincarnated into a vibrant honky-tonk bar, and buckle up for a ride back in time. There’s something deeply enjoyable about sipping your favorite drinks as you watch Austin’s history chug along in an ambiance replete with cool, antique railroad regalia.

Look Out For:

  • Live Music: Austin’s famous music scene takes center stage here with regular performances showcasing genres spanning rock, country, blues and swing. It’s the perfect stage for Austin’s local talent to shine.

  • Train Lovers Paradise: The bar’s converted railway station design is a delight for train enthusiasts. Even the restrooms are housed in real train cars! Scattered railway paraphernalia, pictures, and the unique architecture mirror the quirky and endearing aspects of Austin’s past and present.

5. The Hole In The Wall: Legendary Austin Dive Bar

Last but not least, we arrive at The Hole In The Wall, renowned for its bold marquee and epic rock-n-roll spirit. Since its establishment in 1974, it’s upheld its reputation as a favorite amongst Austin’s top musicians.

What Makes It Special:

  • Local Live Music: From country to punk, and indie to rap, all genres find a home here. You’re likely to stumble upon Austin’s next big thing before they hit the global charts. It’s not just a bar but a living, breathing part of Austin’s music legacy.

  • Twofer Tuesdays: A perfect day to get a literal feel of Austin’s generosity! Enjoy their two-for-one drink specials that double the fun without loosening your wallet’s strings too much.

Closing note: From the echoes of old-world charm in the stately Driskill Bar, to German bounty at Scholz Garten, to ghostly whispers in The Tavern, to the unique rail-themed Donn’s Depot, to the high-spirited Hole In The Wall, Austin’s historic pubs open new chapters in its colorful past. As you saunter down these memory lanes, raise a toast to the rich history that still lives deep within these vibrant cores of the city.

Remember that, in these historic pubs, you’re not just sipping on a frosty beer or a chilled cocktail. You’re being served a tall, refreshing glass of Austin’s yesteryears, embossed with tales of times gone by. And surely there is no better way to drink in a city’s history, than straight from the tap! These historic pubs are an invitation to experience the “Austin’s Liquor Legacy”, a key phrase derived from the history of Austin through this unique perspective.

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.

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