A Spirited Tour: Top 7 Cocktail Bars in Austin That You Don’t Want to Miss!

Welcome fellow cocktail aficionados to Austin, a city brimming with culture, live music, and a vibrant cocktail scene that ticks all the boxes. Whether you’re a local looking for new places to explore or a tourist craving for that authentic Austin experience, our guide is here to introduce you to the must-visit cocktail bars in town. So grab your adventurous spirit (pun intended), and let’s get ready to shake things up in the “Live Music Capital of The World.”

1. Midnight Cowboy: The Speakeasy Wonderland

Tucked away among the flashy signs and bustling beer joints on the world-famous 6th Street, Midnight Cowboy operates quietly, demonstrating how Austin has pioneered the speakeasy trend. When you see “Modeling Oriental Massage” on the door, you’ve found the spot.

  • Ideal for: Romantic date nights or intimate gatherings. The reservation-only policy and a slick no cell phone rule ensure that you can enjoy your cocktails in a relaxed environment.
  • Must-Try Cocktails: The menu here is every bit as clandestine as the location itself. Tickle your taste buds with “Thyme Will Tell,” a gorgeous gin cocktail infused with lemon and fresh thyme or embrace the mystical charm of “Smoke & Mirrors,” a smoky mezcal concoction that truly lives up to its name.
  • Unique Ambiance: Ensuring an atmosphere reminiscent of secret societies and bootleggers, Midnight Cowboy offers perfect 1920s vibes right in the heart of modern-day Austin.
  • Location: You can find this hidden gem at 313 East 6th Street, but remember, keep it under wraps.

2. Garage Cocktail Bar: An Off-The-Beaten-Path Gem

Quite literally housed inside a parking garage, Garage Cocktail Bar offers a unique experience that’ll stun even the most fervent urban explorers. It’s an urbane, chic watering hole tucked away in the heart of downtown Austin – a testament that fantastic mixology can bloom anywhere.

  • Ideal for: Those seeking an unconventional cocktail adventure. The raw, modern aesthetics paired with sublime cocktails will leave you counting days until your next visit.
  • Must-Try Cocktail: The Indian Paintbrush is the highlight of the drink menu. A lush blend of vodka, grapefruit juice, lime, rosemary syrup, and Peychaud’s bitters makes for a fresh, uplifting cocktail experience.
  • Interior Design: Despite its unorthodox location, this bar doesn’t skimp on style. It marries industrial architecture with mid-century modern furnishings, creating an ambiance that’s as cool as the drinks they pour.
  • Location: Just park yourself at 503 Colorado Street and discover this well-hidden gem. Keep your eyes peeled – it’s easy to miss!

3. Firehouse Lounge: A Historic Hideaway

From extinguishing flames to igniting conversations over delectable cocktails, Firehouse Lounge showcases how diverse a life a building can lead. This is the place where history, mixology, and warm Texan hospitality come together.

  • Ideal for: Lovers of vintage charm and classic cocktails. A secret door camouflaged as a bookshelf will lead you to this unique world inside Austin’s oldest fire station.
  • Cocktails & Food: In addition to serving classic cocktails like Old-Fashioned, Manhattan, and Martini, Firehouse Lounge offers a lush food menu featuring artisan cheese boards and delicious sliders. All are perfect companions to your drink of choice.
  • The Vibe: With dark wood, plush booths, and dimly lit charm, Firehouse Lounge emanates an intimate 1920s atmosphere that perfectly complements its crafty cocktails.
  • Location: Experience this slice of Austin history at the heart of Austin’s downtown, located at 605 Brazos Street.

4. Drink.Well: Your Neighborhood Cocktail Haven

Located in the heart of the eclectic North Loop neighborhood, bar Drink.Well. offers an intimate space for you to sip on creative cocktails crafted with love and local ingredients.

  • Ideal for: Those looking for a friendly, neighborhood bar where they can relax, socialize, and of course, drink well.
  • Seasonal Drinks: The menu at Drink.Well. not only offers a wide variety of cocktails but also changes with the turning leaves, always providing something fresh and exciting.
  • Don’t Miss: Along with their flavorful cocktails, be sure to enjoy their selection of American bites, with options ranging from decadent mac & cheese to hearty sandwiches.
  • Location: Make yourself at home at 207 East 53rd Street, where every hour is happy hour.

5. The Roosevelt Room: Where Every Hour is Happy

Serious about cocktails? Then prepare to be enchanted by The Roosevelt Room. Here, you can delve into a captivating selection of cocktails from various epochs, each drink telling stories of different eras.

  • Ideal for: An elegant night out with friends or a splendid date night. The Roosevelt Room’s chic and spacious interior will score you some major brownie points.
  • Diverse Cocktails: The menu shines bright with well over 70 cocktails. Navigate through different eras, from pre-Prohibition classics to futuristic concoctions.
  • The Claim to Fame: It’s not just the patrons who are hardcore cocktail fans; co-owner and bartender, Caer Ferguson, was named ‘Bartender of the Year’ in 2020 by the Nightclub & Bar Show!
  • Location: Step into this boozy haven at 307 West 5th Street and drink through the ages.

6. Whisler’s: The Spirited Old Soul

When every stone has a tale to tell, and every cocktail has a soul, you know you’re at Whisler’s. The rustic atmosphere and brilliantly handcrafted cocktails are sure to keep you coming back for more.

  • Ideal for: Those who love an atmospheric setting with a side of grade-A mixology.
  • Signature Cocktails: The rotating menu keeps things exciting, but each drink they serve is sure to leave you asking for the recipe.
  • Ambiance: With a splendid stone interior, an outdoor patio adorned with fairy lights, and an upstairs mezcal bar, there’s plenty of ambiance to enjoy.
  • Location: Enjoy this vintage cocktail heaven nestled in hip East Austin neighborhood at 1816 East 6th Street.

7. Half Step: Where Ice is Nice

At Half Step, ice is more than just a chilling agent. Using Clinebell machines, they produce ice of varied constitutions for different drinks. Paired with live music and a chilled-back vibe, you have a winner.

  • Ideal for: Gatherings with friends where good music flirts with splendid cocktails.
  • Cocktails & Ice: Try the ‘Gold Rush’, a refreshing concoction of bourbon, lemon, and honey, paired with hand-crushed ice. Their dedication to the art of the perfect ice is nothing short of impressive.
  • Live Music: Various bands and artists grace Half Step with their enchanting melodies, ensuring an atmosphere that’s just as good as the cocktails.
  • Location: Quench your thirst for robust drinks and live music at 75 1/2 Rainey Street.

Embark on Your Austin Cocktail Journey

From cultural hideaways to secret havens, innovative mixology to classic concoctions – Austin’s cocktail bars encapsulate the city’s lively spirit in every drink. Our guide is here to illuminate these places where creativity, passion, and spirits commune to create an unforgettable drinking experience. So now, fellow cocktail lovers, you’re all set for your next Austin cocktail adventure! With your insider knowledge, you will be the new authority on Austin’s top bars amongst your friends. Now all that’s left is to grab your pals, put on that saucy cocktail attire, and raise a glass — Austin style!

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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