Anyone I know or have talked to about Austin have only wonderful things to say about the Texas city. It’s sprawling nightlife scene, numerous chef-driven (and highly-rated) restaurants, trendy hotels, and hippy laid-back vibes are just a few of the many reasons the city has become the place to visit.
I almost feel a little slighted when Austin is mentioned before Houston — and find my mouth-dropping when folks have Austin and not Houston on their list. But I get it and I don’t blame them. No shade hometown, but Austin is fantastic. You just can’t deny all the things it has to offer (check out my post on what to eat in Austin) and delicious cocktails are at the top of the list! If you’re a cocktail lover such as myself, you’ll find Austin to be the perfect place to escape for an adult-only imbibe weekend.
From distilleries and breweries to bungalow bars and the poppin’ Rainey Street, here are just a few of my favorite spots to sit back, people watch, and enjoy a boozy-filled Austin experience.
Hopefully, you are planning to stay a while because there is certainly plenty to do! So, check-in at mid-century modern Hotel Van Zandt, drop your bags, freshen up your lipstick and head to the second floor for a quick drink at their American fusion cocktail bar. This will most likely be your fanciest stop of the night, so you can choose to start or end here; your choice. Now it’s time to hit Rainey Street. A refreshing departure from the popular 6th street, Rainey street looks like a neighborhood street turned into a block party where bungalow craft cocktail bars, restaurants, and food trucks line up for miles!
Located next door to the Kimpton Van Zandt, Clive Bar is really two bars in one. Where Clive is great for martini’s and has a swanked-out vibe, Bar Illegal is kind of a secret hangout/speakeasy in the back where mezcal is king. Around the corner, you can drop by Half Step and grab a picnic table outside or a cozy booth indoors. They are whipping up cocktails in true mixology fashion, so you won’t find any pre-mixed ingredients here. Although Little Brother can only hold 8 people inside at a time, this coffee/cocktail bar should be your next stop. By this time, you’ll probably want to get some food in your belly and the best place to eat on Rainey Street is Emmer & Rye. Order the cacio e pepe and ask for the “Russian Roulette” drink special; it’s the bartender’s surprise choice. The DJ is phenomenal at Javelina so end your night getting your groove on. Bonus…they are the last kitchen to close on Rainey Street so you can grab a late-night snack if needed. Now it’s time to get some sleep because tomorrow will be a busy day.
A weekend would not be complete without spending a day cocktail hopping. And this time, I’m talking about area distilleries and breweries. Many offer tasting rooms and tours so not only will you get a chance to go behind the scenes, but you’ll also get to stick around for a taste. Located right in Austin, Still Austin Whiskey Co. is the newest distillery to hit the area in a while. If you’re into artisan spirits, then this is the place for you. Initially only serving white whiskey (not aged) and gin, Still Austin just recently announced their first bourbon release.
Located about 30 minutes west of Austin in Dripping Springs, everyone has either tasted or has at least heard of the brand, Deep Eddy Vodka. More of a tasting room than anything else (they don’t offer tours here), you’ll have fun sampling a flight of their flavored vodkas. A short fifteen minutes from Deep Eddy, you’ll arrive at Treaty Oak Distilling; and you’ll want to stay awhile. They offer a fun outdoor space, a tasting room, and an on-site restaurant (Alice’s Restaurant). I enjoyed one of the best Old-Fashioned’s I have ever had here. Finally, jump in the car for your last long-distance commute of the day to Real Ale Brewery Company in Blanco, Texas. Although they are known for their beers, don’t get the name confused. Their small-batch whiskeys are out of this world. So much that I grabbed one to take home! Tip: Order the Old-Fashioned made with pecan simple syrup! It’s so good!
If you have enough energy left after a long day of drinking responsibly 🙂 — 6th street will surely end your night on a boozy note. This single street alone offers so many places to hang out and chillax it’s almost hard to share a recommendation without feeling as though you’ve left someplace out of the running. The latest speakeasy to open downtown is J. Stephens. Paying tribute to the 20s era and cocktails from the same period, you’ll find classics like their Bee’s Knees and Vieux Carre to be par for the course. The East Austin Hotel gives you two choices; pool or rooftop. Either one is a safe bet but be mindful that one may offer cocktails the other does not. Did someone say Old Fashioned’ s made with rum? Where do I sign up!
If 6th Street is not your thing and you happen to be in the North Loop area, Drink.Well. is a whiskey-lovers paradise. With over 75 whiskeys and an innovative, always changing menu, this stop is a must on your list. A night at the Archer Austin Hotel in The Domain will place you only 15 minutes from Drink.Well and this area alone with add a ton of stops to your already full schedule! Their bar is not bad either. Enjoy a nice Thai communal style dinner at Sway and finally get some rest.
Are we done yet? Before your weekend is over, you must visit one of the two locations of The Austin Shaker. It’s a local craft liquor store run by veteran bartenders who really know their stuff. No matter how you roll – vodka, bourbon, scotch, rum, etc., they’ll most likely have a recommendation or something new for you to try. I love that they offer both local and rare finds and depending on what they have on hand you may be able to try before you buy. I left the store with 3 new-to-me whiskeys that my husband and I couldn’t wait to add to our home bar.
Whew. Okay, now I’m done. Cheers!
Please remember to always drink responsibly, have a designated driver, or call an Uber when in doubt! Play it safe and don’t assume you are okay to drive.
Do you have any favorite cocktail bars in Austin? If so, drop them in the comments below!