Austin, TX, known for its vibrant scene, takes bartending seriously. Whether you’re an Austinite or visiting for SXSW, explore Congress Ave, 6th Street, and more for cheap drinks, craft cocktails, and pool tables. From Lamar to Cesar Chavez, North Loop to South Congress, Austin’s bar scene, including Irish pubs and iconic spots like the Driskill, guarantees a memorable time. Embrace ATX’s Longhorn spirit at diverse venues, from absinthe bars to garage-converted gems. So, toast to great times in one of the best drinking cities in the US! Cheers!
SEE ALSO: 5 BEST ROOFTOP BARS IN AUSTIN
This city is full of top-notch bars and restaurants that not only serve the best beverages but also offer a great nightlife experience. In fact, you are bound to enjoy memorable live music, themed parties, and shows during your stay in Austin.
As Austin is full of great drinking spots, it can be hard to narrow them down. Lucky for you, though, here is a list of the 23 best bars in Austin.
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1. Higher Ground
A currently trending social club, Higher Ground is a fantastic spot that you don’t want to miss. The spiritually-themed bar opened a year back in 2021 and instantly became a crowd favorite. As soon as you walk in, you will notice that the bar looks like a sanctuary, but the patrons are enjoying a sinfully-fun time.
The club is full of religious artifacts and stained glass windows, giving off a very convincing theme. You can sip on one or more of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ cocktails and enjoy the party. The upstairs second bar features an outdoor patio, ideal for a little post-work booze.
2. Codependent Cocktails and Coffee
Looking for a great Austin bar that is open throughout the day? Whether you’re looking to enjoy some drinks after brunch or want to have a fun yet relaxing night out, Codependent Cocktails and Coffee have you covered.
Located right by the 3rd Street Shoal Creek Bridge, visiting Codependent is always a relaxing experience. The décor and ambiance will have you coming back for more. The interior features a laid-back, sophisticated setting perfect for a drink at the bar, while the outdoor is great for socializing or taking in the wonderful view.
3. Domo Alley Gato Tatsu-Ya
Domo Alley Gato Tatsu-Ya makes for the perfect walk-in bar for most people passing by. The Japanese-inspired theme and the reasonably-priced, delicious drinks never disappoint visitors. Make sure to visit one of the best bars in Austin if you’d like to experience a more eastern drinking feel.
The well-themed interior setting of the bar makes for a great backdrop for photos. In fact, it is so intricately detailed that your pictures will never give away the truth. Post them on Instagram and let your followers think you’re in Japan.
4. Bar Peached
Are you looking for a bar that also specializes in serving comfort food? Bar Peached offers just that, along with a collection of delicious wow-worthy cocktails. At the bar, you will find Austin’s best tacos and foods influenced by Asian cuisine.
Set in Clarksville Neighborhood, the intimate bar with 13 spots offers a cozy indoor dining experience. On the other hand, you can also enjoy some fine wine, along with a selection of craft beers and cocktails on the large outdoor patio.
5. Honey Moon Spirit Lounge
The Honey Moon Spirit Lounge is an extremely romantic bar perfect for the lovebirds out together. Hence, the name of the bar is certainly accurate. Therefore, you can either take your date with you or find one at the bar itself.
The purple-themed velvet outpost and chandeliers all over the booth will put visitors under a romantic spell. Along with the interior, the menu also plays a great role in helping you feel the charm. You should try The Full Salute, Old Forester Bourbon, and the Old School Old Fashioned if you’re looking for something soothing and loving.
6. Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy is an intimate bar in Austin that is not easy to find. Originally, the brothel-turned-speakeasy bar had a sign saying ‘midnight Cowboy Modeling & Oriental Massage.’ While they took off the sign, a single red bulb was still around.
One of Austin’s most exclusive bars, Midnight Cowboy, requires a reservation for guaranteed entry. The house cocktails are potent, delicious, beautifully garnished, and definitely worth the effort of booking ahead. But the patio is also open for walk-ins from Thursday to Sunday.
7. The Roosevelt Room
The Roosevelt Room is one of the best bars in Austin for classic cocktails that never disappoints locals or tourists. The unique drinking spot allows you to bar hop through the centuries as you taste cocktails inspired by different times in American history.
For instance, the Clover Club, made with lychees, raspberries, and gin, lets you have a taste of the Prohibition era. Some other bold and exciting cocktails that you should try include Jingu Bang (banana liquor, tequila, Linie Aquavit, cinnamon, and sesame oil) and Death Valley (absinthe and lime).
Besides, warm candle lighting, jewel tones, and dark velvet booths can captivate your senses and bring you in the mood.
Want to experience an epic dance floor with live music and a DJ, all on a unique theme? Barbarella is one of the best bars in Austin for people looking to party. Although not a music venue, Barbarella makes it hard to keep off the dance floor.
Whether you like to dance or not, it offers the perfect carefree environment to comfortably enjoy yourself without worrying about people judging you. Filling you with the nightclub spirit, Barbarella also stays open later than most bars. Tuesgayz is just the right activity for you if you enjoy indie, pop, and electro music.
9. Drink Well
The best bars in Austin offer a mixology-driven cocktail menu featuring seasonal beverage ingredients with their beers, cocktails, and wine. Drink Well’s menu is just what you’re looking for. Local party peeps, tourists, and even the wellness crowd of Austin love Drink Well for its menu.
It serves delicious beverages along with one of Austin’s best dining experiences in the intimate bar setting. However, a group of visitors also find that the TV over the bar ruins its vibe. But if you don’t mind some noise, you will definitely love to Drink Well.
10. The White Horse
Looking for the coolest, fun-filled honky-tonk in Austin? The White Horse is always full of honky-tonkers, students, hipsters, and yuppies. It is a simple space with a small stage, live music, and regulars swaying on the dance floor.
As a newcomer, you will find that the environment and vibe are stress-free, comfortable, and one that puts you at ease. You will certainly feel no hesitation in joining the dynamic crowd and having a good time. The bat serves whiskey on tap, but it is especially famous for its ‘bomb tacos’ and ice-cold beer.
11. Nickel City
If your preferred vibe of a bar is decidedly divey, then you must head over to Nickel City, located at East 11th Street. This neighborhood bar, Nickel city was originally Longbranch Inn which has now transformed into a dive bar with tropical cocktails and a pinball machine.
With retro signs that give a vintage feel, Nickel City sets an approachable vibe and setting. That being said, the dive bar drinks include excellent craft cocktails featuring both classics and newer flavors with inventive twists. You will also find a food truck at the back serving wings, sliders, and coney dogs.
The garage is a top speakeasy and easily one of the best bars in Austin for its setting. The hidden bar theme features a real-life car park that serves delicious drinks. You will find this bar in downtown Austin tucked in a parking garage on Colorado Street. Just look for neon signs in yellow and teal between streets 5 and 6.
The drinking spot is low-key, an experience in itself with the circular bar, candle lighting, structural columns, and concrete interior. Besides the locale and interior setting, the garage’s menu is also definitely swoon-worthy. You will especially love it if you appreciate well-crafted cocktails.
503 Colorado St, garagetx.com
13. Azul Rooftop Bar
Azul should be your ideal choice if you’re looking for a bar experience that also lets you enjoy the amazing views and skyline of Austin. Set atop The Westin Austin Downtown, Azul is a rooftop bar perched on a height of 20 floors. One of the best bars in Austin, Azul is also the highest rooftop bar.
The open-air lounge not only offers spectacular skyline views, but the elevated bar also features a glamorous swimming pool. You can either relax by the pool or lounge in a private cabana at Azul. Or, you can also grab a drink and sit by the fire pit.
One of the best bars in Austin today, the P6 lounging bar was originally a rooftop parking garage in the 1960s. Today, it has transformed into an intimate garden lounging space. The open-air lounge bar is an ideal spot to visit if you’re looking to enjoy some drinks and food with friends.
Besides offering a sweeping, open-air dining experience, the rooftop bar also delivers the views of Lady Bird Lake and the Austin skyline at their best. Open every evening; the menu is full of Mediterranean cuisines and seasonal cocktails.
15. Small Victory
Small Victory is a popular bar in Austin that is, in fact, a huge victory for its owner Josh Loving. The bar features a beautiful space tucked away in the corner of a parking garage. Behind Stephen F. Austin Royal Sonesta, you will find the joint after climbing a staircase.
Formerly a dive bar, today’s Small Victory is one of the best bars in Austin. As you enter through a wooden door, you will find a long and narrow room with plush banquette seating. While the seats spanning along the length of the room are perfect for intimate gatherings, there is also a round booth at the back for more professional meetings.
16. Tiki Tatsu-Ya
The latest addition to the Austin bar scene, Tiki Tatsu-Ya, is one of the finest tiki bars in the city that’s on the eastside. One thing about Tiki Tatsu-Ya is that all the rave about this bar and restaurant is real. In fact, you are also very likely to go on about how great it is once you pay a visit.
The fairly hyped restaurant offers the kind of immersive experience that you can only expect from a themed amusement park. Opened recently in October 2021, the textured walls of Tiki Tatsu-Ya resemble a cavern. The rockwork combined with oceanic elements and sounds of tropical birds almost makes the visitors feel like they’re in a grotto where a pirate hid their treasure. Port Light is a must-try drink at Tiki Tatsu-Ya.
Before coming to Austin, you may have heard that East 6th is a must-visit. But whoever told you what the best place on East 6th is? Well, Whisler’s is not just one of the best bars in Austin but also the coolest place to visit.
This cocktail bar is easily a favorite happy hour drinking spot for locals and tourists alike. The locale features a large patio, architectural details, and handwritten notes from visitors. Besides the laid-back, romantic vibe, you will find some of the best, carefully crafted cocktails in the Mezcal bar upstairs. Make sure to try the Feel Good Hit of the Summer.
1816 E 6th St, whislersatx.com
Peche is the first Absinthe bar in Austin that features a comfortable yet stylish interior setting. Located in the Warehouse District, Peche makes for a perfect date night if you’re trying to impress your new partner with your taste.
At Peche, you can enjoy a classic French fare from the 19th century as you sip on cocktails inspired by the pre-prohibition era. The chandelier-lit space and unique décor definitely make for a romantic atmosphere and a memorable date experience.
19. Firehouse Lounge
Another one of the best bars in Austin, Firehouse Lounge, is a hidden bar nestled inside a real-life bookshelf. While the experience of finding the bar is interesting itself, Firehouse Lounge serves great classic and craft cocktails.
Back in 1885, the venue was Austin’s oldest standing fire station. Today, the historical building of Firehouse Lounge is both a cocktail bar and a student hostel. Tucked in a bookshelf, the joint received its name from the red walls.
Excellent cocktails, young crowds, and a fun vibe are all specialties at Firehouse Lounge.
20. Half Step
Nearly all the bars on Rainey Street, Austin, are set in renovated homes, and Half Step is no exception at all. However, this one is among some of the best bars in Austin for its concept and talent. Originally, the joint was a run-down structure that the owner restored.
Now, you will see the sketchy structure turned into a beautiful bar with pew-like booths and floral wallpaper. Some of the worth-trying meticulously crafted drinks include Prescription Julep and Ginger Paloma.
21. Kitty Cohen’s
Kitty Cohen’s is a 1970s-inspired cocktail bar in East Austin, decked with Burt Reynolds’s portraits. At the bar, you will find a retro patio in the outdoor area, along with a decorative mini swimming pool.
Right in the middle of the courtyard, the mini pool serves as an incredible spot to sit by and sip on delicious frozen drinks. Kitty Cohen’s happy hour begins at 3 pm and closes at 7 pm every Monday to Friday. Make sure to try their seasonal sippers made with Mexican 7Up and coconut and the margarita.
22. Lala’s Little Nugget
Lala’s Little Nugget is the ideal place to visit for people who are missing the crisp winter temperatures of Texas’ summer heat. Also commonly referred to as Lala’s Christmas Bar, the venue is an all-year-round celebration of the Christmas season.
The décor at Lala features ornamental Christmas hangings such as colored lights and stockings. An Elvis painting at the bar is a showstopper for sure. Whenever you visit, make sure you try their Naughty Nugget, Cointreau, and Cueryo Silver.
Zanzibar is a fashionable rooftop bar serving excellent cocktails and tropical cuisines. The venue is colorful and features a lot of greenery to add a tropical vibe to the restaurant. Not to mention, the tropical tipples with umbrellas and rattan chairs also largely contribute to the ambiance.
The bar and restaurant are ideal for locals and tourists alike as the Downtown sunset view is unmatchable with any other location within Austin. Besides, you can also grab your snacky plate and drink to enjoy a relaxed time by the outdoor swimming pool.