I’ve been to Austin, TX many times. But most trips, like my one in March 2022, have been to attend South by Southwest. While I enjoy going to the festival, it doesn’t leave me a lot of time to try out many local spots. Until this most recent trip. I made a point to get out to visit some of the best speakeasies in Austin in my after hours time. There are so many to choose from. Some are harder to get into than others. And, at least all of the ones listed here have drinks that are completely worth the hunt. Let’s GO!
- Address: 612 Brazos Street
- Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 5pm-1am | Sunday-Wednesday, 5pm-midnight
- Hospitality: 5.0, very friendly and hospitable staff that clearly love what they do
- Atmosphere: 5.0, bustling but cozy bar with interesting decor and seating
- Drinks: 5.0, delicious cocktails with great menu concepts
Here Nor There was my favorite of all the speakeasies in Austin. While it was slightly confusing to book and find, the hunt was worth it. If you’ve done any research on this bar, you’ll know that you need to download their app to book a table. The app also gives you access to the bar when it’s time for your reservation. The rules of the bar are also listed in the app. I am sorry to say that I had to break one (and take a couple of photos to share here). This blog exists merely to share my love and appreciation of the cocktail industry with the world. So, I hope my infraction will be forgiven.
As I have shared before, a thoughtful menu design is a key marker of a special bar. Working a concept artfully into the ingredients is not an easy task. The menu at Here Nor There when I went was based on colors. So, what a certain color might taste like. I enjoyed Purple (mezcal, ginger, beet) and White (pisco, coconut, lime). They were both out of this world good, and definitely had me tasting in color.
- Address: 313 East 6th Street
- Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 5-11:45pm | Sunday, 5-11pm | Closed Monday-Wednesday
- Hospitality: 5.0, the staff were super welcoming and friendly
- Atmosphere: 4.9, beautiful space with soaring ceilings
- Drinks: 4.9, delicious cocktails featuring interesting flavors
Described as an “intimate reservations-only lounge known for its hip speakeasy vibe & old-school cocktail menu,” Midnight Cowboy lives up to that and then some. Open since 2012, it’s one of the oldest speakeasy-style bars in Austin. It gets its name from the previous tenant, a brothel that was masquerading as a massage parlor. The FBI raided it, arrested the madam, and a year or so later, the bar opened. When the space was renovated, they kept the original ceiling and one brick wall. The bar serves a menu of delicious craft cocktails prepared in their beautiful bar or table side on a bar cart. Reservations are a must.
The cocktail on the left is the “Clara Rosa” created by Evan Mora. It is made with Gin Mare, tarragon-infused vermouth, rosemary, thyme, citric and malic acids, sparkling wine, and tomato water. I also enjoyed the “De La Rosa (The Rosita)”. It was expertly created table-side, see above. It is made with El Tesoro Anejo tequila, Campari, Amaro Montenegro, rosa and dry vermouths, and bitters. I always love agave spirits in a Negroni riff.
- Address: 214 East 6th Street
- Hours: Thursday, 6pm-1am | Friday-Saturday, 6pm-2am | Sunday-Wednesday, 6pm-midnight
- Hospitality: 5.0, super friendly and welcoming staff
- Atmosphere: 4.8, the space is cozy and inviting
- Drinks: 5.0, really great drinks with a broad range of flavors
Off an alley behind 6th Street, you’ll find a purple set of doors. Through the doors, you’ll find Eden Cocktail Room. It was opened in November 2021 by Chris Crow (formerly at @hntaustin) and his fiancé, Kaitla. This speakeasy is a secret garden paying homage to the alluring Eve and her original sin. The space is cozy and inviting and includes a black-lamp painting of Eve. The menu features flavors that play off of herbal, fruit, and floral ingredients. If you’re in Austin, this is a must-add spot for your list.
As you can see from the photos, I enjoyed quite a few drinks off the menu. It was really hard to pick a favorite, and there were still so many not sampled. I look forward to returning. Here’s what I enjoyed during my visit, clockwise from top left:
- Taste of Eden – Beefeater 24, Tío Pepe, jasmine, clarified lime, cassis, and raspberry
- The Fall of Dram – Monkey Shoulder, Armagnac, toasted coconut, and soda
- Reap and Sow – Espolon, sherry, habanero, agave, brioche, clarified apple and pear
- Water of Life – Jefferson’s, salted caramel demerara, filter coffee, and chocolate cream
- Address: 108 East 7th Street
- Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 5pm-after midnight | Closed Sunday-Tuesday
- Hospitality: 4.7, busy bar with an efficient staff
- Atmosphere: 4.8, cozy hideaway with bunker vibes
- Drinks: 4.8, solid cocktails
Behind an unmarked, red metal door, you’ll find a set of stairs leading up to Small Victory. Once inside, your eyes will adjust and you’ll be enveloped by the chill and cozy vibes. They serve up a great menu of cocktails, small plates, beer, and wine. The bar staff is also into ice, so you’ll find the perfect cubed or crushed ice in your drink. When you’re there it feels more like a favorite neighborhood bar than a place where visitors to the city go. Not that everyone isn’t welcome, but it felt like everyone knew each other. It’s always a good sign to show up where the locals also go.
My first cocktail was the “Don Lockwood No 2.” It’s made with tequila reposado, mezcal, maple, angostura, and chocolate bitters. It was a perfect Old Fashioned riff. I also enjoyed the “Dama de la Noche Crusta”. It was really lovely. Made with brandy, curaçao, pineapple, lime, Angostura, and orange flower water, the cocktail was a real treat. I liked the sugared glass and the flavors worked really well together. Both drinks went great with a cheese plate.
- Address: 503 Colorado Street
- Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday, 5pm-midnight | Thursday-Saturday, 5pm-2am | Closed Sunday-Monday
- Hospitality: 4.7, friendly and efficient bar staff (not overly chatty)
- Atmosphere: 4.8, very cool and industrial vibes
- Drinks: 4.8, solid cocktails
The location of Garage is certainly one of the most unique I’ve seen. Nestled into an operational parking garage, the bar is aptly named. When I arrived, I walked up a ramp to the front door (see photo below). To my left, people were parking cars. The bar itself is very cool. They’ve done such a great job with the interior. You would not know where you were once inside. There’s a great amount of space at the bar and around the room. The bar has been open for eight years and it’s something of an Austin establishment at this point. You’ll definitely want to plan to include this speakeasy on your next visit.
The cocktails I had were delicious. The one in the middle is the “Jailbird.” It’s made with coconut oil infused mezcal, gentian, pineapple, banana, and cherry. Served beautifully and sips refreshingly. I also enjoyed the “Ohm’s Law” which is a mixture of Suntory Toki whisky, almond orgeat, umami and yuzu bitters. A great Old Fashioned riff. I will definitely be back to this place on my next trip to Austin.
- Address: 119 East 5th Street
- Hours: Every day, 4pm-2am
- Hospitality: 4.8, solid service
- Atmosphere: 4.6, this place has a cohesive, slightly creepy vibe
- Drinks: 4.8, solid drinks with names that will make you want to know the story behind them
Chances are, if you’ve been to Austin, you’ve walked by the Floppy Disk Repair Co. The first dozen times I walked past, I just thought the place was a relic of times gone by. When I started to research speakeasies in Austin, I discovered my mistake. To add to the mystery, Floppy Disk Repair Co. requires a code to get in. Unlike, Here Nor There, you have to find it out in the wild, and not through an app. It’s not that hard to find, but it will definitely require asking around a bit. If you really can’t find it, you might be able to get in by charming the door person with a good joke or two.
I enjoyed a drink from the menu and another classic, off-menu cocktail. The drink on the left is called, “I’m In Love with the Cocoa.” The cocktail is a smooth blend of banana-infused cognac and Coco Puff-infused whole milk. It was delicious and it’s served with a side of Coco Puffs. I also enjoyed a White Negroni. Overall, the menu has quite the range of drinks, so there will be something for everyone.
And there you have six of my favorite speakeasies in Austin. There are certainly more to be explored, so drop in your favorites in the comments.