Austin is one of the easiest — and most fun — getaways from Dallas, and the city has no shortage of new watering holes. These five new Austin bars represent the best of the city, with sleek patios, signature cocktails and laid-back vibes.
Patio Bar at Corner Restaurant, JW Marriott Hotel
This sleek patio bar, situated in the heart of downtown, showcases Central Texas flavors. An agave-centric cocktail program focuses on tequilas and mezcals, highlighted by fresh juices, purées and reductions. The bar is also stocked with spirits from local Texas distilleries, 16 beers from local breweries and several Texas wines.
The spacious interior bar offers the full menu, but the outdoor bar features a taqueria menu with tacos and regional small plates. This airy hangout is ideal for pre-partying eats.
Whiskey and craft beer are the focal points at this laid-back East Austin hideaway. In addition to select artisanal brews, The Wheel offers a choice of whiskeys, and each day a different one is on special. The bar also serves four signature cocktails, named after the team members’ daughters. The Avery, stirred with Knob Creek, maraschino liqueur, green chartreuse and chocolate bitters is a curious yet surprisingly balanced mix.
Inside, the walls are decorated with vintage photographs of cyclists, including a charming print of a nude rider behind the bar. Outside, the beer tap water feature sets the tone for the casual backyard patio.
With plush seats and metallic accents, this East Cesar Chavez haunt has quickly become a destination. The cocktail menu revolves around refreshing sippers that complement the breezy outdoor lounge. The Freedom ’76 is Stay Gold’s play on the French 77, made with St. Germain, ancho chile liqueur, champagne and lemon juice. The El Diablo kicks it up a notch with muddled fresh blackberries and habañero-infused Milagro Silver tequila.
Bonus: Stay Gold has already designed a brunch cocktail list in preparation of the Toaster food trailer to open onsite, headed by chef Hannah Love (previously at Clark’s, Perla’s and Jeffrey’s).
Classic cocktail specialists Péché revamped a neighboring downtown space with this island vision. With a long stretch of marble bar and colorful wall bench seating, this warm and inviting space is an urban oasis.
The rum-based beverage menu, devised by Trey Jenkins, is divided into three sections. The first part features familiar and obscure classics, such as the daiquiri and the lesser-known Rum Runner (house spiced rum, crème de cassis and Banane du Brésil). The tiki section highlights libations made with carefully selected ingredients (like orgeat and passion fruit) that accent each rum’s distinct features.
Lastly, Isla draws from Caribbean influences and incorporates unexpected twists into signature drinks. The Kill Devil Cobbler weaves 12-year Jamaican rum seamlessly with sherry, pineapple and a touch of nutmeg. The seafood-forward food menu (think grilled octopus and ceviche) holds its own.
Husband and wife Florian and Romana Prelog met through their passion for cooking. After a meandering love story that led them through Europe, they reunited in Austin and opened this upscale European eatery. (A mural in the dining room retells their journey.)
This swanky restaurant seems like an unlikely location to kick back for drinks, but the beverage program, steered by Wesley Johnson (formerly of Péché) is approachable and thoughtful. In addition to carefully chosen wines with a broad price range, Prelog’s offers local and European beers and cocktails.
Libations include the classic Aperol Spritz as an homage to the owner’s roots. The 360 Flip, on the other hand, is a tribute to the building that houses the restaurant. Ancho Reyes — cognac, lime, egg white and vanilla — is shaken until frothy for an earthy concoction with a touch of heat.
The bar area is a fitting spot to unwind before dinner or for a drink and small bites before a night out.