It's never too early to plan a spring break trip, and right now, Austin is calling—just in time for SXSW. Head to Texas's capital city for 10 days of festival fun and make sure to stop for drinks—with intermissions for snacks, of course—at these top bars.
① Weather Up
1808 E. Cesar Chavez St.; 512-524-0464
After opening bars in Brooklyn and Manhattan, the Austin location is the third for owner Kathryn Weatherup—who takes ice very seriously. Relax in a booth or sit at the copper bar after ordering your drink. Note: Good things take time, including true craft cocktails.
② Craft Pride
61 Rainey St.; 512-428-5571
This bar at the south end of crowded Rainey Street stands out from the masses by specializing in beers brewed in Texas. There are more than 50 brews on tap, representing more than 20 breweries.
1816 E. Sixth St.; 512-480-0781
At this East Side cocktail bar, you'll find perhaps the most creative drinks in town. The menu, with concoctions such as the Beet Down, a Negroni-like libation made with beet-infused gin, is the brainchild of owner and longtime bartender Scranton Twohey.
④ Whip In
1950 S. Interstate Highway 35; 512-442-5537
This gas station-turned-quirky convenience store, brewpub, restaurant and live music venue is a family-owned operation. The biggest attraction is the long bar offering an extensive beer selection and menu of Indian-influenced Texas comfort food (think chicken fried steak smothered in coconut gravy).
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⑤ The White Horse
500 Comal St.; 512-553-6756
This East Sixth Street honky-tonk is a favorite stop for bar-hopping Austinites on the weekend, both for the live country music and whiskey on tap. Those more interested in chatting with friends can fight for a spot on the patio and help themselves to a Lone Star from the bucket of beers.
⑥ The Cloak Room
1300 Colorado St.; 512-478-2622
Located downtown in the basement of the historic Goodman Building, this dark bar lies literally in the shadow of the Capitol building. According to rumor, it has been the site of several shady political deals. Even for the apolitical, The Cloak Room provides a surprisingly low-key atmosphere for the neighborhood and one of the best whiskey selections in town.
207 E. 53rd St.; 512-614-6683
This North Loop neighborhood bar offers more food and drink selections than your typical local watering hole. The cocktail-focused menu features original drinks, like the Lazy Dog made with a local lager, bourbon, ginger syrup and grapefruit bitters. But that doesn't mean the food is an afterthought: Standout dishes include acorn squash risotto and beer-steamed mussels.
2402 San Gabriel St.; 512-220-0953
Everyone's had barbecue and beer countless times, but what about barbecue and bourbon? This saloon-like bar oozes Texas charm and specializes in whiskey. It's also one of the few places in town where you can get good brisket after 2 p.m.
⑨ The Townsend
718 Congress Ave.; 512-887-8778
Congress Avenue gets sophisticated with this elegant cocktail lounge situated in Downtown's historic Townsend-Thompson Building. There's live music and a lovely selection of beer, wine and cocktails curated by Justin Elliott, like the Toronto Buck, a drink comprised of rye, Fernet-Branca, lemon, ginger beer and orgeat. And go hungry: The extensive food menu with braised octopus and trout confit is pretty impressive.
⑩ The Roosevelt Room
307 W. Fifth St.; 512-494-4094
Award-winning bartenders Justin Lavenue and Dennis Gobis organize the drinks by time period at this industrial Market District cocktail den. The chalkboard hanging over the marble bar groups the 50-plus boozy concoctions into sections, like Turn of the Century or Prohibition. Downstairs, you can hang out on plush red booths and drink in live shows, while upstairs you'll find a long, blue velvet couch and a more low-key vibe.
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