The Austin Bar Hit List: Where To Drink Right Now

Great new bars, speakeasies, breweries, wine bars, and incredibly fun cocktail spots in Austin.
The Austin Bar Hit List: Where To Drink Right Now image

photo credit: Jane Yun

In order to help you figure out which new restaurants are worth going to, we created The Hit List, our guide to the new spots that are actually worth your time and money. And we do the same thing for new bars in Austin. All the places here are less than a year old, and they include speakeasies, breweries, wine bars, and incredibly fun cocktail spots. But what do they all have in common? We’ve visited them, really liked them, and felt they were well worth the varying degrees of hangover. These are the great new bars in Austin.

New to the Bar Hit List (11/24): Trona, Space Cowboy


photo credit: Nicolai McCrary



$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good Cocktails
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Stepping through Trona’s metal gate in an alleyway off 12th and Chicon might as well be a portal to somewhere that looks an awful lot like a speakeasy in Marfa, Texas (there’s even a mocktail called Don’t Judd Me). The tiny bar seats 49 people, inside and out, and it’s full of desert plants, adobe tiles, and the smell of palo santo giving the whole place a warm, cozy feeling. The cocktails feel like they watched a lot of Westerns growing up, from a Rattlesnake Sour, with bourbon, blackberry and sage reduction, to the Mezcal Blossom—a margarita riff made with a blend of agave spirits, dehydrated peppers, and lime juice. Grab a reservation online or through Trona’s text-only line, or show up on Monday and Tuesday when the bar is reserved for walk-ins. 

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary



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Set in a former Mexican grocery store in East Austin, Space Cowboy is a futuristic bar/restaurant where orders get delivered by robot spaceships on a track that traverses the dining room, decorated with desert plants and neon cloud lamps. It’s Epcot’s Future World for adults, with cocktails that toe the line between novelty and well-crafted—including one garnished with beef jerky. But despite occasionally sounding like the concoction of your friend who’s had one too many, the drinks are creative enough that you’ll likely find yourself ordering a second. There’s also a food menu where you can get things like blistered shishito peppers and wine-braised short ribs. Is the whole concept a little gimmicky? Sure. But it’s also the most fun we’ve had ordering drinks in a long time.

Overlooking Waller Creek on a relatively quiet stretch of Downtown, the neighborhood-style bar Marlow should definitely be the first stop the next time that you have friends in town who “want to see what Dirty Sixth Street is like.” The theme here skews retro, with leather chairs and velvet pillows strewn around a cactus-filled interior, while exposed rafters and brick walls add an industrial feel to it all. The cocktails are mostly inventive riffs on classics—like pandan painkillers or a split-spirit, citrus tea-infused martini—with excellent presentation that feels deserving of Downtown cocktail bar pricing. Start the night here, and maybe you’ll “accidentally” forget all about those plans you made to find flaming Dr. Pepper shots just a few blocks over. 

South Austin’s Cosmic Coffee is already one of our favorite spots in the area for both coffee and cocktails, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this bigger—and, dare we say, better?—second location in East Austin is just as much fun. The cocktails here lean light and refreshing—with a few frozens and NA options—but there’s also a full bar so you can really choose your own adventure. It’s all set in a massive complex that feels like running around in a repurposed industrial warehouse, complete with an enormous dog-friendly patio, a rooftop deck with downtown views,  an all-day taqueria, and a ton of plants to liven it all up. 

Much like The Traveling Wilburys and the Wu-Tang Clan, sometimes when a whole bunch of powerhouses come together, you get something pretty great. This seems to be the case with Daydreamer, a collaboration on East 6th between some of the people from Kitty Cohen’s, Allday Pizza, Frazier’s, The White Horse, and more. Right next door to Suerte, the theme at Daydreamer is basically “caviar, champagne, and martinis” but with a slightly more casual vibe than that list of words might lead you to believe. It’s also home to a dedicated ramos gin fizz machine, so you get a near-perfect version without subjecting your bartender to three full minutes of intense cocktail shaking. Expect a location of Allday to open in the backyard patio soon.

If The Infatuation operated back in the ‘80s, you might expect to hear about a buzzy new bar selling appletinis, espresso martinis, and long island iced teas in a space filled with plants, disco balls, and harvest-gold colored furniture. But here we are, decades later, writing about exactly that, in a fun space in a pretty quiet section of Downtown near The Capitol. This is a bar that takes itself seriously, without wanting you to know it. The appletinis are made with real apples, and the frozen daiquiris are made with real juice—but it doesn’t come with all the snobbiness of a bougie cocktail bar. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a hot dog menu, complete with five different varieties to keep you going through the night. 

Sure, Hopscotch might function partially as a pre-dinner waiting area for Elementary on South Lamar. But drinks like refreshing cucumber-and-snap-pea martinis and tart passion fruit daiquiris make this natural wine bar/cocktail spot worth a visit of its own, particularly during Austin’s never-ending summer. The bites mostly consist of tinned fish and snack boards—grab whatever bread and cheese comes with the sweet and tangy tomato honey, then work your way through the small menu of cocktails, or just have the bartender whip something up. And because this is technically a natural wine bar, there’s also a small list of wines by the glass, and a much bigger list of wines by the bottle (or to take home). 

By day, it’s a spot to sip coffee and eat acai bowls in a cozy room (plus a large patio), complete with lots of plants, comfy seating, and music on vinyl. But by night, it’s a buzzy East Side hot spot with a nightly rotation of local DJs, and a small selection of beer and low-intervention wines, by the bottle or by the glass. There’s no food at night, but you can pick up some momos from the corner store next door or bring your own tacos from one of the many East Side taco spots in the area while you groove to city pop and Afro-funk while sipping on something tasty and affordable in a laid-back atmosphere

Bar Mischief might have some of the most inventive cocktails we’ve come across in a while—and this is coming from a team who recently drank a bright red cocktail out of the tail-end of a bird-shaped glass (see: Lovebirds). So whenever you’re ready to find out what tom kha tastes like in cocktail form, or just want to marvel at just how clear a drink like a clarified curried penicillin milk punch can look, head to Bar Mischief on the ground floor of the Inn Cahoots boutique hotel on East 6th. The whole bar is set in a small dark room with a speakeasy feel—complete with a long wooden bartop and massive chandeliers. 

If you’ve come across a TikTok video of someone drinking a bright red cocktail out of the tail-end of a bird-shaped glass, there’s a good chance they were at Lovebirds, a new cocktail bar on East Cesar Chavez where you can get that, and lots more. The space is cozy, with velvet stools and chairs, a lamp-lit seating area with some modern touches, plus a few retro TVs to take away all sense of time and place. It’s a place where couples can grab a drink after dinner at Juniper across the street, while cocktail enthusiasts can nerd out about which funky Jamaican rum was used in the daiquiri. And if you really just want to drink out of a bird’s tail-end, they’ll happily serve you just about anything in the glass, though we can’t promise that drinking a Lone Star out of it will be quite as satisfying. 

Joining the quickly growing scene of Downtown rooftop bars, El Cockfight is from the team behind the Downtown speakeasy, Red Headed Stepchild and East Austin bar, Mama Dearest. Much like their other concepts, novelty and shock value play a little role in the themes here, so don’t be surprised to walk by a large neon sign flashing the words “World’s greatest c*ck” while you sip on drinks like the cold brew-and-mezcal “Whorechata” or the “Pinche Gringo” made with sotol and midori. Despite all that, El Cockfight makes a pretty solid margarita, and the view (and breeze) from the second story are hard to beat on a warm Austin evening. 

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Equal parts cocktail bar and cafe, Holiday on East 7th is home to one of our favorite new patios in Austin—it’s huge, with lots of hanging string lights overhead, gravel floors, and big white umbrellas that give the whole space a bright and airy feel. The menu is made up mostly of small European-inspired plates that clearly spent some time in Texas, with dishes like Lone Star steamed mussel and boquerones with cultured butter and preserved lemon salsa verde. There’s an entire martini menu that spans from lychee and espresso-based variations, to the more classic gin or vodka-based classics, plus other fun drinks including a frozen Mexican martini that comes in a cactus-shaped glass, and a full menu of spirit-free cocktails. Head here for light bites and multiple rounds of cocktails. This is a place you’ll want to hang out at for a while—even when it’s crowded, it never feels too loud.

Fittingly located in the Music Lane development on South Congress, the vinyl listening and cocktail bar Equipment Room looks more like the living room of a very wealthy audiophile than a bar in the basement of Hotel Magdalena. It’s a place that takes its inspiration from mid-century Japanese listening bars, but instead of fully committing to the theme, musically, you’ll hear little bits of David Bowie and glam rock mixed in with old school jazz. The drink menu is made up of a combination of classics and new creations—A-Sides and B-Sides, respectively—so whether you’re in the mood for Manhattans and boulevardiers, or a cocktail with sesame-washed sake, orgeat, and furikake dust, there’s plenty to try. There’s also a small menu of snacks that you should probably not try to make a meal out of like we did. Instead, come here for drinks before or after a dinner on South Congress, or when you just want to listen to some high quality audio in a very cozy space with a martini in hand.

Naming a cocktail on your menu the “Sister Fister” feels like the type of move done to stoke a fire. But once you take a look around Mama Dearest at 6th and Pedernales in East Austin—a bar decorated with taxidermied animals, vintage Playboy magazines, and a giant Arkansas flag on the ceiling—the backwoods theme becomes abundantly clear. Well, that and the fact that it’s named after 1980s cult classic Mommie Dearest that contains a lot of overlapping themes. Are the draped rawhide lamp shades and baby dolls hanging from the walls unsettling? Maybe a little. But they do help contribute to the immersive atmosphere that makes you feel far more removed from the HEB Digital office across the street than physical distance would lead you to believe. This is a bar that’s simply having a good time. Grab a Tickle Fight—basically a Mountain Dew-based margarita—or the #PURPLEDRANK that comes served in a styrofoam cup, then go for a quick bounce on the animal spring rides out back. Just don’t look too close at the decor inside.

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Suggested Reading

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The Best Bars In Austin

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A night out at one of these places‚ whether it’s for a catch-up with a friend or an impressive date night—feels overwhelmingly of the moment.

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