Sure, Austinites get excited when we can first pull out our sweaters, and the rare appearance of snow in December lit up everybody’s social media feeds. But since then the skies over Central Texas have stubbornly stayed sunless, and even the Olympics can't chasing these winter blues away.
This month, we are finding our own sunshine at Austin’s cheeriest bars. From flamboyant dives to drinkeries with plenty of diversions, these watering holes are guaranteed to keep you in high spirits.
Okay, the circus theme is a little sinister — more Carnival of Souls than Big Top Pee-Wee — but there’s more than one way to get out of a winter rut. From the decidedly un-craft beers to the scrappy bands making a ruckus on the back stage, Carousel is a warped version of your favorite college hangout. But if you are going to make a night there, come prepared with your own bottle of booze and cash to pay for the set-ups.
So what if it’s just “kinda” tropical? Who cares if there are only a few potted palms and nary a mojito in site? This winter, we need all the island vibes we can get. And when a weekend getaway to Tulum is not in the cards, taking solace in a perfectly simple avocado toast and a $6 glass of rosé ain’t half bad.
Pull out a turban and your most psychedelic caftan. From the interior’s tropical blues and greens to the flamingo wallpaper in one of the restrooms, this east side bar is working some serious Palm Beach realness. Even on the dreariest of days, the sparkly patio (complete with a wading pool) will have you feeling like you are sunning at luxury midcentury resort. Order something fruity and frozen, then lounge dah-ling.
Before you order one of the mugs of punch, even before you take the inevitable selfie in front of Irene’s Insta-famous neon sign, take some time to savor the impossibly delicious strawberry cake. Cream cheese frosting may not be a fool-proof cure for the blahs, but when you follow it up with an extra boozy Painkiller? You betcha.
It’s difficult to give in to the gloom when you have something more important to do, like fighting off hordes of zombies or planning a daring escape. At Pinballz Kingdom, you can do all of that, plus bowl, play laser tag, or maneuver through a maze. Also, they have a full bar and over 20 beers on tap. Just because you want to feel like a kid again doesn’t mean you have to give up all the perks of being an adult.
Parking is a little tight in the strip that hosts this neighborhood haunt, but keeping with the bespoke (get it?) theme of the place, you’ll want to bike over anyway. Besides, exercising releases endorphins — something you will get double of when you order the always affordable whiskey of the day.
If watching thousands of hours of YouTube dog videos has failed to get you out of your foul mood, get out of bed and watch the real thing. It’s impossible not to smile as you watch dozens of pups frolic in tunnels and on tire swings — especially when drinking summery drinks like the peppery Catahoula Mama or the refreshing Hooked on Tonics. Who wants a treat? You do!