The Bar Scene

The best new bars in Austin: 5 hot spots to check out right now

The best new bars in Austin: 5 hot spots to check out right now

Cocktails Stay Gold Austin Patio
Grab a cocktail on Stay Gold's east side patio. Photo by Melody Fury
Cocktails at The Wheel Austin
Cocktails at The Wheel.  Photo by Melody Fury
Prelog's cocktail Austin
European- and Austin-inspired cocktails at Prelog's. Photo by Melody Fury
Margaritas Corner Bar JW Marriott Austin
Margaritas at Corner Bar. Photo by Melody Fury
Isla Austin Cocktails
Island-inspired cocktails at Isla. Photo by Melody Fury
Cocktails Stay Gold Austin Patio
Cocktails at The Wheel Austin
Prelog's cocktail Austin
Margaritas Corner Bar JW Marriott Austin
Isla Austin Cocktails

Austin has no shortage of new spots to check out this season. 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, the 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; Patio Bar incorporates heat and smokiness into the jalapeno-hibiscus margarita with a smoked salt rim. The bar is also stocked with spirits from local Texas distilleries, 16 beers from local breweries and several Texas wines. 

While the spacious interior bar offers the full menu, the outdoor bar spotlights a taqueria menu with tacos and regional small plates. This airy hangout is ideal for post-work drinks and pre-partying eats.
 

The Wheel
Whiskey and craft beer are the focal point at this laid-back East Austin hideaway. Besides a select variety of artisanal brews, The Wheel offers a choice of whiskeys (and each day a different one is on special). In addition, the bar serves up four signature cocktails, each named after the team members' daughters. The Avery, stirred with Knob Creek, maraschino liqueur, green chartreuse and chocolate bitters is a curious mix that is surprisingly balanced. 

The interior walls are donned with vintage photographs of cyclists, including a charming print of a nude rider behind the bar. The beer tap water feature sets the tone to the casual backyard patio.  
 

Stay Gold
With plush seats and metallic accents, this East Cesar Chavez haunt has quickly gained status as 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 Reyes (an ancho chile liqueur), Champagne and lemon juice. The El Diablo kicks it up a notch with muddled fresh blackberries and habanero-infused Milagro Silver Tequila.  

Bonus: Stay Gold has already designed a brunch cocktail list in preparation of the Toaster food trailer to open on-site, headed by Chef Hannah Love (previously at Clark’s, Perla’s and Jeffrey’s).
 

Isla
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 with 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. Drinks aside, the seafood-forward food menu (think: grilled octopus and ceviche) also holds its own.
 

Prelog’s
The husband and wife team of 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 hand-picked 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 this 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.
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