Fabulous drinks

Dive Bar: Making downtown drinking comfortable again

Dive Bar: Making downtown drinking comfortable again

Austin Photo Set: News_Nicole Carbon_Dive Bar_ June 2011_drew pickell
Dive Bar at night Photo by Drew Pickell

While I appreciate upscale cocktail lounges and restaurant bars, what downtown has lacked is a true neighborhood bar. Yes, I’m talking about that place where you walk in and everyone knows your name.

Welcome Dive Bar!

Started by Jim and Beverly Neeley and a few of their friends, Dive Bar is an unassuming neighborhood joint that sits in Austin's midtown--just a bit north of downtown but south of campus. They don’t take themselves too seriously here, but they do take time and care with what they do, apparent in the finish-out, offerings and hospitality.

Dive Bar is located in a building from the 1930s, and during renovations, a gorgeous pine ceiling was exposed. Designers mirrored the look of the ceiling in a curved bar made of longleaf pine. Hand-blown glass globe lights with Edison bulbs suspended by plumbing pipes create a cozy atmosphere in an intimate, dark space. A screenprint mural covers the wall to the right and hip, poster art of images that include Liz Lambert’s El Cosmico and Hotel Saint Cecilia line the other wall. Did I mention that the music here is fabulous? It’s a collaborative effort by the individualistic staff.

You won’t find mixers coming out of a soda gun; fresh juices and real Dublin Dr. Pepper are used. The cocktail list is divided into "specialty," which were compiled by the bartenders, and "classics." I fell in love with the classic Aviation, made with Plymouth Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, lemon juice and Créme de Violette. The flavors blended together perfectly and avoided the common fatality of being too sweet.

The wine list is small, but impressive with thought out selections of new and old world varietals, changing seasonally. A blackboard on the wall displays an extensive list of beers available by the bottle, and a few canned selections are included, as well. (Five draft beers are available including two from Austin, (512) Pecan Porter and Firemans #4.)

The setting here is chill and the crowd is mixed--this is not the hipster scene. Expect to find regulars from the neighborhood, professionals that work in the area and a handful of state officials, as well. On my visits, the crowd was mostly made up of friends in their 30s hanging out. All are welcomed; the more the merrier.  

Dive Bar is giving Austin's downtown area what it really needs: the perfect perch for a good, quality drink, in a chill setting with friendly bartenders. It’s the kind of place that you’ll want to frequent, and if they don't remember your name, the bartenders will--at the very least--remember what you drink.