Where to drink now

Where to drink in Austin right now: 5 beachy bars for an instant vacation

Where to drink in Austin now: 5 beachy bars for an instant vacation

Pool Burger cocktails
The living is easy at Pool Burger. Photo by Annie Whitehead

Just look at the Hawaiian print shirts currently crowding the racks at Stag or the tropical wallpaper spreading like kudzu to restrooms across town. Vacation vibes are everywhere, and this month we’re riding the crest.

Check your irony at the door, grab your best pair of Tom Cruise sunnies, and crank up the yacht rock. It’s time to drink like a tourist at these five getaway bars.

Hula Hut
Sure, Hulu Hut is a little cheesy and the mixology revolution has completely passed it by, but we all need to stop acting like we don’t have a bottle of Malibu Rum stashed away in our cabinets. This Lake Austin staple keeps on swimming because it’s unabashedly fun.

Gaze at the water while you chow down on uncomplicated food like “Five-O” fajitas and “tubular” tacos, or share the Hu-La-La, a fishbowl filled with three types of rum and festooned with fruit wedges, swizzle sticks, and bright ruby red Maraschino cherries. So what if it’ll give you a hangover — it’s totally worth it.

Kitty Cohen’s
This Webberville Road hangout takes its cues from folks who really know how to vacation: Palm Springs retirees. No wonder there’s always at least one person wearing a caftan. But regardless of the environment, people flock to the bar because all the sunshine seems to put everyone in a good mood. 

Of course, the bright outlook might have something to with the easy drinks like the crowd favorite Key Party punch. A refreshing mix of Waterloo Gin, cucumber, lemon, Prosecco, and a judicious amount of sugar, it’s a drier counterpoint to this town’s more sickly sweet concoctions without losing its sense of play. Share it with a cute stranger in the spirit of its name.

NLand Brewing Company
You won’t find a single paper umbrella at this brewery located on site of the NLand Surf Park, but elaborate mixed drinks aren’t the only thing you can drink on the beach. Besides, we bet even tiki bar creator Don the Beachcomber popped open a cold one every now and then.

Since the tasting room is open to the Texas heat, head brewer Todd Henry keeps things light with German-style beers that mostly come in at around 5 percent ABV. He is just as adept at other styles, like the crisp Surfeza Mexican-style lager.

Note that you cannot surf after imbibing, so if you need a little liquid encouragement before you squeeze into a wetsuit, you’re out of luck. Still, a pint of Off Leash IPA may be just the balm you need after a series of wipeouts.

Pool Burger
Judging by a recent visit, at least half of the customers of this tiki hideaway are CrossFit trainers, but just because your main form of exercise is wading into the shallow end of nearby Deep Eddy Pool doesn’t mean you can’t join them in beasting it up.

First, order a Shipwrecked cocktail with mezcal, Damoiseau rhum (that’s the kind of rum distilled from sugar cane instead of molasses), pineapple, cilantro, and lime and take a quick video before the flaming float blows out. Then, dive into a Loyal Forever cheeseburger with pickled jalapeños, grilled onions, and ranch. (This is still Texas, after all.)

Tiki Bar
Leave it to the owners of the Craftsman to combine Westworld and Gilligan’s Island all on one lot. But somehow the prairie spareness of the main bar and the thatched roof of its backyard cousin all makes sense.

Aesthetics aside, it is also making some of the best tiki drinks in the city. Classics like Painkillers and Mai Tais are there, but we’re partial to the original creations like Late Nights in Lahaina, a holiday mixture of coconut rum, sherry, lime, and passionfruit, cut with a few dashed of Angostura bitters.

Drink it with a double order of pork and shrimp gyoza from neighboring food truck Alley Cat. After all, vacation is never the time to diet.