Drinking can get expensive y'all, especially at spots where a $12 cocktail is boldly offered as the preferred option. But what about the renegade joints where you can bring your own booze? Do they still exist? Thankfully, yes.
Austin still retains a little bit of her outlaw culture at these BYOB bars. Sure, these places will always serve you a beer, but the setup is where the real savings are. Penny pinching like this is perfectly legal — just make sure to bring cash and a healthy sense of adventure. After all, any night you can roll out of a bar for less than 10 bucks is a good night.
Buddy's Place of Happiness
Buddy's has long been one of our favorite dive bars and its tagline sums it up best, "The last original beer joint in Austin." Ice cold brews, a cowboy mannequin named Jasper, a questionable shuffleboard table and the best country jukebox in these here parts. Plus it's BYO. If you do partake of the beer, ask for a koozie from the koozie bucket lest it freeze your hand right off.
The original queer dive bar Bernadette's (RIP) morphed into Skylark Lounge, a deeply dark and delicious spot on Airport Boulevard. Though the shadow of a liquor license looms ever present, it's still BYO. Skylark offers free popcorn and sometimes has self-serve nachos with chili. You can catch live music almost nightly, including Miss Lavelle White, Soul Man Sam, Margaret Wright and Hosea Hargrove.
Breaking news alert: Mickey's Thirsty-I-Lounge is now Giovanni's. It retains all of its former glory, including the legendary karaoke nights every Thursday through Saturday. When you make the trek up to this fine establishment on North Lamar Boulevard, make sure to high five Hollywood, give Pops a squeeze and get ready for a good time (especially if Larry the Cowboy is rocking the mic).
Sam's Town Point
Come to Sam's and cuddle up to a regular. They've got epic stories, knee-slappers and will whip your booty at pool. STP has cookouts most weekends, live music almost every night and is known for hosting fundraisers like the Wounded Warrior benefit happening August 9.
If you're scared of clowns, this is not the place for you. However, if you're not coulrophobic, your quest for quirky ends here. Tucked away near the Mueller development in East Austin, this circus-themed bar features different live bands or specialty acts each night, a giant pink elephant and a dance floor that's seen a lot of action. Carousel Lounge: Keeping it circus-y since 1963.
Ginny's Little Longhorn
This famed establishment was recently renovated by local legend Dale Watson. The new incarnation has retained the incomparable charm while making it a wee bit safer to drink in. Ginny's has local beers on tap for your beer-drinkin' buddies but retains the BYOB option for your drinking pleasure. Happy hour six days a week, live music almost daily, and, of course, the one and only Chicken Shit Bingo every Sunday starting at 4 pm.