Where to drink now

Where to drink in Austin right now: 7 bars for outrageous cocktails

Where to drink in Austin right now: 7 bars for outrageous cocktails

Midnight Cowboy Deja Vu cocktail ATX
Midnight Cowboy's Déjà Vu cocktail sizzles. Photo by Scott Robertson

After all the glitter and glitz of the holidays, January can often seem like a letdown. But don’t worry, these bars all have something to keep your spirits high. This month, we are hitting spots all over town to try some of Austin’s most outlandish cocktails. From tiki drinks with flaming limes to shared punches in oversized martini glasses, these libations will help you celebrate on even the most humdrum days.

Salmon roe in a cocktail? It’s not as weird as it seems. The saline pop of the fish eggs brings out the caraway notes in aquavit while sweet St. Germaine keeps everything in balance. (Think of it like a dirty martini with just a little more oomph.) The sprig of fresh dill garnishing the glass makes it a stunner.

If the name Willie’s Cup doesn’t give away its inspiration, the red bandana wrapped around the cup surely will. Pay homage to Austin’s patron saint with a tongue-in-cheek libation featuring a blend of double rye whiskey and house hemp seed milk. Since no tribute to Nelson would be complete without a little bit of green, a sprig of sage is affixed to the side with a “roach clip.”

The Jackalope
You’ll want to grab a buddy before heading out to enjoy this Sixth Street mainstay’s signature cocktail. The Helldorado, served in a comically large martini glass swimming with plastic snakes and slurped through neon straws, requires at least two people on deck to order. Packed with vodka, grape liqueur, and seemingly a whole bag of sugar, you’ll also need someone to help get you through the inevitable hangover.

Kemuri Tatsu-ya
No Austin Instagram feed is complete without a shot of you and your sweetie making moon eyes while sipping from a pufferfish-shaped scorpion bowl. But the Puff Puff Pass is no mere gimmick. Sweet potato shochu is the base, with a kick of aged rum, pecan liqueur, grapefruit, and five spice bitters. It’s a drink as complex as it is fun — much like the restaurant that serves it.

Midnight Cowboy
General manager Tacy Rowland’s menu for this semi-secret speakeasy pays tribute to the "Art of Conversation," and is one of the most thoughtful drink lists we’ve seen in a while. The Déjà Vu will definitely give you something to talk about. Its mixers (citrus juices, cinnamon, and tiki bitters) are inspired by the tropics, but this boozy concoction substitutes a trio of whiskeys for the expected rum. The flaming absinthe lime on top just gives it a little extra spark.

Pool Burger
When this food truck and bar opened next to Deep Eddy Cabaret, we couldn’t wait to dive into its creative takes on tiki classics. But the bar staff has really outdone themselves with their latest drink: The Shark Bait. A heady mixture of Bounty dark rum, J. Wray overproof rum, blue curacao, banana liqueur, coconut, and lime, the cocktail is served in a shark-shaped mug with “blood” syrup drizzled over the teeth. We think it’ll make a big splash.

The Roosevelt Room
Everything about this downtown bar is a little bit extra, from the obsessive attention to service to the wildly imaginative cocktails. Case in point: the Cigar Box — Del Maguey Vida mezcal, smoked black tea syrup, lavender bitters, and tobacco essence served on an ashtray with a burning cinnamon stick. No wonder the bar’s crowd is so fired up.