The Bar Scene
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.