We’ll drink to that

Austin tiki bar torches Esquire’s new list of the best bars in America

Austin tiki bar torches Esquire’s new list of the best bars in America

Tiki Tatsu-ya interior
Spring Branch cocktail bar Diversion just landed on Esquire's list of the country’s best bars for 2022. Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Let’s raise a glass — or in this case a tiki mug — to Austin’s Tiki Tatsu-Ya, which Esquire just named one of the country’s best bars for 2022.

Esquire heaps praise on Tiki Tatsu-Ya, at 1300 S. Lamar Blvd., for its tiki drinks, which one would expect to be the signature drinks at a tiki bar.

“The tiki drinks on the lavishly illustrated menu are assiduously sourced and served in mugs that are vessels the same way a parade float is a method of conveyance,” Esquire reviewer Joshua David Stein raves.

Stein also praises server Feliza Bustos, saying "if you’re lucky she’ll be the one carrying out a glowing fishbowl full of gin, lemongrass shochu, and star fruit as the lights begin to flash and dramatic music plays at this maximalist tiki bar in Texas."

The drink in question? The Forbidden Grog. Served in a pale-green seahorse, the drink’s “rum runs wild, cavorting with banana, fig, honey, and more,” Stein gushes.

Tiki Tatsu-Ya took home our 2022 Tastemaker Awards for both Bar of the Year and Bartender of the Year, Cory Starr.

The only other Texas bar deemed worthy of the Esquire list of the country's 25 best bars is Houston’s Diversión Cocktails, at 7202 Long Point Rd.

“Houston is a city with zero chill. When people go out, they get dolled up. When they eat, they feast. When they drink, oh brother, wahoo,” Stein writes. “Diversión, the cocktail bar next to Degust (one of our 2021 Best New Restaurants), doesn’t play it cool either, which is … cool. The low-slung brick building is a bar kitchen, stocked with more flasks and equipment than a Pfizer lab. Flagons of tinctures, ferments, vinegars, and shrubs line the wall.”

The bar chefs, led by Steven Enrique Salazar, click on a spotlight when they serve you a drink, and the drinks deserve such lighting, Stein tells us.

“The Night at the Movies is a concoction of Sercial Madeira and cognac with citrus bitters, accompanied by an Android tablet playing a Charlie Chaplin flick. It’s a bit de trop,” Stein writes. “For the slightly more nonchalant, choose from the farm-to-table cocktails. Many of the ingredients are sourced from the bar’s own two five-thousand-square-foot farms.”