The Austin bar scene may be enamored with fun in the sun, but all those monstera leaves have afflicted us with a tropical malaise. As the days grow shorter and the air turns crisper, the last thing we want to do is spend another weekend at Bernie’s.
As the days get shorter, it’s time to try something different. Out with the Hawaiian shirts and in with the chunky knits. It’s time to cozy up in the Capital City’s most intimate spaces.
This cave-like space underneath the Seaholm District’s Boiler Nine features drinks from one of the most respected bar masters in town, Jason Stevens. That’s reason enough to visit, but add an eclectic atmosphere and a playful menu of bar snacks and it becomes one of Austin’s most essential watering holes. On a crisp day, order the Night Bloom, a mezcal and sotol sipper with roast pineapple and makrut lime that takes tiki into the winter.
The Buzz Mill
With enough lumber to make Paul Bunyan feel at home and a fort-like backyard, this coffee shop and bar feels worlds away from downtown’s glass and steel. Bundle up in a buffalo plaid puffer and curl your fingers around a pint of house apple and pear Camp Cider. Spike it with a shot of apple cinnamon whiskey if you’re feeling a little wooden before a date.
The Driskill Bar
Need to make a last-minute land deal before the holidays? Hold court from one of the Chesterfields scattered across this classic Lone Star lounge. Filled with Texana memorabilia like cowhide upholstery and a longhorn taxidermy mount, The Driskill’s bar is tailor-made for cattle barons with a closet full of Luccheses, but it's just as comfy if you can only afford Ropers.
Despite the massive bar and spacious interior, this downtown spot still seems as snug as a Black Forest cabin thanks to details like stag lamps, tufted leather benches, and tartan carpeting. The whiskey — over 400 varieties ranging from America’s best Bourbons to rare Taiwanese single malts — warms things up, too. Enjoy them as a straight pour or in a proper Old Fashioned.
Don’t let the season pass you by without ordering a Maple Leaf from this downtown bar, squeezed into a upstairs space above Seventh Street. The combination of Bourbon, maple syrup, and cinnamon — livened up with a little lemon juice — is an autumnal classic, stirring up memories of brisk nights in front of a fire pit. Alas, there’s no open flames inside the tiny space, but close your eyes and you’ll still feel the warmth.
W Living Room Bar
Sure, all the red in the Secret Bar looks straight out of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, but just a few steps away is a crackling fireplace and rows of cushy wingback chairs in the Record Room. Dress to impress and arrive early to secure the best people-watching spot. Then flirt the night away while sloshing a gin martini.
The Whisper Room
This reservations-only bar in the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin hotel is a far cry from the raucous Sixth Street bars nearby. Setting the scene with Limoges porcelain, crystal glassware, and a vintage bar cart, the space takes guests back to a more elegant drinking age, one where drinks were made to be sipped instead of chugged. The nuanced takes on classic cocktails are the rightful source of much gossip.