Fa la la til we fall down

Where to drink in Austin right now: 8 festive bars with holiday spirits

Where to drink in Austin right now: 8 festive bars with holiday spirit

Miracle on 5th Bad Santa cocktail
The Bad Santa at Miracle on 5th St. is a cheery mix of mulled red wine, tawny port, Grand Marnier, spices, and golden raisin. Courtesy photo

When it comes to celebrating the season, whether you want to warm up your bones in the chilly weather or dull your senses during family gatherings, having a cocktail (or three) is always a plus. If you're dreaming of a booze-fueled Christmas, these are the best places in Austin to get your drink on.

Every winter, “ranch to table” restaurant Contigo offers an entire menu dedicated to hot toddies, rotating their offerings throughout the season. Expect a variety of both boozy and non-alcoholic hot drinks ranging from apple cider to hot chocolate. If you are there on a date, grab a blanket and snuggle up by the fire pit.

The Driskill
Austin’s landmark Driskill Hotel is one of the best places to be during the holidays, regardless of what you’re sipping on. Every year, the hotel is totally decked out for the holidays — we’re talking crackling fireplaces adorned with ribbons and holly, thousands of twinkling lights, and Austin’s prettiest Christmas tree. The resulting atmosphere is pure magic. Come curl up by the fire, sample one of their lovely cocktails (we recommend trying one of their 130th anniversary drinks, the Driskill Julep and the Texas Revival), and bask in the festive glow.  

Cozy downtown eatery Geraldine’s has a seasonal cocktail menu that’s always one of the most inspired in Austin. This year, some of our favorite drinks include the Ginger Queen Bee (Bourbon, lemon, plum and honey syrup, bitters, and Cardamaro — a wine based aperitif infused with blessed thistle and cardoon) and Is That Yo Chic? (Appleton 12 year rum, fruity Licor 43, Velvet Falernum, chicory espresso, Chameleon Cold Brew, and orange bitters). Yum!

Rainy Street staple Icenhauer’s always features a whimsical, holiday movie inspired drink menu. Last year’s array of cocktails included Keep the Change Ya Filthy Animal (vanilla vodka, sparkling wine, butterscotch schnapps), an homage to Home Alone, and the A Christmas Story themed You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out (candy cane-infused double chocolate vodka and Bailey’s). They’ll be updating this season’s menu later this week, so keep watch.

Lala’s Little Nugget
Lala’s Little Nugget may be small, but the classic Austin dive serves up serious Christmas cheer every day of the year. Billed as “the North Pole meets Central Texas," the bar has been Christmas-themed since it opened in the early ‘70s and is covered in generations’ worth of holiday memorabilia and decor. Try the Reindeer Water (tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime, Topo Chico) or the Naughty Little Nugget (habanero infused tequila, lime, blue agave syrup, orange juice).   

Miracle on 5th St.
What’s more Austin than a mega hyped, Christmas themed pop-up bar? For the first time ever, downtown cocktail bar Roosevelt Room has transformed their next door event space, the Eleanor, into a boozy, twinkly winter wonderland. Expect a full menu of seasonal drinks like the Run Run Rudolph (blanco tequila, iced hot chocolate, coffee liqueur, Mexican spices), How the Gimlet Stole Christmas (gin, pine-caraway sage cordial), and the Snowball Old-Fashioned (gingerbread bourbon, lemon zest, wormwood bitters), plus Santa Claus in the flesh and more ugly Christmas sweaters than a UT frat party.

Prohibition Creamery
Our favorite boozy ice cream shop definitely isn’t skipping out on the fun this season. Indulge your sweet tooth with their specialty pumpkin cheesecake milkshake with a graham cracker crumble, or try its adult counterpart made with Jameson whiskey. If that doesn’t strike your holiday fancy, stay tuned: other drinks scheduled to be released this season include spiked hot cocoa, a hot toddy, and a spiced chocolate Old Fashioned.

Stay Gold
This hip east side joint is offering a smattering of cold weather cocktails just in time for the holidays. Their hot buttered rum is a delicious concoction of Flor de Cana 7 year aged rum with vanilla bean butter and optional Chila ‘Orchata, and both their Irish Coffee and Menta Hot Chocolate (Branca Menta and hot cocoa with whipped cream) are exceptional. If you’re feeling a bit under the weather (but can’t bear getting through the holidays sans alcohol), we highly recommend the Earl Gray Cocktail, a blend of Hendricks gin, Barrow’s intense ginger liqueur, honey, lemon, rosemary, and the namesake tea.