Summers in Austin are famously unbearable—aside from spending the day at a nearby water park or taking refuge at an air conditioned spa, there's little we can do to escape the heat. Luckily for us, our talented bar community has stepped up to the plate with liquid lifeboats. From frozen drinks at a hotel bar to fruity concoctions at a bar-forward restaurant, here are our picks for the best summer cocktails in Austin.
Summer cocktails in Austin
Think of the Roosevelt Room’s Huli Pau! ($15) as a vacation in a glass. The frozen, creamy concoction (wrapped with a mini Hawaiian lei) is comprised of El Dorado 5 Year dark rum, aloe juice, coconut cream, pineapple, mint, tarragon and peanut oil. Its irresistible flavor lies somewhere between a piña colada and your favorite Thai dish—and we mean that in the absolute best way possible.
Enjoy the sunset and a panoramic view of Austin with a chilled beverage at Deck Nine Observatory Bar, located on the third floor of Boiler Nine Bar + Grill in the new Seaholm District. The Frozen Rio Verde ($9) is a slushy-like blend of plata tequila, basil, grapefruit and Chartreuse, and is available on the rooftop bar Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm until late, depending on the weather.
South Congress seafood hotspot Perla’s has a Prickly Pear Margarita ($10) so popular that the restaurant receives daily phone calls from patrons who want to make sure the cocktail is being offered that day. Need proof? Perla’s sells a whopping 15-20 gallons of the lightly sweetened, fuschia-hued margarita each weekend.
The über cool Hotel San José is serving a (practically) healthy take on a shandy this summer—the Activated Popsicle Shandy ($9), to be enjoyed on the shady patio of the hotel’s lounge. A can of Shiner Blonde Light is served with a black, activated charcoal lemonade pop which slowly melts and mingles with the beer, fulfilling all of your summer-goth fantasies.
Small Victory’s Philadelphia Fish House Punch ($60)—made with both traditional brandy and apple brandy, Jamaican rum, peach liqueur, lemon juice and demerara sugar, and served on a block of Clinebell’s crystal clear ice—is lightly fruity and extremely refreshing. Dating back to the 1730s and meant to be shared with your crew, this classic punch is one of the oldest examples of a mixed alcoholic beverage in American history.
Odd Duck always offers a seasonal frozen cocktail, and their current offering—Cool as a Cucumbrrr ($11)—is one that incites the best kind of chills. The frosty, dark green cocktail is a blend of cucumber, vodka, Strega, lime and crème de violette, and serves as a lifesaver during Austin’s notoriously brutal summer.
Day Three of Your Juice Cleanse is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, chamomile lavender Hans Pils syrup, kaffir lime leaf honey, lemon, lime, pineapple and butterfly pea flower, and is topped with a healthy dose of beer foam. The list of ingredients alone in this herbal and fruit-forward cocktail is enough to pique interest, but the sunset-like ombre effect—thanks to the butterfly pea flower—is too beautiful to resist. Now this is a cocktail we’d break a juice cleanse for.
Frosé is having a moment right now, and we're especially smitten with EastSide Tavern’s classic version of the frosty, photogenic drink ($10)—rosé wine and a secret blend of fresh fruit juices mixed together to create a perfectly smooth frosé. Who knew millennial pink was this delicious?
Pink popsicles are irresistible, especially when they’re made by Goodpop and dunked in a cocktail. Parlor & Yard’s Mia Sandia ($9) is a Goodpop watermelon agave popsicle served in a drink made with 512 Tequila, spicy Ancho Reyes liqueur, lime, simple syrup and soda. Just try not to eat the pop before you finish the drink.
For cocktail lovers who like their drinks served in ceramic poodles, pigs, eagles, bunnies and fish, Whisler’s refreshing shareable punch bowls deliver. Choose a 2-3 person punch bowl ($20-$25) or a 4-6 person bowl ($35) from Whisler’s menu of handcrafted offerings which includes the Rings of Saturn (a blend of locally-produced Highborn Gin, fresh lemon juice, house-made passion fruit syrup, falernum, orgeat syrup and a few dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters) and the tiki-inspired Touch of Love (prepared with Cruzan Black Strap Rum, Old Forester bourbon, Amaro Montenegro, curaçao liqueur, pineapple and lime juices, all topped with a splash of club soda). Or opt for the rotating special and allow Whisler’s punch pros to handcraft a massive seasonally-inspired cocktail for the group.
The mouthwatering Psycho-Tropical ($13) is a combination of J. Wray and Nephew Jamaican rum and Rhum Barbancourt 8 (both of which have been fat washed with coconut oil, lending a silky mouthfeel), nutty cashew orgeat, lime, cinnamon and angostura bitters served over crushed ice. The result is a unique summer cocktail that manages to be simultaneously boozy and breezy.
Made with Tres Agaves blanco tequila, house jalapeño/watermelon syrup and fresh lime juice, the Hottermelon ($9) is a fruity, fiery take on a margarita. What sets this cocktail apart, though, is that it's served with a giant ice cube made from fresh watermelon juice which slowly melts and transforms the drink into a boozy, grown-up slushie.
Crush summer with Second Bar + Kitchen's Sidewinder's Fang, a playful tiki drink available during happy hour only (and for a mere $6 at that!). Complete with festive tiki preparations, this retro-inspired cocktail uses Kong's Island spice rum, passionfruit and citrus. Hammock not included.
Kitty Cohen’s Palm Springs, kitschy vibe is enhanced by their dedication to the fine art of frozen cocktails. At the newly introduced outdoor Daq Shack, sip on frosé ($8) and an always-changing selection of frozen cocktails (like the namesake frozen daquiri). The Daq Shack is open Friday to Sunday from 3-8pm.