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Photograph: Courtesy The Treasury

The best speakeasies and secret bars in Austin

The best speakeasies and secret bars in Austin serve covert cocktails for secret rendezvous and stylish nights out.

Written by
James Wong
Contributors
Cindy Brzostowski
&
Lori A May
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When it comes to something out of the ordinary, Austin is the best place to be. This is a city embraced for its quirks and fiercely independent spirit, so it’s no wonder there are awesome brewerieswine barscocktail dens, and rooftop bars at every corner of town (you could even say that Austinites like liquor a little too much, but we’ll just tell you that you’re drunk). In terms of off-the-beaten-path watering holes, things get even more exciting.

Downtown and beyond, you’ll discover an underground world of hush-hush hidden bars and speakeasies—some require passwords, some need you to step behind a bookcase, and some are so tiny, we feel kind of bad for letting their secret out (sorry, regulars). Here are Austin’s top speakeasies and secret bars to have a drink at.

RECOMMENDED: The best bars in Austin

Best speakeasies in Austin

  • Bars
  • Greater Austin
  • price 2 of 4

It is hard to resist a secret entrance—especially one hiding in plain sight. In the rowdy middle of Sixth Street, a cryptic white sign advertising "Midnight Cowboy Modeling Oriental Massage" juts out of a building. Underneath is a nondescript door and what looks to be a buzzer box for different residences. Push the button for Harry Craddock, and you're in at this former brothel, now craft cocktail sanctuary. Word to the wise: Your best bet is to make a reservation ahead of time, or you'll have to gamble with whether they're accepting walk-ins (if the red light about the doorway is aglow, you're good to go).

Single and ready to mingle? Head to this intimate cocktail lounge and spirits library under the Moonshine Grill. Kinfolk has just 20-seats in its stunning drinking den, and you’ll rub shoulders with strangers that have a taste for their unique collection of whiskeys, scotch, mezcal, tequila, and more. Try Mrs. Robbins, a mezcal daiquiri-style blend of Mezcal Union “El Viejo”, Chairman’s Spice, clarified lime juice, and gum syrup. The menu also has cheese, charcuterie, plus, and macarons.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Congress Ave District
  • price 2 of 4

Be honest: how many of you dreamed of having a secret bookcase that led to a hidden lair when you were a kid? Firehouse Lounge gives you a chance to act out those childhood fantasies. This former fire station (built in 1885) is now a super cozy hostel for travelers, with a speakeasy lounge tucked behind a lobby bookshelf. Snag a cocktail or opt for beer or wine. This hidden spot in the heart of downtown makes for a great location to meet new people and the perfect place to impress your out-of-town friends.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

The secret to this hidden bar is that it’s located in a fully functioning parking garage downtown. Spot the black sign that says “Cocktails” and follow the path to the turquoise neon sign and the bar nestled under the ramp. Inside you’ll find a moody venue in appearance only, as the staff is super welcoming. Appropriate for the slightly industrial theme, drinks are divided between Custom, Vintage, and Refurbished. We recommend trying the Indian Paintbrush, a concoction with vodka, grapefruit, lime, and rosemary that once earned itself the title of The Official Drink of Austin.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Congress Ave District
  • price 2 of 4

There may not be a secret word to get into Small Victory, but it’s an aptly named venue for this hard-to-find location. You’ll wonder if you’re even in the right place, but you are if you’re wandering the parking garage. Head to the corner and go up a short flight of stairs, and through another door, you’ll be greeted by a narrow but classy interior with velvet chairs and cozy booths. Pick your poison from their menu of craft cocktails, and marvel over how they possibly craft their branded ice.

The Treasury sees patrons literally hitting the bank (hence the name) in a tiny vault that seats just a handful of thirsty bodies. Follow the green light behind Eastside’s Shangri-La, and since there’s no reservation system, you’ll need to get here early and avoid weekends if you want to guarantee a seat. Come for a classic cocktail, or check the menu for “Doctor’s Specials” like the Penicillin cocktail. Food is also available.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • East End
  • price 2 of 4

In the basement of Buenos Aires Café lies Milonga Room, a dimly lit speakeasy with an aptly Argentinean-influenced cocktail program (think amaros and fernets). You must make a reservation before visiting and share the secret password with the hostess upon arrival. Head to the alley behind the restaurant and ring the doorbell on the bright red door. Once inside, the vintage décor inside will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time to 1920s Buenos Aires. This romantic space is a great hideaway from the outside world, complete with delicious tapas and empanadas and the possibility of catching some live music.

  • Bars
  • Blackland
  • price 2 of 4

As the popularity of mezcal continues to rise across the city, Techo Mezcaleria & Agave Bar has made a name for itself with its laid-back vibes and impressive drinks. This small, intimate bar is a go-to for locals who prefer to keep hush-hush about its awesomeness. Perched atop the popular Tex Mex restaurant Mi Madre’s (where you’ll find the best breakfast tacos), you’ll walk through School House Pub’s patio to reach the staircase taking you to that delicious agave spirit. Start by sampling their mezcal varieties, but don’t leave without ordering a frozen guava agave margarita with house-made chili salt along the rim.

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  • Restaurants
  • Downtown
  • price 2 of 4

Everyone knows that part of the fun of visiting Alamo Drafthouse is that you can drink while at the movie theater, but the Mueller location takes it to a new level with their boardwalk carnival-themed bar, Barrel O’ Fun. What acts as a family-friendly space with games during the day transforms into a bar at night. They serve a variety of barrel-aged cocktails, highballs, flips, and bombers—oh, and there’s beer and wine too. Throughout the week, Barrel O’ Fun also serves as a space for different events like karaoke, bingo, and trivia. Come one, come all!

Here Nor There is pretty hip with the times and dependent on tech to lure in guests. In fact, the only way non-members get through the gated alleyway is by entering a secret password obtained via the Here Nor There app. Once inside, try the requisite house specialty, Milk and Honey, served in a teacup. Then make a bold move and order something from their experimental menu. Note: if you love it enough, you can also cough up $500 and become a member for fast-track reservations and special tasting events.

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