Austin’s best hotel bars
The bar team at Geraldine’s—found on the fourth floor of the sleek Hotel Van Zandt—are known for crafting seasonal cocktails that embody Austin culture. The "Willie’s Cup" is made with High West double rye whiskey, hemp seed milk and sage, and the cup is wrapped with a little red bandana in honor of Willie Nelson. On especially hot days, try the $5 punch at happy hour (Mon-Fri from 5 to 6:30pm)—it changes seasonally, but it's a guaranteed refresher. The hotel's rooftop pool with an outdoor fireplace is accessible through Geraldine’s, and the restaurant and bar also doubles as a music venue.
Enjoy happy hour Monday through Friday from 5 to 7pm in W Austin’s The Living Room Lounge, which boasts four separate rooms with their own personality. Sip on tequila at the aptly named Tequila Bar, choose from over 8,000 vinyl records in the Records Room, get cozy witha date in the red-hued Secret Room or lounge and people-watch with a few cocktails in the Screened Porch room.
Take an elevator ride up to the seventh floor of the Fairmont Austin and you'll find yourself at Rules and Regs, a sleek cocktail bar that spills out onto a patio offering stunning views of the Austin skyline. Well-balanced cocktails from beverage manager Andrew Grenz populate the menu (he's designed the cocktails at the Fairmont's lobby bar as well), which you can sip on while lounging in groups on the deck or at the sultry indoor bar. The adjacent pool will have you longing for a dip—but be warned, it's just for guests.
The South Congress Hotel is a stunning example of desert modern design, so it’s no surprise that drinking inside their unambiguously-named Lobby Bar—with it’s three yellow smiley faces above the bar—feels like you’re on a Palm Springs vacation. The full bar serves house favorites like the perfectly sweet and tart hibiscus margarita and offers half-off all cocktails, beers and wines by the glass, and specials on bar snacks Monday through Friday from 5 to 7pm (their burger is a delicious beast). Valet parking is free for up to three hours.
Hotel Ella's intimate Parlor Bar is a comfortable, modern contrast to the restored mansion’s columned exterior. The entire space is inky black and gray, from the ceiling and walls to the velvet banquette and brass barstools. Keep it simple with the classic Goodall’s old-fashioned (Knob Creek rye whiskey Angostura, Fee Brothers bitters, demerara sugar, Luxardo maraschino cherry) or the refreshing Goodall’s Blunderbuss (Fords gin, rosemary syrup, lemon, prosecco). Hit up Parlor Bar during happy hour for half-off cocktails, beers and wine by the glass from Monday through Friday, 4 to 7pm, on the wrap-around veranda overlooking Hotel Ella’s beautiful front lawn.
Built in 1886, The Driskill is an ornate landmark steeped in history: President Lyndon Johnson and his wife “Lady Bird” Johnson had their first date here. There are also multiple urban legends which claim The Driskill is haunted. But we’re here to talk about The Driskill Bar, a grand space clad in leather, cowhide, Western paintings and Tiffany lamps found just up the grand staircase. Wine, beer, cocktails and bar snacks are best enjoyed from buttery leather armchairs during the bar’s generous happy hour from 4 to 7pm everyday. While the cocktail menu and execution could use fine tuning, the charm of The Driskill Bar is utterly undeniable.
In the mid-90s, hotelier Liz Lambert transformed the Hotel San José from a crime-ridden motel to its current state of impossible chicness. The bar is nestled in the center of the understated West Texas-chic hotel; this is where frosés (frozen rosé!) and tropical sangrias are sipped. In line with the hotel’s hip persona, they host weekly events like Soul Sides where 45s are spun, and Italo Disco with Italian drinks and jams.
Crush your summer at Azul, the pool and bar located on the roof of The Westin Austin Downtown that boasts one of the best views in the city. Sip on raspberry frosé or the unique “The Conquistador,” made with rum and Mexican Coke and chilled with red wine ice cubes. If you’re not lounging in your private cabana, the shallow pool is designed for sunny hangs.