Austin Rooftop Bars, Patios & Gardens for Intimate Drinking
You don’t have to return to a noisy, crowded bar to grab a drink with friends
By Laurel Miller
As spring unfolds with more and more vaccines distributed every day, Austin is opening back up. We’ll soon be able to gather in a safer and more meaningful ways after a year of social distancing and – for many – isolation. (Yes, we still need to follow Covid-19 protocols, but you already knew that). If you’re feeling anxious about imbibing in crowded, enclosed spaces or socially inept from 12 months of mostly talking to your pets or plants, I have a suggestion: visit one of our city’s restaurants or bars with secluded outdoor seating.
Austin has a handful of quiet patio, courtyard, garden and rooftop spots that serve everything from craft cocktails and natural wines to local cider and beer – just the thing to ease your quarantine-induced social anxieties. The following spots are my picks for a well-regulated, contemplative solo drink or small get-together.
Bunkhouse reopened the tucked away property’s Courtyard Lounge last summer, but with most of us hiding out at home, the offer of “Frosé, All Day” largely escaped public notice. Even with the renewed throngs of tourists along South Congress, it’s easy to miss the bar’s low-key signage, which is exactly why you should duck in. Order up a frosty Coquito (spiced rum, coconut, cinnamon) Gin Blossom (Lillet Blanc, gin, Topo Chico), Michelada or the slushy wine and some snacks and let the Spanish-style architecture and lush landscaping drown out the outside world.
When this intimate South Austin eatery reopened last summer, husband-and-wife owners Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher got creative with seating: they closed the indoor dining room and shifted it to the spacious, backyard canopied by 500-year-old live oaks. Now known as the Wine Garden (and the wine list is indeed wonderful) it’s a magical place to imbibe during the Violet Crown hour.
The name of this adorable, Saltillo-styled bar translates to “roof,” befitting its location perched atop sister eatery Mi Madre’s on Manor Road. Sipping a copita of mezcal accompanied by sliced oranges dusted with sal de gusano, you may not be actually transported to Oaxaca, but this sweet little family-owned spot (the Torres’s also own School House Pub) will motivate you to dust off your passport.
This former rooftop parking garage has found new life as a beautifully appointed hotel bar that also offers Mediterranean small plates. Reserve one of the riverside outdoor seats – pretty rattan rockers or wicker loveseats – and sip a light, summery cocktails like the Strawberry Moon (gin, Cocchi Americano, strawberry shrub, juniper tincture). P6 is also open for brunch.
The back patio of this old East Austin bungalow has a dreamy, candlelit vibe at night – just the thing for a rendezvous with one or a few of your closest, newly vaccinated friends. Celebrate with a fizzy French 75 or the house L’Oiseau de Feu (Gem & Bolt mezcal, grapefruit, Tabasco, cinnamon, with an Espelette pepper-salted rim) and steak frites.
As more bars open their doors to the public, Kindred Spirits will expand its coverage to again feature maker and bar profiles and local cocktail and spirit coverage. Thank you, readers, for helping to support small businesses and Austin’s bar and restaurant industry.