Sip Into Spring: 9 New Austin Bars To Check Out
Barhop Your Way Through A Brand New Scene
By Taylor Tobin
Now that spring has officially sprung here in Austin, our city’s bartenders are eagerly introducing refreshing seasonal cocktails packed with bright fruit flavors and fresh herbs to their menus.
But that’s not the only reason to lean into the spring barhopping scene. These nine brand new bars will be opening their doors in the upcoming days, weeks and months (or have launched operations very recently), each with engaging design, exciting libations and unique vibes.
What: A chic subterranean “listening bar” at the Hotel Magdalena with playful craft cocktails and an impressive vinyl collection, operated and designed by Bunkhouse in collaboration with partners Amar Lalvani, Executive Chairman of Standard International and Bunkhouse, Mohawk owner James Moody and Breakaway Records owners Josh LaRue and Gabe Vaughn.
Where: Inside Hotel Magdalena, 1101 Music Lane
When: Officially opened in mid-March
Hotel Magdalena, the boutique hotel off South Congress Avenue, just opened a basement-level bar with serious style and a cocktail menu designed by acclaimed Austin bartender, beverage consultant and influencer Robert Bjӧrn Taylor.
Equipment Room draws major influences from Japanese jazu kissa (cafes), where guests gather to enjoy drinks and listen to jazz sets spun on vinyl. The bar’s moody, atmospheric lighting, plush velvet furniture and flavorful cocktails named after classic songs (like “All Tomorrow’s Parties” with rum, arrack, Cynar and banana liqueur and “Gold Dust Woman” with gin, macadamia nut liqueur, aquavit, Granny Smith apple juice, spiced demerara sugar, sparkling wine and gold leaf) set the mood, as does the sleek wooden shelving that displays the bar’s rich, multi-genre vinyl collection.
But don’t expect to make requests. Equipment Room is all about opening yourself up to audiophile experiences. Trust the musical discretion of the bar’s skilled curatorial team.
Holiday on 7th
What: A breezy, minimalist East Austin destination for intricate cocktails and gourmet bar bites
Where: 5020 East 7th Street
When: Officially opened on March 24
If you’re a fan of New Nordic design, a mix of well-crafted classic cocktails and inventive house creations, and a bar menu with a decidedly upscale spin, Holiday on 7th could become your go-to bar on the east side.
The drink menu features premium spirits and flavor agents, and the helpful tasting notes guide imbibers in the right direction (for example, “Heart of the Wheel,” which contains Kooper Sweetheart of the Rodeo bourbon, grapefruit liqueur, orgeat, cardamom bitters and lime, is described as “easy-drinkin,’ stonefruit, sour”).
Holiday on 7th counts the co-owner of Kinda Tropical and a group of Olamaie alums as its founding team, so it’s no surprise that they take their bar bites very seriously. Highlights include chicken liver mousse with white port gelée and a mostarda with strawberry and green garlic; steamed mussels with gigante beans and sofrito; and avocado chocolate mousse with pecan crumble.
Uptown Sports Club
What: A long-awaited New Orleans-style sandwich shop, coffee counter and bar helmed by barbecue pit maestro Aaron Franklin and Mohawk founder James Moody
Where: 1200 East 6th Street
When: Officially opened in late March
When it comes to highly anticipated bar and restaurant openings in Austin, few can claim the buzz generated by Austin barbecue impresario Aaron Franklin’s takeover of the Uptown Sports Club building on East Sixth Street. Franklin and his business partner, Mohawk founder James Moody (who also works with Franklin on the annual Hot Luck Festival in Austin) have finally revealed this new passion project to their eager Austin fans.
What they have for us is a casual-but-polished all-day restaurant inspired by the cafe culture of New Orleans. The menu includes a sandwich loaded with Gulf shrimp and dressed with Crystal hot sauce (a NOLA staple), a chicken and sausage gumbo cooked for 3 days (in true Cajun fashion), a full coffee and espresso list, and seafood and oyster platters.
On the spirits side, expect playful cocktails like the frozen “Chicory & Chocolate,” the “Good Sport” with bourbon, Cracker Jack-infused simple syrup and Angostura, and the non-alcoholic Glass Jaw with N/A gin, blueberry, lemon, sparkling water and a jasmine mist.
What: A seasonal rooftop bar in East Austin with a laser focus on gin and gin cocktails
Where: 1813 East 6th Street
When: Officially opened on March 31
Gin’s aromatic, herbaceous flavor profile can be a bit polarizing, but if you’re an unapologetic lover of this juniper-y spirit, then you’ll find yourself among friends at Gin Bar. The seasonal rooftop boîte at the ARRIVE Hotel in East Austin reopened after a winter closure on March 31.
The bar crew at Gin Bar has in-depth, scholarly knowledge of their signature liquor, and they prepare drinks ranging from classic Martinis to unique creations like the Violet Offender (gin, vermouth, lavender, and lemon oil).
The open-air space features plenty of benches and tables, and if you’re not in the mood for gin, Gin Bar also provides a list of international wines and local beers.
What: The teams behind some of Austin’s best bars have teamed up to launch a relaxed yet refined East Austin spot with cocktails, wine and Neapolitan-style pizza
Where: 1708 East 6th Street
When: Spring or Summer 2023
When the great minds behind such beloved Austin drinkeries as White Horse, Kitty Cohen’s, High Noon and Birdie’s get together for a project, expectations are bound to be very high.
The teams behind Day Dreamer have been fairly tight-lipped about the specific opening date for their upcoming East 6th Street bar, but we know that we can anticipate a blend of classic and artisanal cocktails, a wine list that leans in a sparkling direction, a residency by up-and-coming pizzaiolos All Day Pizza (who have been impressing Tarrytown pizza fans through their current collaboration with Flo’s Wine Bar), and an aesthetic and energy that take heavy inspiration from hotel bars from around the world.
What: A smash-hit Mexico City taqueria that will open a location in Southwest Austin this spring, complete with an impressive assortment of tequilas, mezcals and agave cocktails.
Where: 7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 5 Suite 100
When: Spring 2023
The Lantana Place development near Oak Hill will soon be home to the second-ever American outpost of La Popular, a hugely popular upscale-casual restaurant in Mexico City that specializes in house-made tortillas and moles, tacos that feature seasonal ingredients, and a well-researched and diverse assortment of tequilas and mezcals.
La Popular’s bar crew can talk you through the list and serve you straight pours of these spirits. They also prepare lively cocktails that highlight the natural flavors of tequila and mezcal, like the “Forbidden Paradise Mule (blanco tequila, ginger, lime, passion fruit, chamoy and bee pollen)” and the “Desert Rose (hibiscus and lime-infused silver tequila, mezcal, cinnamon-infused Licor 43, prickly pear, pomegranate and lemon).”
Rozco’s Comedy Club
What: An indie comedy club in East Austin that seeks to highlight local comics in an atmospheric, date-appropriate setting
Where: 1805 East 7th Street
When: Officially opened in late March
With a prime location in the heart of East Austin’s bar district, Rozco’s Comedy Club seeks to attract both visitors and Austinites who want to kick back with a beverage and enjoy comedy sets performed by local comedians.
Rozco’s semi-industrial look — think block walls and exposed pipes — gives the space a palpable creative energy. The elevated stage allows for great sight lines from any seat in the house.
As of now, Rozco’s serves wine and beer, but they’re hoping to add food trucks in the near future.
What: A sophisticated but unpretentious downtown cocktail bar with a seafood menu created by an alumnus of some of New York City’s most celebrated restaurants
Where: 205 West 3rd Street
Daniel Berg is an accomplished chef who came to Austin by way of New York City. His resume includes lauded restaurants like Daniel, Le Bernardin and Locanda Verde. Berg has teamed up with native Austinite Stewart Jarmon to bring Bill’s Oyster, a cocktail bar and seafood destination inspired by New Orleans, to downtown Austin.
Bill’s Oyster will offer Gulf shellfish, clever spins on classic cocktails that are designed to pair with the seafood and an assortment of local beers and wines.
What: A South 1st wine bar with bio-dynamic wines accompanied by a menu of Korean-inspired dishes
Where: 1600 South 1st Street
When: Spring 2023
Foodies with a soft spot for sustainable wines will find plenty to love about Underdog, a Korean-style eatery led by an alumnus of the famous Momofuku restaurant group.
In addition to lively dishes like Korean fried chicken and noodles with roe and sea urchin, Underdog will serve bio-dynamic wines from all over the world that pair beautifully with the food menu.
This Bouldin Creek hotspot won’t focus too heavily on strictly-replicated Korean classics, instead drawing additional inspiration from Australia, other regions of Asia and — of course — from Texas.