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Interior Design and Cocktails Collide at These Austin Bars

Austin’s bar scene is bursting with innovative cocktails, curated libations, lively patios — and an abundance of Instagrammable bars

Avid Instagrammers agree — Austin bars are undeniably photo-friendly, with thoughtful design that complements each venue’s unique theme.

Obsessed with decor trends? Want to know where to go for a margarita surrounded by retro resort vibes or a martini in a dark academia space? We’ve got you covered.

Holiday on 7th (Photo by @yanglincphoto)
Photo by Yanglin

Scandinavian Summer: Holiday on 7th

Fans of Scandinavian design know that this aesthetic is all about clean lines, bright whites, neutral tones and wooden pieces.

Holiday on 7th offers tons of natural light, high ceilings, potted plants and an airy warm-weather ambiance.

The spot is led by industry vets from Olamaie, L’Oca d’Oro and Kinda Tropical. It offers vibrant cocktails like the Virgo’s Groove, which is a bell pepper-infused sotol, mezcal, Gentian liqueur, basil, bay leaf and lime.

There’s also the Year of the Rabbit, consisting of white port, dry vermouth, lemon, green tea and black lemon bitters. 

Or try the Clay Pigeons, made with rye whiskey, Cynar, cacao, coffee and peat.

Hungry? You’ll find polished bar bites like zucchini fritters with Parmesan aioli. There’s also smoked trout roe and chicken liver mousse with white port gelee, strawberry green garlic mostarda and crostini.

Holiday on 7th is  prime evening destination for top quality libations, chef-driven eats and proof that “minimalist” and “warm and inviting” aren’t mutually exclusive

Tiki Tatsu-Ya
Photos by Holly Cowart

Modern Tiki: Tiki Tatsu-Ya

Characterized by tropical floral prints, bamboo accents and visual references to Hawaii and Polynesia, the tiki aesthetic was a huge hit in the mid-twentieth century.

It was later criticized as kitschy and, in some cases, culturally appropriative.

But at Tiki Tatsu-Ya, the innovative team behind the beloved Ramen Tatsu-Ya mini-chain takes an immersive and contemporary approach to tiki.

It has dramatic mood lighting, elaborate glassware, bartenders in Hawaiian-themed shirts and spins on classic tiki drinks like the Mai Tai and the Painkiller using premium spirits.

But the highlight of the menu is its large-format beverages, which come in gorgeously-designed bowls.

There’s the Stranded on Saturn, which is gin, lemongrass shochu, starfruit, passion fruit, miso-almond orgeat and falernum.

Or try the Rum Barrel, made with rum, aged sake and a secret blend of tropical juices and spices.

Quirky Western: Mama Dearest

If an old-timey cowboy bar collided with both a horror-movie villain’s lair and a backwoods granny’s living room, you’d get the delightfully-weird East Austin bar known as Mama Dearest.

The taxidermy and the weathered leather bar stools nail the Western vibe. The skin-like lampshades over the bar (they’re draped rawhide, don’t worry) are just creepy enough.

The Princess Di memorabilia, the porcelain tchotchkes and the framed vintage paintings drive the “Nana’s den” theme all the way home.

This offbeat aesthetic hodgepodge manages to be both fun and charming.

Mama Dearest’s drink menu follows suit. The Jesus Saves, with gin and fruit juice, and the Tickle Fight, including Mountain Dew, lime juice and tequila concoction, highlight the quirky libations list.

MORE: Kick Back at Austin’s Best Dive Bars 

Retro Resort: Kitty Cohen’s

Kitty Cohen’s delivers big mid-century Palm Springs-meets-Miami vibes, thanks to its spacious outdoor patio featuring umbrella tables, a wading pool and rattan chairs.

The interior stays on-theme with floral prints, painted palm trees and flamingo wallpaper in the bathroom.

As for the cocktails, they’re highly appropriate for a “pool bar” of sorts. Kitty Cohen’s is especially well-known for its frozen rosé and its frozen Creamsicle, made of vodka, orange vodka, vanilla syrup and orange juice.

However, its Frozen Swirl (both frozen beverages added to the same glass) encapsulates the vacation-y vibe of this neighborhood staple.

Midnight Cowboy Austin
Photo by Weston Carls

Dark Academia: Midnight Cowboy

A speakeasy in a former brothel filled with black leather furniture, pressed tin ceilings, dark-toned wallpaper and antique-style gold-framed mirrors? Definitely fits into the vintage, semi-Gothic, dark academia spirit.

Downtown Austin’s Midnight Cowboy is a reservations-only bar that pairs moody decor with an ambitious cocktail list that’s carefully curated (and regularly updated) by the bar team.

The Laureate consists of Lillet Blanc, Manzanilla sherry, Amaro Nonino, dry and sweet vermouths, bay leaf and a tincture of smoked salt and pepper. It is a perfect representative of the drink menu: intricate, fastidiously balanced, but with a touch of whimsy.

MORE: Peek Inside These Four Gorgeous Austin Speakeasies

Lulu's Austin
Photo courtesy of Lulu’s

Boho Wanderlust: Lulu’s

A new-ish addition to the blossoming bar scene on the southern end of Menchaca Road, Lulu’s feels both very Austin and like an entirely different world.

The mother-daughter team that owns Lulu’s used Mexico City as the inspiration for the bar’s aesthetic. The space balances Mexican art, photos and pottery with trendy bohemian accents like rattan lampshades, pastel tile, blond wood and greenery.

The Mexico-inspired bar menu features margaritas, palomas and spiked aguas frescas. Inventive selections like the Primavera (mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, agave) and the Solo Solo Solo (Mexican whiskey, orange liqueur, lemon juice, agave) pay tribute to our southern neighbor.

Honey Moon Spirit Lounge
Photos by Holly Cowart

Romantic Vintage: Honey Moon Spirit Lounge

“Less is more” may be a popular saying, but maximalism centers around the idea that “more is more.”

At Honey Moon Spirit Lounge in Hyde Park, the decor has no interest in holding back. This results in a lush and indulgent visual feast.

The velvet sofas, the bold patterned wallpaper, the crystal chandeliers and the vintage art evoke a high drama vibe while feeling authentically Texan.

The menu matches the decor. Sip on drinks like the Chamomile Cowgirl (gin, chamomile, lime, rose) and the Rye Time (rye whiskey, thyme liqueur, vermouth, Angostura bitters).

Shareable dishes like crab hush puppies with avocado remoulade and locally-sourced cheese plates make Honey Moon Spirit Lounge an ideal place for a romantic interlude.