Where to Find an Intimate Austin Bar That’s Hidden in an Unexpected Location
Enjoy craft cocktails, great tunes, and speakeasy vibes at Visitant Social Club
The appeal of “secret” bars has a long history in the United States, dating back to the speakeasies of the Prohibition era. Bars that require passwords, special keys, and secret entrances had a big revival in the early 2000s, and they became so popular that they can sometimes feel a bit overdone. That’s why we love the idea of “hidden in plain sight” bars: serene, tucked away, but fuss-free and without a trace of elitism. A prime example of this type of “IYKYK” bar can be found in a white truck trailer parked behind Progress Coffee in Cherrywood, and we had the chance to visit Visitant Social Club last week.
Visitant Social Club is a traveling pop-up bar launched by of NYC hospitality pros.
This pop-up bar situation is the brainchild of Gustavo Ortega-Oyarzun and Paola Segovia, a pair of New York City beverage consultants and bartending experts who came up with Visitant as a response to restaurant and bar closures during the pandemic. Ortega-Oyarzun told us that the first iteration of Visitant Social Club in NYC was focused on “shift drinks” for bar staffers just easing back into their work lives when the shutdowns lifted. They would show up at Brooklyn restaurants owned by friends and would create cocktails for the workers, and this project inspired the idea of a roving bar that’s not anchored in any one neighborhood or city. After operating Visitant Social Club in NYC for a little while, Ortega-Oyarzun and Segovia moved the concept to Miami, then decided to launch its third residency in Austin.
Reserve your spot to enter the small hidden bar space.
Visitant Social Club is located inside a white truck trailer in the backyard of Progress Coffee, and it therefore has very limited seating: just a couple of stools at the bar itself and a few seats on a small “floor” area. For that reason, reservations are highly recommended. The reservation time slots are 60 minutes long, and Visitant encourages guests to stay for at least 40 minutes in order to fully immerse themselves in the experience. Upon arrival, guests will either be guided into the space by a member of the bar team or can ring a doorbell outside the trailer door to request entry.
Each night has a theme that informs the cocktail choices and music selections.
While the hidden bar may look like a humble unmarked trailer from the outside, the interior of Visitant Social Club is loaded with charm and personality. Boldly printed floral wallpaper, antique mirrors, carpeted floors, faux vines and flowers, a disco ball, and neon lights (including a whimsical sign that reads “Shhhh…”) all contribute to Visitant’s sexy, intimate, quirky aesthetic.
Ortega-Oyarzun and Segovia don’t provide drink menus for guests; instead, the bartender of the evening recites the list of drinks that you can choose from, and each night’s beverages fit within a particular theme. During our visit, Ortega-Oyarzun was behind the bar and in charge of the theme, and he chose to lean into a jetsetter-by-way-of-Mexico vibe. The music consisted of Latin tunes, French funk, and other atmospheric non-English pieces that stoked a feeling of wanderlust, and the cocktails–all Mexican-inspired twists on classics–fed into that energy.
Drinks are purchased a la carte.
At Visitant Social Club, guests are asked to put down a $20 per person deposit to book their reservations. Inside, they’re able to order drinks à la minute, and all drinks in that evening’s rotation have the same price ($18). Each beverage generally features a different core spirit.
We had the opportunity to sample three of Ortega-Oyarzun’s vibrant cocktails, starting with a creamy and luxurious frozen avocado margarita with floral notes, very subtle sweetness, a rim of smoked salt for vibrant contrast, and a very Instagrammable rice paper flower on top that you’re urged to eat while it’s still crispy. Next, we tried the mezcal Negroni, which showed off Ortega-Oyarzun’s mastery of balanced flavors by tempering the mezcal’s smokiness with herbal aromatics. Finally, we enjoyed Visitant’s dessert cocktail of the evening: a fun, nostalgic, and very tasty vodka sipper with coffee, Frangelico liqueur, and mazapan, a peanut-flavored salty-sweet candy from Mexico.
Visitant plans to stay in Austin for the time being.
Because Visitant is a nomadic concept by nature, the team likely won’t remain in Austin permanently. That said, Ortega-Oyarzun told us that, since launching their Austin bar in May, the Visitant team has become comfortable in our fair city and plans to remain here for at least a little while. So make sure to grab a reservation and enjoy this one-of-a-kind bar experience while you still can!