After nine profiles on downtown speakeasies, my series is coming to a close. It’s been quite a ride, filled with cocktails that stretch the imagination (and the taste buds), secret entrances, ghost stories, and reminders of Austin’s rich history. This series has provided a glimpse into the speed at which Austin is changing, as well as the importance of not forgetting our city’s roots.
At the very least, you now have a list of the best speakeasies in Austin when you need a break from the real world. Because that’s the common theme through all these Austin speakeasies, I learned. They provide a break from reality.
What follows is a reminder of what you can expect from the nine downtown speakeasies I featured individually over the last year. Each section is followed by a link to the full article on each speakeasy, where you can find more photos and details. Enjoy!
1/ Here Nor There
Here Nor There is one of my top recommendations in Austin because every visit feels special. Every detail of this speakeasy is thought out and refined, from the reservation process (you’ll need the Here Nor There app), to the decor inside, to the creative and original cocktail menu.
This is a bar with an international mindset that is trying to create a scene more commonly found in bigger cities. Here Nor There is a must for Austin residents and visitors. You won’t be disappointed.
Highlights: Decor/music, reserved seating, expansive and creative cocktail menu.
612 Brazos. St. – Website
Keep reading: Here Nor There
2/ Milonga Room
Hidden underneath Buenos Aires Cafe lies a small room that can only be entered from the back of the building–with a password. Like Here Nor There, you need to plan ahead and make a reservation to visit this speakeasy (text the number listed on the website with your name, date, time you’d like to come by, and the number of guests in your party).
Once inside Milonga Room, you’ll find an 1920s Argentinian-inspired speakeasy that transports you to another time, another place. The drinks are original and delicious, with the Italian herbal liqueur playing a role in many of the concoctions.
Added bonuses here are you can enjoy some of the best empanadas in the city, made at the restaurant upstairs, as well as music and dance shows (check the schedule). Milonga Room is an east side staple, and deservedly so.
Highlights: food from Buenos Aires Cafe, events/shows, seasonal cocktails.
1201 E. 6th St. – Website
Keep reading: Milonga Room
3/ Firehouse Lounge
Firehouse Lounge sits behind a moving bookshelf by the reception desk of a real life hostel. How’s that for original? The decor in this speakeasy screams 1920s Prohibition era, yet it strives to be as accessible as possible. In other words, feel free to order a classic craft cocktail or a Lone Star. Whatever suits your mood.
The staff here knows what they’re doing and set the tone for a fun visit. Look out for DJ-led weekend dance parties, and don’t forget to follow the house rules that are framed on the wall!
Highlights: Great craft cocktails, secret entrance, DJ on the weekends.
605 Brazos St. – Website
Keep reading: Firehouse Lounge
4/ DuMont’s Down Low
DuMont’s Down Low makes the most out of its basement space that was once a storage room for the popular bar Fado. Before that, it was a brothel run by Blanche DuMont (who may or may not still be haunting the space).
This bar has a French Quarter creepy vibe. It’s odd, but in a good way. Great cocktails, happy hour, and plenty of space for large groups. DuMont’s Down Low is doing its part to preserve Austin’s Warehouse District, which has been less of a destination in recent years.
Highlights: happy hour, ample space, “weird” decor.
214 W. 4th St., Ste. B – Website
Keep reading: DuMont’s Down Low
5/ Midnight Cowboy
If you thought Blanche DuMont was scandalous, you should know Midnight Cowboy was a brothel as recently as 2011. Scandal!
Midnight Cowboy is the first of the great Austin speakeasies, and still holds its place on top of the food chain. Located right on Dirty Sixth Street, you’ll miss it if you’re not looking for the Midnight Cowboy Modeling sign. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time, as time slots fill up fast.
Midnight Cowboy strives to make every visit an experience. The cocktails are creative, original, and delicious. Depending on what you order, your drink may be concocted from a cart right in front of you. Trust me, Midnight Cowboy is an Austin staple and must be experienced.
Highlights: reservation-based, the OG of Austin speakeasies, cocktails menu.
313 E. 6th St. – Website
Keep reading: Midnight Cowboy
6/ Floppy Disk Repair Co.
Perhaps the most difficult Austin speakeasy to gain entrance to, Floppy Disk Repair Co., prides itself on keeping the vibe fun (nice people in, rude people out). Hence, the barrier to entry. But find a way to get the door code and you won’t be disappointed.
While you won’t be able to get your floppy disks repaired, the bar staff will be able to make you a variety of delicious cocktails. Sit on the swings that hang by the bar and take in all the serial killer homages. My favorite cocktail: the Lean, which of course comes in a styrofoam cup.
Highlights: Creative drinks, secret entrance, creative decor.
119 E. 5th St. - Website
Keep reading: Floppy Disk Repair Co.
7/ Small Victory
Small Victory is a must-visit, no matter what you want to call it: speakeasy, classic cocktail bar, or tiki bar. The entrance isn’t intentionally hidden, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to find. Look for a spiral stairway attached to a parking garage at 7th Street and Congress.
The interior is decorated in a way that makes it timeless, which pairs well with old time drinks made to perfection. Small Victory is known for its martinis, but I’m a sucker for a good tiki drink. You can’t go wrong, but I recommend the Painkiller. Small Victory prides itself on its ice program, which shows a devotion to the craft you can’t find many places.
Highlights: tiki drinks, ice program, rum selection.
108 E. 7th St. – Website
Keep reading: Small Victory
8/ J. Stephens
One of the more recent additions to the Austin speakeasy community, J. Stephens can be accessed through the alley north of Dirty Sixth Street. This bar is a tribute to the late J. Stephens, whose tragic demise in the 1920s inspired the names of many of the tasty cocktails this speakeasy offers.
Come for the drinks, food, and dance parties. J. Stephens is all about bringing cocktail bars back to Dirty Sixth after a bit of an absence. After trying a few drinks, you’ll agree they’re well on their way to doing just that.
Highlights: creative cocktails, food menu, late night dance party.
214 E. 6th St. - Instagram
Keep reading: J. Stephens
Among Austin’s craft cocktail hotspots, Garage is on the classier side. With an entrance in the back of, you guessed it, a garage, this is a cocktail bar with mystique. Everything here is intentional; it’s all about the experience.
With its unique architecture, dimly lit room, and silent service, Garage hopes to create a sense of timelessness. A sanctuary from our hectic lives. I recommend coming for happy hour and trying the old fashioned.
Highlights: happy hour cocktails, architecture, silent service.
503 Colorado St. – Website
Keep reading: Garage
The speakeasy scene in Austin has never been stronger, so get out there and enjoy! Please note: The author in no way endorses a nine-stop speakeasy crawl. In fact, please don’t do that! These drinks are strong! Take your time, and make your way through this list gradually. Oh, and watch out for the ghosts.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Which Austin speakeasies have you tried?