Have you noticed how much Austin has changed? In the past 10 years, Austin has risen to become the 11th largest city in the nation, and it has the stretch marks to show for it.
An ever-increasing metro population has led to growing pains in the form of construction cranes, an increased cost of living, and traffic that seems to go nowhere. It’s great to live in a popular city, but it can be a bit exhausting.
It’s hard to explain exactly what sort of bar The Cloak Room is, and the best way to obtain a proper understanding is to experience it for yourself.
Established in the 1970s, this secluded neighborhood bar can be difficult to find. For searches begun in the late evening hours, the best method is to walk to the State Capitol building. Walk around the tree-rimmed park on the west side of the complex, and look for the stairwell lit by a large lamp. Congratulations, you have found The Cloak Room! Your reward is a near private retreat, occupied by a few patrons, a serviceable bartender, and one of the best jukeboxes in the city.
A warning to the clumsy – this bar is DARK! More than a little dark, in fact, and trust that the photos accompanying this article have not been altered. Drop any excessively inebriated companions off at their respective abodes first, we don’t want any accidents!
The reason for all the darkness is purportedly for the privacy of the guests. At one time, politicians and companions prevailed upon the enfolding gloom to secure secrecy, although now the dark appears to be more of a time-honored tradition.
The space it small, so keep the guest list exclusive. Find a table away from the jarring light of the stairwell, and keep your voices low. Conversations in The Cloak Room are always somewhat scandalous. You don’t want to be overheard!
Get your mixed drinks and Mexican Martinis prior to arriving. Special requests will only result in an unsympathetic and slightly annoyed bar staff. This is a political bar, which seems to translate to “bourbon.” The drinks are affordable, simple, and somewhat limited. Something on the rocks is a good start, or perhaps a bottle of your favorite brew? When in doubt, ask one of the regulars at the bar. They are typically friendly. If they don’t recommend a drink, ask for a song suggestion instead! The adjacent jukebox is one of the other classic attractions, and a wonderful way to make new friends.
For returning regulars, I recommend asking the staff about their newest additions. It seems a recent drought has led to a couple of informal adoptions, and you might be lucky enough to glimpse a furry visitor as you head back to the less-dark of the night outside.
Have you been to The Cloak Room yet?! What secrets did you overhear?!
As always, all photos taken by the talented and handsome Trevor Yopp.