Top 10 Restaurant Cocktail Programs

Get blitzed in style

Geraldine's (Photo by John Anderson)

1) Geraldine's

At barely one year old, the gleaming restaurant inside Hotel Van Zandt houses one of the buzziest bars in town, drawing crowds with its proven formula of live music, refined New American cuisine, and Austin-themed crafted cocktails. It doesn't hurt that their Far From the Tree was named Austin Food & Wine Alliance's Official Drink of Austin.

2) Juniper

This handsome eatery doesn't just tickle with an innovative and polished approach to northern Italian cuisine. They also curate a selected list of cocktails that integrate many Italian liqueurs such as Gran Classico Bitter, Amaro Meletti, and Cynar. With a culinary focus on blending old-world techniques with Central Texan flair, the bartenders too have no qualms about highlighting tequilas and whiskeys.

3) VOX Table

Of all of VOX Table's wildly creative drinks, their brunch cocktails continue to make the deepest impression. They have perfected the art of getting folks day-drunk with vibrant, refreshing drinks and indulgent brunch plates to soak up the sins. VOX Table also wins with humorous cocktail names like Sweat Pants With Uggs, a Scotch and pumpkin-spiced cocktail that's anything but basic.

4) Barley Swine

Best known for their farm-focused philosophy, Barley Swine's seasonal, locavore approach translates just as smartly to their drinks. There, bartenders play with ingredients – grilled tangerine, beets, and clarified milk – that are more commonly seen on the plate than in the coupe glass. And to appease more staid types, they also feature two barrel-aged selections that give nods to the classics.

5) Bullfight

Spanish-style tapas and fortified wines are the mainstays at this cheerful hangout on Airport Boulevard. Sherry and vermut are ideal pairings with the umami-ful nature of Spanish ingredients like jamón Ibérico, caramelized soffritto, and fresh seafood, so it's no surprise that their best cocktails also showcase the bold and delicate aspects of those spirited wines.

6) Otoko

Dimly lit and tranquil, this cozy nook provides the ideal atmosphere to decompress from the day before transitioning on to the theatrical dinner ahead. The drinks, both alcoholic and zero-proof, all maintain a delicate balance that does not overwhelm the palate. Asian flavors like matcha, yuzu, and sakura bring subtle intrigue that make the cocktails go down dangerously effortlessly.

7) The Carillon

Hidden at the AT&T Center, the Carillon is often unfairly overlooked. For one, their seasonal menu is hardly corporate, sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and ranches. Better still, their classic cocktail program has been fine-tuned to a science without carrying an ounce of pretense. The quieter environment makes for ideal dialogue, especially for those who want a properly built drink without the need to see and be seen.

8) Péché

Every time I stop by this cocktail institution for "just drinks," I find myself progressing on to snacking, and eventually dining. So I'll just call it what it is. While it's no secret that Péché continues to shake and stir up some of the most consistent pre-Prohibition drinks in town, their offering of rich brasserie favorites like escargot and moules frites keep it on the scoreboard.

9) Counter 3. Five. VII

Since opening the bar section up for bar bites and drinks, Counter has become more approachable for those who wish to wander in without committing to the upscale prix fixe. The three-course menu is now priced at $30 at the bar, accompanied by an extensive wine list and a tight collection of thoughtful concoctions. Just like their tweezered plating, the same attention to detail applies to the cocktails too.

10) Chicon

For those thirsty for outside-the-box beverages, Chicon holds no bounds on its creative liberty. To pair with their playful dishes designed for sharing, the cocktails take an unconventional route. Reading the menu alone, it's difficult to imagine how the unlikely ingredients like chai, whey, and smoked pumpkin work together, but somehow they always make it work.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Melody Fury
Review: Pitchfork Pretty
Review: Pitchfork Pretty
Bringing the new back to New American

Sept. 15, 2017

Review: Tillery Kitchen & Bar
Review: Tillery Kitchen & Bar
Eastside eatery offers confusing experience

June 30, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle