But the recently renovated space is back as the Second Bar and has begun offering happy hour every weekday from 4 to 6 p.m., with a small selection of cocktails that you can only order during that time.
The cocktails range between $5 to $7, and happy hour specials also include a $1 off draft beer and half-off select bottles of wine. Pair those with snacks like black truffle pomme frites, bacon-wrapped dates and flank steak satay while you sit in the bar or on the outdoor patio that faces the bustling Congress Avenue.
Here are those happy hour-only cocktails. Thirsty yet?
Bennett: choice of gin, vodka or tequila with lime juice and peel, turbinado and Angostura bitters
Sidewinder’s Fang: Kong’s Island Spice Rum, passionfruit, orange and citrus with tiki preparations
Brown Derby: Kentucky bourbon, honey, grapefruit and lemon
Normandy Sidecar: Cognac & Calvados, Cointreau, lemon and a fine sugar rim
Pinthouse Pizza’s 1st Annual Hootenanny, 11 a.m. In addition to a petting zoo, caricature artist, Jim Jim’s Water Ice and more, the South Lamar location will release a special IPA every two hours throughout the day.
Real Spirits Launch Party, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Real Ale Brewing is finally launching Real Spirits Distilling with three new products: a gin and two aged whiskeys. All three will be in bottles to go.
St. Elmo Brewing Crawfish Boil, 12 to 10 p.m. The afternoon will include beer and live music from Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces, in addition to a Vietnamese-style crawfish boil from Soursop.
Easy Sunday with Austin Beerworks, 2 to 6 p.m. Easy Tiger will have $1 cans of beers like Pearl-Snap Pilsner and Bloodwork Orange IPA, as well as other Austin Beerworks brews on draft.
Monday, April 10
The Craft Series at the Driskill, 6 to 9 p.m. This month’s beer pairing dinner at the Driskill’s 1886 Cafe & Bakery will feature brews from the DFW area’s Community Beer Co.
Wednesday, April 12
Hops & Games at Hops & Grain, 6 to 10 p.m. It’s the monthly board game night at the brewery; you can either bring your own or play some of the games provided.
Real Ale’s 21st Birthday Kegger, 12 to 5 p.m. This old-school kegger is a nod to the days when beer was simpler, so for this year’s anniversary beer, simply being called 21, expect a pre-Prohibition lager. $20.
Geraldine’s On Deck, 5 to 8 p.m. Relax poolside at the Hotel Van Zandt, where you can sip cocktails made with Treaty Oak Distilling spirits and listen to hot tracks from Mixer Rogers.
Tuesday, April 25
Boston to Austin Tap Takeover at Whip In, 5 to 10 p.m. Infamous Brewing and Samuel Adams collaborated on a beer together, the BOSxAUS, a smoked oyster stout. It’s tapping along with other beers from Infamous and Samuel Adams.
Love Belgian Beer Fest, 1 to 8 p.m. Taste local Belgian-style brews and authentic imports, as well as enjoy live music and comedy, for a good cause. The event benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Austin. $53.74-$111.77.
No doubt you’ve got your favorite place in town to drink a margarita, whether that’s at a Mexican food joint like the inimitable Matt’s El Rancho or at a cocktail bar like Backbeat where the margarita is going to be one classy drink.
You’ve also probably got your preferences for how you like to drink it: on the rocks or frozen, with a salted rim or without, or served in some crazy way — with a floater of beer, perhaps, or maybe with strawberries instead of limes. (Or how about with this Ancho Chile Reyes liqueur for a blast of heat?)
However you like your margarita, just make sure you have one today, on this most auspicious of fake holidays, the one and only National Margarita Day.
Here are some Austin bars and restaurants where you’ll be able to take advantage of this very big excuse to drink. (Not that we, in Texas, ever need a reason to have a margarita, of course.)
The Brixton: It’s a full-on fiesta at the East Sixth Street bar starting at 4 p.m. today, when the Brixton will have complimentary chips, salsa and crock-pot queso on hand for you to enjoy with frozen margaritas, which are on special all night.
Corner at the J.W. Marriott: This hotel bar specializes in tequila cocktails, so you can bet the margarita is good. For National Margarita Day, Corner is offering $2 off its signature drink, the Corner Marg, with Sierra Vieja Reposado Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, agave syrup and lime. The deal lasts all day.
Curra’s Grill: Arguably one of the most classic margaritas in Austin is Curra’s bright green avocado margarita, but the Mexican restaurant on Oltorf Street has a variety of other ones to try as well, like the Lucky ‘Rita with Suerte Tequila, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, lime juice and Jarritos grapefruit juice.
El Burro: One of Austin’s newest Tex-Mex spots, from the team behind neighboring restaurant Vox Table, also has an avocado margarita, with Cimarron Tequila, avocado, cilantro, lime and simple syrup. If you’re in the mood for something sweeter, try the frozen mango margarita instead.
El Mercado: The margaritas are on special tonight in honor of National Margarita Day. So are Mexican martinis, which means you get your pick of tequila cocktails.
El Naranjo: Tequila is essential in a margarita — almost. The only reasonable substitute for the agave spirit would be its cousin of mezcal, which pours plentifully at this Rainey Street restaurant in its most popular margarita. The drink also has muddled serrano peppers, basil agave nectar, lime juice and pineapple juice.
El Sapo: The Manor Road burger bar with a Tex-Mex twist is offering $5 house margaritas from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. today in honor of National Margarita Day. Might we suggest the O Gurl, a frozen potion with Chamoy, Mexican candy and the El Chile Group’s signature salt rim.
Fixe: How about a margarita with Southern flair? The Abita ‘Rita highlights a Louisiana favorite, Abita Amber, which is mixed in with Avion Silver, Grand Marnier, lime juice and orange juice.
Guero’s Taco Bar: From 6 to 8 p.m. this evening, sip on margaritas with Dulce Vida Tequila, an Austin-based brand, in the Guero’s garden while listening to tunes from Sun Radio’s musical guests this week, Rich Hopkins and Sour Bridges. National Margarita Day doesn’t get much better than that.
Juliet: A margarita at an Italian restaurant? Go with it. The bar manager is even showing you how to make ’em yourself — one regular, one spicy — in a video on Juliet’s Facebook page, but if you’d rather pair your tequila treat with a heaping helping of spaghetti carbonara, head to Juliet for lunch or dinner today.
Maudie’s: One of Austin’s quintessential Tex-Mex restaurants, which has multiple locations around town, is celebrating with another Austin brand, Dulce Vida Tequila.
Searsucker: You should have the downtown restaurant’s margarita for its playful name alone. Thankfully, the Jale Berry is also very good and features house-infused strawberry jalapeño tequila with lime, agave and salt.
Trace at the W: The hotel restaurant has one of those crazy twists on the margarita, called the Papa Dulce, that might be fun to try if you’re feeling adventurous, with Z Reposado Tequila, sweet potato syrup and lime. The Living Room Bar at the W will have more traditional margarita offerings as well.
Trudy’s Tex-Mex:A veritable rainbow of margaritas is flowing at all Trudy’s locations on one of the biggest days of the year for the brand, with $4 ‘ritas and $7 Mexican martinis available from 2 to 7 p.m. today.
That’s what many other Qui projects (including East Side King and Thai-Kun at Rock Rose) call happy hour, and Kuneho’s looks like a good one. The restaurant, which serves sushi and globally inspired bites at 1600 E. Sixth St., will now have happy hour deals on both food and drink from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Here’s the “happy happy time” menu:
Asahi Super Dry, $3
Super Ape: Smith & Cross rum, Giffard Banane du Bresil Liqueur, lime and turbinado sugar, $8
Punch glass: daily concoction, $5
Carpe Diem: blanco tequila, London dry gin, rose, coconut water, lemon and grenadine, $20 (serves 2 to 4 people)
Perfect Bites: morcilla a la dinuguan, $2; tuna larb tostada, $3; enoki mushroom and tamari, $2; crispy onion, $2; and salmon nigiri with marinated ikura, $2
Crudo: saba escabeche with East Coast mackerel, ponzu and tomato, $7; kinilawin with cobia, coconut vinegar, coconut milk, red onion, and cilantro, $8
Maki mono: Austin roll with fish cake, pickled salsify, avocado, sweet chili vinegar, $5; fried shrimp roll with green apple and dashi aioli, $6; Mama Mia with big eye tuna, cucumber, avocado, kuro tempura flakes, $6
Snacks: seasonal tempura vegetables and tensuyu, $3; root vegetable lumpia with daikon, cilantro and peanut sauce, $6; kimcheese with kimchi, velveeta and an egg roll, $4; and chicken karaage with fish caramel, $4.
Kuneho (which means “rabbit” in Qui’s native Tagalog) has a variety of other cocktails, sake and wine available beyond happy hour as well through the restaurant’s Borough Bar, such as the playful Rockin’ Bird with pisco, Fruity Pebbles, curacao, pistachio orange syrup, lemon, orange and an Aperol float.
It’s been two years since the Capitol was filled with lawmakers and their staffs for the 84th legislative session, and downtown Austin has changed a lot in that time. Wondering where to get a drink nearby if you’re one of the legislators and staff or the lobbyists, civic-minded citizens and journalists who will be at the Capitol through the end of May for the 85th session? Here’s a guide to downtown bars that have opened within the past two years.
Ah Sing Den, 1100 E. Sixth St. ahsingden.com. Replacing the former East Side Showroom, this Asian-inspired bar opened last summer with flavors in both the food and drinks that draw from Asia, South America and beyond. Ah Sing Den was named after the owner of one of East London’s most infamous opium dens, but the only thing you’ll get addicted to here is the menu.
Eureka, 200 E. Sixth St. eurekarestaurantgroup.com. This burger bar is an import from California, but it’s nonetheless found a home in Austin just west of the popular Sixth Street drinking drag by focusing on two of our favorite things: craft beer and whiskey. The chain pleases local palates with boozy offerings from Texas breweries and distilleries.
Irene’s, 506 West Ave., irenesaustin.com. The ELM Restaurant Group’s easygoing newest concept is whatever you want it to be, whether that’s a restaurant with vintage pieces, a bar with a welcoming back patio or a grab-and-go breakfast spot. Irene’s specializes in comfort food, strong cocktails and an Instagram-friendly outdoor area.
The Roosevelt Room, 307 W. Fifth St. therooseveltroomatx.com. Step into this darkened den for a veritable history lesson with the knowledgeable bartenders as your educators. They can whip you up any one of the 53 classic cocktails on the menu that represent different eras in America’s boozy past — or one of their original drinks, too.
Small Victory, 108 E. Seventh St. smallvictory.bar. This tiny, dimly lit bar located on the second level of a parking garage keeps to the classics when it comes to cocktails, with menu items like the tropical Singapore Sling and an entire flowchart of choices available for you to craft your preferred martini, whether it’s extra dry or sans olives.
The Townsend, 718 Congress Ave. thetownsendaustin.com. Is there anything this classy joint doesn’t do well? With food worthy of making the Statesman’s top 25 dining guide, the Townsend also offers an intimate room with good acoustics for live music shows and cocktails crafted by one of Austin’s best bartenders, Justin Elliott, formerly of Qui.
Enjoy these during the newly established happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. In addition to $2 off cocktails, Picnik is offering other happy hour deals during that time, including half-off shareable plates on the food menu, $2 off wine by the glass, $2 off cider (except for Texas Keeper) and $2 off beer (which, in case you were wondering, is also gluten-free. This place walks the walk).
Picnik, which opened its brick-and-mortar space last year, is located 4801 Burnet Rd. The food truck version of Picnik is at 1700 S. Lamar Blvd. For more information, visit picnikaustin.com.
A Texas winter might not be much colder than a Texas summer, but area bars are still getting in the spirit of the season by offering cocktails full of the ingredients so desired this time of year, from whiskey and aged rum to food flavors like apple, pumpkin and even sweet potato.
Here are a handful of cocktails from six Austin bars that will get you in the mood for our coming cold front.
Punch Bowl Social: Pumpkin Spice Libation
Pumpkin might seem like a tired ingredient in seasonal dishes and drinks, but the chef at Punch Bowl Social in the Domain has revived the fall treat by juicing real pumpkins for this bourbon punch, rather than by having the bartenders add pumpkin spice. The result is that pumpkin has returned to its roots, imbuing the punch with a vegetal flavor, surprisingly low on sweetness, that pairs easily with the remaining ingredients of apple and lemon juices, citrus syrup and allspice dram.
Jacoby’s Restaurant & Mercantile: Sweet & Toasty
Jacoby’s head bartender Mike Paulus was able to relive his childhood Thanksgivings growing up in the mountains of Washington State with this bourbon drink featuring Cognac, sweet potato, molasses, smoke and toasted marshmallow.
“My sister always cooked up this dish with sweet potatoes, molasses, and toasted marshmallows, a flavor that will always remind me of home,” he said. “With help from chefs Austin Ewald and Albert Gonzalez, we were able to recreate a truly reminiscent experience.”
Vox Table: Bear Rug Cuddles by the Fire
The restaurant that likes evocative cocktail names — Tom Selleck’s Mustache, with rye whiskey, might be my favorite — keeps the creative christening coming with this riff on the sherry cobbler, a classic cocktail made with the Spanish sherry, muddled citrus, sugar and lots of crushed ice. Head bartender J.R. Mocanu, like Paulus, was able to play around in the kitchen and came up with an autumnal version: apple brandy, cherry-spiced Pinot Noir and Bittercube Trinity bitters. Taste it and it’ll feel as cozy and comforting as bear rug cuddles by the fire.
The Hightower: Gold Coast
Although it might not have felt like fall, the technical change of the season marked a big spike in bourbon cocktail sales at the East Seventh Street restaurant. The obvious result? A couple of additional whiskey drinks were added to the menu, including this one, to answer the demand. The Gold Coast has bourbon, Hoodoo chicory liqueur, curaçao and house cocoa bitters — a winningly boozy combination for lovers of chocolate and coffee. Let the stirred potion sit for a bit and those flavors, particularly the dark roasted notes of chicory, shine through.
Barley Swine: Apples to Ashes
Another Austin bartender has crafted a drink based off her memories of somewhere else: living in Boston, where she and her friends in the bar industry would treat a clarified milk punch as “a welcoming aperitif.” But Barley Swine’s Kasey Pierce — used to adapting to the seasons at the venerated farm-to-table restaurant— brought “a whole new dimension to the experience. The Apples to Ashes begins with smoked apples infused in El Dorado 12-year rum, a black tea concentrate, baking spice syrup and lemon juice. Then, boiling milk is added to clarify the cocktail as a whole.” Drinking it, she says, promises a unique experience.
Freedmen’s: Black Manhattan
The recent addition of barrel-aged cocktails to the bar menu at the barbecue spot turned out to be timely. Though the drinks will be available for ordering year-round, the Black Manhattan in particular will feel suited for this time of year. The warming blend of Angel’s Envy Rye, Nonino Italian grappa and fresh orange is full of citrus and spice and serves as the perfect accompaniment to brisket and the cold blast of winter we’re still hopeful will come.