Sipping your way through Texas — Unique bars to fancy your tastebuds

Justin Rei Ago

In our latest edition of things to do in some of the most popular cities of Texas, we take you through some of the most unique bars in Texas.

Houston

Present Company

Present company pioneered the Instagram-worthy bars in the Houston scene. Famous for their colorful tropical motif, many Houstonians and tourists flock to this bar in hopes of snapping the perfect photo to add to their feed. What I find unique about this bar are their LaCroix drinks – that’s right, a cocktail served in a LaCroix can. There are two options of LaCroix cocktails: the first is “Stranger Danger,” a concoction of watermelon vodka, lime juice, and honeysuckle liqueur served in a Kiwi Sandia can. The second option is titled “Principal Kisses Alligator,” a combination of gin, lime juice, agave, and fresh blackberries, served in a Mure Pepino LaCroix can.

Houston Watch Co.

The history of this speakeasy is what captivates people to visit this bar. Owners Erik Bogle & Ryan Clark took a nod to “The Houston Watch Company” that originally occupied the space. Opened in 1912, it originally provided timepieces for the railroad industry, being eventually named the official “timekeeper” of the region. Today Houston Watch Co. is famous for its Old Fashions, which can be prepared in four different ways.

San Antonio

Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen

While not exclusively a bar, Elsewhere has garnered attention as the “hidden bar” of San Antonio’s River Walk. A visit to this bar & restaurant is not complete without saying hi to their resident couple: Madison & Drake. By couple, we really mean two ducks you’ll see bathing and waddling around the manicured patio. Elsewhere has re-invented the margarita by featuring a White Claw Margarita – Imagine a beerita, but with White Claw!

Sternewirth at Hotel Emma

Hotel Emma is one of the only two hotels in Texas that boast the 5 diamond rating. Such a high class bar would, of course, naturally feature a dramatic bar.  The 25-foot vaulted ceilings that soar over beautiful industrial era decor are undoubtedly its most stunning feature. The owners named the hotel after Emma Koehler, notable as the Pearl Brewery’s CEO during Prohibition. The “3 Emmas” cocktail is made with pearl beer & rose cordial, amontillado sherry, botanist gin, grapefruit juice, and lemon juice. History never tasted so exquisite.

Dallas

The Tipsy Alchemist

Imagine Harry Potter’s cauldron but sexier. As described by their website, “The Alchemist’s sole purpose is to blow your mind with elevated cocktails through science, art & technique in a sexy, social lounge setting.” The “Mad Hatter” cocktail is the most notable feature of this bar, and is mixed through a pneumatic tube system that hangs above the ceiling. As it flows through the bar, the drink mixes itself (imagine the tubes at a drive-through bank, but obviously, cooler). Their science-inspired approach includes liquid nitrogen in their ingredients and cocktails served in lightbulbs.

Truth and Alibi

Truth and Alibi is for the connoisseurs who seek a swanky atmosphere. A speakeasy concept but with a club atmosphere, the “Deep Ellum Candy Company” façade deters those who are strangers. Even for those who want to enter, beware, as a password is still needed. Once inside, an ornate chandelier with matching décor greets its guests. A modern Moulin Rouge, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your evening while rubbing shoulders with exclusive patrons.

Austin

Floppy Disk Repair Co

Austin is sprawling with speakeasies, but Floppy Disk Repair is undeniably the most exclusive and secretive in the city. Why? This small bar only serves 45 lucky guests. And why Lucky? Because getting the secret door code is nearly impossible unless you know of someone who knows someone who knows someone… I was lucky enough to visit once, but even my friend of a friend was hesitant to share the secret on how to retrieve the gate code (trust me, as I tried to finesse my way in). Once inside this small bar, a horror-motif by the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Shining greets its patrons. The fun part of the bar is looking out the window watching people looking in, not knowing there are people inside watching them back.

Mezcalería Tobalá at Whistler’s

Many Austinites and tourists have visited Whistler’s, but not many have ventured to the second floor. A bar that sits on top of Whistler’s, Mezcalería Tobalá is a 20-person intimate space that offers a variety of mezcals. Rather than serve mezcal-inspired cocktails, Mezcalería Tobalá caters to mezcal aficionados, where they are served neat in traditional vessels called Copitas and Veladoras. You can request a garnish of orange dusted with Sal de Gusano (mezcal worm salt) to pair with your choice of mezcal.