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

Justin Rei Ago

In our latest edition of what do do when you are in Texas’ some of most popular cities, 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 and tropical motif, many Houstonians and tourists flocked to this bar with 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 for the LaCroix cocktails: “Stranger Danger,” a concoction of watermelon vodka, lime juice, and honeysuckle liqueur served in a Kiwi Sandia can, and “Principal Kisses Alligator,” a combination of gin, lime juice, agave, 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 which led to being named the official “timekeeper” of the region. Houston Watch Co. is famous for its Old Fashions, which could be prepared in 4 ways.

San Antonio

Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen — While it’s not exclusively a bar, Elsewhere has garnered attention as the “hidden bar” of San Antonio’s River Walk. A visit to this bar and restaurant is not complete without saying hi to their resident couple, Madison & Drake, 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 awarded with the 5 diamond rating. So of course, it’s natural that it features a dramatic bar.  Its best feature is the 25-foot vaulted ceilings that soar over beautiful industrial era decor. The hotel is named after Emma Koehler, notable for the Pearl Brewery’s history as the 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 notable feature of this bar is the “Mad Hatter” cocktail, where it is mixed through a pneumatic tube system that hangs above the ceiling. It is mixed as it swooshes through the bar (imagine the tubes at a drive-through bank, but obviously, cooler). Their scientific 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, you’ll be greeted by an ornate chandelier with matching décor. 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 speakeasy 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, I tried to finesse my way). Once inside this small bar, you’re instantly greeted by a horror-motif by the likes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Shining. 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 many have not 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. No, this is not where one finds mezcal-inspired cocktails but only for mezcal aficionados where they are served neat in traditional vessels called Copitas and Veladoras. A garnish of orange dusted with Sal de Gusano (mezcal worm salt) can be requested to be paired with your choice of mezcal.