Austin may be known for many things – its bumping bar and food scenes for starters – but few people realize that the city is also home to its fair share of talented mixologists who serve up more than just your average gin and tonic. While you can always get a basic martini or scotch on the rocks at just about any bar in the city, some folks are in it for the liquid artistry. The nuanced notes, the bold flavors and the smooth finish that makes a great craft cocktail.And, as it turns out, many mixologists in Austin don’t even need alcohol to create these delectable, lip-smacking libations, since they put the same care into their specialty mocktails as they do their craft cocktails. Made with all the fresh flavors, exotic fruits and unique fusions of a regular craft cocktail, minus the booze, you can slam down as many of these virgin bad boys as you want without the fear of accidentally getting sloppy drunk in front of a bunch of strangers – or worse, people you actually know – then dealing with the next day hangover. These ingenious virginal victuals also mean you can still enjoy a night of socializing and sipping with friends or coworkers in Austin even if you weren’t planning on drinking. So whether you’re on a cleanse, not in the mood to booze or just a good old fashioned teetotaler, here’s the best bars in Austin for non-drinkers and mocktail seekers to get the perfect non-alcoholic cocktail.
Garage BarHidden covertly in a parking garage off W. 5th Street, the eponymous Garage Bar is exactly as you would imagine: a bar in a parking garage! But it’s much swankier than you think! This semi-underground modern minimalist speakeasy serves elevated hand crafted cocktails in a stylish, dimly lit setting with soft candles, exposed cement and a circular bar. Staying true to the auspicious auto vibes, Garage’s drink menu is categorized into sections such as Custom – where you can find Garage’s signature cocktails, Vintage – where all the classic cocktails are, Refurbished – which are a modern take on the originals, GTO – the tippy top shelf $25 cocktails – and Unleaded cocktails, all with delicious fresh ingredient blends. But the mocktails, which are hidden on the drink menu, are just as cleverly crafted and tasty as the hard stuff! Using Seedlip – a one of a kind spirit distilled with fruits, herbs and vegetables – Garage has successfully crafted a selection of mocktails that are infused with natural flavors and that boozy zing – only there’s no booze! Try their Serene Dream for a light, refreshing mocktail with aloe, cucumber lime and sugar or sip on the Seedlip Milk Punch for a smooth, creamy beverage with coffee, allspice, fig, cardamom, orange, lemon and pineapple. Perfect for an evening rendezvous or fun date with friends, Garage Bar has something fantastic and flavorful for sophisticated sippers of all kinds.
Roosevelt RoomThis classy west 6th cocktail bar is for the fancy drinkers who take their cocktails with Cuban cigars and velvet curtains. The airy, industrial-chic Roosevelt Room features an intimate upstairs lounge where guests can cozy up with Manhattans and Old Fashioneds and watch the evening unfold below them. The walls are exposed brick, the ceilings are lofty with large industrial pipes and the furniture is sultry and black. The cocktail menu features house classic likes the Buck to the Future with rye whiskey, sherry, amaro nardini, strawberry basil puree, ginger syrup and barrel-smoked cracked black pepper and the smoky Cigar Box with mezcal, smoked black tea syrup, lavender bitters and tobacco essence. But Roosevelt Room’s masterful drink menu also pays homage to the different eras of craft cocktails, from the early years (pre 1800s), turn of the century and the Tiki Era to Prohibition, Post Volstead and the Modern Classics. Each category features creatively crafted cocktails that are designed to delight the senses and captivate the tastebuds. And Roosevelt has even curated a special non-alcoholic drink menu with a few intriguing amalgamations that can definitely hold their own among the regular craft cocktails! The beautiful Glitter & Marigold comes with orange juice, orange flower water, pistachio extract, vanilla bean, cream, cinnamon powder and a delicate citrus sculpture to top it off. The Castaway is breezier and more tropical with mint, cucumber, lime juice, coconut cream, gingerbeer and sweetgrass tincture. And finally for a subtle yet highly sophisticated substitute to the classic martini, Roosevelt Room offers the N’artini with Seedlip spice, juniper tea, clarified Asian pear juice, pine needles, rosemary, cucumber, winter spices, verjus, orange and lemon peel. All three drinks are equally delightful in their own way and you won’t get questioned about what you’re drinking if you’re out with friends or coworkers.
Sans BarFresh on the east Austin bar scene is Austin’s very first sober bar, Sans Bar. This teetotaling tavern has everything that a typical bar in downtown Austin has – music, a wall lined with drinks and drink mixers, karaoke, dancing – the only thing that’s missing is the alcohol. Some might wonder why anyone would bother to open – or even frequent – a sober bar since it seems to defy the very foundation that bars were built on: drinking. But founder Chris Marshall, an Austin native, believes that bars are about more than just drinking booze and getting wasted. He provides a place where folks can hang out, enjoy a virgin drink, Kambucha, coffee or even alcohol free beer and have wholesome, good fun in Austin with friends without the inebriated impairment. The bar looks like any other cozy bungalow bar in east Austin – couches, tables, arcade games, a foosball setup and a small bar sit in an open room. The cover at Sans Bar is usually $15 but includes unlimited snacks and drinks, which are always changing as they add more delicious creations. Perfect for health nuts or those curious about sober living, Sans Bar has everything from coffees, Ginger Beer, Topo Chico and sparkling cider to purifying Purple Rain drinks, hot ciders, and freshly made mocktails like the Sans Gria, Jalapeño Nojito, Rosemary Ginger Mule and Elderflower Press. Everything on the menu is 100% alcohol free and – I dare say – even healthy! A far cry from the typical 300 calorie shots with sugary mixers that are gone in one gulp for sure! While Sans Bar is open to sober and non-sober people alike, patrons beware: no one is allowed inside the bar while under the influence. So, if they reckon you’ve got a little buzz, you’re outta there – no if’s, and’s or drunk butts!
Midnight CowboyDisguised amongst the chaos of east 6th street, Midnight Cowboy is an extremely exclusive reservation-only cocktail experience in downtown Austin that should definitely be on any polished pub crawlers list. This sexy saloon-inspired speakeasy isn’t much to look at on the outside, but inside is where the magic happens. Filled with just a few cushy booths and a small wooden bar, Midnight Cowboy specializes in handcrafted cocktails made tableside from a bar cart. Mixologists bring their trunk of tinctures and elixirs and whip up something fantastic and one-of-a-kind right before your eyes. It’s no wonder this place only takes reservations, because the experience is too good to be spoiled by hoards of rambunctious bar hoppers. Midnight Cowboy is a place for those who take their drinks seriously – but not too seriously obviously. And newly added to their scintillating drink menu is a selection of non-alcoholic cocktails that are crafted with the same artistry as their alcoholic equivalents. These tongue-in-cheek mocktails include the fruity Sweet Nothings with strawberry hibiscus syrup, grapefruit, lime and vanilla and the robust Oxymoron with smoked mustard honey, lemon, ginger beer, cayenne. No matter what you order, you won’t miss the alcohol one bit while you’re watching your mocktail be mixed one mouthwatering ingredient at a time.
Yard BarPerfect for the outdoorsy types who like to take their four-legged friends out with them, Yard Bar is a casual outdoor hangout in north Austin with picnic tables and a small snack stand. This chill cantina offers sandwiches, pet treats and cocktails to enjoy at picnic tables while your pooch plays at the onsite dog park. Yard Bar’s drink menu features an impressive selection of beer and wine as well as premium roast coffee and fresh seasonal cocktails such as the Rescue Me with Tito’s Vodka, lime juice, mint and ginger beer and the Phil’s Lemonade with cucumber, mint, fresh lemon juice and vodka. If you get a little hungry you can order something savory from the kitchen like a Pulled Pork Sandwich, Spicy Deviled Eggs or a Backyard Hamburger – they’ve even got treats for fido like Dog Meatballs and Gravy, Nathan’s Hot Dog, House made Ice Cream, House made Treats and a Bone Star Beer to wash it all down! But if you’re not in the mood to drink and you still want to spend a sunny afternoon with your friends at pets at this fun bar and park, you can always order something tasty and refreshing from their non-alcoholic menu like Wunder Pilz Kombucha, Iced Toddy, seasonal lemonade – which is always a good choice – and their Waterloo Sparkling Water-based mocktails including the Coconut Cooler with vanilla, Waterloo Coconut and a splash of orange juice and The Wave with hints of lemon and ginger spice. Your friends can get the pilsner or pale ale they’re craving while your furry friends mingle and you savor the satisfying flavors of Yard Bar’s seasonal sparkling Waterloo sensations.
CU29 Cocktail BarTucked away in downtown Austin, CU29 is a welcome reprieve from the bustling life of the city. This warm, inviting space boasts copper finishes, exposed brick walls and a modern mid-century vibe that goes perfectly with their stylishly made cocktails. Conveniently situated right next to the historic Driskill hotel, CU29 offers live music to entertain patrons while they peruse the myriad mocktail possibilities. CU29’s house cocktails include the Blackberry Ramble with vodka, blackberries, elderflower and lemon, the Cucumber Gin Fizz with mint, lemon and egg whites, the decadent Creme Brûlée dessert cocktail and the Old Pecan Street with barrel aged pecan infused rye, vanilla liqueur bitters and candied pecans. Each drink is made with fresh cut fruits and specialty syrups and bitters made in house. And every drink is meant to evoke a different sensation, whether it be dark and brooding, light and playful or sweet and sensual. But the best part about these delicious drinks is you don’t even have to add alcohol to enjoy some of CU29’s most tantalizing tonics. Just visit this sultry spot for a special event or just for a night out on the town and ask the mixologist for something special and alcohol free and see what wonders he/she is sure to surprise you with! Whether you’re planning on drinking alcohol or not, you definitely won’t leave this posh pub disappointed!
*Due to the ongoing pandemic, CU29 is temporarily closed until further notice.