Valentine's Day has never been easier to celebrate, thanks to the special menus local restaurants are rolling out for the most romantic holiday of the year. Many of them won't just have prix fixe meals for you and your sweetheart — Austin restaurants, as well as bars, will have Valentine's-themed drinks, too.
These alcoholic beverages range from cocktails topped with rose-shaped citrus peels to dark, decadent beers that would pair perfectly with chocolate. And no doubt each one will provide the opportunity for a starry-eyed toast to your loved one. Here's where to go for happy hour or a nightcap on Feb. 14, depending on which time you made those dinner reservations. (And yes, you need to make reservations.)
Austin Taco Project, 500 E. Fourth St. The restaurant within the Hilton Austin focused on one of Austin's essential foods is taking a break from tacos for its Valentine's special this year. Anyone who purchases the Cupid's Revenge cocktail, featuring cherry-infused Jack Daniel's, Baileys Irish Cream, Creme de Noyaux and egg white (and topped with chocolate shavings and a Luxardo cherry), will receive a free order of churros.
Blue Owl Brewing, 2400 E. Cesar Chavez St. It's not clear who decided sweets are an indelible part of Valentine's Day, but that's what you'll get at this sour-focused brewery on the east side. Blue Owl will release a special keg of cacao-infused Dapper Devil, a sour raspberry Belgian strong ale, that can be paired with locally made chocolates, brownies and cannolis.
Craft Pride, 61 Rainey St. It's a Valentine's tradition at this bungalow beer bar. Craft Pride collaborates with Crave Artisan Chocolate, a local chocolatier, for a beer flight with chocolate pairings. Each of the chocolates were created specifically to pair with each of the featured beers. These include Martin House Brewing's Cranberry Crush Sour Ale and SpindleTap Brewery's Hop Gusher IPA. Live music tops off the night.
Easy Tiger, 709 E. Sixth St. and 6406 N. Interstate 35. The beer garden is bringing in Boulevard Chocolate Ale to pair with the truffle-like strawberry-covered chocolates that are being offered at both locations on Feb. 14 only. Just try and resist the beer: "Mouthwatering flavors of Valrhona chocolate from Dominican cacao nibs weave seamlessly between layers of honey, brown sugar, caramel and nutty malt, deftly harmonizing and rounding into a luscious, lingering finish," according to Boulevard.
Friends & Allies Brewing, No cards, no flowers, no pressure, just beer awaits at this East Austin brewery. During No Romance Valentine's Day, Friends & Allies showcases its limited-release Coffee Chocolate Lobby Boy Porter, featuring ingredients from two local companies: beans from Greater Goods Coffee Roasters and chocolate from Srsly Chocolate.
Geraldine's, 605 Davis St. Get in the mood for romance with February's cocktail special. Each month, the elegant restaurant inside Hotel Van Zandt offers a drink you can get complimentary with the purchase of one item from Geraldine's menu. This one, of course, features an essential ingredient in any romance — roses. Any day in February, order the Rose Petal Negroni with gin, Campari, Cocchi Rosa and fresh rose petal garnishes.
Get the drink by signing up for the resstaurant's newsletter, either by making a reservation through OpenTable or scrolling to the bottom of the geraldinesaustin.com site and entering your email address.
Juliet Italian Kitchen, 1500 Barton Springs Rd. The candy conversation hearts that typically roll out as a Valentine's treat aren't a thing this year, but you can have them in cocktail form at the South Austin Italian restaurant. Juliet offers a variety of Valentine's Day specials Feb. 14 through 17, one of which is the Heart Candy with vodka, St-Germain, orange liqueur, Peychaud's bitters, lemon juice and ginger beer. There are two additional love-themed drinks, too.
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Milonga Room, 1201 E. Sixth St. Swoon to the sounds of the award-winning Vintage 15 Modern Big Band at the speakeasy connected to Buenos Aires Cafe. The intimate evening on Feb. 14 starts with a glass of vintage champagne. In addition to the bubbles and tapas, you can dance to Sinatra in your loved one's arms. What could be more romantic than that?
Uncle Billy's Brewery & Smokehouse, 1530 Barton Springs Rd. Indulge in liquid dessert the week of Valentine's Day. You'll be able to try Uncle Billy's winter seasonal, Shokolad Chocolate Imperial Stout, five different ways starting Feb. 11. The flight will have a retrospective of aged Shokolad from 2016, 2017 and 2018, along with barrel-aged versions of 2017 and 2018 — all paired with chocolate. The sweet week closes out the day after Valentine's with a couple of Shokolad firkins.
Whisler's, 1816 E. Sixth St. The upstairs mezcal bar, Mezcalería Tobalá, opens early on Valentine's Day this year with burlesque dancers and lots of pours of the Mexican spirit, but you may want to linger in Whisler's proper, where several cocktails meant to give you warm, fuzzy feelings are on special. (The burlesque performers will head into the main bar at 10:30 p.m., so you won't miss them either way.)
One of Valentine's cocktails, the French 69, is a bubbly, raspberry-accented twist on a gin-based classic, while the Blue Danube (vodka, creme de violette, St-Germain, lemon, lavender bitters and Prosecco, with wildflowers as a garnish) looks just like something you should be drinking on the Hallmark-approved holiday.