7 Austin speakeasies and hidden bars for a cozy Valentine’s Day date night
Want to get cozy over cocktails with that special someone on Valentine’s Day? Here are some hideaway bars to check out after your dinner date — in addition to Austin’s ultimate speakeasy spot, Midnight Cowboy, which we profiled in this story that will run in Austin360 on Friday.
605 Brazos St. Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. firehousehoustel.com.
Like Midnight Cowboy, in a building that formerly served as a brothel, the downtown Firehouse Hostel and Lounge has a long Austin history. It was once Austin’s first fire station, Washington Fire Engine Co. No. 1, which used a horse-drawn steam engine to protect the city until 1916.
Now, there’s a cozy bar within the rustic red walls — hidden behind a sliding bookcase that will leave you feeling like you’ve discovered Narnia for the 21 and up crowd. The dimly lit lounge features plenty of comfortable seating, a stage for live music and a menu of cocktails like the signature Firehouse Old Fashioned (rye, bitters, sugar and citrus zest).
1201 E. Sixth St. Hours: 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday-Saturday. facebook.com/milongaroomatx.
Once you’ve uttered the password — which you can find through carefully combing Milonga Room’s social media pages — you’ll be welcomed into this cave-like space underneath the Buenos Aires Cafe. You’ll feel transported back to the 1920s, when speakeasies were a response to Prohibition, thanks to the bar’s stately decor. Enjoy tapas, Argentinian-style cocktails and maybe even some live music.
Note the hours: Milonga Room won’t actually be open on Valentine’s Day, a Wednesday, but make sure to go another night for a romantic date with your sweetie.
107 E. Seventh St. Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday. smallvictory.bar.
With only 800 sq. ft. of space, the tucked-away bar is comfortable but compact, maximizing every inch to deliver some of the best classic cocktails in town. Drinks are made with ice sculpted in-house and poured into beautiful vintage glassware. There’s perhaps no better cocktail to order here than the martini, which you can request based on your exact preferences or from the guidance of a martini flowchart.
Located on the second level of a parking garage, it might be a little hard to find but well worth it once you do — especially for date night. The plush booths with tables on one side of the narrow room make it ideal for couples enjoying a night out.
503 Colorado St. Hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday. garagetx.com.
Small Victory isn’t the only downtown cocktail bar located in a parking garage, of all places, and this one takes full advantage of the industrial location for its concept. Rather like the cars you would find at the fully functioning garage in which the bar is housed, the menu is divided into ‘custom,’ ‘vintage,’ ‘refurbished’ and ‘unleaded’ cocktails, with a small menu of ‘fuel’ to keep you fed.
Start with the Indian Paintbrush (vodka, grapefruit, lime and rosemary) when you go. As a previous Official Drink of Austin winner, it hasn’t been able to leave the menu in the nearly three years since.
The Good Life Bar Bar
201 E. Fifth St., Unit 100-B. Hours: 3 p.m. to midnight Monday-Friday, 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday. thegoodlifebarbar.com.
One of Austin’s newest speakeasies is underground, with no windows and a single red light above the main entrance on East Fifth Street that lets customers know the bar is open. It’s more casual than many other hideaway bars in the area, with only local beers and Texas wines — and a small set-up charge for guests to bring a bottle of the hard liquor of their choice.
Longtime Austin bartender Brian Hummel opened the bar next to the Good Life Barber Shop, also below ground. Most notable about his Bar Bar? It’s got a brick wall, original to the historic building, where customers can leave their lipstick mark. The tradition started because three lipstick kisses came with the place when the barber shop moved in.
Boiler Room Lounge
800 W. Cesar Chavez St. Hours: 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday-Saturday. boilernine.com/the-boiler-room.
You’ll get three rather different experiences at the multi-story dining complex in the historic Seaholm Power Plant. Austin restaurant group La Corsha Hospitality has created the restaurant Boiler Nine in the main floor, the Deck Nine Observatory Bar in the open-air space above and the dimly lit Boiler Room Lounge at the bottom of the building, accessed through a back set of stairs.
Newly renovated to give off a more relaxed vibe, the lounge features cocktails divided into a music-themed menu, with Side A full of classics like the Mai Tai and Side B consisting of more unorthodox drinks like the Night Bloom (mezcal, sotol, roast pineapple, makrut lime leaf, molé and a tajin rim).
Parker Jazz Club
117 W. Fourth St. Hours: 5 p.m. to close Monday-Friday, 7 p.m. to close Saturday and Sunday. parkerjazzclub.com.
Downtown Austin lost a jazz venue when the Brass House, operated by two Marine Corps veterans, closed in 2016. But a swanky new Warehouse District bar — located beneath the historic Spaghetti Warehouse building — may fill the void. It’ll offer a large stage and a state-of-the-art sound system for live music and a bar program that specializes in cocktails and wine.
The subterranean club will have special entertainment on Valentine’s night. Order drinks like the signature cocktail the Yard Bird, a High West Double Rye Old Fashioned served on the rocks.