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Toast to the Earth: A selection of bars that stay green while serving Austin

Dina Guidubaldi

Our beloved planet Earth was fused together from a cloud of particles and has been around for a good long while, but Earth Day seems to have come out of nowhere, and relatively recently.

The makeshift holiday actually began April 22, 1970 and has been waving its hempen banners in our faces ever since, trying to get our attention. And it seems to be working, with local bars and businesses trying to get in on the act. Whether or not you think about environmental efforts as something best practiced by the Eeyore's Birthday crowd; whether going green is just an excuse to work in your garden and buy expensive chocolate from Whole Foods; or whether you reduce, reuse and recycle as responsibly as possible, here are three places where you can drink with varying degrees of eco-consciousness:

Roial

120 W. Fifth St. 476-3311, www.roialaustin.com . Hours: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays

Roial, where the old Apple Bar used to be, opened its top deck during in March and is still doing a little remodeling, but what's there is promising: an urban tree house kicking back in the midst of high rises, its interior and exterior made almost entirely of rich, red wood. And according to Roial's website, the bar is "comprised almost entirely of locally harvested renewable materials," though most of us wouldn't know what locally harvested and sustainable wood looks like if we sawed into it.

Roial is part of the family of bars that includes Qua, of the notorious sad-sharks-dance-floor (a rebuttal of the sharks' sadness is available on Qua's website) and it's doing a good job of making environmental amends or, at least, drinks. Two well drinks were a perfectly normal $11 on a Wednesday night, the same night that, rather randomly, liquor starting with a "J" is only $3 (no one wanted Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, or Jaegermeister, unfortunately.) On Thursdays, beers are $2 (no drafts). The breeze, the rustling of palm fronds, the hypnotic DJ (spinning in an aerie made out of wood, above a bar made of wood, which shows looped images of leafy woods on two big screen TVs) and the swanky built-in couches beneath a star-spattered sky make for a natural starting point in your eco-evening.

Cheer up Charlie's

1104 E. Sixth St. 431-2133, www.cheerupcharlies.blogspot.com . Hours: 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Cheer Up Charlie's, named after one of the more forgettable Willy Wonka songs, is something like a golden ticket if you're sick of the same old east side bars. At least it has a theme, unlike many of the half-hearted joints sprouting up in the area. And even if the theme is a little eclectic and specific (anarchistic environmentalist/gay friendly/all-natural/post-rave electronica?) well, they have the ultimate recycled beverage on tap, local kombucha, which can go a long way toward redemption.

Kombucha, a fermented beverage that's made from the strains of the previous "mother" batch, is a tangy delight that's not for everyone. It's a great hangover cure and all-around happy tonic, though, and Cheer Up Charlie's kombucha comes in two varieties - calm, with mugwort (not a Harry Potter invention), and energizing, with ginger. Unexpected bonus: You can get it mixed with vodka ($6). Some people are freaked out by the idea (and taste) of drinking a mushroomy yeast culture, but for those who aren't, fizzy bliss can be yours every night at Cheer Up's. Young coconuts, Lone Stars ($3), handmade chocolates, a full bar and the Me So Hungry food trailer out back (with vegan options) provide enough whimsical variety to soothe even the angriest Oompa Loompa.

The Living Room at The W

200 Lavaca St. 542-3600, www.whotels.com . Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Though it might seem confusing how an international hotel chain can be anything close to environmentally friendly, the Austin W is trying. They stay local when they can, with both their food (via the restaurant Trace) and their drink ingredients. Their fresh Bluegrass martini ($12) is made with Dripping Springs vodka and blueberries, and their downright amazing Jalapeno Cucumber Lemonade ($10) is a thick green concoction of cucumber water, vodka and homemade jalapeño syrup.

They recycle and have their own compost pile out by the receiving dock. They have those slightly confusing eco-conscious dual-flush toilets (in sleek, individual mirrored bathrooms that would impress the most blasé member of the "Less than Zero" set.) The Living Room's sound system, a vintage Macintosh encased in glass, is the ultimate in reusing and recycling, and their floor to ceiling vinyl collection actually gets played by their weekly DJs, who entertain every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 2 a.m.

The Living Room is aptly named; it's got the feel of a bustling hotel bar tempered with a lodge-y fireplace, low couches, and friendly service. You could easily while away the evening people-watching, sharing snacks like the house made charcuterie ($5 for each; try anything with the rabbit) or their Drunken Doughnuts ($8, with three dipping sauces), and debating whether or not it's okay to take your shoes off in such a chichi, yet welcoming world.