The bar at Austin’s most hotly anticipated opening of 2013 does not disappoint. The cocktail list shows an innovative handling of complex flavors, which are showcased in photo-ready presentations. In addition to cocktails, the bar offers a menu of Filipino pub food. 1600 E. 6th.

Drink to try: Fjord Fairlane

Located in the former home of the legendary East Austin watering hole Rabbit’s Lounge, Whisler’s is as fluent in well-made cocktails as it is in cold beer. The dimly lit inside bar is so intimate it seems like a secret. 1816 E. 6th.

Drink to try: Old-fashioned


CBD Provisions
The warm, wide-open bar at CBD Provisions is a perfect place to wait for your table—or to just sit and drink. In keeping with the culinary aspirations of the kitchen, the cocktail menu features contemporary takes on classic formulations, with an emphasis on local flavors and seasonal ingredients. 1530 Main.

Drink to try: Pickled Provisions Martini

The Rustic
Texas country music star Pat Green is a partner in the venture, but this is no honky-tonk. The Rustic offers a menu dominated by Texas spirits, beer, and wine, alongside locally sourced foodstuffs and, of course, music. 3656 Howell.

Drink to try: Any Texas beer on draft


Bad News Bar and Goro & Gun
These bars are brothers (they share owners and one’s practically on top of the other). So hit up Bad News Bar, at the top of a long staircase, for top-notch spirits and drinks made with precision—and mischief. Then tumble down to the hip Japanese Goro & Gun, where the cocktails are prepared with academic rigor. 308 and 306 Main.

Drinks to try: Riverboat Bobsled (Bad News Bar) and Manu Chao (Goro & Gun)

Original OKRA Charity Saloon
This not-for-profit bar raises money for charity while turning out solid cocktails, quality beers, and fresh bites. Though OKRA was founded by some of Houston’s top mixologists, there’s nothing precious about this place. 924 Congress.

Drink to try: Pimm’s Cup

The Pastry War
This cheerful joint is a veritable Mexican fiesta: bright colors, strings of lights, calavera murals, and a back bar straight out of a Oaxacan mezcalería. It also boasts the finest offerings from Mexico’s traditional producers—the chalkboard manifesto over the bar promises that no industrial tequila shall enter these doors. 310 Main.

Drink to try: Frozen margarita with a side of mezcal

San Antonio

Arcade Midtown Kitchen
While diminutive in size, Arcade’s bar packs a wallop. Curated by Bohanan’s alumnus Christopher Ware, the spirits list is first-class, as is the menu of classic and modern cocktails (including barrel-aged offerings). 303 Pearl Pkwy.

Drink to try: A barrel-aged cocktail

From the owners of the Monterey comes this casual pizzeria/neighborhood bar. There’s something for everyone on the drink menu, which consists of cocktails, craft beers, and an accessible wine list. 2720 McCullough.

Drink to try: Pio Cesare Dolcetto d’Alba