7 Bars That Will Help You Avoid The ACL Crowds

Austin City Limits Weekend One is right around the corner! If you’ve been living under a rock, Austin City Limits aka ACL, is a music festival that brings all the top name artists to a field in the middle of Austin, TX for a two weekend bender. It is known to bring in folks from all over. It brings in nearly double what Coachella brings in…

So for the unlucky folks that didn’t grab a ticket or those who consciously chose not to partake, the city can be a nightmare of crowded bars and sloppy festival goers. We decided to look after those not peer pressured into splurging on a 3 day pass. We put together our top bars to visit if you want to escape the ACL madness. And don't forget to Download NativX to find out what's hot this weekend.

1) Garage

503 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701

We like to experiment.

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Great For: Stiff Drinks, Celeb Sightings, Dates

Specials: (Mon-Fri 5-7pm) Custom Discounts on food, beer, cocktails

This is one of the coolest bars we have been to, and it’s a little bit of a secret. Tucked away in a parking garage, this speakeasy flies under the radar. So under the radar that you could walk right by it and not notice a thing.  Which is why it is a favorite among celebrities trying to grab a nice cocktail. This is a must if you like handcrafted cocktails and some solid lounge vibes.

The Native Scoop: 

The mixologists are magicians! ACL brings a lot of celebrities and Garage has been known to attract some. Locals are pretty confident you won’t be able to find this so you just shouldn’t even worry about this one…

2) Small Victory

108 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78701

The weekend is here 🤜🎤⬇️ . . . . . . . 📸 @mikehersh17

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Great For: Small Groups, Craft Cocktails, Casual

Specials: (Mon-Sat 5-8PM) Half Off Wines, Other happy Hour Deals

Logging in at only 800 square feet, Small Victory won’t be one to square up with the big dawgs, but man, they can make a solid cocktail. Interestingly, they are known for not only having killer craft cocktails, but also having a fantastic wine list. Something not many can boast. Make sure you are keeping your head on a swivel when trying to find the place; it’s not hard to miss the subtly marked entrance.

The Native Scoop:

Locals have told us the Old Fashioned and Gold Rush is top notch. They all agree, Small Victory knows how to make a goddamn cocktail! They use a Clinebell Ice Machine for the drinks. Don’t worry, we had to look it up too.

3) Weather Up

1808 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

Perfect end to the weekend. Sunday evening here in Austin #meatandcheese #cocktailhour 📷@miss-eater-tx

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Great For: options Lovers, Wild Concoctions, Meetups

Specials: 4-7PM $7 COcktails

They specialize in 108 cocktails… that’s right, 108. That’s a ton of options for you! When approaching the bar, it’s a good idea to know which of the six preparations you want: on the rocks, shaken up, tall and cool, stirred up, served long, and fizzes, flips, and sours.

The Native Scoop:

The locals can’t get enough of the Clinebell at Weather Up. Normally used for ice sculptures, they use the Clinebell to throw out some crazy cocktails. They say it is perfect for sun dwellers or just lovers of strong drinks.

4) HandleBar

121 E 5th St (Brazos), Austin, TX 78701

Couple babes being babes on the rooftop....beer them. #beerme #budlight #babes Repost @sabwina

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Great For: Mustache Aficionados, Rooftop Vibes, Posting Up

Specials: 4-8PM daily: $1 off everything

We named HandleBar as a place we’d love to see a surprise show from one of the artists at ACL. If you admire (or tolerate) lip sweaters, flavor savers, or crumb catchers, this is the place to be. If you aren’t familiar with the terms, HandleBar is famous for their servers rocking some of the most epic mustaches. Outside of giving you a great laugh, HandleBar steps up with some awesome drinks and a great rooftop view.

The Native Scoop:

Locals are in agreement that this is the perfect place to head to if you chose to forgo the ACL activities. It’s a nice audible from  the 6th Street madness and you can even get some stick mustaches for 50 cents a pop!

5) Whisler’s

1816 E 6th St (at Chicon St), Austin, TX 78702

Great For: Happy Hour, An Upbeat Date, People Watching

Specials: (Daily 4-7pm)  $6 cocktails, like their Old Fashioned, Moscow mule, and more

Whisler’s is located in East Austin, far enough away from the madness at Zilker Park. This is another place that churns out some fantastic cocktails. Are you seeing a trend here? As if the cocktails weren’t enough, there is a food truck just outside that’ll fill you up with some classic fried chicken. Sign us up!

The Native Scoop:

Locals have been observed raving about “The Weedwacker” and the Old Fashioned. They say this is the spot if you are down to gather the crew for a great drink and some upbeat music.

6) The Oasis On Lake Travis

6550 Comanche Trl, Austin, TX 78732

Great For: Sunsets, Dates, Epic Views

Specials: Happy Hour Margs and Tacos

There is a little bit of a hike to get up to Lake Travis, but trust us on this one: The Oasis is definitely worth the trip. Outside of panoramic views high above our favorite Austin lake, the place has plenty of restaurants and places to grab a drink. This restaurant and bar offers plenty of outside seating to see the sunset and pretty amazing deal.

The Native Scoop:

Many list this as their escape from the city. You can’t beat the view of Lake Travis from one of the many tables right on the edge. There is usually a wait, but the views are worth it. Plus, there are plenty of other places to walk around while you wait. This is a great place to bring friends for a brunch or a bunch of drinks at night.

7) The Tigress Pub

100 W North Loop Blvd, Austin, TX 78751

First time at the #northloop!! Loving the #cocktails at #tigress with friends 😍🍹🍸🍷🥃

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Great For: Scenic Views, Margs, Beers, Dates

Specials: No Happy Hour, but Reasonably Priced Local Pints and Cocktails

The Tigress Pub is the perfect place to escape if you are looking to experience local beers and cocktails. It has a pretty vintage feel which accounts for its awesome atmosphere. Their selection is top notch with a vibe that’s straight outta Austin. If you still want to experience the madness of ACL, this is a great spot to grab some drinks before you head out.

The Native Scoop:

Locals suggest you gotta utilize the bartenders or mixologists. They are very friendly, and if you tell them generally what you want, they will put together an awesome drink. Definitely try the custom cocktails.

Make sure to Download NativX to find the best bars and specials that fit your personality.