Welcome to Downtown Austin’s favorite speakeasy bar. Photo courtesy of Garage

The RundownAustin

The Insider’s Guide to Garage Cocktail Bar

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Before you go to a restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know most? Welcome to The Rundown, a new series in which we share all the essentials about newly opened (as well as favorite) Resy restaurants.

This week, we’re taking a look at Garage, one of Austin’s best (and worst-kept) speakeasy bars, which has been delighting locals and out-of-towners since 2014. Consider the following your cheat sheet to this lauded cocktail destination, whether you’re a first timer or a regular due for a revisit.

 


How hard-to-find are we talking?

If you’ve never been, here’s the drill: Head to the parking lot on Colorado between Fifth and Sixth and keep your eyes peeled — you’ll see the regular “Enter” and “Exit” parking signs, before coming across “Cocktails” painted in all caps. Step in, let your eyes adjust to the dimmed setting, and you’ll spot the speakeasy’s glowing neon sign. And just like that, you’re here.


Look for the neon sign. Photo courtesy of Garage

Fun Fact:

Garage (the cocktail bar) is housed inside the old valet ticketing office of what was once the garage (the parking lot) of the National American Bank, built in 1964.


What you should order.

The perennial favorite, the Indian paintbrush. Photo courtesy of Garage.

If it’s your first time, general manager Paul Finn recommends getting the most-ordered drink on the menu: the Indian Paintbrush. Named after Texas’ famous wildflower, it’s made with vodka, grapefruit juice, lime, and rosemary. “It’s the definition of balance,” he says, “You want to return to it over and over.”

His personal favorite, however, is the Old Fashioned. “It’s a classic that has withstood the test of time and you can get a lot of variation with subtle changes,” he explains. Plus, the drink pairs beautifully with the candied pecans (“to die for”), which are part of Philip Speer’s snacks menu.

Finn’s go-to: the Old Fashioned. Photo courtesy of Garage

Finally, Finn says to look out for a new drink, the Sans Seraph, a twist on a classic Sazerac, featuring high proof bourbon and green chartreuse.


When to stop by for a drink?

According to Finn (who’s been on the team since opening day in March 2014), if you drop by Wednesday, you’re almost guaranteed a more intimate vibe. Otherwise, Friday night’s the time to go, “if you like it more lively and don’t mind a wait,” he says, live music sometimes included.


Pro Tip:

Make that Resy (unless you like waiting)! Old-timers will remember lining up at 5 p.m. on the dot for a chance to get first dibs at the bar.


Best seat in the house?

It goes without saying: One of the 10-or-so stools parked along the curved and tiled white granite bar. Even better if Chris Simpson is around — Finn says Garage’s bar manager brings years of cocktail experience to the bar.

A lineup of drinks at the bar. Photo by Julie Cope, courtesy of Garage

Garage is open for indoor and outdoor seating Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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