The Mohawk updates bar area with cleaner look, more boozy options

The Mohawk still wants to be one of Austin’s most beloved live music venues — but with the recent renovation of the venue’s indoor bar area, it also wants to be the place where you can come after work and have a drink while listening to a DJ spin some vinyl.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Mohawk has recently increased its selection of draft beers and small-batch spirits to turn the indoor bar into more of a happy hour spot before shows.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Mohawk has recently increased its selection of draft beers and small-batch spirits to turn the indoor bar into more of a happy hour spot before shows.

Now with a cleaner, more open look, the bar has also gotten more draft beers and small-batch whiskeys, with options like Austin Beerworks Sputnik and Macallan 21 Year Scotch now available every day when the Mohawk opens at 5 p.m.

Mohawk staff decided to update the bar in part because of Red River Street’s transformation. As Mohawk general manager Cody Cowan noted, a hotel is being erected down the street, among other coming changes, calling for the Mohawk to have a “more presentable, more dignified” design that will appeal to a wider range of clientele.

“We’ve had, probably unbeknownst to everyone, happy hours Mondays through Fridays for several years now,” he said. “Now we’re just going to open at 5 p.m. every day. Just come in and have a drink and hang out — that’s what we want to offer.”

Leading the redesign was Kartwheel Craftmanship and Guerilla Suit, two local design firms that stripped down “probably 20 years of layers” in the bar area and added woodwork and new light fixtures, simple fixes that go a long way toward updating the Mohawk’s image (but don’t worry if you’ve always loved that enormous stuffed bear: it’s still there).

“We wanted to give this room a cleaner look,” Kartwheel’s David Clark said. “Growing up, I guess. Not exactly starched and pressed, but we’re picking a clean shirt.”

He added the goal was to create “a comfortable hang-out where you can meet up with some friends before you go to dinner and not feel like you’re completely up to no good.”

Opening up the entrance area — which Cowan said can turn into a bottleneck of people during busy shows — was also crucial. And for a final touch, Clark and crew added the “Been There” hallway, owner James Moody’s idea, which lists on the ceiling all the various music acts who have performed at the venue throughout the years. (Moody bought what would become the Mohawk back in the mid-2000s; the venue’s previous incarnations hadn’t been particularly successful. He also co-founded Guerilla Suit.)

With South by Southwest only a couple of weeks away, Cowan said the Mohawk doesn’t plan on making a major push letting people know that the bar area is open for happy hour until after the festival is over. “We’re in the calm before the storm of SXSW, so we’ve got a lot of planning going on right now,” he said.

But rest assured that it is open every day starting at 5 p.m., and with quite an impressive beer and whiskey selection.


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