Assuming the weather holds up this first weekend of South by Southwest 2017, there won’t be a better place to relax and recharge in the midst of the SXSW madness, lasting through March 19 this year, than at one of Austin’s myriad patio bars. Here are several to choose from depending on what part of town you’re at during the festival — and what kind of outdoor experience you’re seeking.
Deck Nine Observatory Bar at Boiler Nine
800 W. Cesar Chavez St., boilernine.com.
The upstairs bar at Boiler Nine Bar & Grill, the centerpiece restaurant of La Corsha Hospitality Group’s dining project in the historic Seaholm Power Plant, has reopened just in time for the fest. It’ll be very similar to what you might remember of the open-air patio — with nothing less than panoramic views of the surrounding downtown — albeit with a new food and cocktail menu.
La Corsha beverage director Jason Stevens, along with executive chef Jason Stude, have created fare with “beachy, coastal flavors”: bar snacks like yellowtail crudo and cumin tostadas and cocktails that include frozen rum and tequila drinks, tropical highballs and more. You’ll still be able to “booze your own adventure” with them, and deck favorites like the Negroni and the Old Fashioned have remained on the menu.
“What I’m trying to do is not use the word ‘tropical’ with the menu to avoid the impression of a tiki bar, but you will find tropical spices like guava in the drinks and also deeper, darker flavors of hibiscus, allspice, things like that from Mexico and Jamaica: a variety of baking spices that is common in the cuisine there,” Stevens said, referring to the new Red Macaw as an example.
The Red Macaw, with grapefruit, hibiscus blossom and island spices, in addition to your choice of blanco tequila, light rum or vodka, is exactly the sort of bright, beachy beverage you’ll want to be drinking during the coming week of SXSW.
As one of Austin’s best bars, Deck Nine won’t disappoint.
1300 S. Lamar Blvd., backbeat-atx.com.
The husband-and-wife owners of this bar and North Loop’s cozy Drink.Well have established Backbeat as the trendy cocktail spot you want to be at on important holidays like Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, thanks to an upstairs patio area that offers clear views of downtown and those holidays’ fireworks.
But stake out your views during SXSW as well: Backbeat is far enough away that you can relax with a cocktail in hand (might we suggest the eponymous Backbeat, with celery cordial, lemon, Génépy des Alpes and your choice of gin, vodka or tequila) while still being tantalizingly close enough to feel the fest’s contagious energy.
Corner at the J.W. Marriott
110 E. Second St., cornerrestaurantaustin.com.
If you want to be in the very center of the SXSW action, pull up a seat at the square Patio Bar outside of the J.W. Marriott’s Corner restaurant, which buzzes nonstop with fest-goers who have just come from or are headed to a panel at the hotel. The bar menu tends to focus on two of Texas’ most beloved drinks — tequila cocktails and local craft beer — so it’s also the right place to be if you’re introducing an out-of-towner to what Austin does best.
709 E. Sixth St., easytigeraustin.com.
When you walk in through the bake shop, the alluring smell of freshly made bread will probably give you an appetite. Good thing, too, because there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting in the outdoor beer garden and enjoying a pretzel with beer cheese or a house-made sausage. Wash down the grub with a beer — Easy Tiger balances local and national offerings, with current ones including new-to-Texas Bell’s Brewery — and then line up for a game of ping-pong as Waller Creek gurgles serenely below.
The Barrrr at Yeti
220 S. Congress Ave., yeti.com/flagship
Yeti’s flagship store and accompanying indoor/outdoor bar just opened on prime real estate off Lady Bird Lake, and there’s no question it’s going to be one of the hottest places to be at SXSW. In addition to the live music performances that will take place on a small stage within the store, Yeti will be peddling canned beers from local brewery stalwarts, such as Independence Brewing, Austin Beerworks and Hops & Grain, that you can keep cold in one of their Yeti Colsters (see what they’re doing there?).
Plus, views of South Congress Avenue near the bridge — a prime people-watching corner — from several outward-facing seats at the bar are hard to beat.
1902 E. Sixth St., lazarusbrewing.com.
Street tacos? Fresh coffee? Beer made just yards from where it pours from the taps? Plenty of indoor and outdoor seating? Since it opened at the end of last year, Lazarus Brewing has proved to be practically a religious experience for people in East Austin who regularly frequent the brewpub: in the morning for their coffee fix, in the evening for an indulgent pint.
Newcomers are also going to discover this colorful joint during SXSW, when they’ll be able to try beers like Despereaux, a French saison with notes of cloves and coriander, and Holy Mother of God, an aptly named barleywine pouring at a robust 11.2 percent ABV. Drink a pint while you’re seated outside in the shaded courtyard that tends to draw a breeze or two.