Whisler's in East Austin, a cocktail bar reminiscent of elegantly grungy watering holes throughout Europe, has people milling about outside before they even open at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon. From the outside, it almost looks closed with the iron fencing design, like one of many construction sites in the area. Behind it lies an enormous patio, gorgeous lights dripping from side to side over the tables, with a simple layout that is both elegant and welcoming, and a cozy bar and upstairs mezcaleria.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with the leadership team at Whisler's, including the founder/owner and his management crew, for an article for Eastside Magazine. What an incredible experience to speak with these humans who love what they do, who are giving deep thoughts to the experience they are creating for visitors. It was inspiring.
The stone walls and that tall tower-feeling inside above the bar. The wrought iron table settings. The heavy bar stools. The space is quite small inside, and yet, it feels like there are multiple rooms, each with its own unique experience. A surprisingly smiley bouncer checks ID at the property entrance, the patio itself takes up most of the footprint, something that gets tented for the winter, creating maximum comfort for guests within. There's a single room on the second floor, once the owner's office, it is one of the first (if not the first) mezcaleria's in the state, with its own schedule, it operates under the name Mezcalería Tobalá. Cozy. Rustic. Elegant. Old Worldly. These are all the words that come to mind to describe the space. Combine that with eclectic music and you've got yourself a vibe.
The vibe, the environment, the friendliness all play a key part to a positive experience. Why talk about the cocktails? When visiting a cocktail bar, I expect them to be at least good. At Whisler's, they're great. Pick something solid like an old fashioned and it will be made just right. Select something out of their seasonal menu and be delighted by a never-before-experienced-taste-sensation.
There's a food truck inside the gates, at time of writing this article it is Golden Tiger. I can personally vouch for the Golden Burger, those smashed patties and dripping special sauce are memorable and definitely one of the top burgers in the city.
There isn't a single reason not to visit Whisler's when you're in Austin. Leave your regular world behind and take a break by transporting yourself somewhere completely different, without ever stepping foot in an airport.
What is a Shrub Cocktail?
During my interview for the Eastside Magazine Article, the seasonal menu included something called a shrub cocktail. I did not know what it was, here's what I learned. Cocktails are made with one of three flavor infusion methods: infuse the liqour, or make a syrup like simple syrup, or shrub is simple syrup with vinegar instead of water. It's usually made with apple cider vinegar to create a more intense flavor. Sort of like a kombucha experience that dances on your tongue.