The 10 Coolest Cocktail Bars In Houston, Texas

Photo of Audra Clemons
9 February 2017

Houston is not only the hometown of Queen Bey, it is also home to a plethora of excellent dining and drinking venues. We check out the most popular watering holes in this cosmopolitan, Texan city.

Courtesy of Anvil Bar & Refuge

Anvil Bar & Refuge

Bar, Charcuterie, American, $$$
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Anvil Bar & Refuge is an industrial-chic bar with mixologists dedicated to creating classic cocktails, from bourbon to mescal. Offering a ‘Top 100’ cocktail list with the freshest ingredients, this place serves drinks made to order with precision. The bar is busy on weekday evenings and even more packed on weekends. So, arrive early and grab a pork belly taco or the charcuterie grand cheese and meat plate. Then taste their speciality tipples.

Barringer Bar

Bar, Cocktails, Beer, $$$
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Barringer is owned and operated by husband-and-wife Houston natives, Robby & Chieko Cook. It takes its name from the old Barringer Norton Tailors that resided in the building in the early 1900s. An unassuming side door provides the entrance. It leads up and around a winding staircase to a speakeasy-style bar in old historic downtown Houston. Live music and craft cocktails can be found at the upscale speakeasy, perfect for laid-back gatherings.

The Pastry War

If you love tequila and mescal, this is the place to be. The Pastry War was recently named one of the best new bars in America by Bon Appetit. There is no sign outside and don’t expect to taste pastries. The name pays homage to an 1838 conflict between France and Mexico (la guerra de los pasteles). Meanwhile, the indoor decor celebrates the lively drinking culture of the latter. Other than late-night drinking, The Pastry War offers tasting classes during the day. While on-site, order some tamales: they’re said to be the best in town.

The Pastry War, 310 Main St., Houston, TX, USA +1 (713) 225-3310

OKRA Charity Saloon

Bar, Pub Grub
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Okra - Charity Bar, Houston
Okra - Charity Bar, Houston | Courtesy of Rosemont Social Club
OKRA Charity Saloon will make you feel good about life. The building was constructed in 1836 and ran as a casino in 1886. The oval-shaped bar is accented by exposed brick walls and gas light fixtures. The original circle arch and barrel vault ceilings are still intact, providing guests with a fantastic and authentic atmosphere. OKRA Charity Saloon was reconfigured a few years ago, and is now run by young restaurateurs and bartenders as a nonprofit establishment. Every drink purchased allows patrons to cast a vote on a spotlight charity in Houston. At the end of the month, the charity with the most votes gets the profits from the month.

Rosemont Social Club

Bar, Cocktails, Beer, $$$
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Some would say that the Rosemont Social Club has you as soon as they produce a complimentary valet. A great view from the rooftop doesn’t hurt either. This place offers two floors – a downstairs bar with bar stools and lounges, and an upstairs patio with private cabanas. Rosemont is a great option for an engagement party or celebration, as the cabana rentals are available. The signature drink is the Strawberry Basil, which is a must-have menu item.

Warren's Inn

Bar, Beer, Pub Grub
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Warren’s Inn is a no-frills, old-school dive bar in downtown Houston. Reminiscent of something pulled out of New Orleans, the watering hole is full of large mirrors and rafter-hanging chandeliers. This place has a heavy pour and friendly service, accompanied by one of the best jukeboxes in town. Thanks to this, Warren’s Inn is an incognito Houston mainstay.

Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, Beer, $$$
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Located in the northern area of downtown Houston, a newly gentrified neighborhood, sits Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge. It is helmed by bartender and co-owner Justin Burrow, who brings experience from previous stints at Anvil Bar & Refuge. Burrow is ‘planting his flag’ to demonstrate commitment to the future of downtown Houston. With lovely urban vistas and skilled mixologists, the 1,700-square-foot space serves up everything from classic cocktails to cheap beers.

Grand Prize

Bar, Beer, Cocktails
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Grand Prize is an eclectic neighborhood bar located in Houston’s Museum District, frequented by local hipsters. It offers liberal drinks from happy hour onwards, alongside a full lineup of sandwiches. From the menu, order the Dr Pepper-braised short rib and a Texas Lone Star beer. Before you leave, play a game of pool, take some photos in the photo booth and select some tunes from the jukebox.

Nouveau Antique Art Bar

Bar, Beer, $$$
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Noveau Antique Bar is a Houston standout. You cannot forget this place, as the ceiling is chock-full of replica Tiffany light fixtures and furniture that creates an aura of comfort and an impressionistic scattering of dim light. The establishment is a romantic choice for art lovers, young professionals and folks who just want a low-key atmosphere. Tuesday night is ladies night and Wednesday night is lounge night. From the cocktail menu, order the fiery Moscow mule.

La Carafe

Bar, Beer, American
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Listed on the National Register for Historic Places, and said to be the oldest bar in Houston, La Carafe serves wine and beer in a romantic setting. La Carafe contains candlelit tables and a balcony that overlooks downtown buildings and bars on both levels. Inside the oldest functioning bar in Houston, the bartenders are said to have ghost stories to tell. Bring plenty of cash because La Carafe does not accept plastic. From the menu, order a Sauvignon Blanc to go with the warm Texan climate.