Whisler's is a rustic watering hole featuring handcrafted cocktails and a patio with frequent live music. Upstairs they have a Mezcal bar, serving some of the best bottles in Texas. Whisler's is a choice spot from daylight, to sunset, to last call.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Ryan Kirk Contributing writer
Whisler’s on the east side of Austin is like a time vortex; it’s deeply rooted but not out of date. Relatively new but definitely not modern. Nostalgic, yes. Reflective and evocative? Well, that depends on who you ask. It implores you to transform, effectively giving you a reason to understand a culture that may not be your own; paying homage to the people of Oaxaca, reminiscent of the roots of its predecessor, and valuing a side of town that thrives off of its ability to stay strange. Whisler’s has fallen from the Austin stereotype of fast-paced pubs, nor is it your fancy-glass club that overlooks the downtown buildings, it’s different, it’s weird, it’s what they like to think of as an Austin Texas Cocktail bar.
Congratulations, Whisler’s — you’ve solved the Austin cocktail version of a Rubik’s cube.
The origins of the location are widely known for as Rabbits Lounge, which was a dive bar who laid claim to the land for 42 years. Owner Rosalio “Rabbit” Duran sold the joint to Scranton Twohey, who was lucky enough to drive by and just see the old legend sitting outside. Twohey’s bar resume is about as long as the Comal River, and after running several successful bars on Rainy Street, he decided he was ready to fashion his own.
The interior of the bar is stripped down to its original 1917 skin: rock walls, wooden-framed windows, and a gorgeous glass chandelier. If it wasn’t for electricity and the exchange of credit cards, you might start thinking your Uber was a grey DeLorean driven by a funny man in a white jumpsuit. Outside, benches and tables fill up the patio. The exterior walls might be referred to as “unpolished” by someone who doesn’t know what they are looking at. To us, they whisper style and scream character. Painted on the walls are words and murals; standing out the most is the word “Rabbit’s,” acknowledging the presence of the past and making the phrase “If these walls could talk” an understatement.
Now, to fill you in on all of that Oaxaca chit-chat from earlier. Whisler’s has an upstairs, a Oaxacan-style mezcalria. It’s a Texas-two-step out of Austin — as you’ll feel like you’re transported to a bar off of the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains in Oaxaca.
The intimate bar carries a broad selection of wild-variety mezcals, including Mexicano, Madre Cuixe, Arroqueño, Tobalá, Ensamble en Olla de Barro, and some rare Espadin. They also do half pours in clay copitas, and full pours in traditional votive glasses. They like to say that they are spreading the Mezcal Gospel, one drink at a time.
Whisler’s has blurred the lines of what people refer to as a cocktail bar. They have colored outside the box of a typical Austin pub, giving the people of East Austin precisely what they wanted: a high quality, community-driven cocktail bar. Congratulations, Whisler’s — you’ve solved the Austin cocktail version of a Rubik’s cube.
Lot’s of history here. Read the article to learn more about the buildings deep drinking roots
CYTIES recommendation: Mezcal bar upstairs, don’t whimper away from Oxaca’s favorite drink
Catch live music here several nights a week
Plenty of outdoor seatings, catch some daylight, or a starry night