In June 2018, Here Nor There opened its doors in downtown Austin and immediately began serving some of the best craft cocktails in the city.
Speakeasy, cocktail lounge, craft bar. They all apply to one of my favorite bars to grab a drink.
One of the reasons I like the Here Nor There is that it's a semi-private bar.
Anyone can download the Here Nor There app from iTunes or Google Play, follow the directions, and make a reservation as a house guest.
They also cater to members who pay a $500 annual fee to enjoy perks like priority reservations, discounts at pop-up events outside Here Nor There, and discounts on rare spirits.
Membership is invite-only, but their Code of Conduct applies to everyone. As a result, Here Nor There feels exclusive while still being open to the public.
In my experience, visiting a half dozen times as a house guest (i.e., non-member), the staff has always been friendly and welcoming.
Finding Here Nor There
Once you've downloaded the app to one of the best cocktail bars in Austin and submitted a reservation request, you'll receive a confirmation email with the secret door code.
The easiest way to find the entrance is to go to the Driskill Hotel and then walk north on Brazos Street.
You're in the right place when you see a gate with an electronic keypad on your left side. Enter the secret code, and the gate will open to a narrow alley.
Thursday through Saturday, there's someone there to greet guests outside the front door.
The stairwell leading to the below-street-level lounge is painted in an intricate black-and-white mural, indicating the thought that goes into every detail here.
At the bottom of the stairwell are a host stand and a life-size bear holding a tray of complimentary palate cleansers.
Once your eyes adjust to the low lighting, you'll see a variety of different seating options in this cozy space, including:
- The small bar.
- Comfy sofas.
- A semi-private room covered in antique plates and lit by candles.
- Two small booths near the entrance.
If you're alone or feeling social during happy hour, your best bet is choosing the bar, while the other options offer more privacy if you're on a date.
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Here Nor There's first cocktail menu had a globalism theme and was created with specific flavors in mind. As a traveler, it was right up my alley.
I enjoyed every cocktail I ordered from that first menu, including:
- From Russia With Love (Beluga vodka, Champagne, and caviar)
- Tropic Thunder (a tropical vodka and coconut cocktail)
- The Scandinavian-inspired Northern Lights
While these three are no longer available, Here Nor There has many new options on their current thematic menu, Colors.
In addition to cocktails that change with the themes, Here Nor There has a handful of classics from their original Globalism menu you can always count on.
The Slainte is HNT's take on an Irish coffee. According to General Manager Cathal Foley, their "rendition of this classic nightcap was inspired by our love of a British dessert, the Banoffee pie, made from bananas, cream toffee, and coffee on a buttery biscuit base."
Ingredients include banana cream, Guinness and vanilla syrup, dark robust coffee, and smooth Irish whiskey.
The Milk & Honey is their house milk punch. Delicate and creamy, it takes an astounding 30 hours to make and uses 40 ingredients, including a five-rum blend, clarified milk, lemon sherbet, green tea, and trade route spices.
And the Roads Once Travelled is HNT's take on the Old Fashioned, made with barrel-strength bourbon, Pedro Ximenez sherry, and bitters.
Small touches like branding the ice with their logo further show an attention to detail I find fascinating at this secret bar.
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During one visit, my date ordered a drink I hadn't tried before, and when it arrived, it was on fire. She said it was one of the best cocktails she'd ever had.
Due to recent increases in liquor costs, prices are in the $18 to $21 range per mixed drink, putting it at the high end of what you'll pay at Austin bars.
Several business partners collaborated to bring us HNT.
Terance Robson from Ireland was the creative mind behind the concept, and General Manager Cathal Foley and Beverage Director Conor O'Reilly currently run it.
They've successfully brought a world of flavor to an intimate bar in downtown Austin. And I, for one, am thankful.
To visit Here Nor There, one of my favorite spots, download their mobile app from iTunes or Google Play and create a profile to request a reservation.
Once approved, you'll receive confirmation via email and future updates about upcoming events.
The dress code is flexible, they only ask you not to wear sports jerseys or swimwear. No flash photography is allowed.
Here Nor There's Sister Bar
In 2022, the owners of Here Nor There opened an 8-seat cocktail bar at street level on the same block called In Plain Sight. The tiny bar offers "Italian-style cocktails with European flavors."
I queued up before they opened at 4 p.m. one summer afternoon to check it out and was hardly alone. We missed out on the seats at the bar but could still enjoy a drink standing by the window.
I ordered the delicious Strawberry Garibaldi, a riff on the original Garibaldi made with orange juice, which I first tried at Dante in New York City.