Where to drink during SXSW

Everybody knows that SXSW is flowing with free beer and open bars, but before you whip out the beer bong and schedule the IV for tomorrow’s hangover, take note young freeloader, that the free drinks are reserved for badge holders or girls with other assets. Even if you’re an industry insider sporting a badge of honor you’re still going to have to deal with long-ass lines. But fear not, Austin is one of the country’s best places to drink and there’s a massive an eclectic range of awesome bars to experience when you’re in town. Whether you want to geek out over artisanal bitters and bourbon lists or slam home a few craft IPAs, Austin is ready to whet your whistle in proper form. As they say in Texas, let’s tie one on.

We vowed never to go to place called Banger's, but we have to admit that the place looks harmless, almost charming, from the outside. Located in a rustic cottage with a leafy backyard area, this sausage house (both the figurative and literal term applies) and beer hall has over 100-plus brews and ciders to choose from and is a craft beer lover’s hoppy dream come true. As the name implies, this isn’t a place for conversation, but more of a rowdy, elbow-to-elbow, Project-X level house party that will raise the roof when big acts like Miike Snow, Bloc Party and The Kills take the stage during the festival.

Sure, SXSW offers up-and-coming bands, ground-breaking films and some of the best food trucks east of LA, but at the top of any SXSW bucket list is to crack open a Lone Star with Matthew McConaughey. Live that dream at The White Horse Tavern, where the Austin-native and other Hollywood-types in town for the festivities like to hob nob. This low-key, east-side honky tonk offers low-frills Central Texas fun as evidence by the parked taco truck and $5 Lone Star/whiskey combos. As your boy Wooderson might say, “alright, alright ,alright.”

Hotel San Jose has long been considered the best happy hour spot in Austin and that only gets better during SXSW when our favorite boutique hotel transforms into South by San Jose. Basically, this in-house (or hotel in this case), throws a FREE five day music festival in their parking lot with live bands, food, vendors. In addition to being packed with extremely attractive, semi-tipsy hipsters, you can’t deny the fun of what feels like a locals block party.

At a certain point a man might tire of beer, sweaty rock clubs, and, let’s face it, standing. Said man also might desire a well-made cocktail, as any gentleman would. If you’re looking to class it up a bit, lose the t-shirt and head out to The Townsend. Located in a historic space on Congress Avenue, this retro-cocktail bar has legit mixologists who will make you top-shelf drinks with names like the Toronto Buck and Herringbone. An eclectic list of electronic, Latin and dance pop acts will pair up perfectly with the downtempo vibe and excellent cocktails.

You’ve been making Yeezy tracks across SXSW catching as many shows as you can, while leaving a trail of red cup roadies in your wake. Undoubtedly, you forgot to eat, which is gonna catch up to you eventuallh. You can keep the party going, while getting your grub on at Stubb's, a landmark joint that puts the Bar in Bar-B-cue, not only serving up slow-cooked meats slathered in their trademark sauce, but cold brews and headlining acts like country queen Loretta Lynn, Santigold and Crystal Castles.

The Scoot Inn is one of those secret SXSW spots we keep on the DL. Think of it as your Austin getaway within your SXSW getaway. The breezy open-air patio has a laid-back backyard-feel that will be turnt up when DC rapper Wale hits the outdoor sage. Let’s just not let this secret get too widespread, ok?

You don’t need no stinkin’ badges to drink at The Brixton, which tries to distance itself from SXSW despite being in the heart of East Sixth Street (Austin’s party-mecca). The down and dirty dive bar actually holds an annual locals-only pre-SXSW party. It may all seem like hipster irony because they still cater to the SXSW crowds, but do aim for less-corporate acts by focusing on punk bands and local artists.

The Wright Bros. Brew & Brew is a great place to start your day after a long night. The half coffee shop/half bar prides itself on serving the best of both brews, offering light roasted, local coffee beans and 39 taps of craft beers. Regardless of how you like your eye opener (or what time of day you're there), one jolting cup of joe followed by a cold-ass beer and you’re ready for the day, well, day drinking that is.

All good things must come to an end, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking. Rainey Street’s Half Step, and their annual SXSW closing party is your final destination. Last year’s event was a charity barbecue that featured a Pork and Swine menu from all-star chefs while owner and award-winning bartender, Chris Bostick concocted a punch (with a punch) that was served from wooden barrels.

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