No need for a special occasion, there’s always something happening at Craftsman.
Words by Ben Haguewood Photos by Ashley Haguewood
The Jack and Coke just isn’t cutting it for east Austin revelers any more. Not for a while. Craftsman bar on East Cesar Chavez serves up elevated cocktails, craft beer, and more in a casual, neighborhood setting without the intimidating vibe or eye-rolling bartender who looks like the lost member of a barber shop quartet. As owner Brandon Testa puts it, “It shouldn’t cost $15 and take 10 minutes to make a decent cocktail.” Fresh interpretations of classics like the Feder is Better (a punchy Old Fashioned) shine with the addition of savory notes from Azteca chocolate bitters and a Habanero shrub; the East Side Sour swaps in Reposado tequila, fresh mango and lime, and a float of Velvet Falernum foam—a rum-based liqueur. If cocktails aren’t your thing, there’s a rotating selection of craft beers, Prosecco on tap (you read that right), and plain old tallboys. Add in inventive mixers like house-made ginger beer, a slew of fresh-squeezed juices, and nitro-carbonated grapefruit juice with a hit of cayenne, and the cocktail recipes are limited only by your curiosity.
Craftsman is an adventurous drink lover’s candy store, but that’s not the only reason to go. There’s something happening pretty much every night for everyone from the sports fan to the aspiring mixologist—and a drink special to go with it. Monday night is Karaoke with a 4pm to close happy hour to get people on the stage. Tuesday is Tacos & Tallboys, and Wednesday is Ladies Night with $2 Prosecco pours and pop-up shops featuring local artisans showing off jewelry, apparel, perfume, and other local wares. Thursday is Craftsman’s Cocktail Lab where you can get a discount and a lesson on an experimental cocktail. Friday and Saturday nights feature a DJ and rotating drink specials. Pueblo Viejo caters a Sunday brunch buffet for $12, and the bar offers a $15 bottle of Champagne with fresh squeezed juices for mimosas. If that won’t get you out of bed, you went too hard.
Don’t be surprised if you mistake Craftsman Bar for a raucous house party, with people spilling onto the wrap-around front porch and into the yard. Just go on in though, you don’t need an invitation.
The Feder is Better: Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Luxardo cherry, Azteca chocolate bitters, and habanero shrub
East Side Sour: El Jimador Reposado tequila, mango, lime, tiki bitters, and velvet Falernum foam – made from the Barbadian sweet and spiced liqueur
Native Knowledge: Craftsman is Austin’s official host for Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions watch parties.
2000 E. Cesar Chavez St.