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Run Away with the Circus

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Second Street’s newest bar and DIY craft shop, Upstairs Circus, invites Austinites to create, drink and be merry. 

By Rachel Holtin

It’s no secret Austin has an eclectic bar scene. From historic live-music venues to Sixth Street, there is an incredible number of options for anyone looking for a drink and a good time.

One such good-time hot spot is the new Second Street bar meets workshop, Upstairs Circus. The bar is designed specifically for creators and hosts regular “project socials,” get-togethers through which circus visitors can can complete a DIY arts-and-craft project from Upstairs Circus’ many options.

The project menu has more than 25 options, with craft categories ranging from handmade jewelry to wall art to libations goods like flasks and koozies to lifestyle products like dog collars, passport wallets and leather luggage tags. Projects come complete with supplies, tools and a photo tutorial with step-by-step instructions. Though teachers don’t lead the project socials, knowledgeable staff members are readily available to help out as needed.

Before getting started on any Upstairs Circus project, it’s recommended you head to the bar for a beverage to help get the creative juices flowing. The bar menu includes a selection of craft beers, including several local options, as well as wine and specialty cocktails and even a couple nonalcoholic offerings. One favorite is the Mexican Firebreather cocktail, essentially a spicy margarita, with Herradura tequila, Grand Marnier, lime and fresh jalapeño served with a chili rim and the perfect amount of spice. Another highlight is the Circus Donkey, with Deep Eddy grapefruit vodka, ginger beer and lime.

Drink in hand, it’s time to begin your project. Upstairs Circus notes how long each project usually takes to complete, and also provides info about how difficult projects are on a challenge-level scale. Between indulging in cocktails and truffle popcorn, Instagram-photo opportunities and fun conversation with friends at the table, time definitely flies, so it may end up taking you a bit longer to complete your craft project than you initially thought. But that’s OK. After all, working on a DIY project can be quite therapeutic and a nice way to unwind from a long day at work while also disconnecting from the digital world of your smartphone for a few hours.

The best part is you can actually take your crafty masterpiece home the same day you make it. If you want to give your piece some extra time to dry completely or set, that’s fine too. Just leave it at the front with your full name and phone number.

Info to note before attending an Upstairs Circus project social:

• The only snack available is popcorn but Upstairs Circus does allow outside food.

• Reservations are not required but are highly recommended. Reserve a spot by visiting upstairscircus.com or calling 512.559.7571.

• Arrival time is flexible within an hour and a half of the scheduled start time.

For those not ready to DIY, guests are also welcome to enjoy a cocktail at the bar without joining in on a project. There are adult coloring books and games like Barrel of Monkeys to help keep you entertained.

Now’s your chance, Austin: create, drink and be merry.

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