Ten years ago, craft cocktail bars were nearly non-existent in San Antonio. Now, our city has a bevy of bars with masterful mixologists as well as a world-renowned conference devoted to the craft. We have found that best way to experience cocktails is to, you know, venture out and drink them, so these seven high-quality drinking establishments are the spots to imbibe.
Ordering directly from the menu at The Brooklynite is encouraged as the drinks are works of art -- but, if you let the barkeep know your tastes, they will make something tailored just for you. Owner Jeret Peña is all about customer service and satisfaction and his philosophy is reflected through the care his employees put into their work. If you need guidance, start with a Summer Pimm's, made with house pineapple gomme, lemon, cucumber, salt, and Topo Chico; it's ideal for a steaming summer day.
The Esquire opened its doors in 1933 in celebration of the end of prohibition and has satisfied an alcohol-starved city of San Antonio ever since. It's obvious that beverage director, Houston Eaves takes pride in his work -- the drinks are classically made and true to the Esquire's rich history. Always dark, loud, and crowded, the bar's ambiance hasn't shifted much since its early beginnings. So fight your way through the crowd and up to the bar, order a Wonderlust King (rye whiskey, Amaro Nardini, vermouth, xocolatl, and orange bitters) and enjoy the scenery.
If you’ve been following San Antonio’s cocktail renaissance, you are familiar with Jaret Pena. If you haven’t, you at least know his products: besides The Brooklynite, which we’ve already mentioned, Pena’s the mastermind behind spots like The Green Lantern and he helped reshape The Esquire into its current iteration. After leaving that Downtown spot, he formed the Boulevardier Group; The Last Word, opened in 2015, is the first concept from the group.The bar offers 15 cocktails on tap in addition to any traditional cocktail your heart desires. As with any establishment that Pena has a hand in, the bartenders shun pretentiousness and will jump at the opportunity to help you understand the menu. Start with the Seasonal Julep and work your way from there with the help of some experts.
Southtown's swankiest bar deserves the admiration it gets. 1919 might be crowded, loud, and expensive but the drinks are consistently delicious. Check out the Rathbone -- made with tequila, absinthe, and ginger syrup it will have you feeling excellent quickly. The venue is small, so be prepared to stand or fight for a table -- whichever comes first.
With it's pristine views, glowing backdrops and boutique furnishings, San Antonio's first rooftop bar could have coasted on aesthetics alone. But the bartending at Paramour is exceptional, dealing from a barrel-aged cocktail menu that's been refined at crew's previous stops at The Pearl and the late Arcade Midtown Kitchen. If you're loaded, check out their selection of Pappy Van Winkle -- the world's most sought after rye whiskey and sip it as you look over our beautiful cityscape.
A little further north, Bar du Mon Ami effectively serves the Alamo Heights neighborhood with a wide array of strong cocktails. With plenty of space for large parties, dates, and single patrons, the bar places a strong emphasis on ambiance, but doesn't forget about the drinks. Check out the Basil Collins, if you need a suggestion. Made with a hefty dose of juniper and basil, the potent drink is a great way to cool off this summer.
Barbaro slings out some excellent cocktails in addition to their already famous pizza. The venue is small, dark, and perfect for huddling up to the bar and talking alcohol with one of the talented bartenders. The drinks are carefully designed and change seasonally, so try not to fall in love with just one. Best thing about all of this? Easy access to cheesy pizza whenever you need it.
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1. The Brooklynite516 Brooklyn Ave, San Antonio
2. The Esquire Tavern155 E Commerce St, San Antonio
3. The Last Word229 E Houston St #10, San Antonio
4. Bar 19191420 S Alamo St, San Antonio
5. Paramour102 9th St, San Antonio
6. Bar Du Mon Ami4901 Broadway St, San Antonio
7. Barbaro2720 McCullough Ave, San Antonio
Visiting The Brooklynite is like being transported to another time and place, somewhere between Mad Men and a Victorian speakeasy. You might expect a heavy waft of cigar smoke, but all you’ll get are some incredible craft cocktails. Cool off with a Summer Pimm's, made with house pineapple gomme, lemon, cucumber, salt, and Topo Chico.
Opened in 1933, The Esquire Tavern isn’t just styled after the Prohibition Era -- it celebrates the end of it. The old stone building looks like something you might find settled in with the screaming balconies of Bourbon Street, but luckily you don’t even have to leave the city to enjoy its classically made cocktails and loud, dark ambiance (which hasn't changed much since its early days).
Whether you're after a traditional cocktail or one of the 15 craft choices in their lineup, The Last Word has you covered. The bartenders here are anything but pretentious, are are ready and willing to help you find your ideal drink. Our recommendation? Start with the Seasonal Julep, then work your way from there with the help of the experts behind the bar.
In the heart of the Blue Star complex is Bar 1919. Not just your friendly neighborhood watering hole, it's a house of craft cocktails that takes itself seriously -- and expects you to as well. They have nearly every scotch and bourbon ever made and are proud of the fact that they only carry one kind of vodka.
San Antonio's first rooftop bar, Paramour offers cocktails as spectacular as its views. While you're enjoying its industrial, rustic digs, considering dropping some cash on their selection of Pappy Van Winkle, the world's most sought after rye whiskey, and sip it as you look over the beautiful cityscape.
Bar du Mon Ami is Alamo Heights' source for strong cocktails. It offers a wide variety of drinks that pack a punch, plus plenty of space for large parties, dates, and single patrons. The bar emphasizes ambiance, but the drinks are far from forgotten. Go for the Basil Collins, made with a hefty dose of juniper and basil, the potent drink is a great way to cool off this summer.
Nestled into the corner of an unassuming building and adjoining bakery, Barbaro is a quaint bar and restaurant featuring rustic, wood-fired pizzas and craft cocktails. The brick-walled space has a full bar with a menu (sorted into Spaghetti Western categories, “The Good," "The Bad," and "The Ugly") brimming with carefully designed, seasonally rotating cocktails. The pizzas consist of innovative flavor combinations and high-quality ingredients, (our favorite is the Clams Casino) and are rolled out on house-made dough. They're best enjoyed with a signature cocktail, during happy hour or for a late-night snack and nightcap.