Best Cocktail Bars in San Antonio

Try one of the experimental cocktails at Hotel Emma’s Sternewirth Tavern and Clubroom
Try one of the experimental cocktails at Hotel Emma’s Sternewirth Tavern and Clubroom | © Visit San Antonio
Photo of Hannah Phillips
10 April 2019

San Antonio’s cocktail scene has something for everyone – particularly if you like your drinks strong and served with a helping of history. Whether you’re craving a margarita in the sun or a fiery concoction in a basement speakeasy, Culture Trip has just the place for you.

Esquire Tavern

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Pub, Pub Grub, $$$
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Barman with a freshly made cocktail
The Esquire Tavern serves up craft cocktails in a former Mafia headquarters | © Maksim Fesenko/Shutterstock

Opened the day after Prohibition ended in December 1933, the Esquire Tavern has been going strong – and serving its drinks even stronger – ever since. Famed for its 100-foot (30-meter) mahogany bar, the longest in the state, it also boasts an excellent selection of snacks to help soak up the house cocktails. Look out for the popular live jazz and burlesque nights – and for the famed San Antonio River Walk right outside the back door downstairs.

Sternewirth Tavern and Clubroom at Hotel Emma

Bar, Cocktail Bar, North American, Beer, Pub Grub, $$$
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Sternewirth Bar and Clubroom
Moroccan fabrics and industrial accents give the Sternewirth Bar and Clubroom a rustic charm | © Nicole Franzen

The Hotel Emma, situated inside San Antonio’s converted Pearl Brewery, is a decidedly urban boutique bolthole that celebrates the building’s heritage to great effect. And its renowned Sternewirth Tavern and Clubroom is no different. High, vaulted ceilings, raw concrete pillars and repurposed machinery combine with soft textiles and dark leather for a warm industrial-meets-elegant aesthetic. The bar is named for the Sternewirth Privilege, which entitled employees of 19th-century breweries to free beer during working hours. Thankfully, this rule no longer applies, so you can guarantee the concoctions are poured with precision.

Jazz TX

Bar, Cocktail Bar, North American, Beer, $$$
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Jazz, TX
Jazz TX hosts two shows a night | © Jazz, TX/Hilmy

Like the Sternewirth, Jazz TX is situated on the sprawling site of the converted Pearl Brewery, just north of downtown. This intimate club can be found at basement level, beneath the Pearl’s renovated Bottling House. Low lighting and the table-for-two set-up make this a great date spot. You can sip on craft cocktails or sample the array of Texan beers on tap. And the all-night kitchen menu and schedule of live music and dancing – from jazz and blues to swing and salsa across two shows a night – mean you can continue into the early hours.

Ocho Restaurant at Hotel Havana

Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Cocktail Bar, Bar, Restaurant, Fusion, South American, Central American, $$$
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Ocho Restaurant
These blues at Ocho Restaurant can help you dispel yours | © Hotel Havana/Nick Simonite

Tucked away at the Museum Reach end of the River Walk, the boutique Hotel Havana has not one but two bars to lift your spirits as you dodge the more touristy elements of downtown San Antonio. Havana Bar offers an intimate setting in a candlelit basement, while Ocho’s riverside conservatory and old-world charm make for a wonderfully relaxing, romantic spot, day or night. Check out the punchy mojitos here, as well as the Cuban-inspired fare.

George’s Keep

Bar, Cocktail Bar, North American, Beer, $$$
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Old fashioned cocktail on a bar
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere… | © Adam J Horwitz/Shutterstock

One of San Antonio’s best-kept secrets, George’s Keep is a trendy cocktail den with a comfortable neighborhood feel, located on the edge of the ritzy Eilan Hotel & Spa. To enter the bar, hidden in plain sight (and yet without a sign) at terrace level, you’ll duck through a hobbit-size door to discover a sophisticated, Mad Men-style lounge serving solid crafted classics alongside a rolling menu of inspired recipes.

Haunt at The St Anthony Hotel

Bar, Cocktail Bar, North American, Beer
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Haunt bar
Spirits are said to haunt this stylish bar | © The St Anthony Hotel

Supposedly one of the most haunted spots in San Antonio, this lounge bar at the St Anthony Hotel is committed to “paying homage to spirits of the past.” And yes, that means classic cocktails and ghost stories, served under the classic artwork and glittering chandeliers of this glamorous old hotel. Order one of the specialty cocktails if you dare – each is dedicated to one of the hotel’s resident specters.


Bar, Cocktail Bar, Japanese, $$$
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Bartender pouring Japanese sake
Sake can be served hot or cold at Hanzo | © jazz3311/Shutterstock

A Japanese gastropub, Hanzo serves adventurous cocktails, a comprehensive sake selection and fragrant fare including gyoza, sashimi and ramen. The brainchild of successful local entrepreneur Steve Mahoney, it’s relatively hard to find (just north of Alamo Heights), which means it’s firmly out of the general tourist orbit.

Dorrego’s at Hotel Valencia

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Argentina, South American, Vegetarian, $$$
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The Dandy: a blackberry cocktail on the new drinks menu at Dorregos's in the Hotel Valencia
The dandy, a blackberry cocktail on the drinks menu at Dorrego’s | © Hotel Valencia

Another River Walk favorite, Dorrego’s boasts a fantastic wine list and an extensive cocktail menu to match. Based in the lively – and surprisingly affordable – Hotel Valencia, it’s also renowned for its Argentine cuisine. The place is named after the historic Plaza Dorrego in Buenos Aires, and is designed with a tasteful South American flair.

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