From haunted hotel bars to romantic River Walk rendezvous, San Antonio’s bar scene has something for everyone. Whether you’re craving a margarita in the sun or a speakeasy vibe, our list of the best cocktail bars in San Antonio will direct you to just the place.
Opened the day after Prohibition ended in 1933, the Esquire’s history is as long as its wooden bar top (the longest in Texas) and as varied as its drinks menu. The bar closed in 2006 after serving as the Mexican Mafia headquarters in the ’80s and ’90s. When local architect Chris Hill began redevelopment in 2008, the venue regained its former glory and earned its current reputation for gourmet cuisine and craft cocktails. The bar program received a James Beard nomination in February 2017. Try the Burro Punch or Mas Chingoni—a mezcal variation on the classic Negroni.
These blues at Ocho Restaurant can help you dispel yours | Courtesy of Hotel Havana/Nick Simonite
Located on the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River Walk, the historic Hotel Havana has not one, but two bars to lift your spirits as you take in the more touristy side of downtown. The Havana Bar offers an intimate setting in the candlelit basement, while Ocho’s glass conservatory and old-world charm makes for a relaxing but romantic scene, day or night. The restaurant serves Pan-Latin fare with cultural influences from Mexico, Cuba, and Texas. Try one of the famous mojitos, or sip either variant of the delicious Paloma: the Paloma Picosa is a twist on the traditional with a hint of jalapeño, while the Paloma Verde combines refreshing cucumber and agave.
From pillows to pillars, Sternewirth Bar and Clubroom has it all | Courtesy of Nicole Franzen
The Pearl Brewery, dating back to 1894, has become one of San Antonio’s top tourist destinations. Silver Ventures bought the property in 2001 and converted the entire complex into a self-contained neighborhood. The main attraction is the Hotel Emma, where elegant meets industrial in the stunning design from Roman and Williams. The unique fusion of modern luxury with the building’s rich history is perhaps best enjoyed on Moroccan leather ottomans beneath the original concrete columns of the Sternewirth Bar and Clubroom. Like the surrounding décor, Sternewirth’s menu mixes old and new and is known for modern classics like the Negroni-style Boulevardier and the Black Russian, a White Russian variant honoring Hotel Metropole in Brussels.
Jazz TX hosts two shows a night | Courtesy of Jazz, TX/Hilmy
Also located at the Historic Pearl Brewery, Jazz, TX is one of the property’s newest tenants and its first live music venue. The 3,500-sq-foot club can be found at basement level in the newly rebuilt Bottling House and features craft cocktails, Texas beers on tap, an all-night kitchen menu from Chef Lorenzo Morales, and a broad spectrum of South Texas music (jazz, blues, Texas swing, and salsa). The early show starts at 5:30 p.m. with no cover, while tickets to the 8:30pm show are best purchased in advance on the group’s website.
Tucked between I-10 and the Shops at La Cantera, the Éilan community suggests that the lost city of Atlantis may have been hiding in the Texas Hill Country all along. Between luxury apartments, office space, and a 100-acre retreat hotel and spa, the European-style property has it all. Located on the terrace level with no external sign, George’s Keep is affectionately known as Éilan’s best-kept secret. Duck through the hobbit-sized door to find a sophisticated lounge serving everything from the classic Old Fashioned to innovative creations like the Absinthe Frappe.
Supposedly ghosts haunt Haunt | Courtesy of the St Anthony Hotel
Another River Walk staple, the historic St. Anthony Hotel also doubles as a stop on the Ghost City tours of haunted San Antonio. One of the oldest hotels in the city, the recent renovation included the new Haunt Lounge, which offers a carefully crafted menu of spirits (in both senses of the word). Listen to staff swap stories of the property’s paranormal activity while sipping cocktails beneath the equally spooky but elegant chandeliers overhead. Each of the seven specialty concoctions is named after one of the hotel’s rumored ghosts, with the Lavender Lady being the leading favorite.
The dandy, a blackberry cocktail on the new drinks menu at Dorrego's | Courtesy of the Hotel Valencia
Currently in the midst of a $10 million renovation, the soft launch menu at Dorrego’s restaurant at the Hotel Valencia offers a preview of the much-anticipated Argentinian fare to come. The concept is named after the Plaza Dorrego in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, inspired by Chef Anthony Mesa’s recent travels there. Replacing the hotel’s Citrus restaurant, Dorrego’s features Spanish-Colonial style with a modern Mediterranean flair, and now is the best time to preview the new offerings before the projected May opening. Be sure to try the new drinks menu, including the delightfully refreshing Dandy: gin, house-infused blackberry liquor, lemon, and fresh blackberries.