Eating Up San Antonio: La Gloria, The Monterey and The Esquire
Rouse, Sedillo and my boyfriend all warned me that I couldn't leave San Antonio without a cocktail at The Esquire Tavern -- even if that meant leaving San Antonio for Houston at 1 a.m. -- and after that visit, the bar is now firmly on my must-visit list for every single future trip. Built in 1933 to celebrate the end of Prohibition, the bar has been open ever since (with a brief hiatus from 2006 to 2011) and was recently nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program.
Almost everything inside and out at The Esquire is original, from the nailhead wingback barstools to the mirrors that line the back of the bar. The rear patio overlooks the Riverwalk, while the large space at the end of the L-shaped room hosts taxidermied animal heads and local bands, such as the Willie-Nelson-by-way-of-Lyle-Lovett-style quartet that was drawing applause on Tuesday night.
The cocktail program features old favorites like the Blood and Sand as well as creations that are all The Esquire's own: Try the Mexican-influenced La Bruja, with tequila, mezcal, averna, punt e mes, black currant and bitters, or the boozy Philly Smash with rye whiskey, averna, lime, sugar and berries in a mezcal-laced glass.
Toward the end of the evening, the diverse crowd inside The Esquire gave way to an elderly gentleman in a white seersucker suit and straw boater hat who plucked a young girl from his table and began to dance with her to the lulling strains of the quartet, who were winding down for the night.
"No matter what any of us do in life," remarked Sedillo, "none of us will ever be as cool as that guy." It was close to midnight and last call, so we closed up our tabs and walked back into the humid San Antonio night with promises to meet up again at The Esquire soon, which means I'll be making another short drive down I-10 west in a few weeks. I can't wait.
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