San Antonio is a popular tourist destination. There's the Alamo, SeaWorld, the River Walk, Six Flags—yes, S.A. is the place for tourists. However, unless you've been closely following what's been going on in the city in the last five years, you might not be aware of the thriving nightlife scene that the city has developed.
In recent years, there has been a boom of nightlife spots that have residents and visitors alike flock to. While the Stone Oak area outside of Loop 1604 has its attractions and its devotees, the downtown area is the gravitational center of nightlife in the city.
Some of the hottest of nightspots can be found in the vibrant Southtown neighborhood. The influx of artists and artisans has made the area one of the most popular in town, and one of its hubs is the Blue Star Arts Complex and Bar 1919. When the term “speakeasy” was coined, this is the type of joint it referred to. Bar 1919 is unique on the landscape of San Antonio; it has one of the largest liquor collections in the city, and its menu of craft cocktails is unparalleled. The Aviation Cocktail, the French 75, the Corpse Reviver #2—these are just a few of the unique concoctions at Bar 1919 you have to try. Be forewarned: Follow the bar’s house rules at all times.
Dorćol Distilling Company
Staying in Southtown, fans of a good time should make a pilgrimage to one of the newest darlings of the area, Dorćol Distilling Company. Unless you have done extensive traveling in Eastern Europe, you’ve more than likely never tasted anything like what Dorćol is producing. In addition to its highly successful craft-beer line, HighWheel, the bar exclusively makes all of its cocktails with in-house-distilled rakia. This apricot brandy is used in the "Fitzgerald," "Hemingway Daiquiri" and "Day & Night" cocktails.
“We're probably one of the only brewery-slash-distillery-slash-bar locations in an urban setting that you are going to find,” said co-owner Chris Mobley. “Our vibe is really laid-back, and I think that's something our clientele really appreciate. That and the fact we put out really high-quality product.”
Moving closer toward the heart of Downtown is Paramour. The rooftop bar is one of the most popular spots in town. Not only do you get an outstanding view of the San Antonio skyline, but you get one of the best dinner and drink menus in town to go along with it. Charcuterie, prosciutto sliders, burrata and avocado toast—yes, Paramour has all that. Cocktails like the "De Novo Punch," "Down South Smash" and "Missionary Reach" have Paramour consistently ranking among the best mixology destinations in the city.
The Esquire Tavern
One of the hallmarks of the city is its ability to blend the old with the new, tradition with innovation. Nowhere is this done to better effect than at The Esquire Tavern. This fixture on the San Antonio landscape has been pouring drinks and delighting patrons since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office. While it has had a face-lift or two over the decades, it still retains the atmosphere and ambiance that has made it such a crowd-pleaser for more than 80 years. An ever-evolving food and drink menu has kept the Esquire fresh and familiar for generations.
“The Esquire has such a rich history that is unique in San Antonio,” said beverage director Houston Eaves. “A lot of people have had a lot of stories happen here. It was constructed before the River Walk, and it is still one of the coolest spots in town after all these years.”
Rounding out the list of downtown's best nightspots is The Brooklynite. Specializing in handcrafted cocktails made from premium liquors, house-made cordials, bitters and juices, the Brooklynite has earned its reputation as one of the premier nightspots in the city on the back of drinks like the "Photo Booth Kisses," "Pearl Snaps & Beard Oil" and "Machine Gun Funk." This is the place to go if you want to get lost or make new friends.
Much like San Antonio itself, the city's nightlife is unique, diverse and full of all the great things that make life worth living. You’re sure to find a favorite spot that suits you; the best advice is to go exploring and make some memories.