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Getting dragged into tourist row? Here’s some perfect hidden drinking spots to ease the pain

Photo: Photos by Veronica Luna. Esquire: Bryan Rindfuss, License: N/A

Photos by Veronica Luna. Esquire: Bryan Rindfuss

As San Antonio denizens, we all live in fear of it. It usually happens around the holidays, or in the dastardly drought that is summer. We avoid it. But it’s always there, waiting: the Alamo.

It’s not that we hate the Alamo, per se (really DRT, we don’t, please don’t sic your flying monkeys on us), but we’ve all been forced to take the tour like 17 times before. Every relative and out-of-town guest needs to see it, if only to say they’ve been. Then it’s into the unworldly cheer of the River Walk.

What to do? Chloroform the aunt? Fake an illness? The answer is simple: drop her ass off at that long line to the Alamo and park yourself on a bar stool. There are dozens of places to take in a tasty libation in downtown, and not all of ’em are irredeemable tourist traps. … Really.

Here are some of our picks. — Lauren W. Madrid


Biga on the Banks
203 S St. Mary’s
(210) 225-0722

Your best bet here is to occupy a seat at the curvy bar itself. Peruse the wine list, as it’s one of the best you’ll find at a bar anywhere on the river (though the one at Boudros is also no slouch). Bronson, the regular bartender, can help guide you to a wine or a cocktail that will work with the bar snacks — also among the best anywhere on the banks. Game packets, pot stickers, chicken-fried oysters… it’s all good and will be properly served with assorted very good breads — almost reason alone to go. — RB


219 E Houston, Ste 275
(210) 472-2600

Texas is beer country, but cocktail culture is alive and well at the bar at Bohanan’s, located off the River Walk by the Majestic Theatre. No wonder, the barmen have been trained by one of the best — famed New York mixologist Sasha Petraske, who makes frequent trips to SA to impart his expertise of pre-Prohibition recipes. Take a seat in a club chair and try the Last Word with Rye, a whiskey variant on the classic, made with green chartreuse, or The Left Hand Cocktail, with bourbon, campari, sweet vermouth, and chocolate bitters. Bar food is eclectic, too, offering Spanish Serrano ham, Akaushi meatballs, and savory-sweet candied jalapenos. — SA



El Colegio
Omni Mansión del Rio
112 College St (210) 518-1000

El Colegio occupies the former library of St. Mary’s College. It has a comfy atmosphere with clubby sofas and chairs clustered around a fireplace, and the bar top is of worn marble that speaks of age and tradition. True, the new drinks list is corporate affair, but it does offer trendy cocktails such as the Indian Summer with Hendrick’s Gin, organic elderflower liqueur, and lime juice, and a very good Smoky Patron with the namesake tequila, agave syrup, lime juice, and a splash of Del Maguey Mezcal. Yes, these drinks bumped some long-time classics off the menu — “We’ve been famous for our margaritas for a long time,” remarked Harold. But he can still make you the Las Canarias model if asked. Bar snacks such as a braised beef quesadilla or country fried Lockhart quail would likely work with any of the margs — or a stout single malt. — RB

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