In San Antonio, the best way to cool down, relax, and let loose is to head to one of the fantastic bars. First, it gets darn hot down here, so any AC’d venue or breezy patio with an ice machine appeals. Second, it is where everyone else is; so if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
The food and drink scene in this emerging Texan metropolis is thriving, with awesome new watering holes adding to the mix of local favorites and all-time legends. River City has really got it all…Love a hidden speakeasy with a heavy helping of jazz? You got it. How about drinking at a crazy immersive art exhibit? Come on over but don’t touch the paintings. Or maybe a sophisticated late night with bubbles? Pass the Amex and walk this way. San Antonio will cater to all your thirsty needs, no matter the budget. Just don’t forget to line your stomachs at the best restaurants in San Antonio first—those Texas-sized pours have proven lethal to out-of-towners. Now get ready to mix and mingle with our guide to the best bars in the city.
The Best Bars in San Antonio
1. Jazz, TX
With innovative cocktails, craft beers, and live bluegrass music, what’s not to like? Hidden in the cellar of the historic Pearl Brewery, Jazz doubles as a sprawling live-music venue. The 10-drink-long cocktail menu features springy names like Joie De Vivre (Gin, Pear Juice, Lemon, Simply Syrup, Cava)—try the Grasshopper if you fancy something sweet (precisely Creme de Cacao, Creme de Menthe, Cream, Mint). Dinner and lunch menus feature South Texas and Tex-Mex favorites like brisket tacos and pecan pie.
2. Bar America
With more than 80 years of serving behind it, Bar America is one of the oldest bars in San Antonio. Classic offerings like Negronis, Old Fashioneds, and Bloody Marys share a menu with more inventive concoctions like cucumber martinis. But Bar America is foremost a beer-centric pub, complete with Mexican lagers, IPAs, pale ales, and more. Swing by the happy hour for deals on beers, cocktails, wines, and finger foods like fried pickles with a side of homemade ranch dressing.
3. Esquire Tavern
Having survived both the Great Depression and Prohibition, the Esquire Tavern knows a thing or two about keeping their patrons happy. One of the bar’s hallmarks is its famous 100-foot mahogany bar—the longest bar top in the state. Live jazz and burlesque nights are popular here. Drinks like the Baby One More Thyme (Gin, Raspberry, Thyme, Aloe, Lemon, Topo Chico, served on crushed ice) and Bexar Hug (Blanco Tequila, Guava, Lime, Sparkling Wine, shaken and served up) are among the more interesting creations from their 20-plus cocktail menu.
4. Paramour Bar
With sweeping views of downtown San Antonio and its eponymous river, Paramour is the perfect perch to sit back, drink in hand, and take in all of south-central Texas. Luckily, the drinks are as good as the view at San Antonio's very first rooftop bar. We like the Three Dots and Dash (dark rum, Agricole, orange, lime, allspice, and falernum) and the Greenpoint (rye, green chartreuse, sweet vermouth, bitters). Not in the mood for a cocktail? Paramour also stocks over a dozen craft beers (many locally sourced) and a wide array of domestic and imported wines. The surprisingly long list of mocktails means even the DD can partake in a night out on the town.
5. The Bang Bang Bar
The Bang Bang isn’t your typical dive bar. Developed by former Martini Ranch owner Jamie Hoppe and two members of local indie band, Girl in a Coma, the Bang Bang is bright, fresh, and whimsical—craft cocktails are garnished with cotton candy and Pop Rocks. Entertainment comes in the form of pool tables, dart boards, pinball machines, and local acts playing live music.
6. The Well
Put on your dancing boots and head to The Well, where two-step dance lessons are held every week. Between songs, fuel up on garlic french fries and homemade fire chilies, and quench your thirst with more than 100 beers on tap or craft cocktails.
Yes, this is technically an art gallery, but it's also one of the coolest date nights in town. The 20,000 square foot lounge features a patio (with food truck), a full bar serving cocktails, beer, and wine…and best of all, you can actually take your drinks into the exhibits with you. Step into another world of immersive experience featuring talented international artists whose work comes together for a sensory overload of strobe lights, mirrored rooms, and interactive stations. Trust us, being buzzed never felt more exciting. Tickets must be booked in advance.
8. Liberty Bar
You won't find the same old cocktails that overflow from other River Walk bars at The Liberty Bar. They keep their seasonal and regular cocktail menu small, putting quality and creativity above quantity. Program cornerstones like the Amaro Lucano, Averna, and Character Amontillado Sherry are popular, and Monday's happy hour features half-off bottles of wine. Plus, Liberty Bar makes its own pasta in-house—order the fettucini; it is spectacular.
9. Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
The San Antonio installment of this six-state, niche bar chain is situated inside a strip mall, but don’t let that deter you from visiting this beer emporium with more than 200 available brews from all corners of the globe. On Mondays, all Texas-born drafts are just $4.
10. George’s Keep
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 glamorous Eilan Hotel & Spa. Once you pass through the Tolkien-esque door (the hallway is fit for a hobbit), you’ll find yourself in a sophisticated 1960s-inspired lounge. Farm-to-table, seasonal cuisine is paired with a tongue-in-cheek cocktail program. Try George's Signature Margarita (El Tesoro Extra Añejo and apricot liqueur).
Kill Bill fans will instantly know this bar means business. A thriving Japanese gastropub, Hanzo offers a well-rounded sake list and a perfectly executed cocktail list only seven drinks long. We like the Jiggly Puff (vodka, yuzu wine, lime, and sparkling sake) and the Shinobu Bramble (gin, white, peach sake, blackberry liqueur, butterfly pea tea, and lemon). Hanzo's late-night happy hour from 11pm until close means you can keep the drinks coming until last call.
A relaxing gastropub with a south-Texas twist, TBA is great for affordable drinks, live music, late-night eats, and petting cute dogs on the patio. Cocktails rarely cost more than $9, and a glass of wine is just $8. Happy hour is Monday through Friday (4–7pm), when house cocktails are just $5, all beers are $1 off, and wine and other treats are available.