Mark your Mayan calendar

River Walk bar owners expand empire with new Mayan-inspired cocktail destination

River Walk bar owners expand empire with Mayan-inspired cocktail spot

Merkaba San Antonio cocktails
Merkaba will bring live music and South American-inspired cocktails to the River Walk. Merkaba/ Facebook

By fall, San Antonians will have a new reason to visit the River Walk. Merkaba, a new bar from the owners of Howl at the Moon, is taking over the spaces formerly occupied by Swig Martini Bar and Pizza to Go Go at 111 W. Crockett St. #205.

General manager Derek Langford tells CultureMap that the team “wanted to do something a little different for San Antonio."

"With San Antonio being home to such a beautifully diverse and multicultural population, we set out to do something that we felt represented the San Antonio feel by showcasing tequila, mezcal, and whiskies in a way that is new and enlightening,” says Langford.

Some of that newness will come from tweaking classics. Although the cocktail program is still in development, Langford says guests can expect drinks like a passionfruit paloma made from blanco tequila, passionfruit syrup, freshly squeezed lime, and grapefruit soda.

As with the paloma, the rest of the menu will take inspiration from the flavors and spirits of Mexico and Central America. “When we were brainstorming, the idea of Mesoamerica and Mayans came up as a fun and exotic profile of flavors to pull from,” he says. “You’ll see a lot of Mayan liqueurs being employed in our drinks as well as flavors such as cacao, honey, anise, and cinnamon to name a few.” To appeal to various palates, the bar will also be stocked with gin, rum, and vodka.

The décor mines similar territory as the beverage offerings. Langford says the team aimed for an experiential environment taking its cues from Mayan mythology. “There are numerous mysteries surrounding the ‘disappearance’ of the Mayan civilization,” he says. “We wanted to have a little fun with that by blending the ancient Mayan decor with modern technology that wouldn’t have existed at the time. We like to believe that the Mayans mastered the physical realm and ascended to a higher spiritual plane.”

Some of that “modern technology” comes from the state-of-the-art sound system. In addition to being a watering hole, the bar will provide entertainment from both house DJs and visiting headliners. During the week, the team is also looking into booking local musicians.

Langford says principal owners Bradd O’Brien and Jimmy Bernstein hope to have the project off the ground by the end of September, giving you plenty of time to go down a Wikipedia lost civilization rabbit hole. After that, you’ll definitely need a drink.