In San Antonio, cold fronts are ephemeral, so it’s good to catch the feeling while we can. From basement lairs to chic hideaways, Alamo City is full of bars that excel in the warm fuzzies. Trade the slanket for a cashmere wrap and bundle up for a night out at the city’s coziest drinkeries.
Bar du Bon Ami
A little bit of New Orleans on Broadway Street, this neighborhood bar is ideal spot for a first date or a night out with the krewe. On a cold day, the deep red walls and hovering sconces are enough to chase away the chill. But just in case, snuggle into a banquette with a Monk’s Revenge and let rye’s heat do its work.
Downstairs at the Esquire
One of the most unique spaces in San Antonio (or anywhere), the downstairs wing of the River Walk’s Esquire Tavern feels like a natural history museum run by a very chic curator. The bar, lit up by enough globe lights for a Broadway star, has its benefits but lurk deeper to find cushy club chairs and intimate nooks for subterranean tête-à-têtes.
Unlike the cliched joints that cover everything in Guinness signs and plaid, this Southtown fave takes a contemporary approach to the pub. Yes, guests can enjoy a Jameson shot or a nice pint, but Francis Bogside cuts through the blarney with graphic wallpaper, velvety textiles, and uplighting that wards away the winter chill. Plus, the menu is tailored for the season of hibernation — monster burgers, creamy pasta, and a decadent pulled pork poutine.
This, um, haunt inside the St. Anthony Hotel is a changeling. During the day, the decor’s sleek use of chrome, white leather, and plexiglass glistening like a SoCal spa. During the wee hours, low lighting transforms the space into a sumptuous jewel box. Follow its lead with something equally sparkly, the Lavender Lady cocktail with gin, bitters, lemon, and a splash of Prosecco.
A smartphone is essential at this basement bar tucked away underneath swanky restaurant Ocho. For one, you’ll want to snap pictures for decorating ideas and the glow is definitely needed to read the cocktail menu. But once all eyes adjust to the candlelit cavern, resist the urge to idly text. This bar is all about the seduction of face-to-face communication.
This Grayson Street bar added a kitschy patio in the summer — complete with Astroturf and pink flamingos — but we still dig the elegant midcentury vibes of the main bar inside. Break out a slim sharkskin suit or a little black dress and plop down on a sofa with a Manhattan or one of the bar’s bespoke drinks. Then, regale your date with some witty banter.
Even in a space as beautiful as the Hotel Emma, this bar still manages to dazzle. With so many sumptuous details — Chesterfield sofas, layered rugs, and leather-backed pillows — it’s like a Pinterest board come to life. The difference is that guests can order winter warmers like the Wakin' Bacon with Balcones Baby Blue, Campari, lemon, orange, maple, and bacon salt.