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Light the Torches! It’s Tiki Time at Bohanan’s


It’s hot. You know it, but what are you going to do about it?

One solution would be to cool off at Bohanan’s Bar, 221 E. Houston St., from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday where the folks are throwing a tiki party on the patio.

Fu Manchu at Bohanan’s

The torches will be lit for Tropical Classics in the Courtyard at Bohanan’s, where folks will able to sip the likes of a modern Mai Tai, a take on the fun Fu Manchu and such playful creations as Gee Punch, La Florida and Joe’s Volcano.

Tiki drinks, iced down in ceramic mugs with tropical cuttings, conjure an image of a simpler time, when the rec room was decorated in a Polynesian masks and prints, luau music played on the stereo, and dreams of island life floated over the pu pu platter on the snack table. Is it any wonder these kitschy cocktails are making a comeback?

Think of the paper umbrellas, the generous fresh fruit garnishes, orchids, ornate citrus peel twists and more than a little ice, all adding cooling splashes to the party. You’ll find them at all Sunday at Bohanan’s, where the party is the final event of Texas Tiki Week, sponsored by the Austin chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild.

Jake Corney, head bartender at Bohanan’s Bar, created the cocktail list after being introduced to the wonders of the rum-laced libations while on a urban tiki expedition in New York. It was led by Brian Miller, who hosts Tiki Mondays at Lani Kai there.

“The whole thing about tiki is that it should be fun,” Corney said, adding that while the drinks are certainly eye pleasing, the fresh flavors are what will captivate drinkers.

Jake Corney mixes a cocktail for a customer at Bohanan’s Bar.

There’s no reason you can’t throw your own tiki party at home, too. Corney has provided the recipes for his latest creations. He also offered a few tips on what to do to throw a memorable cocktail party. He’s a firm believer in using freshly squeezed juices to maximum effect. If you don’t have time to squeeze your own, try the fresh juices available at specialty stores like Central Market, he said. Top quality ingredients across the board, from the liquor you use to the ice, make a noticeable difference in your cocktails.

So do little touches, such as the grating of nutmeg over the top of the Mai Tai or the dash of bitters to finish off a drink.

While doing his research on tiki drinks, Corney also discovered the world of rums, which come in a variety of styles. An analogy could be made to tequilas in that white rum and silver tequila are great for blending because of their simpler profiles. Yet aged rums, as well as añejo tequila, add a welcome complexity to cocktails.

They’re great to play with during the summer, Corney said, and you should be able to pick up a couple or more to sample side by side. “Rum is one of the cheaper spirits on the market,” he said.

Corney learned about bartending from internationally renowned mixologist Sasha Petraske  and has worked behind the bar at Bohanan’s for the last two years.  He’s put the information he’s gathered in that time not just for his customers but also in the planning of the first San Antonio Cocktail Conference, which the Houston Street restaurant and bar spearheaded. Plans are afoot for a second conference, which will be held in January and which Corney promised will be greater than the first.

But for now, it’s tiki time at Bohanan’s. If you can’t make the party on Sunday, you can still sample the drinks the next time you visit the bar. For more information, call (210) 472-2600.

 

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Barriba Cantina Pours Some Holiday Cheer


Barriba Cantina is serving up some Holiday Cheer.

In need of some Christmas spirits? Then check out the Holiday Cheer cocktail menu at Barriba Cantina, 111 Crockett St., above the County Line.

The menu will last until spring and includes some potent potables, including:

  • Tuaca Lemon Drop Martini — Lemon- and sugar-infused Skyy Vodka with a touch of Tuaca, $11.
  • Mango Loco — Republic Sliver Organic Tequila, Patron Citronge, mango, Tabasco and simple syrup, $8.75.
  • La Guapa (aka Sexy Girl) —  100 Proof Dulce Vida Organic Tequila, Amaretto, grapefruit juice, ginger beer and cayenne pepper, $8.
  • Spiced Apple Manhattan — Apple- and cinnamon-infused Jim Beam, sweet Vermouth, Goldschlager and Angostura Bitters, $9.25.
  • Hot Apple Toddy — Apple- and cinnamon-infused Jim Beam and apple cider, $6.50.
  • Diosa Verde (aka Green Goddess) — Blended Bacardi Rum, avocado, half and half, lime juice and simple syrup, $8.
  • Chocolate Razz Martini — Stoli Razberi Vodka, Bailey’s and Crème de Cacao, $11.
  • Ambrosia Martini — Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Frangelico, grapes, pineapple, lime juice and simple syrup, $9.50.
  • Pomegranate Fizz —  Pomegranate-infused Beefeater Gin and elderflower liqueur, topped with Champagne, $8.

Barriba Cantina is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. That includes New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with no cover charge or reservations needed. Call 210-228-9876.

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Raise a Toast to Mom


Red Velvet Cocktail at Morton's.

Are you planning a brunch for Mother’s Day? Try one of these eye-openers from Morton’s the Steakhouse, 300 E. Crockett St., and Fogo de Chão, 849 E. Commerce St.

Red Velvet Cocktail

2 ounces Lindemans Raspberry Lambic
4 ounces Prosecco
5 ounces Chambord
Lemon peel
1 raspberry

In a mixing glass, stir in the lambic, Prosecco and Chambord with ice for 5 seconds. Strain into champagne flute.

Squeeze lemon peel over glass and discard peel. Garnish with fresh raspberry on a pick. Drink should have a foam cap.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Morton’s the Steakhouse

Elderflower Elixir and Super Fruit Sunrise from Fogo de Chão.

Elderflower Elixir

2 ounces Patrón Silver Tequila, or more to taste
1 ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, or more to taste
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
Club soda

In a highball glass filled with ice, pour in tequila, St. Germain and lime juice. Finish with club soda. Stir. Garnish with mint and raspberries, to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Fogo de Chão.

Super Fruit Sunrise

1 ounce VeeV Açai liquor, or to taste
1 ounce Patrón Silver Tequila, or to taste
1 ounce Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, or to taste
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Club soda

In an ice-filled Tom Collins glass, pour in VeeV, tequila, Pama and lime juice. Finish off with club soda. Garnish with lime and raspberries to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Fogo de Chão.

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What’s Shakin’ This Fiesta? Some Fun Cocktails


Want to keep that Fiesta spirit going? Try one of these cocktails from several restaurants around town. Two come from Bohanan’s Bar, 219 E. Houston St.; a third comes from Wildfish Seafood Grille, 1834 N. Loop 1604 W.; and the last from Roaring Fork, 1806 N. Loop 1604 W.

Have fun playing around with the ingredients so you get the drink you’d like. That could mean a little more ginger beer in one, a little less Tabasco sauce in another. And enjoy.

Fiesta Medal-icious

Fiesta Medal-icious

½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ¼ ounces aged rum
Ginger beer
Lime wedge

Pour lime juice and rum in a Collins glass filled with ice.  Fill with ginger beer.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bohanan’s Bar

FiestaTail

FiestaTail

7/8 ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce sugar
2 ounces gin
Mint leaves

In an ice-filled shaker, add lime juice, sugar and gin. Pour into a chilled glass. Garnish with mint leaves, to taste.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bohanan’s Bar

WildFiestaFishTini

WildFiestaFishTini

Cucumber slices, peeled
Lime juice
Olive juice
Rain Cucumber Vodka
Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce
Bud Light
Cucumber slices, cocktail onion and blue cheese-stuffed olive for garnish

Take a shaker with a little ice, cucumbers, lime juice and olive juice, and muddle together. Fill shaker with ice, add Rain Cucumber Vodka, Zing Zang, a splash of Worcestershire and Tabasco, to taste. Shake well. Serve in a salted rim martini glass with a Bud Light on the side.

Garnish with cucumber, cocktail onion, and a blue cheese-stuffed olive flag.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Wildfish Seafood Grille

Roaring Fork Sangrita

Roaring Fork Sangrita

10 ounces frozen margarita
Roaring Fork Red Sangria (recipe below)
Lime wedge, orange wedge and cherry for garnish

Red Sangria:
4 ounces red wine
2 ounces raspberry purée
2 ounces huckleberry purée or blueberry purée

Take a glass with 10 ounces of frozen margarita in it. Swirl in red sangria. Garnish with lime, orange and cherry.

To make Red Sangria, mix wine and purées.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Roaring Fork

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First Look: The Esquire Returns


The Esquire Tavern at night.

If the walls at the Esquire Tavern could talk, the stories they would tell would not be fit for family consumption. But, oh, how we love sharing those tales, big as Texas and full of spice. A friend who worked at a nearby bank still laughs when she remembers seeing a naked man come stumbling out of the place at the same time she arrived for work one morning. What happened to him — or, more interestingly, to his clothes? We’ll never know.

All of the anecdotes, even the rough ones, seemed to take on a nostalgic glow when the venerated bar closed down several years ago.

Now, the Esquire is back, and downtown San Antonio is the better for it. The Commerce Street institution has been spiffed up a bit. Jill Giles reportedly worked on the design, which manages to capture the historical flavor of the place while making it inviting. The lighting is still fairly dim, though, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from going into a bar before, especially if you’re looking for a cold drink away from the hot San Antonio sun.  The clientele is a little different, too, if one manager is to be believed. I heard him tell another customer this incarnation has “no whores, no drugs.”

The kitchen at the Esquire.

It does have a kitchen, though, which is producing some tasty treats. They include pulled pork sandwiches, which made several customers very happy, if overheard comments are to be believed, and a burger.

I opted for the bison burger, which was incredibly juicy and accented by a bit of tangy onion. The size was right for a bar bite, but it may seem small for those looking for the half-pounder you’d find in a restaurant. A side of fresh, house-made giardinara had a touch of jalapeño spice that was just right; I could have eaten a whole plate of the carrots, cauliflower and other vegetables. I also ordered a plate of traditional deviled eggs that were were so snacky, the plate was empty before I knew it.

Good as the food is, the Esquire is still predominantly a bar. On Friday, the opening night, it had all the basics, with bottle after bottle lining the back. But it was missing a few essentials. A friend recommended that I order one of the house cocktails; that was impossible because the bar had run out of several ingredients. Next, I tried to order a Pimm’s Cup. Not on the menu, the waiter said. Moscow Mule? Nope, all the ginger beer was gone, he said. That scratched the next five drinks off my wish list. In the end, I settled for a Dale’s Pale Ale, a hoppy canned beer with a great floral finish that stays long after the beer is gone. Besides, an ice-cold beer is what the

Deviled eggs at the Esquire.

I had a ticket for the San Antonio Symphony that night, so I left after finishing the food. But I returned to the Esquire after the excellent concert and discovered the joint was still jumping. I finally managed to get a bartender’s attention and ordered a Mark Collins (like his cousin, Tom, only made with bourbon). I was in luck: He had the ingredients to make the drink. Except he forgot the order in the bustle of the evening, leaving me to stand there contemplating the various bottles in the well-stocked bar. Amid the liquid treasures was an unopened bottle of Pimm’s No. 1. (I’m going back for a Pimm’s Cup, even if I have to explain to the bartender how to make it.)

After 10 minutes or so, I was finally able to get his attention again, and the drink, this time, appeared quickly. It was worth the wait. The ice was extremely cold and didn’t seem to melt, thereby watering down the drink. The toasted sweetness of the bourbon was mixed with lemon in a good proportion, offering the sweet-tart tang I wanted. And it was great to sip on the bar’s patio, which overlooks a fairly calm corner of the river.

The Esquire has only been open a few days, so the management is still working out the kinks. The biggest is service, which prompted a story to add to the folklore of the place. I was pleased to find a booth immediately upon entering the place, so I grabbed it and proceeded to read one of my textbooks while waiting for someone to take my order. After 10 minutes or so, I saw an old friend at the bar across the aisle. I got up to greet him, and while I was standing there, not even three feet from the table, a waiter appeared and proceeded to clear my book off the table. I sat quickly down again and placed my drink order.

The buffalo burger at the Esquire.

He returned with water, took my food order and left. Another old friend appeared at the bar, and I crossed to say hello. Again, the waiter popped up out of nowhere and started to clear book and water pitcher. I slid back into the booth as quickly as I could. I didn’t want to confuse him any more. I’m glad I didn’t see any other friends on that visit, because I was not moving any more until I had eaten.

Welcome back, the Esquire. Here’s to all the stories and memories we’ll create in the future.

The Esquire Tavern
155 E. Commerce St.
210-222-2521
Open daily at 11 a.m.

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