Thursday, August 25, 2016

How Paramour Changed SA's Bar Culture in One Year

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 11:44 AM

click to enlarge JEFFREY BURTON
  • Jeffrey Burton

Paramour, Downtown's first public rooftop bar as of yet, is turning one Thursday, August 25. Guests who arrive between 5 and 9 p.m. can order the top five cocktails of the year for $6. Party-goers that make it 'til midnight will get a complimentary shot and a slice of anniversary cake. 

If you can't make it today, the top five cocktails will also be available for a cool $6 on Friday and Saturday.

It's hard not to reflect on what the bar's opening has meant for the bar scene as a whole. For its paper anniversary, I decided to look back on some of its best moments, its slightly off-putting ones and everything in between. 

The View: Until The St. Anthony's rooftop bar opens to the public, Paramour will be THE patio bar to while away an afternoon or evening and watch the sunset over San Antonio. Since opening after an almost-year-long wait, the view always provides for a fun photo during the Golden Hour. San Antonio's low-key grandeur is present while glancing at a haunting SAMA, a quiet Central Catholic, a laid-back River Walk complete with strolling tourists and jogging locals, and a demure skyline. That view is 50 percent of Paramour's decor. 

The Upscale Factor: General Manager Chris Ware, an Amarillo native, former Marine and disciple of cocktail legend Sasha Petraske, made it clear that Paramour wasn't going to be Cheers. From our earliest interview with him 10 months before the bar officially opened, Ware stressed the upscale vibe he and his growing crew were trying to achieve. That meant hiring on Hilmy production company to handle most of its interior art, outfitting the bar with honey-toned onyx that beckons like the amber-encased mosquito in Jurassic Park, packing the place with plush leather seating and filling it to the gills with high-end booze. It's extravagant, posh, seductive and cheeky (hello, Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds portraits in the powder room). It's what you want out of an illicit affair (I'm guessing): high-octane and almost unattainable theatre.

The Booze: Bottles of bubbles, expensive, hard-to-find Japanese whiskeys, the prettiest rosé you've ever did taste. It's all there along with one of the city's best barrel-aged programs and punny cocktail list. Professional boozers will always find something to imbibe here. 

The Clientele: Movers and shakers are familiar with the fourth floor of the Phipps. So are a gaggle of Stone Oak party-goers. So are the begrudging boyfriends that are dragged along to the bar to snap one too many photos against that beautiful skyline. Trips to Paramour mean running into at least one person you know, and 50 you don't (the convention crowd that pops up on Tinder on a weekly basis, perhaps?), and I'll ask this again, "Do they even go here?"

The Dress Code: Though initially not implemented when they first opened, Paramour does abide by some sort of dress Code come weekends. It's not posted, so I couldn't tell you what it is, but anecdotally, gym shorts, baseball caps, tennis shoes and graphic tees have been frowned upon. Post it so the general public can abide by it wholeheartedly, or keep out would-be customers who prefer a more casual wardrobe ... then again, Cheers this is not.  

The Parties: From the San Antonio Cocktail Conference closing party held this January to the DNC soiree hosted this summer, Ware and his crew know how to host an adult rager for 2,000 or an exclusive wedding for several dozens or a chill, but hella-cool party for Tony Parker's birthday. You'll find the goofiest ice sculptures, the coldest booze and maybe even a four-story-tall Champagne bong (that I'm still shocked I didn't pick anything up from). 

The Menu: After adding coffee in December, making Paramour one of the most laid-back and picturesque coffeeshops in town, the bar has quietly added a growing food menu filled with charcuterie, grilled cheese sandos, and now a few breakfast selections. Classy snacks for a classy bar.  

The Outfits: The cocktail servers, all female, went from wearing chic rompers to gaudy Tilted Kilt-esque ensembles. I get it. This is a bar, generally managed by men *a man , and patronized by men and owned by a man ... but are the outfits really adding that much more? Aren't the undercurrents of wink-wink and overtones of sexy (provided by the luxurious space and pin-up pillows) enough? My fellow sistren and I won't stop going anytime soon — did I mention the insane rosé list, Burt Reynold's fuzzy form in the ladies' room and picture-friendly backdrop? — but I'm pretty sure no one wakes up in the morning itching to put on a short pleated skirt and bloomers for work. This isn't Hooters, so don't dress your servers like it is.

102 9th St., Suite 400, (210) 307-8740.

*Clarification, 8/31/16 @ 4pm: While the Paramour general manager is Chris Ware, a representative of the bar (who insisted on us not using his name) tells us that Killian Leone is the assistant general manager and handles the bar's day-to-day operations. Paramour also wants readers to know that Giant Noise, the firm managing the bar's public relations, is comprised completely of women; that the bar's director of marketing who helped pick the new server outfits is a woman; and that the marketing team for the bar is mostly comprised of women. Further, we’re told the servers were presented with a few options and overwhelmingly chose the new outfits.

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