Happy Hour Hound: Biga on the Banks Adds Inexpensive Bites and Excellent Cocktails

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click to enlarge Goat cheese and sweet and sour onion jam. - Ron Bechtol
Ron Bechtol
Goat cheese and sweet and sour onion jam.

Let’s say that it’s 9 p.m. (and, for grins, that it’s also a Thursday, Friday or Saturday), and you’re looking for something to do to wind down from the day (or rev-up for the evening). Have we got a suggestion for you: reverse happy hour at Biga on the Banks.

Now, it goes without saying, that this is not a $2 longneck and $3 tots kinda option; cutoffs and flip-flops are probably not the preferred attire. But jeans and a cool tee will do just fine. No rezzy is required — just step up to the bar. And if you’re willing to let the barkeeps, Kim Romo and Shane Clifford, guide your evening, you don’t even have to think much about drinks or the dishes that may accompany them. They’re all priced at $7 (local draft beers are $4), so let the games begin.

I began with the evening’s special, the Prohibition-era Bee’s Knees, a shaken blend of gin, honey and lemon juice. It was a keeper — and, as it turns out, Kim’s favorite cocktail. A Mexican Martini, a Manhattan and a classic daiquiri were the other options. As a drinking companion, I snagged the stacked lobster salad capped with the meat from an entire claw, layered with fried capers, roasted golden beets, tomato, cucumber, bibb lettuce and anointed with a zingy remoulade. It needed a pinch of salt, but this was still the loss-leader of the lot. A crumbed orb of goat cheese on a sweet-sour onion jam didn’t disappoint, though, and bacon-wrapped dates proved themselves to be an ’09 cocktail staple raised to new Heights. The loaded beef tartare with chili oil and a quail egg might have been a great bridge to a glass of red wine, but I never made it that far down the eats menu.

At Shane’s suggestion, I did get to a red wine (all wines on the by-the-glass list are 50 percent off) that I might otherwise never have tried, a blaufränkisch from Washington State. You don’t need to know that blaufränkisch is a red wine grape most normally grown in Austria to appreciate its brisk fruit and pinot-like flexibility. Nor do you necessarily care that Hungary was the source of the white I also sampled, a crisp and citrusy furmint. The wine list is wide-ranging, the glassware is good, the pours generous … just explore and enjoy.

203 S. Mary's St., (210) 225-0722; Reverse happy hour runs 9 p.m. to close at Biga Bar Thursday-Saturday. 

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