If you happen onto a happy hour in, say, its last 30 minutes, you’ve gotta know there are certain risks—and they’re not confined to the urge to slam down drinks in order to slide in under the wire. No, one of them is purely auditory: I’m speaking of the cackle factor. (You in the long, tie-dyed dress, you know who you are.) Yup, some folks get real happy ‘round closin’ time.
“We’ve been a local favorite here in San Antonio for four decades,” so says the online menu for the Bombay Bicycle Club, a place I hadn’t set foot in since its now-retro décor was absolutely of the moment. But if the high-frequency happy hour noise level tended to discourage intimate conversation amidst the anachronistic artifacts, it didn’t faze the cool, tall bartenders in black (both him and her) one bit. You want your gin martini—my bellwether at places without mixology pretentions—dry? They can do that. From a distance it looked like good ol’ reliable well-gin Gordon’s, there was just the whisper of vermouth, and the drink was bracingly cold. No garnish, but I’ll take icy—at least with cheap gin—over olives any day.
The baseline margarita is also usually a good indicator, and though Bombay uses a “house sour” mix, triple sec in lieu of Cointreau and a no-name tequila–and needs the salt rim plus the extra lime wedges to balance sweetness–I’ve had far worse. It was also pretty generous for $5. (The frozen kind is only $3.25, but, please.) Even more generous was an order of that old pub standard, Scotch eggs, a happy hour special at $2.98. (All appetizers are half-price from 4-7 p.m., Monday-Thursday) The batch of boiled eggs had been rolled in sausage, coated in cracker crumbs and deep-fried just enough. The result was sturdy to be sure, but avoided the heavy-and-greasy trap that seems endemic in the U.K.—where, by the way, you would never find them being served with pickled jalapeño. The eggs may be intended for beer (which is $2.25-$3.25 during the daily 11 a.m.-7 p.m. happy hour), but work just fine with margs.
The music got cooler and mellower after happy hour, and the noise level dropped significantly with the departure of long-dress lady and her cohorts. I wasn’t encouraged enough in the change to try a Negroni, my standard at fancier joints, but I was reminded of one thing: there’s a reason that certain places stand the test of time. And it has little to do
Bombay Bicycle Club
3506 N St. Mary’s