Best Of 2014

Sanchez Ice House No. 1
819 S San Saba, (210) 223-0588

Yes, there are ice houses with a better beer selection or a nicer atmosphere, but we wanted to strip the ice house culture back down to its essentials: cheap, ice-cold beer (properly dressed with real lime and salt, please), friendly folks, a big-ass patio and a legit jukebox. On all these points, Sanchez delivers. Icy bottled beers come in singles ($2 for domestics, $2.50 for imports) or buckets (ridiculously cheap) and you can enjoy them on the expansive concrete slab. During summer days, try to score one of the picnic tables under the lone tree. Also, pump some of that money you’re saving on stupid-cheap Lone Stars into the Westside oldies-oriented jukebox and shake a tail feather on the dance floor. Located almost directly under I-35, Sanchez ain’t much to look at, but it doesn’t have to be; its appeal is in its unpretentious attitude, a sliver of real San Antonio we hope sticks around forever.

1. TIE: Freetail Brewing Co.
4035 N Loop 1604 W, Ste 105, (210) 395-4974,

The Green Lantern
20626 Stone Oak Pkwy, (210) 497-3722,

2. Big Hops Gastropub
22250 Bulverde, Ste 106, (210) 267-8762,

3. The Silver Fox
24802 Ima Ruth Pkwy, (210) 363-2613,

1. Big Hops Growler Station
Multiple locations,

2. The Brooklynite
516 Brooklyn, (210) 444-0707,

3. Bar 1919
1420 S Alamo, Ste 001, (210) 227-1420,

2801 N St. Mary’s,

You may start off drinking alone, but by the night’s end, you’ll be sitting amongst a wild cast of regulars and service industry-types just out of work and ready to enjoy one of Jonny Yumol’s latest cocktail concoctions. Perhaps it’s because TBA strikes that perfect balance of neighborhood haunt-meets-cocktail bar that we tend to start the night by our lonesome and end it with new friends.

1. The Lion & Rose (Alamo Heights)
5148 Broadway, (210) 822-7673,

2. Freetail Brewing Company
4035 N 1604 W, Ste 105, (210) 395-4974,

3. Southtown 101
101 Pereida, (210) 263-9880,

Andy Hack, Minnie’s Tavern & Rye House
328 E Josephine, (210) 220-1890,

The best bartender is not the one with the sexiest shake, the coolest vest or the baddest tattoos; the best ‘tender is the one who can read your mood, interpret your desires and deliver a drink to match: mixologist meets psychologist. Recently, several unsung youngsters have impressed—among them, Andy Hack. Hack, previously of that cocktail incubator Bohanan’s, has the enviable job of riffing on rye at Andrew Weissman’s latest restaurant (where he’s also required to know the food menu inside out). Tasked with taking off on a Negroni, he also delivered. Expect exotic bitters, such as the El Guapo Chicory Pecan that spikes the Chic-Choc Old Fashioned with Prichard’s Double Chocolate Bourbon. And, as Hack and a partner are also kickstarting an ice company to supply crystalline slabs, spheres, spears and big-ass cubes, expect to see that, too. This is only the beginning—including more inevitably cutsey drink names.

1. The Brooklynite
516 Brooklyn, (210) 444-0707,

2. Bar 1919
1420 S Alamo, Ste 001, (210) 227-1420,

3. Blue Box
312 Pearl Pkwy, (210) 227-2583,

1. Big Hops Growler Station
Multiple locations,

2. The Friendly Spot
943 S Alamo, (210) 224-2337,

3. Freetail Brewing Company
4035 N 1604 W, Ste 105, (210) 395-4974,

1. Brass Monkey
2702 N St. Mary’s, (210) 480-4722,

Before the Beastie Boys made it funky circa 1987, Brass Monkey was the moniker for a cocktail named after an alleged WWII spy. About as unpretentious as a dance club can get, SA’s own translation—a hip little melting pot with a solid sound system—playfully nods to all of the above with an alt-leaning retro soundtrack, wily DJs and budget booze arguably best thrown back on the low-key patio.

2. Bonham Exchange
411 Bonham, (210) 271-3811,

3. Heat
1500 N Main, (210) 227-2600,

1. Oak Hills Tavern
7920 Fredericksburg, (210) 614-8855

Possibly the only dive bar on the planet to offer duck confit on its in-house menu, Oak Hills surprises in other ways as well. For instance, while a scruffy cast of regulars call Oak Hills’ home, so too does DJ Mighty Iris, who hosts her Femme Fatale Friday with a mix of welcome throwback tunes from the ‘80s and ‘90s. The beer selection goes beyond Buds and Millers to include a variety of Texas brews on draft and in bottles, and among the liquors are several by Texas distillers like Cinco, Enchanted Rock, Tito’s and Source of All Happiness. But if that’s all too freaky for you, don’t worry, at its most basic, Oak Hills delivers cheap drinks and a friendly atmosphere, which is sometimes all you need.

2. The Mix
2423 N St. Mary’s, (210) 735-1313,

3. Hi-Tones
621 E Dewey, (210) 573-6220,