The Bar Tab

Bar 11 Monaco Lounge
126 W. Rector
Drinks: $2-$7
The dim entryway of Bar 11 Monaco Lounge is a bit intimidating at first, its onion-domed ingress affecting — in silhouette — the romance and elegance of the Taj Mahal. Inside, under low lights, the décor is a smart marriage between palatial Mughal architecture and a contemporary, ambitious dance club. Brightly colored steel arms stretch above the booths while neon lights create a navigable depth. Carefully chosen art with images of women and landscapes in vibrant colors flowing on vertical plains suggests fluidity, perhaps paying homage to water as a staple of life. Toward the rear, comfy couches waited patiently to be filled.

Petite tables nested in the middle of sharp U-shaped booths minimize the opportunity for clutter; two parts decoration to one part function. The firm, tall booths, bound in standard vinyl to protect from inevitable spills, made us feel at home and allowed conversation to flow easily between bodies. Not having a table to lean on was an unforeseen challenge to posture and routine that was entirely welcome.

The crowd was slight yet consistent for a Friday night — perhaps the fault of the holiday tryptophan. Button-up shirts in various designs and sizes were default among the gentlemen, and the ladies were suited up in requisite black. Everyone primarily kept to their parties, so adventure and one-liners were absent.

Bar 11 doesn’t offer a house drink, but the evening’s specials were varied and fair, the most attractive being $4 Patrón Silver (the $2 UV Vodka was a close runner up). As a dry and dirty martini tends to be an effective indicator of an adept bartender, I took the plunge. Just the right proportion of vermouth to olive juice quickly delivered satisfaction; the friendly bartender even checked for feedback midway through.

Perhaps it would behoove Bar 11 to delve fully into the dynamic Eastern influence and explore regional libations to weave into a signature cocktail. If only to bolster their already admirable efforts at creating a unique bar and lounge. With everything from dance and hip-hop leaking from the surround sound, Bar 11 has the potential to be an attractive spot to meet an aspiring jet-setter or sultry dance partner. There’s ample room for boogie, as the lighting and mood smoothly escort the ambience in that direction. Bar 11’s intimate design secretes a kind of sexy that isn’t often seen in San Antonio.