Turns out we drank a ton of booze this year. With more cocktail bars in San Antonio than ever before, choosing a top 10 was a challenge, but one we gladly accepted as we sipped, tipped and guzzled these cocktails below through 2015.
Shamekiller • Alchemy Kombucha & Culture, 1123 N. Flores St., (210) 320-1168, alchemysanantonio.com
This fall, the little restaurant that could delivered one of the best brunches this city has to offer. The biscuits were pillowy, coddled eggs creamy and market hash a delight. Bonus: You could wash it all down with the Shamekiller, a lightened up version of tiki classic Painkiller created by Milan & Turin dude Javi Gutierrez. House-made coconut vodka (the vodka is "fat-washed" using unfiltered coconut oil so it draws in all of the oil's flavor) meets a pineapple juice-orange syrup that's thickened up for better mouth-feel with gum Arabic and a splash of bubbles. It's a patio-pounder for sure, without over-indulging in mimosas.
Bananas Foster Milkshake • Cured, 306 Pearl Pkwy, Suite 101, (210) 314-3929, curedatpearl.com
I'm a dessert person through and through. So when one of the most classic desserts (flambéed bananas, vanilla ice cream, brown sugar, dark rum — what's not to love?) makes it into cocktail form, then all bets are off. During one of last year's meet the distiller dinners in advance of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, the cocktailians at Cured ditched the rum for Nelson's Greenbrier Distillery's Tennessee white whiskey. The result was sweet, not cloying and addictive. But while the homemade vanilla ice cream was an excellent touch, the star of the drink was instead the Belle Meade Bourbon booster inside a clear pipette filled with just a touch more bourbon to really warm the bones. You could release the bourbon at your own leisurely place, or breakneck speed like I did.
Brunch Cart • Hot Joy, 1014 S. Alamo St., (210) 368-9324, hotjoysa.com
Mimosas are basic, and I'll fight anyone who disagrees (though I'll never turn one away either). So what's the little Asian hot spot that hates being pigeonholed as any particular genre to do when it comes to their brunch drinks? Enter the dumpling-style brunch cart. Served in smaller glasses at $3 a pop, the brunch drinks include Frozen Thai Thai, Frozen Five Spice Colada and Pho. Get. It. Though these summertime coolers are on their way out to make room for a winter brunch cart menu, the "Scream Bloody Mary" will remain and we're not mad about it. The half-sized mary is bar manager Elisabeth Forsythe's take on the tom yum soup with a strong tomato base and fragrant aromatics of keffir lime, lemongrass and galanga (similar to ginger) root. A Thai chili-infused vodka and house-made oyster sauce round out the creation, which goes great with the Korean fried chicken sandwich from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Mariposa Negra • Mezcaleria Mixtli, 1523 McCullough Ave., (320-1660), mezcaleriamixtli.com
Is there such a thing as an embarrassment of riches? Or is too much never even quite enough? An admitted fondness for mezcal makes almost every drink on the Mezcaleria's list worth investigating, but early on the nod for best cocktail might have gone to Chingos de Hongos — not only for its cheeky name but also for its even ballsier use of chanterelle-infused mezcal and mushroom demi-glace syrup. But a recently revised list yielded a new seductress, the Mariposa Negra — reposado tequila this time, paired with Averna, a demerara syrup, licorice root and basil tea and Angostura bitters. The indeed dark and sultry drink is enlivened by an orange twist, the licorice comes through — but just enough, and, unlike the more intense Chingos, you will feel free to have more than one. Yes, this matters.
Trophy Wife • Paramour, 102 9th St., Suite 400, (210) 340-9880, paramourbar.com
An office full of powerful attorneys, an amazing view, a cheeky name ... the Trophy Wife combines everything your side boo needs — gin, watermelon cordial, lime, strawberries and rosé cava. Oh, and she tastes just as great whether you're trying to land a man or you're an independent honey who's makin' money. Feel me?