Bombay Ranch Gets a Facelift, New Identity as 8811

New Life

What's in a name?
What's in a name? Photos by Mark Stenberg

Shea Serrano's The Rap Yearbook highlights a strategy of Dr. Dre's for promoting two of his signed artists: Eminem and Snoop Dog. When Dre produced "My Name Is," he intended the song to act as an introduction to, and a trademarking of, Eminem. As a result, the wording of the title, "My Name Is," imitates the language people use to introduce themselves, and in it, Eminem says "Slim Shady" a total of 18 times.

Six years earlier, Dre had produced Snoop Dog's "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" with the same intention. In the song, Snoop says his name — or some variation of it — an incredible 25 times. Point in fact: When trying to break into a saturated field, memorable branding makes a difference.

In December 2015, when Bombay Ranch on 8811 Fredericksburg swapped ownership, revamped their interior and changed their name to 8811 Patio Bar, they very well could have been doing so on doctor's (Dre's, obviously) orders. In the same way Snoop and Eminem's repeated name-dropping allowed them to subliminally earmark themselves in listeners' brains, 8811's renaming works to constantly reaffirm the bar's location — and to some extent — its identity. It follows then that as a bar located within the Medical Center and minutes away from USAA, if you are employed by either of those industries, or can present a student or military ID, you can claim a 20-percent discount as your birthright.

If you fail to fall into one of those categories, don't worry — 8811 has plenty of discounts to sweeten the pot. Happy hour runs from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday, and plays host to $2.50 wells and domestics. Now, I'm not a mathematician, but if you combine their happy hour deals with their industry discounts, you begin to have some invitingly affordable drinks on your hands.

In addition to the happy hour, 8811 also offers half-off appetizers and cocktails during any Spurs game, as if you needed another reason to root for the Spurs. That means the farther into the playoffs the Spurs go, the further in love you'll fall with the bar's cocktail menu.

A good place to start on said menu is the Effen Mule, a slightly puro riff on Moscow's most inebriating export. Made with Effen Cucumber vodka, ginger beer, fresh lime and Lucas-dusted cucumbers, it's the acidic freshness of a traditional Moscow Mule with the cheek-puckering nip of Tajín.

If you're interested in a more familiar face with a stronger bite, look to 8811's Arnold Palmer. Depending on who you ask, the classic golfer's cocktail is typically some combination of sweet tea, vodka and lemonade. As flavored vodkas have spiked in popularity, the vodka component has begun finding its way into the drink in the form of either tea or lemonade liquor. At 8811, though, they see no need to choose just one and instead make their Arnold Palmer's with Deep Eddy Lemonade and Deep Eddy Sweet Tea, eliminating any non-alcoholic components. As you can imagine, the result of combining a savory liquor with a tasty liquor is, unsurprisingly, a delicious, liquor-heavy drink.

Beer-wise, 8811 has reason to boast as well. While their draft selection is somewhat modest, no beer runs more than $4.50, and that includes craft beers like Freetail's Bat Outta Helles, Karbach's Hopadillo IPA and Busted Sandal's 210 Ale. Of course, creature comforts such as Miller Lite, Shiner and Dos Equis are even more affordable, and are, by and large, the most popular choices. 8811 also has an even larger arsenal of canned and bottled beer, all as happily affordable as their draft counterparts.

By way of food 8811 covers its bases, offering classics like chicken wings ($8), burgers ($8), catfish and fries ($9), and jalapeño poppers ($5). The kitchen stays open late, orders are prepared quickly and you won't leave hungry after eating, which makes the bar a perfect place to unhinge yourself with a few drinks and then re-hinge yourself with a few wings.

During the week, beer, wings, the Spurs and irrefutable discounts are the draw, but when the weekend strikes 8811 transforms. Starting on Thursday with Ladies Night and running through Saturday, the nightclub component of the bar becomes more pronounced, and that's when the bottle service, VIP sections and live DJs really come out in force. Although there's a cover on Saturday night, the same drink specials still apply all weekend, so you can have caviar taste on a tuna fish budget. No matter when you go, expect attentive, friendly service and a bar that's happy to have you. And good luck forgetting its name.

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