December 16, 2021

The 100 best bars in San Antonio 2021

It’s a longtime Alamo City ritual to swig from a longneck on the breezy patio of a neighborhood icehouse. But there’s also a venerable tradition of bellying up at classy downtown drinking spots where impeccably dressed barkeeps pour special-occasion cocktails.

San Antonio’s bar scene is no one thing, and it’s ever-expanding. Which is why the Current has compiled its first list of our 100 favorite bars. They run the gamut from dingy dives and funky neighborhood haunts to revered downtown destinations and outposts of creative mixology. And, well, pretty much anything in between.

We hope to make this an annual affair, assuming our livers hold out. We had fun doing the research, and we’re guessing you’ll also stumble upon good times as you explore those that are new to you. Just remember, this isn’t a ranked list — our choices are compiled in alphabetical order.

Of course, you may grit your teeth in anger a few times when you discover personal favorites that didn’t make the list. Believe us, it was tough to narrow the array down to 100. We had to make tough choices — and there’s always next year.

Given the explosion in local brewing and distilling operations, we opted to include some of those as well. Again, it was difficult narrowing them down. Those that made the list did so because of the unique quality of their bar experience, and it’s not a knock on the quality of the beer or spirits of those that didn’t.

Bottoms up, SA!
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1. 2015 Place 
This longtime LGBTQ+ nightspot on San Pedro Avenue has more of a neighborhood dive vibe than the sparkly spots on the Main Drag. And that's kinda the best thing about it. The drinks are cheap, the bartenders are on their game and folks are friendly. Throw in thumping music, a relaxing patio, a mirrored dance floor and diversions including darts and pool and you've got the makings of a great night of inclusive fun that's off the beaten path — well, by a few blocks, anyway. 2015 San Pedro Ave., (210) 733-3365, 2015-place.business.site.
Photo by Sanford Nowlin
1. 2015 Place
This longtime LGBTQ+ nightspot on San Pedro Avenue has more of a neighborhood dive vibe than the sparkly spots on the Main Drag. And that's kinda the best thing about it. The drinks are cheap, the bartenders are on their game and folks are friendly. Throw in thumping music, a relaxing patio, a mirrored dance floor and diversions including darts and pool and you've got the makings of a great night of inclusive fun that's off the beaten path — well, by a few blocks, anyway. 2015 San Pedro Ave., (210) 733-3365, 2015-place.business.site.
Photo by Sanford Nowlin
2. 502 Bar
This bar-slash-venue was a welcome addition to the U.S. Highway 281 corridor, where options for musical entertainment, especially of the original variety, haven't always been plentiful. With a diverse booking policy and a pro-level sound system, the 502 has lasted in the live music game because it does things right. Throw in roughly 30 or so beer taps, mostly dedicated to craft brews, and dedicated open mic and karaoke nights, and you've got plenty of reasons to keep coming back. 502 Embassy Oaks, (210) 257-8125, 502bar.com. 
Photo via Instagram / cycliciousb
2. 502 Bar
This bar-slash-venue was a welcome addition to the U.S. Highway 281 corridor, where options for musical entertainment, especially of the original variety, haven't always been plentiful. With a diverse booking policy and a pro-level sound system, the 502 has lasted in the live music game because it does things right. Throw in roughly 30 or so beer taps, mostly dedicated to craft brews, and dedicated open mic and karaoke nights, and you've got plenty of reasons to keep coming back. 502 Embassy Oaks, (210) 257-8125, 502bar.com.
Photo via Instagram / cycliciousb
3. Alibis Sports & Spirits
You'll find 70 varieties of beer at St. Paul Square outpost Alibis, but something you won't find is tourists. If you're downtown and want to imbibe where locals and service industry folks alike hang out, this is that spot. The drinks are cheap, the front yard offers a relaxing space for people watching, and live acts, open-mic nights and karaoke provide background din. For college football fans, Alamodome-adjacent Alibis is a no-brainer for pre-tailgate drinks. 1141 E. Commerce St., (210) 225-5552, facebook.com/alibissportsandspirits. 
Photo via Instagram / fatsauceband
3. Alibis Sports & Spirits
You'll find 70 varieties of beer at St. Paul Square outpost Alibis, but something you won't find is tourists. If you're downtown and want to imbibe where locals and service industry folks alike hang out, this is that spot. The drinks are cheap, the front yard offers a relaxing space for people watching, and live acts, open-mic nights and karaoke provide background din. For college football fans, Alamodome-adjacent Alibis is a no-brainer for pre-tailgate drinks. 1141 E. Commerce St., (210) 225-5552, facebook.com/alibissportsandspirits.
Photo via Instagram / fatsauceband
4. Amor Eterno
This Southtown spot helmed by Brian Correa and Aaron Peña — proprietors of iconic Bar America and the Squeezebox respectively — debuted last New Year's Eve and immediately grabbed attention with its elevated cocktails and a sexy ambiance. Billed as a love letter to puro San Antonio cultura, the bar is small but bursting with personality. Aside from the inventive cocktails — try the tequila-heavy Chile Girl — the inviting and intimate space is an homage to our city's old school vibes. Custom wallpaper, velvet wall treatments and cozy nooks make for an ambiance that accommodates date night or after-dinner nightcaps. 540 S. Presa St., facebook.com/Amor-Eterno-104928765099182.
Photo courtesy of Amor Eterno
4. Amor Eterno
This Southtown spot helmed by Brian Correa and Aaron Peña — proprietors of iconic Bar America and the Squeezebox respectively — debuted last New Year's Eve and immediately grabbed attention with its elevated cocktails and a sexy ambiance. Billed as a love letter to puro San Antonio cultura, the bar is small but bursting with personality. Aside from the inventive cocktails — try the tequila-heavy Chile Girl — the inviting and intimate space is an homage to our city's old school vibes. Custom wallpaper, velvet wall treatments and cozy nooks make for an ambiance that accommodates date night or after-dinner nightcaps. 540 S. Presa St., facebook.com/Amor-Eterno-104928765099182.
Photo courtesy of Amor Eterno
5. The Bang Bang Bar
Opened in 2016 by two members of the band Girl in Coma — the ones who went on to form FEA, for those keeping score at home — made an immediate splash with its vintage furnishings, inclusive atmosphere and creative drinks. Six years on, there's still plenty to love about this welcoming spot that works equally well as a live-music venue, a place to sink into a well-loved couch for conversation over cocktails or a place to get in some competitive Skee Ball or pool hustling. 119 El Mio Dr., (210) 320-1187, thebangbangbartx.com. 
Photo by Julian Ledezma
5. The Bang Bang Bar
Opened in 2016 by two members of the band Girl in Coma — the ones who went on to form FEA, for those keeping score at home — made an immediate splash with its vintage furnishings, inclusive atmosphere and creative drinks. Six years on, there's still plenty to love about this welcoming spot that works equally well as a live-music venue, a place to sink into a well-loved couch for conversation over cocktails or a place to get in some competitive Skee Ball or pool hustling. 119 El Mio Dr., (210) 320-1187, thebangbangbartx.com.
Photo by Julian Ledezma
6. Bar 1919
San Antonio's had a boom in swanky cocktail spots, but this Blue Star Arts Complex stalwart remains a high-water mark. The basement speakeasy feel is spot on, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more robust list of Scotch and bourbon pretty much anywhere, which is humorously highlighted by their snub of vodka — you'll only find a single brand. Rounding it all out, the impeccably dressed bar staff know their stuff without feeling the need to get all snobby about it. So there. 1420 S. Alamo St., (210) 227-1420, bar1919.com.
Photo via Instagram / sacurrent
6. Bar 1919
San Antonio's had a boom in swanky cocktail spots, but this Blue Star Arts Complex stalwart remains a high-water mark. The basement speakeasy feel is spot on, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more robust list of Scotch and bourbon pretty much anywhere, which is humorously highlighted by their snub of vodka — you'll only find a single brand. Rounding it all out, the impeccably dressed bar staff know their stuff without feeling the need to get all snobby about it. So there. 1420 S. Alamo St., (210) 227-1420, bar1919.com.
Photo via Instagram / sacurrent
7. Bar 601 at the Tower of the Americas
Soaring 750 feet above the Alamo City, Bar 601's key attraction is its killer view. Snag a bar seat in the stationary lounge while the attached restaurant rotates slowly, giving diners a panoramic view of the cityscape. Whether you're showing out-of-towners the lay of the land or wooing a new potential boo, the visuals make for an icebreaker that's hard to beat. Sip on a well-balanced pomegranate martini or a glass of wine while you try to spot your favorite landmarks from the sky. 739 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., (210) 223-3101, toweroftheamericas.com.
Photo via Instagram / cease_dls
7. Bar 601 at the Tower of the Americas
Soaring 750 feet above the Alamo City, Bar 601's key attraction is its killer view. Snag a bar seat in the stationary lounge while the attached restaurant rotates slowly, giving diners a panoramic view of the cityscape. Whether you're showing out-of-towners the lay of the land or wooing a new potential boo, the visuals make for an icebreaker that's hard to beat. Sip on a well-balanced pomegranate martini or a glass of wine while you try to spot your favorite landmarks from the sky. 739 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., (210) 223-3101, toweroftheamericas.com.
Photo via Instagram / cease_dls
8. Bar America
Yes, many of us miss the old Bar America with its scarred Formica tabletops, disintegrating flooring and abuelitas serving cold beers. Yes, many of us were saddened when the place got fixed up and lost some of its puro funky charm. That said, it's still a prime place to drop in for a post-dinner, post-art walk, post-whatever tipple. With 25 beers on tap, a full kitchen and an eclectic crowd fitting of its downtown-meets-Southtown location, Bar America remains a worthy drinking destination 80 years into its history. 723 S. Alamo St., (210) 223-1285, facebook/baramericasatx.
Photo via Instagram / baramerica_satx
8. Bar America
Yes, many of us miss the old Bar America with its scarred Formica tabletops, disintegrating flooring and abuelitas serving cold beers. Yes, many of us were saddened when the place got fixed up and lost some of its puro funky charm. That said, it's still a prime place to drop in for a post-dinner, post-art walk, post-whatever tipple. With 25 beers on tap, a full kitchen and an eclectic crowd fitting of its downtown-meets-Southtown location, Bar America remains a worthy drinking destination 80 years into its history. 723 S. Alamo St., (210) 223-1285, facebook/baramericasatx.
Photo via Instagram / baramerica_satx
9. The Bar at Bohanan's
The clubby, library-looking bar inside the downtown steakhouse with an eclectic and timeless sonic playlist is San Antonio bar royalty. Many of the city's most lauded mixologists have done a stint behind the stick here, and the cocktail menu, organized not by spirit type but preparation method — stirred, shaken, tall with soda, crushed ice and the like — still whispers of the bar's early consultant, late cocktail guru Sasha Petraske. Classic drinks that any bartender worth his or her salted rim would know aren't listed, but if you ask for a martini, institutional memory will produce a Hoffman House — stirred, with gin, of course. And it will be one of the city's best. 219 E. Houston St., #275, (210) 472-2600, bohanans.com.  
Photo via Facebook / Bohanans
9. The Bar at Bohanan's
The clubby, library-looking bar inside the downtown steakhouse with an eclectic and timeless sonic playlist is San Antonio bar royalty. Many of the city's most lauded mixologists have done a stint behind the stick here, and the cocktail menu, organized not by spirit type but preparation method — stirred, shaken, tall with soda, crushed ice and the like — still whispers of the bar's early consultant, late cocktail guru Sasha Petraske. Classic drinks that any bartender worth his or her salted rim would know aren't listed, but if you ask for a martini, institutional memory will produce a Hoffman House — stirred, with gin, of course. And it will be one of the city's best. 219 E. Houston St., #275, (210) 472-2600, bohanans.com.
Photo via Facebook / Bohanans
10. Bar du Mon Ami 
This unassuming Alamo Heights-area drinkery offers cozy neighborhood bar vibes with an emphasis on "cozy." The narrow, dimly-lit bar is home to personable bartenders, extensive spirits offerings and unexpected music selections — all of which add to the draw. After a brief but harrowing brush with closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Bar du Mon Ami has risen from uncertainty to solidify its place as a must-visit for local cocktail aficionados. Don't be afraid to order a classic cocktail here — the folks behind the bar know their stuff, from the Aviation to Vieux Carré. 4901 Broadway, (210) 822-3253, instagram.com/bardumonami.
Photo via Instagram / bardumonami
10. Bar du Mon Ami
This unassuming Alamo Heights-area drinkery offers cozy neighborhood bar vibes with an emphasis on "cozy." The narrow, dimly-lit bar is home to personable bartenders, extensive spirits offerings and unexpected music selections — all of which add to the draw. After a brief but harrowing brush with closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Bar du Mon Ami has risen from uncertainty to solidify its place as a must-visit for local cocktail aficionados. Don't be afraid to order a classic cocktail here — the folks behind the bar know their stuff, from the Aviation to Vieux Carré. 4901 Broadway, (210) 822-3253, instagram.com/bardumonami.
Photo via Instagram / bardumonami