According to the original blueprints, the Green Lantern (which is situated between Damien Watel’s northern ventures, Ciel and Ciao 2), was dubbed “The Cave,” and was destined to serve as a wine cellar for the two restaurants.
When bar owner Steve Mahoney learned of Watel’s plans for the location, he made a hard play to change the restaurateur’s mind, ultimately securing the lease for his latest project, the Green Lantern. Mahoney’s goal for the space was quite specific — to give San Antonians a swanky place to enjoy impeccably crafted drinks based on classic recipes dating back to the golden age of cocktails. Currently, the concept of the speakeasy is wildly trendy in New York and California. An air of secrecy and exclusivity are key in these Prohibition-themed establishments. Guests of New York City’s Death & Company wait outside in endless lines to experience the bar’s
antiquarian realness. Without any fuss or gimmicks, Mahoney has managed to create a similar ambience with the Green Lantern. He is, not surprisingly, fixated on the year 1919, when the Volstead Act brought nightlife to a screeching halt and sent the art of mixology underground. The Green Lantern’s minimal signage, narrow tinted windows, and basement-level entrance all give the venue an illicit charm. Also intriguing is the fact that Mahoney doesn’t advertise, opting instead for word-of--mouth publicity in an honest attempt to attract a quality crowd.
Mahoney’s main focus is restoring flavor to cocktails by using top-shelf spirits and fresh ingredients.
“I don’t care if you order a vodka and soda, it’s going to be the best vodka and soda you’ve ever had,” he told the Bar Tab as we chatted over a “Blue Margarita” (blue due to violet-infused orange liqueur). Since he is extremely meticulous about the way drinks are mixed and served, Mahoney intentionally hired non-bartenders for the Green Lantern. “Basically, I would’ve had to tell a seasoned bartender to forget everything they had ever learned, because our approach is so different.”
Different it is. Libations such as the Sazerac (possibly the oldest cocktail in existence, composed of Cognac and Bitters) and “Between the Sheets” (Mahoney has renamed this potent mixture of brandy, Benedictine Liqueur, Cointreau, and lemon juice the Mantini) are elegantly presented along with craft beers and upscale wines. The décor is decidedly minimalist, which allows the carefully selected building materials to stand out. A particularly interesting touch is the wooden bar top — a direct nod to Prohibition-era speakeasies, which typically served patrons drinks on wooden planks supported by barrels of moonshine.
A popular sentiment during Prohibition was that if you drank alcohol, you lived in the shadow of death. If you find yourself in need of a sophisticated dose of poison in the Stone Oak area, pay the Green Lantern a visit — the only ominous shadow you’ll see belongs to a scandalous piece of cutlery, so drink up.
THE BAR TAB
The Green Lantern
20626 Stone Oak Parkway
(210) 497-3722 [email protected]att.net
THE VIBE Sophisticated Prohibition-inspired drinks and mood. Plus: Food can be ordered in from both Ciel and Ciao 2.
BEST USE Look for tasting seminars hosted in conjunction with the Spirit Enthusiast of Texas. Happy hour from 2-7pm daily, closed Sundays. Become a fan of the Green Lantern on Facebook to learn about upcoming events.
PRICES Well drinks $5, Specialty drinks $8, Domestic beer $3, Import beer $4-$8