Food & Drink » Flavor

Get a Sneak Peak at New San Antonio Tiki Bar Designed by Legendary 'Bamboo Ben' Bassham


  • Courtesy Bamboo Ben Bassham
Hugman’s Oasis, a River Walk tiki bar still under development, was recently outfitted with the best in tropical decor and design by a legend in the trade: “Bamboo Ben” Bassham.

The world-renowned design guru is responsible for some of the most iconic commercial tiki bar designs, not to mention hundreds of tikiphiles' home bars.

“Originally, my schedule was booked solid for two to three years, and then the pandemic hit,” Bassham told the Current. “We’d already ordered everything and had it all sitting there, so I flew down and started working.”

  • Courtesy Bamboo Ben Bassham
The space — which still has an unspecified opening date — will feature hand-cast skull walls, a double-lava waterfall at the river entrance and hand-carved sculpture panels by Bosko Hrnjak, another well-known member of the tiki community.

“Every project we work on, we bring in other tiki artists. It’s a community thing,” Bassham said. “My son worked with me on this and built the killer waterfall feature. We used Bosko for the walls, [Witco] for furniture.”

The Witco to whom he refers is an iconic tropical furniture company started in the 1960s. Its most famous gig: filling Elvis Presley’s Jungle Room at Graceland.

Hugman’s Oasis is a tribute to architect Robert Hugman, the man many call the Father of the River Walk since he designed the structures surrounding the landmark. The Oasis is the latest venture from Chris Hill, owner of the Esquire Tavern and Downstairs, the Esquire's river-level concept. Both of those drinking spots are known for impeccable design and out of this world cocktail programs.

Esquire Beverage Director Houston Eaves declined comment on the progress or opening date of Hugman’s Oasis.

“I’m more of a rum-sipper, but I told [Hill and Eaves], if we’re going to build this insane bar, it’s got to have an insane bar menu to match,” Bassham said. “I told them, ‘Don’t disappoint me!’”

  • Courtesy Bamboo Ben Bassham

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.