First things first, let’s tackle that name change. Golden Gloves Social House is no more, after a request was made by the National Golden Gloves of America organization to kindly stop using the moniker. In its place is Stay Golden Social House, a nod to staying young, at least according to Urban Dictionary.
I stopped by Stay Golden on a recent Tuesday night for a nightcap. I purposefully went on an off night—no Spurs game was on, no weekend crowds to distract the ‘tenders—but I was pleasantly surprised to find a decent, and über chill crowd. But most of all, I was pleased to find what I’ve been looking for quite some time now—a laidback, unpretentious bar where I can get some grub and not drop a ton of cash. I’m on a writer’s salary, after all.
It’s as if owners Jeret Peña of The Brooklynite and Chris Erck of Swig Martini Bar and the rebooted Tacoland took all of the business commentary surrounding their other endeavors to heart. For starters, Stay Golden melds the cocktail know-how of BKSA with the laidback spirit of Tacoland … with hella cheap prices. I got out of there that night with two boozy drinks in my belly (more on this in a sec) for $15.
The bar itself drops any uppity notion with barebones décor while still stocking an impressive lineup of hooch. Seating can be found along the bar, with tall tables dotting the interior in the most practical of ways. Outside, patrons can settle in for the evening on the one of the many patio chairs available. Stay Golden uses large wooden spools (as for winding cables) for tabletops and the patio is lit using globe string lights, because who doesn’t love twinkly lights?
My buddy and I saddled up at the bar inside a teensy corner of the large warehouse complex. I immediately regretted not getting there sooner. Happy hour lasts from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday for $4 Moscow Mules, daiquiris, micheladas (complete with tamarindo candy stick) and $2 Lonestar and Pearls. Regardless, I opted for a Sting Like a Bee, a gin-based elixir with honey, lemon, Fire & Damnation bitters (which contain capsaicin spice along with subtle smoke) and lavender soda, expertly and expediently prepared by bartender Stephanie Di Muria. It was refreshing and light with just a hint of heat.
The appeal of Peña and Erck’s endeavor doesn’t appear to be lost on hospitality industry folks, who made their way to the Stay Golden after long days at work. There was a young fellow from The Granary taking a load off, a cluster of female cooks working through a few cocktails, a certain night manager from Rosella Coffee Co. who stopped in for a libation or two before riding off into the night. But my new favorite friend might be the chap from B&D Ice House who provided the scene with several large trays of beans, chopped brisket and that awesome mac ‘n’ cheese. Good god, it paired well with my cocktail.
Back to the task at hand—the drinks. My next cocktail was the Mean Left Hook, with bourbon, house-made peach bitters, Fernet Branca and lemon-oleo (basically the essential oils in lemon rinds muddled with sugar). Strong and just sweet enough, this was a cocktail after my own heart. The chalkboard mounted above the bar was filled with other concoctions worth trying during subsequent visits. I took a sip of my pal’s Kiss the Canvas (which Di Muria had warned as the booziest on the board), a light pink number with white rum, a splash of Ray & Nephew overproof rum, lime, raspberry and rhubarb bitters. Perhaps Di Muria steered me away from the Kiss because the dainty mouth-feel disguised its high alcohol content? Who knows.
For the beer fans, Stay Golden carries Belgian white Blanche de Bruxelles, a Brooklyn seasonal, Shiner’s Ruby Redbird, Dales Pale Ale and Karbach’s flagship Hopadillo all for $5 a can and $3 Tecate, Pearl, Miller High Life and Lone Star tall boys.
The best of both worlds without breaking the bank, Stay Golden adds a much-needed value option to the Pearl-adjacent area. It’s about as puro San Anto as the Pearl gets, and it’s hard to pass up.
Stay Golden Social House
401 Pearl Pkwy