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San Antonio’s Esquire Tavern to reopen Friday with new food and beverage offerings


The Cradle of Life — a refreshing gin and cucumber tipple — is a new bar offering at The Esquire Tavern. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • The Cradle of Life — a refreshing gin and cucumber tipple — is a new bar offering at The Esquire Tavern.
After a lengthy closure amid the pandemic, River Walk fixture the Esquire Tavern will fling the doors open again Friday with new leadership, new menu items and new COVID-19-fighting upgrades.

“We’ve hopefully put the time we’ve been closed to good use,” owner Chris Hill said in a release. “We have ... swapped out to touchless toilets and made other COVID-19 related improvements, as well as upped the ante at the bar with frozen drink machines — in general, we just put some polish on the old girl and we think she’s ready for a night out!”

The reopening of the restaurant and craft cocktail mainstay marks the return of San Antonio cocktail guru Jeret Peña to the Esquire's historic, 101-foot-long bar, where he now serves as beverage director.

The revamped bar menu will feature a handful of new cocktails such as the Cradle of Life — a gin and cucumber refresher — and the Bidi Bidi Conundrum, a mezcal, passionfruit and pineapple blend. Some of Pena’s former Esquire creations will also return, including the Mas Chingoni, a tequila and mezcal concoction.

The kitchen at the Esquire Tavern has also undergone a leadership change following the departure of longtime Executive Chef Brooke Smith last summer.

Chef de Cuisine Emilio Baez and Executive Chef Joseph Perez will oversee the reopened kitchen. Perez previously served as sous chef at Downstairs at The Esquire, which focused on charcuterie and oysters.

In addition to tried-and-true favorites such as the Big Red empanada and Esquire bologna melt, the Tavern's new menu will include a pork schnitzel and a fried seafood platter, which will include beer-battered cod, gulf shrimp and more.

The Esquire Tavern will reopen at 75% capacity and will follow state and local COVID-19 safety guidelines. It will operate Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. until "late-ish" and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-midnight.

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