With a bar so long that Ripley’s Believe It or Not once saluted it because it had room for 5,973 Lone Star longnecks, San Antonio’s ESQUIRE TAVERN has a storied history. The downtown institution opened on Dec. 5, 1933 — the day Prohibition ended — and, despite closing in 2006 for five years, was reopened in 2011 after extensive renovations (though the legendary bar remained intact). This past December, Esquire celebrated its 80th birthday, and, though the lights were so dim that you could barely see from one end of the bar to the other, the “quirky character” regulars (as one mixologist calls them) remained unfazed. After all, they’re used to the light of the bar’s brass oil lanterns and Edison-style light bulbs, and they know that the stuffed badger sitting on the bar clearly designates its midway point. Drinks here range from popular and microbrewed beers to exotic sippers. Try the popular Capone’s Revolver (rye whiskey, coffee liqueur and bitters) or the Texecutioner (mezcal, xtabentún, cocchi americano and grapefruit). In homage to San Antonio’s popular soft drink, chef Brooke Smith makes an empanada with short ribs glazed with Big Red. Everything she serves (even pickles, ketchup and honey mustard) is made from scratch. The River Walk is as close as the back door, and patrons can get a ride on a barge on the San Antonio River if they’d like. Oh, and that dark ambiance? Perhaps it’s the reason rockers like Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin have felt comfortable tippling here.

www.esquiretavern-sa.com