Credit: Freddy Hunt / Kens5.com
SAN ANTONIO -- It's been one year since downtown's Esquire Tavern reopened after a five-year shutdown brought on by unruly patrons, a woozy number of police calls and other boozy mishaps.
When new owner Chris Hill unveiled the revamped and re-polished beauty of a bar on April 1 of last year, some San Antonians scoffed at the venture. After all, it was April Fools' Day.
But there was no joke. Still no punchline. Only punch.
In celebration of bar's anniversary, the Esquire was pouring one free Fools Punch for every customer. Head Barman Jeret Peña said the drink is a citrus, fruity gin-based cocktail that resonates with the weather outside.
Sitting at the end of the long wooded bar in a beautiful brass-colored punched bowl, mustachioed bartender dipped their ladles into the rosy concoction.
Peña ran through the ingredients: juniper-flavored Genever gin, pear liqueur, lemon, sugar, home-made ginger beer, lemonade, black pepper, mint, a cucumber garnish and few strawberries and grapefruit slices for coloring.
Peña said to expect more fruity gin and rum drinks like the Fools Punch to make their way onto the menu in time for spring in summer taste buds.
It's innovative drinks like the Fools Punch and creative thinking like the April Fools' Day bash that Hill credits to the bars' success, which includes a 2012 James Beard nomination for Outanding Bar Program. But besides the food, excellent drinks and service, Hill said he has preserve the bars' character.
"A year ago one of the first guys walked into the door -- he was one of the old regulars -- he looked around and said, 'Well it doesn't look like you done much.' Which I thought was maybe one of the best compliments we could have gotten," Hill said.
The Esquire Tavern originally opened in 1933 to celebrate the end of prohibition. It's a claim not many bars can make.