Prohibition-Inspired Cocktails & Lite Bites can be Found in this Not-So-Secret Bar
The property at 112 College St. in downtown San Antonio which is now occupied by the Omni La Mansion del Rio has a rich and varied history. Once the campus of St. Mary’s School of Law in 1934, the building eventually became too small to house the influx of law students as the city’s growth expanded. When the law school was moved to the main campus in 1967 some law school alumni bought this prime location on the now famous Riverwalk and converted it into a hotel.
The room that was once the Dean’s office was transformed into the hotel bar, El Colegio, as it is known today. Once a popular gathering spot for judges, attorneys and people who worked in the nearby courthouse, El Colegio has now become a favorite spot for visitors and locals alike.
Located right off the main lobby this bar, with its rich wood fixtures and flooring along with comfy seating overlooking College St., is a place for conversation or big screen game watching. El Colegio focuses on cocktails made with Texas spirits but also has a great selection of San Antonio draft and bottled beer and Texas produced wines.
Certainly the most intriguing aspect of this speakeasy are the classic pre and post prohibition libations made with Texas spirits. With names like Bee’s Knees, Gimlet and Side Car, the mind can be transported back to an earlier time when alcoholic beverages were illegal, raccoon coats were the Bee’s Knees and Flappers were considered the trendy, yet rebellious, women of the day.
The Maple Whiskey Sour was my first choice of cocktails because I do like the smooth, sometimes smoky taste of whiskey. Made with Rebecca Creek Whiskey, maple syrup and fresh lemon juice, this drink is served in a beautiful Victorian era looking glass with a slice of lemon on top. Rebecca Creek Whiskey is made right here in San Antonio and is considered “Texas in a glass”.
I also wanted to try the Mexican Firing Squad Margarita after I heard several other people raving about it. Did you know the Margarita is circa early 1940’s and the name Margarita is Spanish for “Daisy”? So this cocktail is made with strawberry, jalapeno infused tequila, lime juice and agave nectar, dressed with a slice of lime and chili salt on the rim. Muy bueno for a Margarita lover like me!
Lite bites keep the Texas theme going here too. Lockhart Texas Quail lollipops with fig tellicherry reduction, Braised Texas pork belly with house-made Kimchi, Lockhart Texas quail egg with bacon jam, Open faced Certified Texas Angus beef Wellington with bearnaise and fresh made ceviche marinated in grapefruit, orange and lime juices is a refreshing zesty topping for fresh tortilla chips.
The next time you find yourself downtown taking in a production at The Majestic Theater, shopping the day away, riding the river boats or staying at La Mansion del Rio, be sure to stop into El Colegio and enjoy being transported back in time.
**Full Disclosure: I was invited to a media preview of El Colegio for a review. All opinions are my own.
Location: 112 College Street, San Antonio, Texas
Phone: (210) 518-1000 ext 4026
Monday – Thursday: 3:00 p.m. – Midnight
Friday and Saturday: Noon – 2:00 a.m.
Sunday: Noon – Midnight
Happy Hour: 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Sunday – Thursday only