While the Alamo and the Tower of the Americas are two of the more famous San Antonio attractions, the Tipsy Texan is drawn to another of that city’s architectural wonders: the tilting bar that stands (miraculously, it seems) at the corner of Josephine and Avenue A. One of the oldest bar buildings in town, it was built in the 1890’s as a dry-goods store and saloon. More recently, it had a long run as the Liberty Bar and is now in the hands of Andrew Weissman, an acclaimed local chef who achieved national recognition with his first restaurant, Le Rêve. Serving classic French cuisine, Minnie’s Tavern is his newest venture and the latest occupant of this leaning landmark, whose slanted frame, warped floors, and red neon–lit windows make for a dining experience like no other.
Even if “Rye” weren’t in the restaurant’s name, the building itself seems tipsy, like it should ooze whiskey. And it does, in the form of bar manager Andy Hack’s Chic-Choc Old-fashioned. The old-fashioned traditionally consisted of a base spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. Over time, whiskey became the standard spirit, ice replaced the water, and muddled fruit got added to the mix. As for the bitters, they are to the cocktail bar what the spice rack is to the kitchen. For years Angostura was the only brand available in most places, but recently there has been an explosion of independent artisanal offerings. Hack douses a demerara sugar cube with chicory-pecan bitters (handmade by the New Orleans outfit El Guapo), then adds a healthy pour of Prichard’s Double Chocolate, a bourbon that’s finished with roasted cacao nibs. Garnished with the customary orange peel, Hack’s variation, like Minnie’s Tavern, is yet another page in the evolving story of a classic.
2 ounces Prichard’s Double Chocolate Bourbon
1 demerara sugar cube (or sugar cube of your choosing)
Dash of El Guapo chicory-pecan bitters
Splash of club soda
Orange peel, for garnish
Drop sugar cube into an old fashioned glass, and add bitters and a spoonful of club soda. Using a muddler or heavy spoon, liquefy the ingredients into a syrup. Add bourbon, and stir to combine. Add ice, and a wide strip of fresh orange peel as a garnish.