Sternewirth is a swanky bar inside of Hotel Emma and set in a historic cellar of the iconic Pearl Brewery. The bar serves classic cocktails, craft beer, select wines and bar bites. It's widely known as serving some of the best vices in the 210. Come with high expectations, and watch as they are all met.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Ryan Kirk Contributing writer
With a history dating back to 1883, the Pearl Brewery isn’t a memory — it’s a legend. And like all legends, there is factual evidence and there are myths.
Here’s a fact: After the demise of Otto Koehler in 1914, his wife, Emma Koehler, succeeded him as chief executive of the Pearl Brewery (then known by its former name, the San Antonio Brewing Association). While not even allowed to vote for president, Emma not only piloted Texas’s largest brewery but also withstood the prohibition without having to relinquish a single employee. During the “dark ages” (as we like to call them), she led her south Texas outfit by bottling a near beer, La Perla, and by entering them into the commercial ice and creamery business.
The classy setting is unique, it provides the feeling of a gentleman’s den, layered with modernize design.
Here’s a myth, and we like myths: While there is no proof, rumor has it that they were bottling a little more than La Perla during the 12 desolate years of prohibition. And at midnight when the Blaine Act repealed the 18th Amendment, in under an hour, she had 100 trucks and 25 railroad boxcars loaded with beer and on course for delivery.
So when it came time for naming the hotel located in the original brew house, there was no better name than Hotel Emma. The hotel was designed by Roman and Williams, who also conceived our beloved Ace Hotel. The walls of this boutique palace are quite literally speaking to us, as so much of the old brewery is used throughout the design.
The bar of the deep-rooted hotel goes by the moniker Sternewirth, a very fitting name after knowing the history of the brewery. The Sternewirth Privilege was a brewery tradition where workers and visitors were given access to free beer from the taproom when thirsty – and knowing what we know about Emma Koehler, we’d say it’s a safe bet that this privilege was exercised more than, say…the 18th Amendment…
Sternewirth is fashioned with 25-foot vaulted ceilings, concrete pillars, and cast-iron fermentation tanks that have been tunneled out for social seating. The bar has a vast assortment of buffalo-leather sectionals, Moroccan-leather ottomans and strappingly handsome armchairs. An attractive fireplace lights up the room and ripples through the sophisticated space, complementing the elegant decorations and the nostalgic past of a timeless sanctuary.
The vibe in the hotel bar is majestic. You feel more interesting just by being there, like you’re occupying a piece of history. Like a character from book or a play that you’ve seen but can’t completely remember. The classy setting is unique, it provides the feeling of a gentleman’s den, layered with modernize design. We imagine Benicio del Toro and Javier Bardem sitting across from each other discussing Mescal and bickering over who the best cinematographer was in the 1950s.
We encourage you to head in and grab a cocktail from the bar, maybe their iconic Nightingale, where bourbon meets the likes of Cardamero, Tubi 60, and Cointreau. With glasses raised, we salute the availability of good drink, a rich past, and the ever inspiring Mrs. Emma Koehler.
If the night takes a wild turn, holler at the hotel front-desk for one of the best rooms in the city
If on a date, grab a seat and cuddle up on one of their handsome leather couches
CYTIES cocktail recommendation: The Nightingale
Located in The Pearl, there are CYTIES spots all around this bar. Hit the “view map” button on the city page and enjoy the day/night