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A Visit to the Hoppy Monk

Ricardo Ruiz and Brittany Dinhobl of Hoppy Monk

Ricardo Ruiz and Brittany Dinhobl of Hoppy Monk

It takes a certain kind of company to open a beer depot with locally sourced beers and foods, but that’s exactly what Hoppy Monk did when they first opened their doors in El Paso, and later replicated that same magic in a completely new city while still offering independent breweries a spot on their taps and offering the public a solid menu of high-quality bar snacks and more.

These days, the Hoppy Monk keeps the Northside’s thirst for quality craft beer sated with an enviable wall of beer taps, and food made with ingredients sourced from independent farmers. It’s that attention to detail that helped draw the staff to Dorćol.

When co-owner Joseph Valenzuela began exploring San Antonio, he was introduced to our little tasting room on South Flores by friends, and he shared his newfound spot with his staff. As manager Ricardo Ruiz recalls, “he turned us on to this little bar called Dorćol, it was when Nick was working there, and started going and really enjoying rakia. We were floored by the fact that there’s no other spirit there, and that y’all were making lots of cocktails.”

Ricardo and Joseph brought Kinsman onto their opening menu at Hoppy Monk, and since then, the spirit has remained a favorite.

Betty and the De Pêche Mode

Betty and the De Pêche Mode

And we’re not just saying that. The De Pêche Mode, a peachy concoction created by bartender and manager Brittany Dinhobl, is currently back on their Greatest Sips menu, a collection of fan-favorite cocktails. Brittany, who started at Hoppy Monk in 2015 and has served just about every position available since, combined the Kinsman with Aperol, lemon juice, and Pêche peach liqueur for a winning combination that’ll sneak up on you.

“It’s pretty popular with the ladies,” Brittany said.

It’s not just Kinsman that gets all the love. The Pale Horse cocktail features 2 ounces of Betty, Scotch, lemon and honey.

“Betty is always easy to talk about. It’s such a good, light beer,” Brittany said.

Randy often sits down with Pedro Longoria, part-owner of Hoppy Monk, whenever he’s got a new brew in the works. New menus are often collaborative efforts between staff members to try and get things right, and this extends to events, on and off-site.

Take for instance our annual Helado Borracho competition that tasks participating bars and restaurants with creating San Antonio’s official, Kinsman-infused ice cream. Hoppy Monk’s kitchen staff works closely with Britt and Ricardo to nail creative and creamy desserts. After winning People’s Choice and Critic’s Choice during the inaugural event, the Hoppy Monk is ready to bring the trophy back home.

Whether you’re looking for your new favorite sipper, or you’re hoping to try one of Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co.’s latest brews, Hoppy Monk should be on your list.

“They picked Stone Oak because they wanted to put a stamp in this area especially with it being family-friendly out here. UTSA is not too far away so we have everything from frat kids, to people in their 70s out for date night,” Brittany said. “Whatever the case, we cater to everybody.”




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Relationship-Building at Clementine

Courtesy of Clementine.

Courtesy of Clementine.

After making a splash in the San Antonio dining scene this past year, the staff at Clementine isn’t going to start resting on their laurels now.

That would be too easy.

Instead, owners John and Elise Russ leaned into the hustle of it all, adding a second baby girl to the mix, while still maintaining their place as one of San Antonio’s premier eateries.

For John, that includes making sure the guest experience is exactly what they wanted it to be since day one. That includes catering to a different audience than they might have initially expected, especially after John and Elise’s days on the San Antonio Riverwalk in dining rooms such as Lüke and Biga on the Banks.

Courtesy of Clementine.

Courtesy of Clementine.


Instead, the Castle Hills audience is a discerning one that wants to pair incredible wines with equally jaw-dropping dishes.

“My struggle as a chef has been not playing to that card, and remembering they came in here in the beginning for a reason,” John said.

It’s easy enough to build those connections. John and Elise are both stationed at the entrance of their open kitchen, which serves as both stage and prep area.

“A lot of it is listening to our guests, watching what they order, and seeing how much — if any — comes back to get thrown out or boxed up,” John said.

Listening to their audience also means knowing when to pull back. Initially, the couple and general manager Patrick Frasier carried bottled and canned beers from across the state, along with a few HighWheel brews. But when sales pointed to a wine-drinking audience, Betty stayed where others did not.

“I traveled to Germany in 2006 for a few months and gained a solid 30 pounds because I was drinking kölsch and eating donner kebab,” John said. “When kölsch beers started coming out in America, I never found one that tasted like what I had in Köln, where kölsch beers are from until I had the Betty.”

He credits Dorćol Distilling + Brewing’s commitment to “making something right” for why he stuck with Dorćol’s Betty, and some of her rotating beer cousins.

“It’s not an interpretation, you’re not trying to recreate the wheel. You’re trying to get something perfect.”

John also knows he can rely on Dorćol’s staff.

“I can call them and ask for a keg, and it doesn’t mean I’ll definitely get it that night, but I know they’ll do whatever they can to get it done,” John said. “It’s not about getting paid, but about the relationship you create where there is integrity, respect and loyalty.”

Those tenets are extended to the Castle Hills neighborhood where Clementine opened its doors that’s home to several faiths. This April, Clementine offered a unique Passover menu with gluten-free options, and included kosher wines to their varied wine list.

Courtesy of Clementine.

Courtesy of Clementine.


Respect, integrity and loyalty also play a part in both front and back-of-the-house staffs, which have seen little change in the past year — even with John and Elise’s kitchen rules.

“We demand a lot. We do all of our prep and that kitchen is not big,” John said. “With our servers and food runners, we try to remind them the difference between being hospitable and being gracious, and we always want to be both.”

CLEMENTINE

2195 NW Military Hwy., (210) 503-5121.

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