A New World of Creative Cocktails at The Mariner - The Bend Magazine

A New World of Creative Cocktails at The Mariner

Downtown’s newest hideaway bar offers inventive cocktails from veteran mixologists

A cocktail at The Mariner in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Photos by Matthew Meza

Just above the gift shop at Harrison’s Landing and up a discrete set of stairs waits the new premier cocktail experience in the Coastal Bend at The Mariner. A concept born between Harrison’s Landing owner Hank Harrison and executed by bar operator and veteran of the Texas drink scene Jacob McCLain, The Mariner offers a blended experience of upscale drinking, sleek wooden interiors and an eclectic selection of fixtures paying tasteful homage to nautical culture.

McClain traces his roots in the Texas food and drink scene to The Davenport, a Monstrose gem owned and operated by his uncle in the late 1990s. From Houston to Seattle and now the Coastal Bend, McClain has earned a reputation as a master in the art of crafting cocktails and curating menus, even playing a pivotal role as the original mixologist behind menus at local favorites The Post and The Goldfish.

Jacob McClain, mixologist at The Mariner
Jacob McClain, bar operator and mixologist at The Mariner | Photo by Matthew Meza

At the heart of The Mariner is the menu, which McClain built with his staff, including executive chef Eric Morin, executive sous and pastry chef  Cody Fitzpatrick and lead bar manager Devin Hoeling, among others. In the mid-shift before an evening rush, the flow of communication between the front and back of the house is constant, whether it’s stopping to consult about microgreens, fresh catches of the day or preparing to cut down and process 50 pounds of fresh tuna.

“We cast a wide net, with the vibe of being on the water,” McClain said of the menu, which features a diversity of Mediterranean-inspired tapas like their well-loved lamb lollies, chicken croquettes and ceviche. “It’s all tapas because we’re a bar first. Our plates have bold colors and bright flavors made with beautiful ingredients.”

The Mariner utilizes a seasonal bar menu with twists on classics and new creations mixed in-house, in the interest of keeping things fresh. “You don’t see an Old Fashioned on the menu, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it,” he said. “We lean towards modern classics. We’ll call it a ‘whiskey improved’ cocktail — where we’re not hiding the spirit, we’re elevating it.”

cocktails at The Mariner
The Mariner is open Wednesday – Thursday from 4-10 p.m. and Friday – Saturday from 4 p.m. – midnight. | Photo by Matthew Meza

Some such cocktails currently on The Mariner’s menu are their Scout’s Honor and Long Shoreman, two bourbon-based favorites with citrus notes. “This is a collaborative menu,” McClain said. “It’s been fun to see the cocktail progression and where the staff has taken things. We’re constantly innovating. If you’re consistently inspired to create, you gotta change it up and write it down.” 

The Mariner will see its hard launch at the start of 2024, but until then, McClain and his staff continue to innovate and tweak a menu that offers persistent promise to bargoers in the Coastal Bend. “When you put love in, you get love out,” he said. 

Contact: 108 Peoples St. T-Head  | @themarinercc