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Bexar Tonics
Bexar Tonics
Original Collage
18” x 24”

After the nightmare of the Covid pandemic became less intense and order was returning to society, Marcy McChesney thought about the challenges that everyone had endured in one way or another and how they adapted to a new world of uncertainty. The pandemic had interrupted the daily routines, careers, comfort levels and well-being of many, and provided an opportunity to reevaluate their priorities. Some individuals flourished and took this opportunity to utilize their creativity and determination to pivot to a different field and higher quality of life. Thanks to a City of San Antonio Department of Arts & Culture Individual Artist Grant, Marcy was able to turn this idea into a full scale project and interview several San Antonio individuals whose lives shifted dramatically during Covid, resulting in a positive change, including career, living situations, relationships, and priority shifts. She commissioned San Antonio photographer Deborah Keller-Rihn to photograph the subjects, and created collages based on their photographs along with images specific to San Antonio and their individual stories.
There was an interactive element to the exhibition, where people were invited to share their own Covid experiences. Marcy plans to continue her project, creating more collages based on others’ stories.

Maray and Matt’s Story:
Several years ago, my partner, Matt and I were growing a spring herb garden in our San Antonio Beacon Hill-area front yard and wanted a botanical cocktail to enjoy in the late afternoons. Gin & tonics seemed like a good fit, but most commercially produced tonic waters contained high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients, which would make me sick. So Matt decided to research how to make a traditional tonic syrup, the old fashioned way, with real cinchona bark imported from South America. After that, making tonic syrups had become a hobby for Matt.

Then in the spring of 2020 when COVID hit, Matt was furloughed from his job. Naturally, he tended to his hobby of making tonic syrups to cure his quarantine boredom. When summer came around, plump tunas began to ripen on prickly pear cacti. So Matt decided to add some prickly pear tunas to his tonic recipe and that's when the Prickly Pear Tonic Syrup was born. I took a photo of a vibrantly colored cocktail in our family kitchen, posted it to social media, and our friends began asking where they could find it. This came at a time when many people began experimenting with home cocktails, due to local bar closures. So Matt & I decided to fill orders and deliver bottles of the Prickly Pear Tonic Syrup to our friends' homes around San Antonio.

What started as a hobby quickly became a business.
Seeing the popularity of our tonics, Matt & I decided to start our company, Bexar Tonics, inspired by native and abundant plants growing in and around Bexar County and South Texas. We designed our own labels at the time and went through all of the steps to becoming a commercial business, landing our first commercial account with the popular Hotel Emma in the Pearl Development of San Antonio.
Maray and Matt’s Story:
Our company started on an extremely small scale out of our home kitchen. We used whatever funds we had in our personal bank account to order bottles and ingredients for our first batches of tonic syrup. We printed our own labels on our home computer. Then we received some financial help from our families to fund the fees needed to establish our first LLC, our business checking account, commercial space and business insurance. Everything we have been doing since has been boot-strapped, and we have just been growing, little by little.

Bexar Tonics are now being poured in several downtown San Antonio restaurants and bars, and are stocked in some local retail shops, with the development of expanding into a grocery chain in the near future.
Our syrups stand out for their vibrant colors and bold, colorful labels.
Our flavors include Prickly Pear, Texas Wildflower, Smoked Fig and Juniper and are 100% natural and made with cane sugar.