The Pepper Smash
The Pepper Smash is a mix of Tito’s vodka, basil, bell pepper, jalapeño, agave, onion, and lime juice. It’s fresh, bright, a little sweet, a little spicy, and tastes kind of like all the best parts of a salad.
Read the rest of Pepper Smash’s bar review here.
A bottle of Belvedere Vodka with a sparkler in the top brought to your table by an attractive young woman wearing impossibly high heels. She might even flirt for a minute if you’re lucky.
Read the rest of LEVÚ Discotheque’s bar review .
EIGHT 11 PLACE
Left Coast White Pinot Noir
The Left Coast White Pinot Noir is nicknamed “The Unicorn” because it’s so rare. The bartender explained that it’s somewhere between a red and white wine, as evidenced by its slight blush. It’s crisp and sweet—definitely a rarity worth savoring.
Read the rest of Eight 11 Place’s bar review here.
I wanted something delicious but not too sweet. Our waitress recommended the Red Jacket (probably a nod to the now-closed Greenville club of the same name), a blend of champagne, strawberry, vodka, and thyme. It’s an aromatic, fizzy concoction that packs plenty of punch.
Read the rest of Vagabond’s bar review here.
The Savory Hunter
If you only try one drink at this cocktail paradise, make it the Savory Hunter (lemongrass- and kaffir-infused gin, lime, coconut, cilantro, Thai chile). It’s smooth, with the vague aftertaste of Thai food (in a good way).
Read the rest of Midnight Rambler’s bar review here.
COLD BEER COMPANY
Peticolas Golden Opportunity
A golden ale brewed in the Design District. With its low ABV (4.6 percent), it’s perfect to sip while meeting new folks. You’ll mellow out but keep your wits about you.
Read the rest of Cold Beer Company's bar review here.
THE WILD TURKEY
Having Wild Turkey at The Wild Turkey was too obvious, so I told the bartender I needed something fun. Fortunately, she’d recently perfected the Italian Apple shot. This mix of Tuaca vanilla liqueur, Pucker sour apple liqueur, and cranberry juice was tasty, but not black-out strong. I sipped mine with delicious ease.
Read the rest of The Wild Turkey's bar review here.
GREEN DOOR PUBLIC HOUSE
Sloe Gin Fizz
Some friends and I once spent a night searching for the perfect gin fizz. No bartender could make one. This Sloe Gin Fizz made up for that disappointment. Plymouth Sloe Gin, Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and soda combine for a delicious concoction. Other bars, take note.
Read the rest of Green Door Public House's bar review here.
The Forbidden Beer
If you’ve never had absinthe before, try a cocktail first to get a sense of the flavor. The Forbidden Beer is a palatable mix of Tenneyson absinthe, Abita root beer, and fresh mint. The result is so sweet and enjoyable that you’ll hardly notice the licorice sting.
Read the rest of Driftwood's bar review here.
When I fell in love with two very different beers, my kind bartender was happy to serve them together. To create the “Beltex,” he poured the light, aromatic flavor of the sweet Blanche de Bruxelles over a dark stout (such as Martin House Brewing Company’s Texas Pretzel Stout).
Read the rest of The Londoner's bar review here.
If I chose a single drink, you’d miss out on the Bowen House experience. Walk in with an idea of what you like, and let the bartender take it from there. Still need guidance? An infusion is a good starting point. I thoroughly enjoyed my summery wild berry gin. Pictured: Jethro’s Happiness (peach-infused bourbon with egg whites and Bénédictine).
Read the rest of Bowen House's bar review here.
LAKE HOUSE BAR & GRILL
The Sunshine could be a poolside vacation drink, or at least a little spot of sun on a dull day. Grey Goose orange vodka, triple sec, fresh orange and lemon juices, soda, 7-Up, and simple syrup combine for a cocktail that’s sweet, fun, and potent (not necessarily in that order).
Read the rest of Lake House Bar & Grill's bar review here.
This is a mason jar full of perfect rustic sunshine. (Caution: according to the waitress, the potent moonshine is a "neutral-flavored spirit" and will absorb the tropical flavors of the drink. Meaning: you'll be pineapple-bombed before you know it.)
URBAN RIO Guava Habanero Cazadores Reposado tequila, guava, habanero pepper, lime juice Obviously, any place with a bathtub-size margarita is worth its salt (sorry!). But for an interesting taste-bud trip, try the Guava Habanero cocktail. It’s a sweet drink that tastes like a fun tropical getaway (i.e., the guava) with a slight punch (i.e., the habanero). Kind of like our last family vacation.
STRANGEWAYS Mezcal Old Fashioned Mezcal (either Chichicapa or Vida), orange rind, cherries (prepared and canned in-house), cherry bitters It is difficult to pinpoint Strangeways’ best beverage. Bartender Rosie recommended a Mezcal Old Fashioned. It came oaky, strong, and deliciously unique. (If mezcal isn’t your thing, fear not—the bartender will happily make a one-of-a-kind libation based on your personal preferences.)
Tito’s vodka, jalapeño, lemon/lime soda, basil leaves
I was wary of jalapeño as an ingredient—I don’t like cocktails that make me cry—but my concern was misplaced. On a spiciness scale of 1 to 5, my friend suggested a 2.5, and the drink turned out beautifully: sweet, refreshing, crisp. And no tissues required.
Jamie & Ginger
Jameson and ginger ale
Lee Harvey’s is about shots, beer, and Jameson. “Jameson epitomizes this place,” says bartender Jacki. “It sets the tone.” If you can’t stomach it straight, Jacki recommends a blend of Jameson and ginger ale. She mixed mine and sampled it before pushing it over. Strong, refreshing, and just divey enough.
Frozen Irish Coffee
Baileys Irish Cream, Community Coffee, cream
It comes frothy like a milkshake and sprinkled with coffee grounds. Requesting extra shots (Baileys or Jameson) is encouraged. Down a few of these, and you’ll gain a pleasant buzz and a serious energy boost.
3 STACKS SMOKE &TAP HOUSE
Imperial red ale
Peticolas’ refreshing ruby-hued brew is a perfect balance of sweetness and hoppiness, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. More to love: the Velvet Hammer’s 9 percent alcohol content. (Careful, it’ll sneak up on you.)
Old Tom Gin from Ransom, lime juice, ginger beer
SODA Bar’s Ransom Mule arrived pink-peach and foamy, the kind of drink you start sipping and then wonder how it disappeared so fast. Bartender Robert added mint bitters to mine, and the result was a cool, delicious taste. It’s worth noting that the Ransom Mule is named for its key component, a gin produced by an Oregon wine and spirits company called Ransom Wines & Spirits.
OUTPOST AMERICAN TAVERN
St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Averna amaro, Ford’s gin, lemon juice, Marasca cherry, rosemary stem
Word on the internet is that the original 60/40 was created at New Orleans’ Tales of the Cocktail festival using the only two ingredients left over: Averna and elderflower liqueur. Outpost’s upgraded version doesn’t disappoint. It will remind you of the sweet iced tea your mom used to make over summer vacation. But with three different kinds of alcohol.
THE KENNEDY ROOM
Champagne, gin, triple sec, lemon juice, Grenadine, orange liqueur
Bartender Joe Buenrostro learned his trade at the San Francisco Rose. Though the Kennedy Room looks like it was made for Manhattans, there are other choices: the Moonwalk, for example, or the French 75. But Joe’s Sweet Jackie is the drink of the house. It had a clean taste that made me wish I was summering on Nantucket.
Of all the drinks Yeefoon made for us, this was my favorite. Maybe I liked it because I like brown liquors and citrus and angostura bitters. Maybe I liked it because someone in our group talked about going to a beach in Mexico. Or maybe I liked it because the cocktail was just really good.
THE TEXAS THEATRE
The Woody Manhattan
Maker’s Mark, sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, and “lots of self-effacing dialogue”
Ah, I do appreciate cleverness. The drink’s pretty good, too. The cocktail menu changes. We were there as the Moscow Mule was evolving and found ourselves loving the version with ginger beer instead of ginger syrup. New drinks are made for, and inspired by, some of the movies being shown. Be sure to ask if there’s a cocktail that should be paired with the movie you’ve come to see.
STONE STREET MARTINI LOUNGE
5 O’Clock Somewhere
Absolut vanilla vodka, Malibu Coconut rum, cranberry, pineapple, rimmed with shaved coconut
The Stone Street space feels good and grown-up. And its grown-up drinks menu has a few bright spots, one of which is the 5 o’Clock Somewhere. Sure, the Beaten Path (essentially a bourbon, basil, and sweet tea cocktail) tastes better, but the Jimmy Buffett sweet of the 5 o’Clock Somewhere was more fun to drink. Especially while listening to the late-night indie-pop music and flirting with my husband.
CRAFT AND GROWLER
local ale spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger
Husband and wife Kevin Afghani and Cathrine Kinslow, who are both practicing patent attorneys, own Craft and Growler. They’re former investors in Deep Ellum Brewing Co. and friends with a number of the folks involved in the beer scene, so they get good local kegs. The wildly popular Wintervention is a locally made, full-bodied ale spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger from a local spice purveyor called Pendery’s.
The Jameson Pickleback
a shot of Jameson, followed by a shot of pickle juice
At our bartender’s suggestion, my friend tried the tequila pickleback; he loved the tequila shot but didn’t finish his pickle juice shot (the “back”). Internet lore has it that the pickleback originated in 2006 with a lady asking for some pickle juice that was behind a bar in Brooklyn. And so the Jameson Pickleback was born. The Union Park owners had the shot in Austin—where it’s all the rage—and it can be yours for $8.
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