By Bartender Alba Huerta
Huerta is no stranger to the Houston cocktail scene - she's been bartending since she crossed the legal age threshold. Here are some of her favorite local watering holes.
Okra Charity Saloon
It’s a gorgeous, stunning bar and they donate all of their profits to a different charity every month. You get to be a part of that by being involved in the voting process. Every item you consume, whether it’s a sandwich or a cocktail or beer, you get to have a ballot to vote and then at the end of the month they weigh the different baskets to see who got the most votes and that charity gets the money for that month.
924 Congress Avenue, Houston, TX 77002 | T: 713.237.8828 | www.friedokra.org
Poison Girl Cocktail Lounge
It’s all about the bourbon and you’ll probably find me here more than anywhere else, I just adore it. They acquired all of these really interesting bourbons prior to the bourbon bloom and they did a fantastic job. They still have some gems that you can’t find anywhere else. There are pinball machines inside and outside and a patio with a big Kool Aid man, which gets dressed up with different holidays. The vibe is cool, comforting and very Houston.
1641 Westheimer Road, Suite B, Houston, TX 77006 | T: 713.527.9929
There’s a culture clash here with some people enjoying cheap beer and crazy shots and others looking for cocktails and champagne. It’s a great balance of what the Houston scene is. The two gentlemen who own it came with a dive bar background. You’ll find cocktails, unique spirits, Lone Stars, Jagermeister, and interesting wines. They also do classic frozen cocktails, which is a gateway to trying even more classic cocktails, like the Aviation.
1010 Banks Street, Houston, TX 77006 | T: 713.526.4565
They have classically-driven drinks developed by Morgan Weber who uses ingredients that are very rustic in flavor and quality. His cocktail program is one of the more interesting ones in the city. The food is fresh Italian and my favorite dish is the Cacio e Pepe. They always get it just right with the perfect balance of pasta, pepper and cheese. Their wine program is very good too.
3320 White Oak Drive, Houston, TX 77007 | T: 713.637.4095 | www.coltivarehouston.com
Shepard Ross runs a cocktail program that is American spirits-focused. Both the cocktails and the New American food here are outstanding.
4319 Montrose, Houston, TX 77006 | T: 713.239.0228 | www.paxamericanahtx.com
Bartender Alba Huerta
Nicknamed the first lady of Houston bartending, Huerta started at Branch Water Tavern and Grand Prize Bar before becoming the general manager at Anvil Bar & Refuge. In 2014, she opened her own Southern-inspired craft cocktail bar, Julep. She is a partner, along with Bobby Heugel and Kevin Floyd, at the Pastry War and Nightingale Room.
"If I think of the Sazerac, I think of New Orleans specifically. But if I think of the Julep, it’s the most iconic Southern cocktail.” And so, says bartender Alba Huerta, a cocktail bar was born.
Julep is Huerta’s celebration of Southern spirits and history with an emphasis on bourbon, rum and cognac. “When I was learning to make cocktails, there were very few things that were written about cocktails in the South. I wanted to have a bar that’s regionally relevant without having to look at other major cocktail cities and mimic their style of drinks.”
The intention of the menu at Julep is to tell a story. “I have a cocktail named the Cherry Bounce Sour. Cherry Bounce is an infusion that historically was a way of preserving cherries in alcohol so that you could have them outside of the summer season.”
There are four julep cocktails on the menu plus Huerta's own spin on the classics like the Sazerac and Crusta. In addition, the menu features a raw bar.
1919 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77007
T: 713.869.4383 | www.julephouston.com
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