The 18th Cocktail Bar: The New Blind Pig in Town
They say everything old is new again -- though Prohibition ended long ago and we can all freely enjoy an adult beverage, we're still nostalgic for the speakeasy -- or blind pig -- as seen in the creative and stiff cocktails at such places as Anvil, Prohibition and Hughes Hangar.
The new 18th Cocktail Bar, named of course for the 18th Amendment, is located on Bissonnet right off of Kirby. The former home to almost half a dozen different bars/clubs/lounges in recent memory has now transformed itself into a trip down memory lane -- you even have to have a password to get in (okay, it's not required, but you may just want to play along with the theme).
The space is all dark wood and dimly lit, with antique-style chairs and large leather couches -- one wall is covered in art nouveau antique mirrors and another with faux animal heads. One of the best aspects of the building remains -- the outdoor patio (although how great it is in this heat is debatable).
The bar's presently in its soft opening, so there are about ten craft cocktails on the menu, and some local beers on tap. 18th Cocktail is also serving food -- "house bites" including shrimp cocktail, flatbreads and sliders. I had the McCoy cocktail, a rum concoction with cloves and cinnamon; it was sweet, but there wasn't much more to it. My companion had the Bootleggers punch, which fared a little better, but overall, the cocktails we tried did not have the flair one would expect from a craft cocktail bar.
Coincidentally, or not, the chef previously worked at Hughes Hangar, where I've had fairly decent food. Here I sampled the deviled eggs -- admittedly, a guilty pleasure of mine. They were covered in a honey mustard glaze, the sweetness cut with Sriracha. It's hard to get deviled eggs wrong, and thankfully, the kitchen didn't. The charcuterie and cheese board was satisfying -- the choice for that night was a manchego and a soft brie with prosciutto. Served alongside it were addictive crackers and olives.
I enjoyed 18th -- the staff and owner were friendly, and the atmosphere is laid-back. Even the music was good, although I didn't know they had house music during the Prohibition era. I look forward to going back once they are really up and running. The grand opening is expected to be sometime in mid-June.
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1424 Westheimer, Houston, TX