Three Labor Day Cocktails From Houston Bartenders

Categories: Booze

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Make a classic mint julep today with Alba Huerta's recipe.
The Labor Day holiday is here. And it's a day for sleeping in, relaxing, swimming at the pool, cooking on the grill and most importantly, not working. When we think about the best plans for a day off from work, we think sipping on a great cocktail is on the agenda.

We spoke with three local bartenders (Alba Huerta of Julep, Justin Burrow of Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar and Raul Rojas of The Honeymoon) and had them provide us with a cocktail recipe they would like to drink on Labor Day.

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The 5 Best Happy Hours in Montrose

Photo by Troy Fields
Grab a seat at Eleven Eleven's bar or patio for happy hour cocktails.
If you love happy hour as much as we do, you'll love this new series. We're taking a look at the best happy hours in town, 'hood by 'hood. To narrow it down, we're focusing on the spots with the best deals on not only drinks, but eats, too. From upscale eateries serving bar bites and half-priced wine to dives with cheap beer and burgers, we've got it all.

First up: Montrose.

Note: For the purposes of this list, Montrose is defined as the area west of Taft, south of Allen Parkway, east of Shepherd, and north of 59. Since many of the neighborhoods cross over each other, you may see some of your favorites on another list.

Honorable Mention: $3 selects and reverse happy hour at The Hay Merchant; $3 margs and $5 apps at Pistolero's; and the early bird happy hour at Lowbrow (food specials until 2 p.m.; drink specials until 6:30 p.m.).

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Presale Tickets Go On Sale Today for the Houston Press BrewFest

Join the Houston Press and Lucky's Pub for the Fourth Annual BrewFest!
Ready for more beer, bands and bodacious food trucks?

Houston Press BrewFest returns Saturday, October 18 at Silver Street Station. The fourth annual event, held in conjunction with Lucky's Pub, will run from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. with indoor/outdoor beer-sampling, local food trucks and live music.

Not a beer fan? There will also be samples of various local liquors and wines, great for washing down some of that fab food truck grub. We can't yet reveal which food trucks and which bands will be joining us--or what breweries for that matter--but we can offer you a special early bird deal on tickets to this event, which always sells out.

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The Garrison Brothers Distillery is Fun and Educational for Bourbon Experts and Novices Alike

Categories: Booze

Photo by Sharon McBride
The entrance to Garrison Brothers is marked by this sign, standing out amidst the acres of land.
Hye, Texas, is a town of 105 people, located on U.S. 290 on the road from Austin to Fredericksburg. It's also the home of Garrison Brothers distillery, the first bourbon distillery in Texas and one which makes bourbon exclusively. Their bourbon is pricey, but it has always been highly reviewed, and I became a believer once I sampled some on one of my whiskey-tasting outings at Poison Girl.

On a recent visit to the Hill Country, I managed to persuade my lady friend and her mother that we should drop by for a tour on their way to buy peaches in Fredericksburg. They graciously agreed, so after sampling some homemade peach ice cream, peach butter, peach preserves, and, of course, fresh peaches, we turned back to take the 4 p.m. tour.

The distillery is well off the main highway, a mile or so up Hye-Albert road, where a sign indicates the visitor entrance, and where you can drive through the fence to the welcome center (a cabin), which is stocked with an honor bar featuring local beer, wine, and water.

If you're a bourbon fan and you've had Garrison Brothers, you know what kind of quality product they make, and I don't have to sell you on the excitement that lay in the possibilities of a visit. If you haven't had Garrison Brothers, you're in for a treat (hell, the tour is less expensive than most bars charge for a shot of their bourbon). If you don't drink at all, I have first-hand testimony that the tour was still fun and illuminating, showing the art, science, and human touch that makes for a craft.

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Beyond the G&T: 5 Best Gin Cocktails

Categories: Booze, Top Five

Photo by Kenn Wilson
Negroni Cocktail

Although it's hard not to think "tonic" when putting together a gin cocktail, there's plenty of other mixers that complement this spirit. Here are five icy juniper berry spirit libations perfect for the dog days of summer.

5. Salty Dog. Wedding salt with grapefruit juice and gin, The Salty Dog is the perfect plural marriage of sour, sugary, and savory. Use pink grapefruit if you like a sweeter potion and yellow grapefruit to up the pucker factor. And, don't forget the salt rim--without it, the drink is just a Greyhound.

4. Negroni. In 2019, the Negroni cocktail will turn 100 years old, but there's no need to postpone celebrating. Boasting a sexy scarlet hue thanks to the inclusion of vermouth, the negroni isn't sickly sweet as this color might suggest. Rather, the combination of gin and campri give it an earthy bite that is only mildly tempered by the sugar of the vermouth.

This story continues on the next page.

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Yellow Rose Distilling Plans to Open Houston's First Whiskey Distillery

Categories: Booze

Photo courtesy Yellow Rose Distilling
A few of Yellow Rose's products are 100 percent Texan, and the company will be expanding its lineup with the new distillery.
Update: After receiving an email from Whitmeyer's Distilling and some readers, we wish to clarify our previous statement that the Yellow Rose Distillery will be the first whiskey distillery in Houston. See the end of the article for the full explanation.

The Great Texas Whiskey Debate--as we've come to call it--is alive and well in Houston. Ever since we conducted a taste test of "Texas whiskeys" last month, we've been hearing from diehard fans of the spirit and of the state that many products that claim to be made in Texas are actually only bottled here, and that there are very few true Texas spirits. For some, it seems, it's a very sore subject.

Ryan Baird and Troy Smith are hoping to quell at least some of the furor by opening Houston's first whiskey distillery early this fall. The duo (who are now joined by a staff of three and CFO Randy Whitaker) started making whiskey in 2010, after deciding they needed a change from their corporate day jobs.

"Me and my partner Troy, we were neighbors," Baird explains. "We were both in corporate America. We'd sit outside and drink a beer and talk about how great it would be if we weren't doing our day jobs. We talked about doing a craft brewery, but there were a bunch in the works then. We started investigating vodka and wine, and ultimately we settled on whiskey."

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More Bottles Than Plates at Plate & Bottle

Categories: Beverages, Booze

Photos by Monica Fuentes
Plate & Bottle with its front door in the back
The google results suggest that Rice Village's Plate & Bottle offers patrons "Boutique Wine & Gourmet Food."

That's about half right.

And on its website, Plate & Bottle posits itself as "dedicated to increasing accessibility to fine wines, and craft beers."

That's also about half right.

Decorated in an aesthetically pleasing vintage style, with weathered display cabinets, dark hues, and a baby grande piano, Plate & Bottle seems to designed to replicate your own living room--or rather the living room you wish you had--in order to encourage patrons to relax and browse. And that's easy to do especially, on lazy Saturday afternoons when the friendly employees host tastings (and will even offer to start the pouring a bit early if you like).

This story continues on the next page.

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Rum at H-E-B -- Who Knew?

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
"Rum" at HEB.
Houston does not adhere to the same liquor laws as New Orleans, where even pet stores are allowed to sell hard alcohol. Nor does Houston adhere to the same liquor laws Philadelphia, where no booze at all is vended in grocery stores and beer is sold in establishments separate from state-run wine and liquor stores.

With beer and wine available for sale at most grocery stores and harder stuff on offer at Spec's, we are smack dab in the middle.

Well, actually, maybe a little more to the liberal NOLA side now that H-E-B is carrying Rhumbero, a "premium blend" rum.

This story continues on the next page.

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Moët & Chandon's Elise Losfelt Talks Champagne & Truffle Fries

Categories: Booze

Photo by Molly Dunn
Elise Losfelt is one of ten winemakers at Moët & Chandon.
Winemaker Elise Losfelt of Moët & Chandon, the world's leading Champagne house since 1743, visited Houston this past week and sat down with the Houston Press to discuss their champagnes, and to introduce the Grand Vintage 2006, which is now available in the United States. She also has a few tips for beginning champagne drinkers.

Losfelt is one of ten winemakers at Moët & Chandon and is part of the team that controls the quality of every champagne produced from their vineyards. If you have ever had a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne, it was most likely the Moët Imperial, their flagship champagne.

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Houston's 10 Best BYOB Restaurants (Plus What to Drink)

Photo by Troy Fields
This charming spot has BYOB right in the name.
It's like a personal challenge: Pick the best wine or beer to go with the food at a local restaurant. Rely only on my own limited pairing know-how. Pay as little as possible for said booze. Enjoy meal immensely knowing you've saved money and made a match.

As much as I appreciate a great wine list or beer selection at a restaurant, there are times when I love a BYOB spot even more. It's exciting to me to peruse the menu then pick out a bottle of wine or a six pack that I think would best complement the style of food or a particular dish. I'm also guaranteed to have something I enjoy when I bring my own booze.

Lately, I find myself drawn more and more to BYOB restaurants in town, partially because I generally save money when I buy a bottle that isn't marked up to restaurant prices, and partially because the excitement of choosing a drink is surpassed only by the sense of accomplishment and discovery when I've made a good match.

This weekend, do some research and pick up a bottle to bring to one of these great BYOB restaurants. Then let us know what fine food and alcohol pairings we've been missing out on!

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