The 5 Best Happy Hours in Midtown

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Photo by Troy Fields
Make your way to Sparrow Bar + Cookshop's sleek bar for classic treats with a twist.
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. See the complete list at the end of this post

This week, we're moving on to the bar-and-resto-packed hood of Midtown, where there are almost too many awesome spots to name. While happy hours at laidback bars like Little Woodrow's, The Dogwood, Saint Dane's, and Celtic Gardens don't disappoint, we've put an emphasis on the places with the best bang for your buck.

Honorable mention: Free finger foods at Piola's bar and $6 to $8 teasers and elixirs at Mr. Peeples.

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GlenDronach's Cask Strength Line of Scotches Is a Hidden Gem

Categories: Booze

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Photo by Nath Pizzolatto
The GlenDronach 17-year Cask Strength pours a rich, tawny color and retains it even with the addition of water.
Recently, I was at Spec's browsing Macallan's offerings; the Macallan 12 is one of my standards for Scotch, and I always keep some around. While looking through older vintages, I noticed that the price of the 18-year had climbed quite high. (Over the period of perhaps a couple of months, it went from approximately $140 to $180.) An employee, perhaps sensing my consternation over this, suggested I try a bottle I hadn't looked at previously. It was from GlenDronach, another Highland distillery. Rather than one of their standard Scotches, it was part of their single cask line-- with bottlings from a cask hand selected by Spec's. Like Macallan's standard line, these too were aged in sherry casks of various types.

The worker showed me a 17-year from 1994 and a 21-year from 1990. I opted for the 17-year and went home to compare it to my favored Macallans, vowing to come back for the 21-year if I liked what I had.

Some of my tasting notes follow.

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The 5 Best Happy Hours in Downtown Houston

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Photo by Troy Fields
Refreshing cocktails at Batanga don't disappoint.
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. See the complete list at the end of this post

This week, we're moving on to the finest bars and restaurants in Houston's downtown.

Honorable Mention: Bar bites at Morton's and $4 weekday HH at Vinoteca Quattro.


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10 Places for Boozy Milkshakes in Houston

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Bowlero Bowling Alley in The Woodlands has awesome boozy shakes, like this Salt & Caramel, Push It Real Good shake with Stoli Karamel vodka.
Milkshakes are good, but boozy shakes are so much better. The traditional blend of milk, ice cream and syrups makes for an enjoyably sweet refreshment, but the extra splash of tequila, rum or beer just takes it to a new level.

When you're in the mood for an alcoholic drink, but are simultaneously craving something sweet, we suggest you hit up one of these ten Houston restaurants for an adult milkshake. Of course, if you've got youngsters in your family, most of these places can whip together a non-alcoholic version. So you both can get what you want.

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Three Labor Day Cocktails From Houston Bartenders

Categories: Booze

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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