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).

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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.

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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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Hump Day Cocktail: Old Fashioned at Poison Girl

Categories: Bar Beat, Booze

Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
There aren't usually this many people here at 5 on a weekday.
It's Wednesday. Hump Day. Still two days until the weekend. Honey, you look like you need a drink. Here's our suggestion. Tell 'em the Houston Press sent you.

"The best thing about this bar is $2 drinks. If you go to Midtown, it's $8. Forget it."

I've never been to Poison Girl during the day, so I've always missed happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., where wells are $2 and drafts are $3. I've also missed the fact that the ceilings have high wooden beams and how wonderfully odd most of the artwork on the walls is. I'm an evening patron of Poison Girl, and I tend to grab a Lone Star then head to the back patio to sit among clouds of smoke and sweaty hipsters.

Today, I'm hitting up happy hour, though. Bryan is behind the bar in all his bearded glory, and my buddy Paul is teaching me the ways of the Poison Girl happy hour regular. There's candy on the bar, he tells me, which I know from squeezing up to the front and digging through the candy jar while I wait for the bartender to notice me. This early in the day, though, there's still good candy.

"There's no other bar where you can sit and eat Laffy Taffy and drink $2 drinks," Paul says proudly.

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The 5 Best Beer Flights in Houston

Categories: Booze, Brew Blog

Photo courtesy MKT Bar.
Some flights provide variety, while others pair similar beers.
Decisions, decisions, decisions.

How to pick just one or two beers to drink during happy hour when there are so many to choose from?

Fortunately for those fickle souls among us, a number of bars and restaurants in town offer beer flights, so you can get more bang for your buck and more beer for your belly. If you can't decide which beer to taste on a night out, taste as many as possible with these various flights put together by beer aficionados so you don't have to do any thinking.

Of course, a few places offer build-your-own flights, which opens a door to endless possibilities (and hours of waffling back and forth). The indecisive should maybe stay away from those.

Drink up! Here's to Houston's hottest (and hoppiest) flights!

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Hump Day Cocktail: Caipirinha at Leon's Lounge

Categories: Booze

Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
It's arguably the oldest bar in Houston, depending upon your criteria.
It's Wednesday. Hump Day. Still two days until the weekend. Honey, you look like you need a drink. Here's our suggestion. Tell 'em the Houston Press sent you.

"I've been looking for a place like this," the gray-haired man said as he sat down at the bar next to me. "It's dim. I was hoping for sofas, but that's OK."

I was intrigued by the specificity of his desires. Usually when I go to a bar, I'm hoping for a drink.

"I just moved here from San Antonio," he continued. "There was this bar there I used to go to all the time, and I'm looking for a place like that. It was called Rebar."

Rebar. I remember that place. Rather, I have vague memories of that place, the dark, dingy bar in San Antonio where I spent my 21st birthday, back when my drink of choice was vodka and club soda. Well vodka and club soda. And shots.

Today I'm drinking a Caipirinha, a classic cocktail (and national cocktail of Brazil, for those of you still keeping up with the world cup) at a classic bar. My taste in drinks has changed, but clearly my taste in bars hasn't.

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5 Best Meteorologically Inspired Cocktails for Hurricane Season

Categories: Booze

Photo by Lize
The Sea Breeze
Studies have repeatedly shown that intoxicated persons are 47 percent more likely to survive major weather events than their sober counterparts [citation missing], which is why this hurricane season be sure to include booze as well as water in your emergency kit. And if you need more inspiration as what exactly to sip during a hurricane (besides the eponymous cocktail), check out these five drinks.

5. Sea Breeze. Its (sort-of) exotic cranberry and grapefruit flavors as well as its euphemistic name makes the Sea Breeze the perfect thing to chug when you're not trying delude yourself into thinking what's going on outside is a minor tropical storm and not a Category 5 hurricane that will mostly definitely destroy your house. Make in bulk.

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A Ranking of Texas Whiskeys Under $40

Photo courtesy Rebecca Creek
Rebecca Creek is one of the few Texas whiskey producers that is 100 percent Texan.
Though Kentucky and Tennessee have long been considered the whiskey and bourbon capitols of the country, Texas is increasingly making a name for itself as a whiskey producer.

Walk into Spec's and ask for Texas whiskey, and they'll point you to a whole section filled with amber-hued liquor purportedly produced right here in the Lone Star State. Purportedly.

You see, there's a lack of transparency among breweries when it comes to where their liquor is actually produced. Sure, it's bottled in Texas. Some steps of the aging process might take place in Texas. But many a whiskey sleuth suspects that the distillation is happening elsewhere--a mystery that was touched upon in this article by our sister paper, The Dallas Observer, last year.

Still, there are some great products out there if you're not too concerned about exact provenance. We gathered five "Texas whiskies" under $40 to taste them and see how they stack up against the Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey we're used to. Some of the choices were total disappointments. Others just might become our new favorites.

Check them out for yourselves and let us know what you think.

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More Places to Watch the World Cup and the U.S./Belgium Game Today in Houston

Photo courtesy FIFA
Gather your compatriots to cheer on the United States today at these bars!
Though the World Cup is more than halfway over, there's no sense yet that the fervor is dying down--particularly as the home team (that's 'Merica, y'all) is still in the running.

A few weeks ago, we compiled a list of some of the best spots in town to watch the games with a cold beer and (more often than not) a hot patio. Since then, we've continued to hear about new locales showing the games and new watch parties, particularly for the upcoming United States versus Belgium game this afternoon.

So bust out your American flag T-shirts, baseball caps, bikinis and whatever other obnoxiously American garb you have and head out to one of these spots to mix and mingle with your fellow fútbol fans.

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