“Come quickly. I’m tasting the stars!” – Dom Parignon, at the moment he discovered champagne
Nothing beats a tasty cocktail on a warm, southern summer evening. Yes, it is September, but in Texas – we are still in the heat of the summer. I just adore a well-balanced cocktail. The craft cocktail culture is experiencing a boom right now resulting in fabulous bars experimenting with fresh and often novel ingredients and premium spirits.
When you use a quality base spirit and fresh ingredients, you are consuming more than a drink – you are consuming a handmade story. If you are out and about in Houston, there are a few must visit bars that are encouraging the art of bar tending. Anvil is the unprecedented leader of the craft cocktail culture in Houston. Newly opened Stone’s Throw in Montrose takes great pride in variety and balance. Stop by El Big Bad to sample one of their 40 in house infused tequilas. If you are a whiskey aficionado, you have to visit Reserve 101 to experience their collection of over 200 whiskeys. Also check out Mongoose Verses Cobra, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and soon to reopen Prohibition.
A lot of great hand crafted spirits are emerging in the market as well. Cinco Vodka is one of my favorites. Distilled in San Antonio, Texas from 100% American Winter Wheat and left unfiltered, it is truly the martini lover’s best friend. Out of Austin via Guadalajara comes Dulce Vida Tequila. 100% blue agave, 100% organic, and 100 proof, it is a stand out in any margarita. Balcones Distillery in Waco, Texas is making unbelievable whiskeys that have cultivated a following so strong, as soon as product hits stores, it’s sold out. I recommend trying the Brimstone for a unique campfire drinking experience and their Single Malt to sip and savor.
If you are feeling adventurous, get creative in your home. You should choose two or more contrasting yet complimentary flavors for your cocktail. At a recent party, I served one of my signature drinks: The Southern Sparkler. The sweetness of peaches in contrast with the sharpness of dry brut champagne is a perfect pairing. The vodka gives it an extra bang for your buck!
The Southern Sparkler
1 ½ oz Vodka (I used Cinco Vodka)
½ oz Peach Liqueur
1 ½ oz White Cranberry Peach Juice
1 oz Champagne
Garnish with a frozen peach
I encourage you to experiment with mixology and develop your own signature cocktail. In the meantime, CHEERS!!!