Houston's bartenders are conspiring to undermine people's New Year's resolutions to drink less with a series of classes, pop-ups and events that are too good to miss. Maybe that resolution shouldn't be to drink less so much as it should be to drink better. Give up the macro brews and well liquors for tastier options. Now that's a resolution worth keeping.
Want to know more about alcohol or taste some rare spirits? Anvil co-owner Bobby Heugel and beverage director Alba Huerta are reviving Anvil's popular classes at downtown agave bar The Pastry War. The first class, which is all about American whiskey, will be held Jan. 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. For $55, attendees will learn the history of the spirit, taste cocktails and learn to make their own drinks. Participants leave with new knowledge and a host of recipes sure to impress friends and family. Tickets are available at Anvil and The Pastry War; attendance is limited to 60, so act fast.
Overwhelmed by the number of tequilas on the menu at The Pastry War? Tired of just ordering the house margarita? Every other Tuesday, Heugel and Huerta will lead guests through an hour-and-a-half long tasting of tequila, mezcal and other agave spirits. Tickets are also $55, but these events are capped at 12. The next tasting is Jan. 21. Purchase a seat at The Pastry War, 310 Main St.
"I always looked forward to cocktail class afternoons," Heugel said in a statement. "These classes and tastings are a fun way to educate our customers on the booze we love—especially since so many amazing new spirits have recently hit the Texas market. It’s exciting to give our guests the tools and knowledge to create drinks for themselves at home."
Triniti has always had an interesting cocktail program, but the quality has gotten even better thanks to the recent arrival of Laurie Sheddan. Now she's turning over the bar to a few industry friends for a series of guest bartender nights.
Starting Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. and continuing every Tuesday through Feb. 18, a different guest bartender will offer a menu of $10 cocktails, and all tips will be donated to a charity of the person's choice. Triniti will match the tips up to $1,000 to double the donation. Participating bartenders include Brandon Ricks (Bad News Bar, Jan. 14), Chip Hight (William Grant & Sons, Jan. 28) and James Watkins (Cordua Restaurants, Feb. 18).
Alamo Drafthouse has always understood that a little booze makes watching a movie more fun, but, until now, the selections have been limited to beer and wine. The movie theater chain will add cocktails starting Jan. 17. In addition to a standard list of classics, there will be seasonal offerings and a few drinks inspired by movies, such as White Russians during a screening of The Big Lebowski.
Both Austin and San Antonio are holding top-tier cocktail events this month, and serious aficionados may want to consider hitting one or both. On Jan. 15, bartenders from across Texas will compete in the annual Speed Rack competition that raises money for various breast cancer causes. Houstonians competing in the timed event that challenges female bartenders to make drinks as quickly and accurately as possible include Sheridan Fay (El Gran Malo), Julie Lorenzo (The Pastry War) and Julie Rogers (Down House).
From Jan. 16 - 19, San Antonio hosts its annual cocktail conference. It's a mini (well, as mini as anything that happens in Texas) version of New Orleans' annual Tales of the Cocktail conference, with a full slate of classes, events and tastings. Among the highlights: Friday night's Texas Spirits Nights event highlights 11 in-state producers and Saturday night's Stroll on Houston Street brings together food, drinks and lots of live music.
Obviously, no one at CultureMap encourages drinking and driving, but sometimes you have to drive before drinking; park the car at the hotel and take a cab to the events.