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Buzzed-over new cocktail bar is set to help Washington Ave grow up: Now this is Southern hospitality

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Alba Huerta Julep
Alba Huerta will bring Southern hospitality to Julep, her new bar on Washington Ave.  Julie Soefer Photography
Alba Huerta Julep Embers of Paradise
Heurta prepares the Embers of Paradise, one of the bar's signature juleps.  Julie Soefer Photography
Alba Huerta Julep Embers of Paradise
So refreshing. Julie Soefer Photography
Alba Huerta Julep pomelo crusta cocktail
Behold the pomelo crusta.  Julie Soefer Photography
Alba Huerta Julep
Alba Huerta Julep Embers of Paradise
Alba Huerta Julep Embers of Paradise
Alba Huerta Julep pomelo crusta cocktail

Julep, the cocktail bar from Clumsy Butcher beverage director Alba Huerta, is only three or four weeks away from opening. The project has been almost two years in the making, but staff training has finally begun.

Designed to pay tribute to "the overlooked drinking culture of the South," Julep will focus on Southern spirits and cocktails.

Although bourbon is currently the most popular Southern liquor, Huerta notes that it isn't alone. "Both rum and cognac have strong Southern roots, which is evident on the menu," she said in a statement. "Julep will celebrate all Southern flavors, but most of all, this bar is about hospitality.”

While Garcia's food will be a draw, Huerta's cocktails will determine whether Julep is successful.

The spirit of hospitality begins with Huerta herself, who was named Imbibe Bartender of the Year in 2014, and her business partner Bobby Heugel. Huerta's also the first-ever CulureMap Houston Tastemakers Best Bartender award winner. 

Inside, extensive changes have been made to the space by local design firm Collaborative Projects. The copper bar top pays tribute to the building's industrial history as a uniform factory, but Huerta has provided feminine touches in the form of light colors and lace curtains. A large, rear patio gives patrons an outdoor space away from Washington Avenue traffic. 

As CultureMap first reported in April, chef Adam Garcia will run the kitchen. Previously with Revival Market and The Pass & Provisions, Garcia's menu will feature raw seafood, which ties into the historical link between seafood and cocktails made possible by the spread of commercial ice. In addition to oysters, Julep promises a "classic, decadent caviar service."

While Garcia's food will be a draw, it's Huerta's cocktails that will determine whether Julep is successful. She's taken inspiration from vintage Ladies’ Home Journal issues for the menu's design, which will read like a magazine. Sections include "The Story of the Julep," "How to Ration Your Pappy" and "Recipes from the Pantry."

The nine item cocktail menu will including a rotating selection of three juleps, interpretations of classics like the sazerac and crusta, and three large format drinks, including Texas cider milk punch. 

The Washington party scene may have mostly shifted to Midtown, but Julep could fit in with well-regarded cocktail spots like Beaver's and comfortable bars like Liberty Station and the Darkhorse Tavern. After all, Huerta hasn't waited all this time to come up short now.

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