One of the Heights’ most prolific restaurateurs has quietly opened the neighborhood’s newest cocktail bar. Delicious Concepts owner Ken Bridge (Ritual, Lola, Republic Diner + Noodle Bar) has partnered with veteran Houston bartender Peter Clifton on the Ready Room, a new bar located next to Ritual.
Named for a Houston dive bar where Bridge went to see live blues and jazz as a teenager (he met B.B. King there once), the Ready Room has a decidedly retro vibe with a decor that features wood-paneled walls, ceiling tiles that look like pressed tin, and vintage chandeliers.
Clifton and general manager Cody Northcutt collaborated on the cocktail menu, which features different sections named in honor of Houston’s six historic wards. Drink names from each section are taken from a historic person or place associated with that ward.
“We investigated the demographics, culture, and history of all the wards. We figured out it’d be a really cool idea to break the menu up into six wards, depending on what style of drink you got,” Clifton says. “It came with a story of you understanding what Ready Room was. It’s not really about us, but it’s also about the city.”
The bar’s liquor selection starts with 64 bottles of liqueurs and amaros; it also includes an extensive collection of bourbon, global whisky, and just about any other spirit someone could possibly want, which is all part of the partners’ goal of providing the neighborhood with a welcoming space where someone could sip something neat, dive into a couple of cocktails, or even crack open a beer.
True to its namesake, Ready Room will host musical performances on Fridays and Saturdays. A vintage piano sits in one corner, and Bridge says he wants to see jazz and blues performed in the space. The bar will start hosting performers in the next couple of weeks.
“It was a big part of the concept for the Ready Room for me,” Bridge says. “Some of my favorite clubs and bars throughout the country have soloists or vocalists, some sultty jazz stuff, maybe a two piece with an upright bass. I love that.”
Bridge and Clifton are quick to emphasize they’re not reinventing the wheels on successful cocktail bars, and they’re even quicker to reject any labels like “speakeasy” for the bar, which doesn’t have a sign or much of any indication from the outside of what patrons will find when they open the door. Still, it should be poised to find a niche as a more elegant alternative to some of the other options on White Oak.
“I like to give my community what I think they want,” Bridge says. “I don’t like to put merit badges on me personally. I want people to have a good time and enjoy what we’ve done.”
Ready Room; 2626 White Oak Street; Open daily from 4 pm to 2 am.