Hot Trend Alert

5 hot new cocktail trends, according to drink guru — and where to find them in Houston

5 hot new cocktail trends from drink guru — and where to find them

Houston, LA bartender Michael Neff, November 2015
Renowned bartender, Michael Neff, will be at downtown's Reserve 101 Monday night for a holiday pop-up event. Courtesy photo
Houston, drink trends, November 2015, Dancing Embers at Woosters
The Dancing Embers at Woosters is big on flavor. Courtesy photo
Bottom's Up, Reserve 101, February 2013, bar, crowd, venue
Solid drinks, cool surroundings and a killer playlist make hitting up downtown's Reserve 101 a no-brainer. Photo by Joel Luks
Houston, drink trends, November 2015, Bellows Negroni at Prohibition
Prohibition Supperclub & Bar presents nostalgic American food and drinks, including the Bellows Negroni. Courtesy photo
Pastry War Houston bar
Throw back a little mezcal at downtown's The Pastry War. Photo by © Julie Soefer/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Houston, LA bartender Michael Neff, November 2015
Houston, drink trends, November 2015, Dancing Embers at Woosters
Bottom's Up, Reserve 101, February 2013, bar, crowd, venue
Houston, drink trends, November 2015, Bellows Negroni at Prohibition
Pastry War Houston bar

When it comes to being in the know about the hottest drink trends, there’s no doubt that 20-year craft cocktail veteran Michael Neff is an expert.

Neff has established himself as a key figure on the cocktail scene with a standout resume that includes impressive stints at several Los Angeles and New York hotspots, including LA's Clifton’s Cafeteria and The Three Clubs, and New York’s The Rum House, Le Zinc, Ward III and Tribe.

Neff, who currently splits his time between the East and West Coasts and serves as beverage director at New York's Holiday Cocktail Lounge, will make an appearance in Houston Monday night at downtown’s Reserve 101 for a holiday pop-up event (from 7 pm – 2 am) benefiting local non-profit, Lucky Dog Rescue. We asked the barman and drink guru which boozy movements should be on our radar.

From refined cocktails to bold flavors, below is your guide to five notable drink trends — and where to find them on menus around town. 

Party Time


Trending: Alongside solid drinks, cool surroundings and a killer playlist are a must, ensuring the good times will roll.
Where to go: No-frill whiskey bar Reserve 101 makes it happen. The combination of a come-as-you-are atmosphere, a lively playlist and an eclectic crowd ranging from students and oil executives to athletes and rock stars, plus a roster of more than 340 whiskeys and several must-try cocktails like the Smash and Grab, a riff on a whiskey smash (St. George Breaking & Entering bourbon muddled with strawberries, blueberries, mint and honey) make hitting up this downtown spot a no-brainer.

Tip: Seek counsel from the drink-savvy staff when it comes to narrowing down your options. 

Less is More


Trending: Complex drink combinations are going to the wayside in favor of more refined, three-ingredient cocktails.
Where to go: Speakeasy-inspired Prohibition Supperclub & Bar presents nostalgic American food and drinks, including the can't-miss Bellows Negroni (tea-infused vermouth, aperitif and gin). 

Sheer Simplicity


Trending: Ordering straight-up liquor such as mezcal and generational favorite, whiskey, is on-trend.
Where to go: The easy vibe, festive Mexican decor (including a skull-laden ceiling mural) and 150 agave spirits at The Pastry War make the downtown spot the perfect setting to throw back a little mezcal, tequila's smoky and in-demand cousin. We recommend the Siembra Metl (fruit notes are balanced by the perfect amount of smokiness).

In-House Goodness


Trending: Bartenders are making their own fruit and herb infused-syrups and shrubs
Where to go: While you probably already know that the kitchen at the upscale French restaurant Etoile Cuisine et Bar serves up updated, composed versions of old-school Gallic favorites, you may not know that the bar here offers standout cocktails like the Vodka Cranberry (made with a house-made cranberry and lime oleo shrub that's spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice).

Big and Bold


Trending: Bold flavors like tinctures [concentrated alcohol infusion] are being added to the mix, amping up the taste level of your drink.
Where to go: Laid-back bar and grill Wooster’s Garden boasts 49 craft beers, wine and seasonal cocktails like the Dancing Embers (French gin, lime cordial (concentrated lime and sugar), celery bitters, orange bitters and a roasted white peppercorn tincture).

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