Houstonians Bobby Heugel and Alba Huerta have been named Bartenders of the Year by Imbibe, the self-proclaimed "ultimate drinks magazine."
Its upcoming "Imbibe 75" issue — which hits newsstands Jan. 1 and is on Imbibe's website on Jan. 2— recognizes Heugel and Huerta as "Bartenders of the Year" in a list of 75 people, places and flavors to watch for in 2014. The list's other honors, which include "Cocktail Bar of the Year" (Polite Provisions in San Diego), "Wine Bar of the Year" (Les Marchands in Santa Barbara), "Beer Bar of the Year" (Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco), and "Coffee Bar of the Year" (Handsome Coffee Roasters in Los Angeles), have a West coast leaning.
Heugel and Huerta — partners in the downtown agave bar, The Pastry War, which opened in August — are known throughout Houston and the nation for their bartending expertise.
As one of the founders of Anvil Bar and Refuge, Heugel has been credited for bringing craft cocktails to the Bayou City. The James Beard Award nominee, who was also featured in the magazine's "Texas Issue" this past March, is co-owner and president of Clumsy Butcher, which he uses to oversee all of his concepts, including Anvil, The Pastry War, Underbelly, The Hay Merchant, OKRA Charity Bar and Blacksmith.
Heugel's Clumsy Butcher — of which Huerta is bar director — is also launching a new concept called Julep. Huerta will oversee the new bar set to open at 1919 Washington Avenue in May 2014.