Exotic cocktails

An Art Groove: Asia Society Texas Center morphs into a sleek lounge where young professionals party

An Art Groove: Asia Society Texas Center morphs into a sleek lounge where young professionals party

Leo Bar, September 2012, Farida Hasanali, Russell Richard
Farida Hasanali , Russell Richard Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012, Tabla player and Yogi-G
Yogi-G Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012, Ryan Bouillet, Rachel Portnoy
Ryan Bouillet , Rachel Portnoy Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012, Liz Kim, Adman Sarwar
Liz Kim , Adman Sarwar Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012, Henry Yau, Jessica Rivera
Henry Yau , Jessica Rivera Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012, David Tyson Moore, Pranav Kothari, Laurette Canizares
David Tyson Moore , Pranav Kothari , Laurette Canizares Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012, Cynthia Tang, Allan Tang, Rose Chen
Cynthia Tang , Allan Tang , Rose Chen Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012, Alissa Kit, Jason Bozic
Alissa Kit , Jason Bozic Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012 Madhur Chilakapati, Devanshi Somaya
Madhur Chilakapati , Devanshi Somaya Photo by © Jeff Fantich
Leo Bar, September 2012, Farida Hasanali, Russell Richard
Leo Bar, September 2012, Tabla player and Yogi-G
Leo Bar, September 2012, Ryan Bouillet, Rachel Portnoy
Leo Bar, September 2012, Liz Kim, Adman Sarwar
Leo Bar, September 2012, Henry Yau, Jessica Rivera
Leo Bar, September 2012, David Tyson Moore, Pranav Kothari, Laurette Canizares
Leo Bar, September 2012, Cynthia Tang, Allan Tang, Rose Chen
Leo Bar, September 2012, Alissa Kit, Jason Bozic
Leo Bar, September 2012 Madhur Chilakapati, Devanshi Somaya

As the new kid on the block, Asia Society Texas Center is joining in the ranks of other chic venues around town and enticing a stylish and artsy in-crowd to mix, mingle and imbibe. As such, the savvy officials running the Yoshio Taniguchi-designed building have launched a monthly series of dapper happy hours.

The idea came from Asia Society New York's weekly "Leo Bar" gatherings that woo social climbers, corporate suits and the LGBT community to taste test exotic cocktails and make new connections.

 A tempting spread from the center's Jade Stone Café offered creamy spinach dip, fresh summer rolls with peanut sauce, bacon wrapped nibbles and sweet pastries.

As the 160 Houston debut happy hour guests sauntered into the Edward Rudge Allen III Education Center from the second floor Water Garden Terrace, which overlooks the serene and ethereal Elkins Foundation Water Garden, Houston's first "Leo Bar" morphed this bright and airy spot into a modern mid-century lounge with white leather club chairs, steel side tables and acrylic accessories.

A tempting spread from the center's Jade Stone Café, prepared by Elizabeth Stone's The Stone Kitchen Catering & Special Events, included creamy spinach dip, fresh summer rolls with peanut sauce, bacon wrapped nibbles and sweet pastries. Adjacent was a cash bar serving the afternoon's signature cocktail, shaken and stirred with Bombay Sapphire.

Global beats courtesy of Yogi-G, co-host of KPFT 90.1 FM's GenerAsian Radio, and a tabla (Indian drum) player funked up the ambiance, though a select few opted for a more genteel setting and dialogue in the Chao Foundation Green Garden, basking in the tall bamboo and Asian jasmine greenery.

Chitchatting alongside Asia Society Texas Center's Fritz Lanham, John Bradshaw Jr., Jordan Dupuis, Patsy Yoon Brown and Tina Reynolds were Texas Foundation for the Arts' Kim Lykins, Whitney RadleyJim Bailey, Liz Kim, Adman Sarwar, Ryan Bouillet, Rachel Portnoy, Madhur Chilakapati, Devanshi Somaya, Farida Hasanali, Russell Richard, Jessica Rivera and Henry Yau.

The Asia Society monthly mixers are set for the first Thursday of every month with the next coming on Oct. 4.