One Houston restaurant wants to help some of the city's out-of-work bartenders. Every Thursday, Lucille's will host different bartenders on its patio for one night only pop-ups.
After kicking off two weeks ago with a trial run, the program has locked in a weekly schedule that includes live music and established a partnership with global liquor brand Beam Suntory. Participating bartenders will keep 100-percent of sales and tips from their cocktails sold that night. In addition, patrons will vote for their favorite cocktail of the night, which will be added to Lucille's menu for the following week; bartenders will receive the revenue from those sales, too.
"When restaurants and bars were initially forced to shut down during the pandemic, we made sure to support an independently owned restaurant every single day that we were open for to-go service," Lucille's chef-owner Chris Williams said in a statement. "I would feed my entire staff … every single day, with food from Houston restaurants. Now we want to do the same thing for bars. The truth is that everyone is suffering right now, and we all need each other."
Williams' program highlights the degree to which bartenders have suffered economically during the coronavirus pandemic. Hosting a pop-up at Lucille's allows bartenders to earn income at a time when they otherwise wouldn't be able to work. Recently, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered all bars statewide to close for dine-in service in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
First up on Thursday, July 16 will be bartenders David Cedeno (better known as David Daquiri) and Ryan Perry (Foreign Correspondents, Ladybird's). Cedeno tells CultureMap he picked two cocktails that will pair well with Lucille's Southern fare: the Lockwood Hustle (Knob Creek, Basil Hayden, lemon, tamarind, Amaretto, Oloroso sherry) and the 100 Days of Solitude (single barrel Cruzan rum, Oloroso sherry, turbinado, bitters).
Perry will present a variation of the classic Paloma called the Crimson Dawn (Hornitos, hibiscus-infused grapefruit soda, peach-cinnamon cordial) and the Honey Wasp, a spritz made with Roku gin, white port, and a honey-rosemary-citrus gastrique. "Both are refreshingly effervescent summer cocktails designed to pair well with Lucille's dinner menu or as a standalone tipple," he says.
All four cocktails will be available for both dine-in and to-go from 6 - 10 pm. Reservations are required to dine-in, and Lucille's enforces a strict policy that requires customers to wear masks when they're not seated at their tables.
Next week's bartenders will hail from NettBar, a patio bar near Washington Avenue. Future bar teams will be announced on Lucille's Instagram every Tuesday.