Heights diners have a new destination for cocktails, bar snacks, and intimate conversations. Savoir, the wine-fueled restaurant that opened last year, has transformed its wine bar and retail shop La Grande Rue into Sip, a new cocktail lounge.
Proprietor Brian Doke tells CultureMap that he converted La Grande Rue into Sip for a couple of simple reasons. First, changes to Texas' alcohol laws during the coronavirus pandemic have allowed restaurants to sell wine directly to consumers, which means that operating a wine shop suddenly became unnecessary. Savoir's full wine list can now be offered to-go at retail prices (mostly).
Second, the statewide shutdown of bars has left people without their usual options for pre and post-meal socializing. Enter Sip — the restaurant prefers the all-caps SIP, a cheeky nod to "shelter in place" — which operates as a dining room within Savoir but has its own menu of drinks, wines by-the-glass, and food. Customers enter through Savoir's entrance; from there, they're escorted behind the bar and through the wine cellar into Sip's seating area, which offers a lounge-style mix of armchairs, couches, and intimate, two-person booths repurposed from La Grande Rue's wine racks.
Bar director Taylor Wright's cocktail menu offers classics such as a paloma, Old Fashioned, and a Queens Park Swizzle, as well as a few originals. Consider the banana Manhattan, which rounds out the familiar, rye-based drink with just enough banana liquor to add a sweet and savory note. On the more refreshing end of the scale, the salted watermelon mixes the seasonal fruit with rum, coconut, and lime, for a clever riff on a daiquiri.
Chef Eric Johnson, who recently took over as Savoir's executive chef, has prepared a mostly Southern-inspired menu of craveable bar snacks that pair well with either a cocktail or a glass of wine. Dishes include corn and squash fritters, fried okra, a cheese and charcuterie board, and a cheeseburger that's topped with chorizo and a fried egg. On the lighter side, look for a seasonal toast topped with housemade ricotta, herb salad, and pistachios.
Since it operates as part of Savoir, Sip keeps similar hours to the restaurant — 5 - 11 pm Sunday - Thursday and 5 pm - midnight Friday and Saturday. Still, that's plenty of time for Heights residents who have been deprived of access to their favorite watering holes. For those seeking refreshment, Sip might be just the thing to quench their thirst.