On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Two Headed Dog co-owner Lindsay Rae Burleson and The Cottonmouth Club co-owner Michael Neff join CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to have an in-depth conversation about the challenges of operating a bar in Houston. The discussion begins with Burleson providing an update on the evolution of Two Headed Dog, which opened this summer in Midtown.
From there, the interview moves through a number of topics, mostly centered around how important it is for a bar to build a community of regulars who support it and what bartenders do to foster a shared experience. Sandler asks Neff about The Cottonmouth Club's current menu, which is modeled after an issue of Creem magazine from 1973, complete with cocktail recipes from Alice Cooper. Neff observes that he'd rather drink an Old Fashioned in the context of thinking about the legendary rocker than in having a conversation about the exact recipe and methodology of creating the drink.
"But what whiskey and what sugar — all that stuff matters, right? It changes the way that it tastes," Sandler says. Neff then drops one of the smartest, funniest comments ever made on the show.
"I can change the taste more by making you happy than making you feel judged. I can change it more by giving you the hope that you're going to walk home tonight not by yourself than slink home drunk and alone," he says. "You want a really good Old Fashioned? Sit next to someone you're, like, I might get laid tonight. That's a really good Old Fashioned."
Prior to the interview, beverage consultant Linda Salinas joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topics include In-N-Out Burger finally opening two Houston-area locations; Ryan Hildebrand's departure from FM Kitchen; the sudden closure of Montrose patio bar Lotti Dotti; and Clark Cooper Concepts' plans to open a new healthy eating restaurant called Satisfy.
In the restaurants of the week segement, the hosts describe a couple of recent meals at UB Preserv and Rosie Cannonball. Salinas provides a recap of the Great Bar Race, an event that featured teams of bartenders competing in whimsical physical challenges.