Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

With temps rising to positively searing, Houston wine lover and oenophiles are looking for crisp, refreshing options. Perfect timing, then, for National Rosé Day (Saturday, June 11), which has always been much more chic than other gimmicky “days.”

Houston boasts no shortage of restaurants and bars serving the deliciously pink wine. On top of drink specials and flights, look for themed brunches and food pairings, events, photo opps (always an IG fave), music, and more. Wine lovers are sure to blush at all the choices.

The Annie Café & Bar will have a four-course brunch and rosé pairing. Sommelier Megan Bauer and chef Jose Valencia have masterfully paired each course with four delicious rosés. Enjoy live music by a string quartet, a festive photo-opp wall, and a raffle to win an exciting prize. 11 am.

Brennan's of Houston is swinging into summer mode with a featured frozen rosé—frosé, if you will—for $12 (or $7 during happy hour) and specials on blush wine by the glass and bottle. (They will also have a rosé tasting event in July.) 11 and 5:30 pm.

B.B. Lemon will have a Rosé All Day Brunch, featuring music from DJ Marz and special pricing on rosé by the glass and bottle. Anyone who purchases a bottle of rosé will be entered in a raffle to win a 3L magnum of Whispering Angel. 11 am.

Loch Bar will offer a bottle of rosé and its signature charcuterie board with artisanal charcuterie and cheeses for $25. They will also have the signature Frosé ($14), made with rosé, Wheatley vodka, and strawberry, and The Pink Rose ($12), crafted with grapefruit vodka, grapefruit juice, and sparkling rosé. 11 am.

Pier 6 in San Leon will offer special pricing on still and sparkling rosé from Veuve, Ruinart, and Chandon, plus rosé magnums. And don’t leave without snapping a shot in front of the Instagram-ready, Rosé Day installation. 11 am.

River Oaks District has several spots offering up Rosé Day specials. Le Colonial's La Vie en Rose cocktail is crafted with Lillet Rosé, lemon grass syrup, lemon juice and sparkling rosé, while Toulouse Cafe & Bar will have Rosé All Day Punch and a French 77 with Pombay Sapphire, Pomp & Whimsey liqueur, fresh raspberry, grapefruit, lemon and sparkling wine. And MAD's MAD Rosé cocktail is mixed with Hendricks, lemon juice, kiwi syrup, sparkling rosé and a raspberry-infused ice cube. 11 am.

Tobiuo Sushi & Bar in Katy will offer its entire rosé selection for just $5 a glass. Try a few for a DIY flight. Rosé makes a perfect partner for most foods, and Tobiuo’s striking menu is no exception. 11 am.

Brasserie 19 will have a Rosé Day celebration, complete with themed cocktails, a sophisticated selection of rosés, and features on “brunch-sized” bottles. There will also be special menu items, photo moments, raffles, and more. Noon.

Over at Mutiny Wine Room, schedule a reservation for their National Rosé Day Wine Flight + Pairing. Enjoy a flight of four rosé wines of distinct varietals. Each wine is paired with a small culinary delight from chef Eduardo Alcayaga. 2 pm.

At both River Oaks and Memorial locations, Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette is offering a three-course rosé pairing menu for dinner, including an East Coast oyster duo (paired with LK World Rosé 75), a tuna mignon (Maison No. 9) and a white chocolate lemon mousse (Moet & Chandon). 2:30 pm.

Join Postino in Heritage Square for The Art of Rosé, an afternoon of wine, art and more. Postino's signature lineup of rosé and wines will be available, starting at $6, and finger foods and samples will be served. They'll also have live artists provided by Art Museum, TX and a rosé picnic giveaway from Picnic in the City. 5 pm.

Photo by Taylor Hall

17 Houston restaurants and bars serving tempting Dry January cocktails

where to drink for dry january

All across the country, people are choosing to start the new year by taking a break from alcohol. Dry January is here, and Houston bars and restaurants have created a number of tempting options to make the experience a delicious one.

Reasons for participating in Dry January vary. Some see it as a way to atone for excessive revelry during the holiday season; others simply like the idea of starting the year off on a healthier note. Increasingly, bartenders and other beverage professionals are joining the movement. They also see creating a Dry January menu as something of a professional challenge.

“It’s an important way to start the new year by not losing industry habits and palates, but still able to try new ways of creating drinks,” Coltivare bar manager Abner Barrientos says. “It’s also a way to get bartenders out of their comfort zones by being able to create drinks like a cocktail, just without booze. It’s something challenging both intellectually, physically, and mentally.”

While the term “mocktails” typically refers to too sweet concoctions, the new generation of non-alcoholic cocktails offer the same complexity and balance as their full proof cousins; it certain helps that some of the city’s top cocktails minds are creating them. Still, making drinks without alcohol means having to account for more than just a missing flavor component.

“When you are dealing with alcohol you have something that provides a backbone to the cocktail and tannins which both provide bitter or bracing flavors,” Monkey’s Tail beverage director Lainey Collum explains. “Without this quality, cocktails can easily lean towards overly sweet, flabby, or just plain boring drinks. I am always looking to what other ingredients I can utilize such as tea, spices, and salt.”

Others take a more pragmatic view when creating non-alcoholic cocktails.

“Does it have a bite,” Present Company beverage director Rex Nielsen asks. “Why am I drinking this instead of tequila?”

Credit for part of the growth in non-alcoholic cocktails goes to products like Seedlip and Kentucky 74 that recreate some of the flavors of spirits like gin and whiskey. They don’t have all of the qualities of their alcoholic cousins but are a useful starting point for making drinks.

“It's been very exciting coming up with non-alcoholic cocktails, and all the new zero-proof spirits make it even more fun by providing familiar flavors to build off of,” affirms Rosie Cannonball bar manager Christian Tellez.

Below are a list of restaurants and bars offering non-alcoholic options for Dry January and, in many instances, beyond.

Part of the Asch Building retail complex in The Heights, this patio bar always serves non-alcoholic cocktails alongside natural wine, craft beer, and CBD beverages. Afuera’s current menu takes inspiration from Peru. Some of the selections include a Pisco Sour made with non-alcoholic gin, the Don Alfredo with elderflower tonic and lime juice, and the Chicha Morada that combines purple corn, pineapple, green apple, and spices.

Angel Share
The downtown bar that donates a portion of its proceeds to a different charity each month has five non-alcoholic drinks on its menu. They include the Spicy Daisy, a margarita riff that gets a spicy kick from Tabasco sauce, and the Immaculate Conception, which is inspired by both the gimlet and mojito.

With six zero-proof cocktails and an extensive selection of non-alcoholic beer, non-drinkers have plenty of options at this Midtown spot. Lounge in a hammock while enjoying a spicy paloma or the Michel-nada that swaps in Topo Chico for beer. Whiskey drinkers can try a zero proof Old Fashioned.

Better Luck Tomorrow
Head bartender Sarah Crowl earned a reputation for creative non-alcoholic cocktails at places like Coltivare and Rosie Cannonball, and she’s continued that practice at her latest posting. Crowl tells CultureMap that BLT’s current offerings are only the beginning of its non-alcoholic selections. “Down the road this month and beyond we will have more free-spirited drinks available that are unique originals, much like the house cocktails we already create,” she writes. “Beverages with layers of flavors and textures and aromas within the season, with or without alcohol.”

For now, look for options like the Sin & Tonic (a non-alcoholic gin and tonic made with Seedlip Grove, yerba matte, and grapefruit), the Phony-groni made with Kentucky 74, and the Jungle Birdie, which is garnished with an origami bird that Crowl folds by hand.

Brennan’s of Houston
Known for its first-rate service, the Houston classic’s bar team seeks to accommodate diners with both a couple of drinks on the menu and a willingness to make off-menu specials to suit a person’s taste. On the menu, drinks may opt for zero proof versions of a blackberry lemon drop and a mojito. Three of the more popular off menu options are the Sweet Mercy (lime and grapefruit juices, prickly pear syrup), the Simply Peachy (sparkling cider with peach syrup), and the OJ Smash (orange juice with muddled blueberries and mint).

In honor of Dry January, the bar team at this Italian-inspired restaurant in The Heights has rolled out a menu of seven non-alcoholic cocktails and added some non-alcoholic beers to the menu. Examples include the Falling Fox (Seedlip Spice, pineapple, lemon), the Not & Tonic (Lyre’s gin, elderflower tonic, etc.), and the Walks Like a Duck (Lyre’s Ameretti, lemon, egg white).

Guard & Grace
The ultra-stylish downtown steakhouse has five different Dry January options, including watermelon-basil lemonade, a spicy watermelon-mint agua fresca, and a Moscow Mule-inspired sip that includes cucumber, honey syrup, and mango puree.

This plant-based restaurant in the Energy Corridor doesn’t have a special Dry January menu, but its selection of juice-based “spritzers” make for a refreshing, non-alcoholic alternative to a cocktail. Options include: the Golden Glow (orange, carrots, ginger, lemon), We’ve Got the Beet (beets, carrots, ginger, lemon), and the Kale Mint Spritz (Fresh-pressed kale, mint, celery, green apple, finished with lemon & ginger, sparkling water).

“We are here to provide welcoming hospitality and take care of people,” says H-Town Restaurant Group beverage director Sean Beck. “If they want zero alcohol drinks, things that go beyond just a juice or a soda, then we owe it to them to provide options, and not just for one month, but year-round.”

Towards that end, diners will find options like the Mango Margarita-ish, made with mango, orange juice, passionfruit, habanero shrub, lime, thyme, and salt; the Decades In Wait, a Dark and Stormy-inspired cocktail of ginger beer, tamarind syrup, Tajin, and more; and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that comes Topo Chico, Ruby Red grapefruit juice, guava, lime, and smoked rosemary.

Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse
This restaurant in The Woodlands has five non-alcoholic cocktails, including the Tia Mema’s Mocktail Mule, the Cilantro Lime Fizzer, and the Spremuta D'Arancia Sicilian Sunrise, a twist on a Tequila Sunrise made with orange juice, grenadine, and a rosemary stick that’s garnished with an orange wedge.

Local Foods Market
This Rice Village spot stock a number of canned non-alcoholic beverages that can be consumed on its patio or taken to-go. Options include the Ghia La Spritz, an aperitif that’s spiced with botanicals; Le Naturel Zero Zero, a white wine alternative; and non-alcoholic beer from craft favorite Lagunitas.

Monkey’s Tail
As noted above, beverage director Lainey Collum has a commitment to offering “free-spirited” selections. Her menu offers eight selections, including the Penichill’n (Spiritless Kentucky 74, ginger syrup, salted honey, lemon, spritz of lapsang souchong tea), Frozen Hawt Chocolate, Toronjajaja (grapefruit, strawberry, lime, firewater, club soda), and the Viva Maracuya (passion fruit, mango, tiki spices, lime, salt, club soda).

Night Shift
As part of its commitment to being welcoming to all, the East End hot spot has a few non-alcoholic options. Patrons always have the option of an agua fresca made by chef Danny Leal as well as a non-alcoholic paloma and cream soda. The current menu also includes the Bishop’s Brew, an Old Fashioned alternative made with Seedlip Spice and alcohol-removed red wine, and the Clothed and Normal, a non-alcoholic spin on a Naked and Famous made with Seedlip Grove, a non-alcoholic aperitif, and mandarin-kumquat syrup.

The Original Ninfa’s
Both locations of the Tex-Mex favorite have options for people abstaining from Ninfaritas. They include both a virgin pineapple mojito and a virgin daiquiri made with Lyre’s White Cane Spirit (a non-alcoholic alternative to rum) as well as a tamarind cocktail made with pineapple juice and bitters that gets a spicy kick from chile de arbol.

Piggy’s Kitchen & Bar
The River Oaks-area spot has a few zero proof options, including the Nada Lada, a Michelada made with Heineken 00; the Toddy Oddy Oddy; and the spicy Oh My Gato (mango, jalapeño, agave syrup, and lime juice).

Present Company
In keeping with his philosophy of offering compelling, non-alcoholic alternatives to tequila, beverage director Rex Nielsen’s menu include bold, full-flavor drinks. Choose from options like the Stranger Danger (Watermelon-Kiwi La Croix, lime juice, basil, topped with Topo Chico), the Principal Kisses Alligator (Blackberry-Cucumber La Croix, lime juice, fresh blackberries), and the Beet, Pray, Love (Organic beet juice, non-alcoholic aperol, aloe vera, orange marmalade, fermented chamomile syrup, topped with sparkling water).

Rosie Cannonball
Bar manager Christian Tellez has created some new, non-alcoholic sips for the acclaimed Montrose restaurant. Consider the Safe and Sound, a tropical-inspired cocktail made with Lyre's Dark Cane Spirit, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and peach syrup; the A Pantomime a highball-style drink that combines Lyre's Dry London Spirit, chamomile tea, cinnamon syrup, and lemon juice; or the Top Five!, a Collins-style drink of hibiscus and mint tea, spiced cranberry syrup, lime juice, and grapefruit juice. Menu staples like the NoGroni and Pina’Hot’A also remain available.

Rosie Cannonball's menu includes the Top 5, Safe & Sound, and A Pantomime.

Rosie Cannonball Dry January non-alcoholic cocktails
Photo by Taylor Hall
Rosie Cannonball's menu includes the Top 5, Safe & Sound, and A Pantomime.
Courtesy of Picos

Houston, you've earned these cool specials on National Margarita Day

Where to drink margaritas

Generally, we ignore made-up national food holidays around these parts. First of all, the timing seems completely arbitrary — why is National Oyster Day in August when summer is the worst time of year to eat them raw?

More importantly, people should eat or drink what they want when they want to. The heart wants what it wants. Make every day National Cheeseburger Day.

However, we make an exception for National Margarita Day, which happens to be this Monday, February 22. Houstonians have embraced the cocktail as a civic favorite. We drink them on the rocks, frozen, and straight up. Even better, the signature blend of tequila, orange, lime, and sweetener lends to endless variations — try one made with mezcal and Green Chartreuse (trust us).

That citywide affection prompts bars and restaurants across Greater Houston to run margarita day specials. After all, the only thing better than a good margarita is a good margarita at a discount. Besides, after a week of power outages and busted pipes, every adult that wants one could use a drink (or two).

Here’s a quick list of a few of our favorite margarita day specials around town. Enjoy them responsibly.

Calle Onze
The restaurant is usually closed on Monday, but it will sell margarita kits to-go from 12-6 pm. Get a Classic Margarita (El Jimador tequila or 400 Conejos mezcal, lime juice, orange liqueur, and organic agave nectar, $15) or the Signature Tamarindo Margarita (Xicaru mezcal, tamarindo syrup, lime juice, topped with ginger beer, and garnished with Mexican candy straw, $20).

Eight Row Flint
The Heights patio bar may officially be devoted to “whiskey, beer, and tacos,” but the overwhelming popularity of its signature take on the Ranchwater demonstrates its agave affection. Get all day happy hour pricing on rock or frozen margs, which means they cost $7 instead of $12.50.

El Big Bad
Monday will be a busy night at this downtown spot. Not only will house margaritas get discounted to $4.95, but Monday is also steak night — complete with live music. Also, February 22 is also “Dirt Day” in tribute to Dirt Bar’s original address (222 Yale), the rock and roll dive bar where EBB owners/brothers Steve and Shaun Sharma first began entertaining Houstonians.

El Patio
The restaurant’s “infamous” frozen blue margaritas are $6 all night.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
All of the Austin-based burger joint’s Houston outposts will celebrate margarita day with $5 single-serving margaritas. To-go customers may purchase a 32-ounce bottle of the Doble Fina Margarita or a half gallon bag of frozen margaritas for just $20 (regularly $29.95).

Monkey’s Tail
The CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Bar of the Year winner will feature a few cocktails on margarita day. Get one on the rocks with Sauza Blanco, orange cordial, broiled lime, and agave or select one of two frozens: regular or Fanta Orange. They’re $6 during happy hour (4-7 pm) or $8 the rest of the night.

The Upper Kirby restaurant known for its signature shaker margarita has a number of tempting margarita day options, including the El Jefe mixed with Patrón Roca Silver Tequila, Patrón Citronge Orange Liqueur, and fresh lime juice ($14); La Elegance made with Don Julio 1942, Cointreau Noir, and fresh lime juice ($28); and the Ilegal Rita made with Ilegal Mezcal joven, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, lime, orange, and agave with a tajin rim ($13).

The Montrose taco and tequila joint will offer $6 Milagro margaritas on Monday.

The Taco Stand
The newly opened restaurant offers canned and frozen margaritas alongside its extensive taco selection. On Monday, get frozens for $9.99, single cans for $7.99, and double cans for $9.99. And yes, they’re available for both dine-in and via drive-thru — just don’t open the cans until arriving at home.

Courtesy of La Grange

Where to eat in Houston right now: 11 popular bars that have reopened as restaurants

where to eat right now

As the result of changes in TABC guidelines, bars across the Houston area have been able to reopen as restaurants by adding food to their offerings.

Per state regulations designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, operating as a restaurant means that a (former) bar must comply with procedures such as limiting itself to 75-percent capacity, maintaining 6 feet between tables, and keeping customers seated. Establishments that don’t comply risk have their liquor license suspended.

Despite whatever challenges these restrictions might place on a bar’s business model — they’re now expected to generate half their revenue from food sales — many have taken the plunge and started operating as restaurants. Here’s a quick look at some of places that have made the switch.

13 Celsius
The Midtown wine bar remains one of the city’s most romantic destinations, especially now that the prospect of cooler weather makes its courtyard a more pleasant seating option. Let the staff offer advice about the right bottle or glass to sip. Food options are centered around panini and the well-curated cheese and charcuterie boards, but the tableside s’mores are always a winner.

Eight Row Flint
Agricole Hospitality’s patio bar in The Heights has always had the tagline “whiskey, beer, tacos,” but it’s become best known as Houston’s finest purveyor of Ranchwaters. For a less sweet option, consider the Ricky Tanner, a straightforward concoction of tequila, Topo Chico, lime juice, and salt. Beyond the tacos (try the Brussels sprouts), the menu includes fajitas, wings, a burger, and more.

The Flying Saucer
With downtown bars and restaurants having been hit particularly hard by COVID-related shutdowns, the time has never been better to sample the beer list at this downtown pub. Not only will customers find all the best local brews, but the staff brings in plenty of national standard bearers, too. Food has always been part of the experience; offerings range from pizza and wings to sandwiches and salads.

Kirby Ice House
Both the original and Memorial location of the massive patio bars have reopened. Best known for their sprawling backyards, all that outdoor space seems particularly well suited to the present moment. A rotating selection of food trucks allows Kirby Ice House to fulfill its food requirements.

La Grange
Montrose’s Mexican-themed patio bar offers plenty of room for social distancing. Cocktail options cover just about any taste, but the signature frozen watermelon fresca remains particularly refreshing. The Mexican-inspired menu offers lots of options, including the establishment’s take on the ultra-trendy beef birria tacos.

The New Potato
This spot in the Fifth Ward offers a low-key vibe, a well-curated tap wall, and classic cocktails. Food options vary by day, but it will either be Rose Maria’s Blue Corn serving quesadillas and tacos, Tacos a la Madre serving tacos and burgers, or barbecue on Friday nights.

Penny Whistle Pub
The recently renovated Irish pub has always been a solid option for a classic cocktail or a cold beer. To satisfy the food requirements, it’s utilizing a mix of food trucks, a steak night on Thursdays, and the kitchen of its sister concept Revelry on Richmond. Customers can order food directly through Penny Whistle and have it delivered from next door.

Poison Girl
The Montrose institution known for its extensive bourbon selection has reopened for dine-in service. Food choices are limited to pizzas and hot dogs, but most people will probably just be happy they can hang out in the backyard.

Sixes and Sevens
To go along with reopening, the Montrose spot swapped out its original, Italian-inspired menu for Japanese-style bar snacks and ramen. Either way, the colorful room is perfect for Instagram, and the creative cocktails remain as refreshing as ever.

Sugar Room
This ultra-stylish Washington Avenue spot made a huge splash before the shutdown, and its return has been greeted with similar fanfare. The Ladies of Libation, bartenders Laurie Harvey and Kris Sowell, consulted on the cocktail list, and their “make it pretty” aesthetic is reflected in touches such as edible gold and glitter. Food options are mostly limited to sweets and charcuterie boards, but, on the plus side, an expanded patio makes it Sugar Room a comfortable option for social distancing.

Wooster’s Garden
All of the Kirby Groups bars have reopened, but their cocktail bar in Midtown remains a personal favorite — both because CultureMap Tastemaker Awards bartender of the year nominee Jessica Johnson calls it home and culinary director Brandon Silva tends to serve his most creative fare there. New drinks on the menu include the Mr. Big (vodka, watermelon, cucumber, absinthe, lemon) and the Port Royal (rum, gin, cassis, honey, lemon). Wooster’s cheeseburger is always reliable, but vegetarians will crave the cauliflower “al pastor.”

Get tacos and a beer at La Grange.

La Grange taco and beer
Courtesy of La Grange
Get tacos and a beer at La Grange.
Photo by Justin Yoakum

7 refreshing bars and restaurants to rosé all day in Houston

Where to Drink Rosé Now

Generally, we’re skeptical of national food and drink holidays, but we’re suckers for National Rosé Day (Saturday, June 14). Crisp and refreshing, pink wine seems perfectly suited for a hot summer day.

Besides, with so many high quality Houston bars and restaurants celebrating the day, the deals are too good not to share. In keeping with the times, this list includes both dine-in and at-home options.

Celebrate Rosé day at home with a magnum of Miraval ’18 for $30. To order, call 713-722-6899 through Saturday, June 13.

B.B. Lemon
The Washington Avenue restaurant will host a Rosé day brunch with half-priced bottles of select Château D'Esclans rosés (The Palm, Whispering Angel, and Rock Angel), plus frosé and music by DJ G-Funk. One guest will win a raffle for a 3L double-magnum of Whispering Angel.

Backstreet Cafe
Sommelier Sean Beck has prepared a six-pack of refreshing wines. Get it via takeout or delivery for $85.

Brasserie 19
The wine-fueled River Oaks restaurant will host its annual Rosé Day Party from 12 - 3 pm with a selection of wines from France, the United States, and more. In addition to specials on wines by-the-glass and bottle, sip cocktails such as the Rosé Spritz and Frosé.

Camerata at Paulie’s
The popular Montrose wine bar celebrates Rosé day with a flight of three half-glasses: 2019 Teutonic Laurel Vineyard, Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2019 William Chris, High Plains Rosé, Mourvèdre/Sangiovese/Malvasia, and 2019 Rezabal Txakolina Rosé, Hondarrabi Beltza. The tasting costs $18.

Mutiny Wine Room
The recently-opened Heights wine bar and restaurant has prepared a flight of three wines from France, California, and Italy: 2017 Domaine de la Bergerie Rosé, 2018 Sanglier Cellars Sun Tusque Rosé, and 2018 Pierpaolo Pecorari 'RosAlba' Rosato. Get a taste for $15.

State Fare
The Memorial-area comfort food restaurant has prepared a flight of four Rosés: La Marca Prosecco, Fleur de Praries, Segura Vidas, and Dark Horse. Get the flight during brunch from 10 am - 4 pm for $15.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston's oldest craft brewery wins top spot at Great American Beer Festival

a major award

Houston’s oldest craft brewery received a major award over the weekend. Saint Arnold Brewing Company won the Brewer’s Association 2023 Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Saint Arnold Great American Beer Festival

Courtesy of Saint Arnold

A group of employees represented Saint Arnold at the awards.

It’s the first time Saint Arnold has won the Brewery of the Year award since 2017. The local favorite also earned Gold Medals in two categories — English Ale for its Elissa IPA and Golden or Blonde Ale for Fancy Lawnmower. In total, Saint Arnold has won 29 medals at the event, according to a statement.

Considered the most prestigious awards in the beer world, the Great American Beer Festival features 250 beer experts judging entries in 99 beer categories that cover 175 styles of beer. Overall, the judging panels consider more than 9,000 entries from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

“Winning Brewery of the Year is pretty gosh darn gratifying,” Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner said in a statement. “Winning a second one is unexpected because it’s so rare. It’s a reflection on the quality of our entire team as well as the beers we brew.”

The timing couldn’t have been more auspicious. Saint Arnold will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2024.

Two other Houston breweries also took home hardware. EaDo’s True Anomaly Brewing took home a Gold in the Contemporary American-Style Lager for Scout and a Silver in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer for Sea of Waves. Karbach Brewing won a Gold in the Non-Alcohol Beer category for its Free & Easy Belgian-Style White.

See a full list of winners at AmericanCraftBeer.com.

Beyoncé reigns supreme with Megan Thee Stallion cameo in jaw-dropping Houston Renaissance Tour opening night

bey run the world

How much does Beyoncé love Houston? Enough to turn the first of her two-night H-Town concert tour stop into an all-out and unforgettable celebration of her fans, friends, and her beloved hometown.

Late Saturday September 24 at NRG Stadium, Queen Bey proved once again that she rules all in a night boasting a Megan Thee Stallion cameo, fellow native Houstonians Lizzo and original, founding Destiny’s Child members in the crowd, and a three-hour, jaw-dropping, sometimes breathtaking journey.

Houston’s love for their queen was so palpable on Saturday, September 24 at NRG Stadium that even the usually grouchy traffic cops became hype men. “I can’t hear you: who’s ready to see Beyoncé!?” bellowed a middle-aged traffic Metro officer.

The crowd entering NRG formed a sea of sparkling sequins, silver cowboy hats, and silver boots, per Beyoncé’s request for silver or shiny looks for her worldwide Renaissance Tour stops. It was as much a fashion show as a concert: sequin dresses, denim skirts, mesh tanks, fringe masks, bootie-revealing shirts, and high heels on Beyhive members of every gender and age. Beyoncé didn’t need an opening act: the spontaneous singalongs made for the perfect pre-party.

After a giddy wait, Beyoncé rose from under the stage, positively resplendent in a black polka-dot dress, pearls, and white gloves as wind blew through her blonde locks. Opening with the dramatic “Dangerously in Love 2” from the album that launched her career, she held long, drawn-out notes as the band went silent, reminding all that she’s more than an icon, she’s a supremely talented vocalist.

“H-Town, it's goin’ down...”

Flashing her million-dollar grin, the queen decreed, “Oh tonight, H-Town, it's goin’ down,” for the homecoming. “Thank you for your love and loyalty. This is my gratitude tour. I’m so grateful to be on this stage, back home in Houston, Texas.”

“I can travel to any country around the world, but you ain’t ever gonna take the country out of this girl. I represent y’all everywhere I go, and I wanna make you proud.”

She breathlessly went through “1+1” while kicking up a leg and sitting atop a piano. She rose and strutted across the long catwalk into the packed floor for “I Care,” and channeled Tina Turner in “River Deep - Mountain High,” which she dedicated to Turner, her “idol.”

A dazzling video interlude took viewers into a Sci-Fi journey of chrome mazes and robots riding rockets. When “RENAISSANCE” popped on the scream, the crowd shrieked as Beyoncé remerged, standing with her fist up in a shimmering silver catsuit, sunglasses, and tall boots, going into “I’m That Girl,” “Cozy” and the spacey “Alien Superstar” from the Renaissance album.

This wasn’t a typical show where fans sang back to classics and stayed silent during new material: fans sang back every lyric to every song, regardless of era. No surprise that NRG rocked when she broke in “Crazy in Love,” her 2003 hook-filled announcement to the world with (now) husband Jay-Z, and the ultimate girl powered “Run the World (Girls).”

It should cost a billion for these fits

And the costumes, oh, the costumes. In each sonic journey, Beyoncé emerged in radiant shine, camouflage, and even a flame-adorned cowboy hat. Nowhere is her “PURE/HONEY” lyric, “It should cost a billion to look this good,” more fitting than with these show-stopping fits.

Our Behyive was also treated to a “Thique,” “All Up In Your Mind,” and “Drunk in Love,” — fans and critics have tracked that Beyoncé has only performed those three songs four times on this tour.

Like a Method actress working through various roles, Beyoncé channeled a forlorn lover, a fierce empress (especially in “Break My Soul”), a sexy siren, an android goddess — she emerged from a robotic costume “case” that mechanically opened for her — and even a towering, metallic queen bee (see what she did there) TV anchor in “America Has A Problem.”

When she bellowed “I told you I’m a f*cking problem,” in “All Up in Your Mind,” she evoked screams of affirmation. When the gifted singer screamed into the mic — a throat killer for vocalists on tour — and went back into her flawless tones and surging, almost operatic vibrato, Beyoncé reminded that she’s a multi-faceted, complex, self-actualized woman and not just a mere brand.

Megan Thee Stallion and Blue Ivy, y'all

And she’s a proud mother who couldn’t hold back her glee when her daughter Blue Ivy came onstage, seeming almost shocked by the crowd roar. Blue Ivy flashed a heart-hands symbol and popped into dance moves as her mom cheered her on.

The proud mom also cheered on a fellow Houston native and pop superstar Megan Thee Stallion, who bounced onstage for a savage cameo in “Savage Remix.” Spitting rhymes, strutting, and flexing her signature dance moves, Megan waved to fans and paid homage to the queen, squealing “I love you, Beyoncé!” and spinning on the catwalk.

Breathtaking sounds and sights

Rarely has three hours passed so quickly, thanks to bumping video and music interludes, which turned NRG into a club. Cinematic imagery rivaled any movie, and the band’s solo chops — especially on guitar, bass, and drum — made for its own show. Her backup singers alone, who dropped a song in a break, could also be their own act

Dance has always been an integral part of a Beyoncé performance, led by Beyoncé herself, who’s as limber as a gymnast, and her awe-inspiring dancers like Les Twins — who mixed dance with Cirque du Soleil acrobatics — and the vamping, voguing diva Honey Balenciaga.

Owning the stage with the swagger of a champion, Beyoncé displayed the theatricality and edginess of Lady GaGa, the irresistible charm of Taylor Swift, and the ageless physical prowess of Jennifer Lopez. It’s mind-boggling that at 42, Beyoncé looks, moves, and sounds nearly half her age — but with grown-woman mastery.

All hail Queen Bey

In a blink, it was 12:30 am, and the the queen mounted the silvery disco horse — fans call it Reneigh — and soared over the crowd for “Summer Renaissance.”

“No matter where I go, I always keep Houston with me,” she told the screaming, weeping crowd,” like a fairy godmother floating away. “I will always rep for Houston.”

With one NRG Stadium show left on Sunday, September 24, fans from around the country have scored tickets. “I just knew Houston would be different,” a fan told us afterwards, who flew in from Washington, D.C. “I just knew it would be special.”

What better proof that pop’s reigning and undisputed queen will always rep for Houston.

Beyonc\u00e9 Renaissance Tour Houston NRG Stadium 2023

Photo courtesy of LiveNation/Beyoncé

Return of the Queen: Beyoncé was back in fierce form.

Favorite Montrose brunch restaurant's major setback leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Favorite Montrose brunch restaurant's highly anticipated return hits setback. The restaurant's reopening has been pushed back to 2024.

2. Houston's newest soup dumpling house sets opening date in familiar Midtown space. We're looking forward to future dumpling crawls to decide on our favorite.

3. Houston pizza maestro retools his wildly successful new Heights restaurant after overwhelming response. The chef says he'd be a "supervillain" if he figured out how to meet so much demand in such a short amount of time.

4. New York Times names 2 must-try Houston eateries to coveted 50 most exciting restaurants list. A new Southern restaurant and a classic Mexican establishment made the list.

5. Ken Hoffman applauds new Texas law that fines service animal impersonators $1K. "As much as I love my dog, I don’t impose her on others," our columnist writes.