Moving Sidewalk Ushers in a Different Kind of Ladies' Night
L-R: Sheridan Fay and Monique Mickley work their cocktail magic at a recent Ladies' Night.
Photos by Sean McManus
And on the seventh day, ye shall rest. That is certainly what most people try to do. The day before Monday is usually reserved for having brunch, doing laundry and sitting around binge-watching terrible reality-TV staples like Bridezillas.
For many of us nine-to-fivers who are workin' for the weekend, the Sabbath might even mean dreading the impending doom of another workweek ahead of us. (Just what the hell are we going to wear the next day, anyway?) Luckily, for some it means another night to go out and enjoy the city.
That's how I ended up at Moving Sidewalk Mixed Drinks (306 Main): My friend and I had taken notice of how many events were happening in that area on Sunday nights. There was Mardi Gras on Main not too long ago (complete with marching band), and the very night we went out, we had just missed a "retail therapy" happy hour consisting of vendors and DJs, hosted by the Little Dipper.
If you've been living under a rock and/or haven't taken notice, the 300 block of Main has become a hotbed of bar nightlife, particularly in the past six months, with Moving Sidewalk opening up in the middle of it all. We had yet to make our way over, so one recent Sunday we turned off the boob tube and did just that. And on this particular night, it was Ladies' Night.
Don't get it twisted. It's not some antiquated night made up from yesteryear where ladies drink $2 banana daiquiris before 10 p.m. Nope, this is for all the women who are independent. (Throw your hands up!) This night Moving Sidewalk was hosting an "All Girl Bar Takeover," with proceeds going to local charity 86 Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting those in the service industry who are affected by the disease.
All the ladies on hand were bartenders who work at other establishments around town but graciously donated their time to help the cause. Those participating were Sheridan Fay (El Big Bad), Kandi Stephenson (Canyon Creek), Monique Mickley (Pass & Provisions), Eileen Aguirre (Holley's), Akiko Hagio (Triniti), Danielle Skapura (Mongoose vs Cobra), Linda Salinas (Liberty Station), Kristine Nguyen (Julep), Crystal Wells (Clutch City Squire, R.I.P.), Julie Rogers (Coltivare), Lainey Collum (Prohibition Supper Club & Bar) and Lindsay Rae (Poison Girl).
The night was broken up into four 90-minute rounds between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. Three ladies tended the bar each round, each one making cocktails she created specifically for the event. "It is rock-candy-flavored with different liqueurs/bitters," Lainey Collum explained of her drink. "The drink is called 'Rock Hudson.'"
At barely 8 p.m., the place was already packed. With the exception of bar-industry folk like Ryan Clark and Erik Bogle (both of the highly anticipated new lobby bar Houston Watch Co., opening this month), and Scott Walcott (Poison Girl, Antidote, etc.), the bar skewed young this night; these kids looked like babies to this old man. Everyone was young and beautiful, but not the stuffy, professional type of beautiful people. They were young, fabulous and possibly broke, but surely know what's important when it comes to discretionary income -- delicious drinks and having fun with friends.
The mastermind behind this industry night, Moving Sidewalk proprietor Alex Gregg, got the idea when volunteering at San Antonio Cocktail Week.
"I realized that Houston has as many if not many more talented women bartending around town, but due to the sprawling nature of the city, the scene can seem to lack cohesion," he said. "I envisioned an event that highlights the talents of women bartending in one space."
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Moving Sidewalk's "All Girl Bar Takeover" offers Houstonians something to do Sunday nights besides sit home and watch Game of Thrones.
"Sprawling" might be an understatement. I once heard Texas described as "spread thin," and certainly used to feel that way about Houston -- even downtown. Unlike Austin, Houston has never had a Sixth Street. Shepherd Plaza in the mid-'90s was probably the closest we ever came, but the city has had many different incarnations of what people thought would be our nightlife epicenter: the Richmond Strip, Midtown, West U., the list goes on. Hell, I was a busboy at Trevisio when it opened, and back then the Medical Center was deemed to be the next hub.
Of course, this is the second wave of the downtown bar scene. The first hit right around the time of the Rice Lofts' opening, circa 1998. Gone now are the bars with velvet ropes and cover charges. Cabo is dead. Long live the new kings.
Linda Salinas's first bar job was at Anvil with Alex Gregg when she started there about five years ago, and she was happy with the Sunday-night turnout. "I loved seeing young and upcoming talent, seeing women from all parts of our bar community," she said.
Moving Sidewalk was filled to the gills at one point, and it took some time to order. Still, it's for a good cause, and Salt-N-Pepa blaring over the PA put me in a good mood. I came back to the table to find my friend talking to Allen, a day trader who seemed to be an anomaly in this crowd. Allen said he lives down the street and was both happy and sad about the evening's festivities: happy for the bar doing so well, sad that he can't get a seat on a Sunday.
The bar has definitely set itself apart as a sexy artisanal cocktail lounge, right down to making and hand-cutting its own ice cubes. But don't discount it as some Portandia-style, "We can pickle that" hipster bar.
"It's not the creation of house-made ingredients simply for the sake of having said it was made in-house," owner Gregg recently said to the Beverage Media Group. And while the drinks were fantastic, even that night the bar's main focus was service and hospitality.
Canyon Creek's Kandi Stephenson has been tending bar around town for seven years now. When asked how she got involved with tonight's event, she said, "I'm always looking to expand my knowledge and meet new people." Her custom drink for the night was the "Shaddock," a cocktail consisting of gin, Campari and fresh lime juice. Though not a cocktail connoisseur by any means, I thought it was one of the night's better ones.
Ultimately my friend and I couldn't hang, and had to cut ourselves off right before the start of the fourth round. Here's to many Sundays back, and here's hoping Mr. Moving Sidewalk himself, Billy Gibbons, will come in soon to christen the bar. Now, if I only had a job with Mondays off.
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