Houston's 10 Best Specialty Cocktails for the Summer

The cocktail and tequila menus at TQLA are well-worth a read.
The cocktail and tequila menus at TQLA are well-worth a read.
Photo by Troy Fields

With the cocktail movement booming in Houston, it seems as though you can hardly go to a bar or restaurant these days without encountering a list of cocktails. And on that list of cocktails, expect to find a list of the house specialty drinks -- concoctions created by (or for) that bar or restaurant that, ideally, reflect the atmosphere and/or food. But not all specialty cocktails are created equal.

Featured below are our ten current favorite specialty cocktails -- but feel free to leave your own suggestions for our next cocktail list (which we'll write up when the mercury drops below at least 68) in the comments section.

10. Añejo Old Fashioned at TQLA

You may be tempted to order a margarita at TQLA, as well you should. The margaritas here are fantastic -- and I'd expect nothing less from a place named after the drink's main spirit, nor a bar which features about 100 different bottles of the stuff. But when you decide you're in the mood for something different, give this grown-up tequila cocktail a shot: the buttery, oaky sweetness of the añejo (or aged) tequila in place of whiskey or brandy provides a deeply different twist on a standard Old Fashioned.

Houston's 10 Best Specialty Cocktails for the Summer
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

9. Lonestar Dove at Shade

At first glance you'd think the Lonestar Dove (above, left) -- a play on Larry McMurtry's classic Texas novel, Lonesome Dove -- is a sickly sweet "girly" drink, blushing pink and standing pert in a tall Collins glass. But you'd be wrong. The cocktail is a blend of grapefruit juice, Siembra Azul tequila, Campari, lime juice, lemon bitters and peppy ginger beer. You can barely taste the tequila for the sharp bite of the strongly herbal Campari among notes of citrusy lemon bitters and effervescent ginger beer. In combination with the freshly squeezed juices, it makes for an entirely refreshing and sunny cocktail on a hot day inside Shade.

Houston's 10 Best Specialty Cocktails for the Summer
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

8. Lonestar Lemonade at benjy's in the Village

There is no actual lemonade in the Lonestar Lemonade at benjy's, and the cocktail might be better for it: There's nothing to distract from the three basic ingredients, all of which are Texas-made. Rebecca Creek whiskey (my own "house whiskey" at home) is combined with Paula's Texas Orange and benjy's own house-made sweet and sour mix, making for a cocktail that has the citrus punch of lemonade with a boozy, adult kick.

Houston's 10 Best Specialty Cocktails for the Summer
Photo by Mai Pham

7. Frozen fantasticness at Grand Prize Bar

The nightly drink inside Grand Prize's margarita machine varies, but it's almost always a frozen version (and you know we love frozen drinks) of a classic cocktail like an Aviation (seen above) or sometimes even a straight-up daiquiri. They're always delicious and always welcome on a hot, muggy night spent on the Slippery Slope's upstairs patio. Beware, however: These drinks go down fast and are incredibly strong. I once witnessed a grown man bite a woman on the face and then loudly tell every single patron at the bar that he was in love with me after consuming only three. I am not kidding about this.


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