Second-floor, speakeasy-ish Bad News Bar (technically, "Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge") is dark, old and long with a varnished bar counter that seems to stretch into infinity. The space seems doused in history because the downtown building it’s in was built in 1880 after a fire destroyed half the block.
It's reminiscent of the historic bars in New Orleans but the Mediterranean is in my glass. The Spanish Air cocktail is a concoction of gin, vermouth and rainwater Maderia. Like a good martini made with heavily botanical gin, it's the kind of cocktail that marches up to the savory line, looks across it and then backs up a few steps.
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Outside on the expansive balcony is a friendly June breeze. In mere days, as summer claims the city like a hawk descending on prey, it will become an oppressive, unwelcome blanket. For now, though, it's believable that maybe the nighttime breeze in Houston has something in common with the air in Spain.
1 1/2 ounce Miro Dry Vermouth
1 ounce Mahon Gin
1 ounce Broadbent Rainwater Maderia
1/4 ounce simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)
2 dashes Bittercube Corazon Bitters
Topo Chico sparkling mineral water
Stir first five ingredients with ice in a mixing glass until very cold (about a minute). Strain into a tall cocktail glass over fresh ice cubes and top off with Topo Chico.