Bartenders around town are taking some original, and totally irresistible, new directions on traditional cocktails, involving everything from smoked rum to grapefruit beer. You'll find the cocktail's main components in all of these versions, but with a little something extra. Here are six spins on classic drinks you'll want to try asap.
99 Problems at Kata Robata, 3600 Kirby
You’ll have no trouble imbibing the 99 Problems cocktail ($12) at Upper Kirby sushi spot Kata Robata, where bar manager Mohammed Rahman puts an Asian/Japanese twist on a classic Manhattan.
Served neat with a lemon twist, the drink features Japanese whisky, plum liqueur, turbinado sugar, and peach bitters for a smooth sip that’s delicious down to the last drop.
The Damned at One Fifth, 1658 Westheimer
James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd’s Montrose restaurant, One Fifth, freshens up the classic margarita offering inventive drink, The Damned ($14). Sherry, cassis and lime juice meet smoky mezcal. Hellfire bitters bring the heat.
“Cocktail enthusiasts always seem to be searching for a spicy drink. Often they’re subjected to a jalapeno margarita, which can be inconsistent due to pepper changing. I wanted to create a riff on a spicy margarita with more finesse and intrigue,” bartender Kimberly Galati tells the Houston Press.
Up in Smoke at a’Bouzy, 2300 Westheimer
The ultra-refreshing Up in Smoke ($12) daiquiri riff at upscale bistro a’Bouzy, located near River Oaks, is made with fresh lime juice, simple syrup and a double hit of flavored rum: smoked and pineapple.
“This daiquiri will make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean. The smoked and pineapple rums give it tropical flavors that will help you forget about the traffic and the heat,” says beverage director Chris Stump.
Lust For Life at Stone's Throw, 1417 Westheimer
The traditional shandy is an easy and thirst-quenching cocktail made with half-beer, half-lemonade and that's about it, but beverage director Conal Rex Nielsen at Stone’s Throw in Montrose is varying up the standard combo with the Lust for Life ($10).
The innovative drink is mixed with grapefruit beer, plus orange Italian aperitif, pineapple juice, and aged Scandinavian Aquavit.
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Scotch Cocktail at Eight Row Flint, 1039 Yale
Eight Row Flint takes the Manhattan in an entirely new direction with the Scotch Cocktail ($11). The bar at the casual gathering spot in the Heights presents scotch, blue corn-based whisky, orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, and bitters, all served in a coupe with an expressed lemon flower.
"I wanted to make a scotch cocktail that's easy drinking. This drink has great balance: It's a slightly smoky, smooth sip," says bartender Tia Stone.
Habañero Grapefruit Margarita at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, 5061 Westheimer
You'll definitely get a kick out of the Habanero Grapefruit Margarita ($14.50) at posh Galleria steakhouse, Del Frisco’s. A take on the tried-and-true Paloma, silver tequila, orange Italian aperitif and Ruby Red grapefruit juice are joined by habanero agave nectar.