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Cocktail Therapy: Josh Alden of Mongoose Versus Cobra

Josh Alden of Mongoose Versus Cobra.
Josh Alden of Mongoose Versus Cobra.
Photo by Kate McLean

"I've been bartending for six years—and actually caring about it for half," 28-year-old Josh Alden admits matter-of-factly.

Originally a server, he remembers noticing how the bartenders at Lucky Strike bowling alley seemed to have more fun. After he landed a spot behind the bar, Alden immediately recognized the sensation of drink-crafting and the instant reaction it begot. Upon deciding to clip-in to the career he's moved up quickly in the Houston bar scene and can now be found at Mongoose Versus Cobra in Midtown.

At Wooster's Garden, three years ago, Alden worked amongst one of the strongest bar teams in the city to hone his craft and creativity. In 2017, he left to open Heights Bier Garten and has since worked at Moving Sidewalk before arriving where he is now, one of the first bars to tout a whimsical name in town.

"[Alden] has such showmanship with everything he does," Adele Corrigan, director of operations for Mongoose Versus Cobra and 13 Celsius, brags on their new lead bartender. "I remember visiting him at Heights Bier Garten and thinking, 'yes, Josh is working." She's excited about the team they've collected in recent months, including Brenda Arredondo, formerly of Boheme.

Very soon Alden will begin donating all of their organic material to a compost farm nearby and hopes to collect a community of bars in the effort. "Together we can take care of our city." The Montgomery, TX native first moved downtown to attend the University of Houston after a stint in Cape Town, South Africa playing semi-pro rugby—a sport he's enjoyed for half his life.

His favorite places to grab a cocktail are Reserve 101 and Johnny's Goldbrick, and as a member of the beating pulse of Houston's bar scene he sees the city shifting toward more "higher quality, casual cocktail bars." For Mongoose Versus Cobra he states, "we want to offer up the best cocktails possible for this neighborhood."

On October 8, Mongoose Versus Cobra will release a new cocktail menu highlighting traditional ingredients for the season in a non-traditional way.

With his gaze deadlocked on the task at hand, tight movements and measurements follow as he stirs up the type of cocktails sure to change the conversation to, what's in that?

"The Prototypical Non-conformist"

1 ½ ounce Rye Whiskey
1 ounce Strawberry syrup
¾ ounce Amontillado Sherry

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Combine ingredients with ice, stir, and strain into a champagne coupe. Alden states, "it almost tastes like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich." The nutty, toastiness of Amontillado Sherry, the strawberry syrup—he really nailed it with that description.

"The Marcario", a take on a Negroni, is another one to try.

Shot of advice: Keep your nose to the grindstone; you're only as good as your last shift.

A boozy PB&J minus the crumbs and carbs.
A boozy PB&J minus the crumbs and carbs.
Photo by Kate McLean

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