Bartender Chat: Piran Esfahani of Zimm's Martini & Wine Bar

Piran Esfahani came to Houston from Vienna, Austria to study business and graduated from St. Thomas University. Shortly thereafter, he left Houston for Roatan, Honduras (it's not ugly...) to sell beachfront real estate. Now he's back masterfully crafting martinis at Zimm's Martini & Wine Bar in Montrose. It's no Caribbean paradise, but it's definitely not a bad place to relax after a long Monday.

The bar has a classy but chilled-out vibe. While sipping a well-mixed martini and listening to ambient house music in the cozy but sophisticated interior, you almost feel like you're at an upscale joint in Prague, not Montrose.

How would you describe the bar's aesthetic? Zimm's has been open for over 30 years. It was the first wine bar in Texas and the first sidewalk café in Houston. It's one of the most fantastic bars I've seen and I've travelled all over the world; Asia, Europe, Central and South America. The ambiance is amazing, and the art is carefully selected. The Zimmermans, who also own La Colombe d'Or and Zimm's Little Deck, have their own art gallery. They have a very good eye and add their personal touch to the bar. It's very comfortable.

How would you describe the crowd? That's probably what I like the most about Zimm's. It's a melting pot. We get students, business professionals, doctors, lawyers, and people from all over the world. They come here to mingle.

Do you have a specialty or a drink you pride yourself on? We're experts in martinis. There's a great chocolate martini on the menu but the one I make is a little different. He makes one for us to try. It's pretty damn good. I like hazelnut, so I add Frangelico. I recommend it as a dessert drink. It's very good, but you can't really drink more than one. Piran starts mixing another cocktail. This drink I'm making now creates a chain reaction; it's probably the drink I make the most. If one person asks for it, everyone gets curious. He places a Bellini tini on the bar, made with vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, cranberry juice and champagne. It's a great Sunday-funday drink.

On your day off, where do you like to go to get a drink? My friend just opened Felix 55, a restaurant and lounge, in Rice Village. Michael Kramer used to be executive chef for The Tasting Room but he's there now. It's cool place for happy hour, to have a nice cocktail.

What is one thing that would make Houston a better city? We need more areas like Rice Village, where you can walk from bar to bar or restaurant to bar and not have to drive or get a cab. Houston's a great city with a high standard of living, but it's very spread out.

*Wildcard from the loaded questions box: What always makes you a more confident person? I have a very entrepreneurial spirit and I feed off others' positive energy, especially my family and friends. When I have their support, I'm confident.

Zimm's, located at 4321 Montrose Boulevard, opens daily at 4 p.m. and DJs spin on weekends. Stop by, say hi to Piran, enjoy the relaxing atmosphere while sipping a refreshing lemon drop or decadent chocolate martini.

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