The name of the new bar, Moving Sidewalk was inspired by a band that Billy Gibbons played in before ZZ Top. It's also a reference to the foot traffic to the area near Congress and Main. The area is officially bar-heavy now: The Original OKRA Charity Saloon, Bad News Bar, Little Dipper, The Pastry War and stalwarts Warren's and La Carafe are just a few of the others nearby. It's quite easy to pop into one, check out the scene, have a drink and then move on to the next one.
Yet, once you enter Moving Sidewalk, you might just decide to stay the rest of the evening. Gone is the Asian antique shop vibe of Goro & Gun with its taxidermy and toy robots. In their place are streamlined bar shelves and walls repainted in ocean blue. It's very dark inside, but it's also sexy--a much different environment than the casual intimacy of Little Dipper, the noisy bustle of Charity Saloon, the New Orleans-esque gentility of Bad News Bar or the colorful cantina flair at The Pastry War.
The dark room, lit only by the flicker of candlelight and old-style chandeliers, and the two-seater tables, make it particularly inviting for couples. The staff looks quite professional and sharp in their blue shirts and aprons, too.
Most important is the laser point focus that Alex Gregg and his staff have brought to the cocktail program. It is clear that a great deal of consideration has been giving to elevating the presentation and quality of the drinks. When is a cocktail not a cocktail? When it's an experience.
The details here are so important that the menu lists not only the drink, but the type of glass and ice that is used. If it's to be served in a coupe, the glass is rapidly chilled first with liquid nitrogen. It's functional in keeping the drink cold while avoiding dilution and it's also entertaining to see the evaporating clouds waft over the top of the glass.
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Gregg and his staff additionally have been training in making hand-cut ice, which is much more complicated than you might think. Producing crystal clear cubes is not a short or easy process.
The drinks are inventive and there's something for everyone's tastes. The Burr Conspiracy is a combination of rye, Manzanilla sherry, Drambuie and bitters garnished with a flaming star anise. The Drambuie calms the rye and marches up to the line of sweetness without stumbling over it. Adventurous drinkers might consider the Spanish-influenced Little Reed Horses with pisco, yogurt, cucumber, lime, bitter lemon soda and celery seed.
"All That Falls" is perfectly geared for Houston's always-tenuous flirtation with autumn. It's a mix of fall flavors and sunny citrus, with vodka serving as neutral ground to highlight a fig and marigold shrub, chamomile, lemon, lime and soda.
There is no food here, so factor that into your plans. I miss Goro & Gun,but the bar that has replaced it is such a different, clear concept that it makes it easier to move on from the past and ride that moving sidewalk into the future.