Certainly, Hugo’s beverage director Sean Beck is no slouch when it comes to creating a cocktail. He oversees the drink lists not only at Hugo’s but at six-time James Beard nominee chef Hugo Ortega’s other restaurants as well, including Backstreet Cafe and Caracol. Obviously, Beck had something specific in mind when he introduced the brand new summer guest bartender cocktail program.
It’s more of a community-minded effort. Beck was quoted in a press release as saying, “I wanted to do this guest bartender program to share the voices of the passionate spirits professionals around town, many of whom have long supported and frequented Hugo’s. I think it will be a fun way to see how other cocktail pros pair spirits with Chef Hugo’s authentic Mexican cuisine, and will hopefully introduce our diners to these wonderful bars and bartenders."
The first featured guest bartender cocktail is by Alex Gregg, who is also the co-owner of Moving Sidewalk in downtown Houston. His cocktail is $10 and is named Paloma en la Banqueta (which is intended as a Spanglish translation that means “Paloma on a Sidewalk.”) It’s a mix of white sotol, herbal green Chartreuse liqueur, Moving Sidewalk’s housemade strawberry soda, basil, lime and muddled strawberry. A spear of clear ice from Gregg’s company, Ice Age is used to chill the drink and the rim is garnished with salt.
Beck himself has been busy creating new cocktails for the menu, too. They include a whiskey sour variant called Deep South that’s intended as, “Southern comfort meets the flavors of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.” It includes Knob Creek Rye, lemon, peach bitters and Del Maguey-poached peach syrup. Beck is also adding some cocktails featuring spirits from Yucatan.
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Beck and Gregg’s collaboration is an interesting way for cocktail fans to experience the work of two well-regarded experts in the same place one time. Now that Houston has hit 100-degree temperatures, inventive, cooling cocktails really couldn’t come at a better time.