It doesn't take long to notice that Liberty Station is a lot like Houston itself.
Like the city, the little bar housed in an old filling station is many things to many people -- and it really does have to be visited and explored to get a feel for it. Functioning as an art gallery space, a cocktail hotspot, a craft beer bar and a plain old neighborhood hangout, it offers something for everyone.
Liberty boasts an ever-growing tap wall -- including a cask engine -- as well as an excellent selection of beers in the cooler. What's more, Liberty also has a rotating menu of seasonal cocktails. These cocktails -- along with word that bartender Lindsay Heffron had recently won Bombay Sapphire and GQ's regional cocktail competition -- brought us in to Liberty Station for a chat.[jump]
So how long have you been bartending?
It's been almost four years. I was a little under the radar because I was at 13 (13 Celsius), and that's just wine. It's still bartending, but it's different. And then I came here and I'll have been here full-time for a year in October. I decided I wanted to get a little more serious about bartending.
What brought that about?
I had kind of an interesting year last year. It made me want to get more serious about what I was doing. I love wine, but I felt it wasn't really my thing. Making a cocktail, for me, it's like cooking. Wine is more about tasting and the terroir. I just decided to get serious because I wanted to make a career out of it. I decided I really loved cocktails, that I loved the service industry. I don't want to do a desk job; I make more money doing this anyway, so it's a good fit for me.
Tell me about this competition in Vegas.
It's Bombay Sapphire and GQ's Most Imaginative Bartender Search. In about two weeks, I fly to Las Vegas to represent Houston in the national round of the competition. It's featuring Bombay Sapphire East, which features lemongrass and black peppercorn in addition to the ten botanicals in Sapphire. It's kind of an Iron Chef-style thing once I get there, so I'm not sure what to expect.
Gotta ask...what's with the tattoo?
It's my tattoo from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. A lot of the bartenders out there were more about how they looked and the whole "classic cocktail means handlebar mustaches and waistcoats" and all that aesthetic, so this was our answer to that. I want another one before I head out to Las Vegas for the GQ thing. I am going to do an outline of Texas and in simple script inside, it's just going to say "Trill."
What's your best Liberty Station story?
Well, we're not too far from the jail, so we get a lot of fresh-outta-the-slammer guys wandering in asking for free drinks because they just got out. There's one guy who used to come in who we have kicked out several times, who carried around a pigeon on a leash. And of course he's crazy, too. He'd come up and try to order buckets of Lone Star to go.
At this point the guy sitting next to me closed his tab, hurriedly gathered his possessions and headed for the door, but not before sliding a napkin across the bar along with his tab. Lindsay opened the napkin to discover a phone number.
"Did I just get...a phone number? I did!" She pointed to the seven-digit number scrawled on the napkin. "But he didn't tell me if it's 713, 281 or 832."
Folks, let this be a lesson to you: When using sixth-grade methods to hit on your bartenders, don't get so nervous that you forget to leave your area code.
Stop into Liberty Station this week for a cocktail or a selection from their very impressive beer list. When you see her, be sure to wish Lindsay luck on her upcoming trip to Las Vegas for the national competition.
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