A new Houston bar, East End Hardware, has just opened up in a former hardware shop that was also called, yeah, East End Hardware, as Swamplot first reported this week. But this isn't just another watering hole; this spot has the potential to be one of the best neighborhood bars in all of the city.
It's a great space, seemingly dressed in lost-and-found thrift store finds and well-curated art, with a huge rolling garage door, a projector wall that on this night was screening an FX show in which an angel spewed blood and flying creatures from its mouth, a side patio that will likely become an expanded parking lot, and another side patio that is likely going to be revamped into a covered seating area. The place has good vibes.
The long, glass-topped bar is made out of a single curving piece of old conveyer belt. Right behind it sits the star of the show, a New Orleans SnoWizard machine. As folks in the Crescent City know, this machine is a vital part of enduring the summer, turning out fluffy ice that outposts such as Pandora's and Plum Street gussy up with both mass-produced and housemade syrups to please the sweaty, high-fructose-corn-syrup-seeking masses.
Here at East End Hardware, the SnoWizard is also essential to crafting your favorite new cocktail: the boozy snowball or sno-ball, whatever your preferred nomenclature (not even New Orleanians agree upon the spelling).
Shockingly, you don't find a lot of alcoholic sno-balls in New Orleans. Hansen's Sno-Bliz, the James Beard-designated American Classic that actually created the first shaved ice machine in existence, did them as a one-time special a couple of years ago, and there are a couple of restaurants that serve them as a kitschy aside, but other than that, they aren't really a thing in the land of daiquiris and juleps, but that kind of begs the question: Well, why the hell not?
They're refreshing. They're addictive. They go down quick, as East End Hardware's versions deftly prove.
Start with the tiger's blood here. It's a popular flavor for many a sno-ball fan, consisting of strawberry, cherry, watermelon and a hint of coconut. For some reason I always believed its name had something to do with the LSU Tigers, but there is nary a piece of evidence (online anyway) to support that. East End Hardware's take on the classic goes down particularly quick, aided by a healthy shot of vodka, which doesn't really occur to you until a few minutes after you've downed the thing. Good job, boozy sno-ball.
The real treat here, though, is the strawberry pisco flavor. It's rather like a spiked, frozen strawberry lemonade, and the pisco makes itself well-known with every sip, which, in my opinion, adds a nice fire-in-the-chest flavor profile to the chilly quaff.
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All the sno-balls here are served with a spoon, a drink umbrella and a smile. The flavors are simple the menu rounded out with a pina colada, screwdriver, and rum-based fruit punch.
The bar also boasts 20 or so beers on tap, mixed drinks and a simple food menu with a handful of panini, including a club and a pimento grilled cheese that you can add bacon to.
An upcoming grand opening party is apparently in the works for the end of July, according to the bartender. Until then, I strongly suggest having a seat at the bar and shoveling boozy sno-balls into your mouth. At $6 to $7, they aren't the cheapest thrill in town, but they're certain to put a smile on your face.