Justin Burrow, who recently received the Favorite Mixologist nod for the My Table Houston Culinary Awards in October, is using his experience to create a casual and accessible cocktail night every Tuesday evening at Fitzgerald's.
Fitzgerald's has been around for 34 years and is a Houston live-music institution. Burrow has early memories from here and is fond of the place. "I remember my dad bringing me to Fitzgerald's when I was four years old to watch his friend's band. Being able to do something cool in this building is an honor."
It's an easygoing, come-as-you-are atmosphere. There are no fancy glasses. Burrow's concoctions go into cheap plastic cups and cost a mere $7.
That is not to say that the cocktails are not high-quality. A recent menu sported Manhattans, Negronis, Sazeracs and Tailspins. Still, Burrow seems to blow off the idea that he's doing anything special. "It's just drinks," he says, while scooping housemade batter for the classic (and hard to find) wintertime cocktail called Tom and Jerry into a paper cup. When asked how he comes up with the menu, he replied, "I just put what I feel like drinking myself. I used to overthink it, but then I realized it didn't matter."
Lone Stars are $2 until 9 p.m., and a craft beer on tap is featured for a mere $3 all night.
Food-industry types often congregate. It's easy to relax here after the restaurants close for the night. The jukebox seems to never stop, cranking out music from the past five decades. New Wave is a favorite, possibly since it's another of Burrow's passions, and he keeps the selections fresh.
Burrow is often the lone bartender and still manages to keep crowds of 20 or 30 people happy. Compared to the Friday-and Saturday-night crowds he used to deal with while working at Anvil, Open Jukebox Night is probably a cakewalk.
How long will this go on? "Until it's not fun anymore." As long as the tunes keep playing, the cocktails keep coming and the crowd stays friendly, Open Jukebox Night at Fitzgerald's will be a good time.
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There's virtually no marketing for the event, other than what Burrow posts on his Twitter account (@beardandbitters). Sometimes he surprises a few lucky attendees with giveaways (this past week was for "of Montreal" concert tickets for the upcoming show on March 12, 2012), so you might want to keep an eye on his feed.
Catch Open Jukebox Night from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Tuesdays, and check out what else is going on at Fitzgerald's via the schedule on their web site.