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Patio Perfection at Brenner's Blue Bar

A college roommate once theorized that the best times are often had near bodies of water. It's not surprising that she went on to live for many years in Hawaii. I, on the other hand, moved to Houston.

In the land of freeways, strip malls and suburban sprawl, it's easy to forget that Houston still contains pockets of natural beauty - not to mention bodies of water. After all, this is The Bayou City. And there are several places around town to take in the scenery while leisurely sipping a cocktail. One of the best is Blue Bar at Brenner's, which boasts a sizable patio overlooking the well-manicured grounds and a particularly lush section of Buffalo Bayou.

The last time I visited the location it was The Rainbow Lodge, so I jumped at the opportunity to attend a media tasting for Brugal Rum, held last week on the patio. As Kevin Shalin mentioned last month, Brugal, an exceptionally smooth Dominican rum that's currently the No. 1 in the Caribbean, outselling Bacardi by a nine to one ratio. The brand chose only three markets to make its U.S. debut: Boston, Philadelphia and Houston. Lucky for us, it's pretty freaking good.

As I watched the bartender painstakingly crush fresh mint leaves, my excitement began to grow. Mojitos. On a patio. Oh, hell yes. The only thing missing were the steel drums, which would have seemed out of place against the chic, modern décor. Still, sipping that cocktail with a steady breeze blowing through sail-like overhangs up above, I couldn't help but feel transported far away from the concrete, traffic and smog of the city. Perhaps it was the gorgeous weather so uncharacteristic to these parts, but then again, perhaps it was the view.

Or it could have been the mojito. So here's a recipe for those needing a midweek Caribbean retreat of their own:

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Mojito

  • 10-12 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 1/2 Lime
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp. Sugar (want something a little different? Use brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 Oz. Brugal Anejo
  • Club Soda

Crush mint leaves and place into a tall cocktail glass with fresh squeezed lime juice. Cover with sugar and top with ice. Add 1 1/2 oz of rum and top with Club Soda. Stir well. Garnish with a sprig of mint or lime wedge.

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