When you think of a wine bar, cocktails aren't generally the first drink that springs to mind. And even at 13 Celsius (3000 Caroline), where wine-based cocktails (and a few beer-based cocktails, too) have been a staple for many months now, it's still not the first thing that people order off the expansive drink menu.
But those that haven't sampled the cocktail offerings are missing out.
On a recent visit for the weekly wine and cupcake night on Tuesdays ($10 for a cupcake and a wine pairing from a choice of two freshly-baked Jodycakes cupcakes), I decided to branch out from my usual order of "Whatever you like today, Marc," and instead ordered a sunny-looking Petit Hiboux, which translates into "little owl" in French.
I tend to associate owls with creaky barn rafters and milky, starless nights. Its namesake cocktail at 13 Celsius has no such crepuscular tendencies, however, and is instead a ray of sunshine in a glass.
Made with bright sauvignon blanc, citrusy Lillet blanc, apple juice and a twist of lemon over ice, the Petit Hiboux is an utterly refreshing summer cocktail -- almost a French version of a white sangria, sans the pieces of fruit floating around the glass.
My friend's cocktail was darker, but equally refreshing: A Lillet rouge spritz, a simple concoction of Lillet rouge, sparkling wine and a twist of orange. Because most of the cocktails on the menu have intriguing names like the Ingrid Bergman, the Management and The Saint, the Lillet rouge spritzer seems to be saddled with a shrinking violet-style name despite its deliciousness.
I wonder if the owners of 13 Celsius know that Lillet rouge over ice with a twist of orange was the preferred drink of fiction serial killer Hannibal Lecter. If not, I have a name suggestion for them.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.