The Spirited Traveller: Doing the Tequila Two-Step in Houston

Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:29am EDT

1 of 2. A barman shakes a cocktail at Anvil Bar and Refuge, Houston in this undated photograph.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Hester/Handout

(Reuters.com) - From Enron to Exxon, Houston has long been a city associated with big business. And when it comes to drinking, the big dog in town is tequila.

Meet Bobby Heugel, bartender and co-owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge (<www.anvilhouston.com/>). He won't say it, but according to many a cocktail geek, the best margarita to be found in Houston is at his bar. Heugel has, however, kindly shared his shortlist of recommendations for tippling tequila in Houston.

"You can find a margarita in every bar in Houston," he notes, but only two make his list of must-haves. The first is at upscale Hugo's (<www.hugosrestaurant.net/>), a "well-loved" restaurant in Montrose known for their traditional-style margaritas. For a more casual spot, Heugel heads to the patio bar at Original Ninfa's (<mamaninfas.com/>) on Navigation, which he describes as "Houston's iconic Tex-Mex restaurant."

However, those are hardly the only options in town. For example, Haven (<www.havenhouston.com/>) offers what it describes as "Texas Regional cuisine", and the local/seasonal philosophy extends to the drinks too. The restaurant "has a loyal following of Houstonian businessmen and ladies who lunch," Heugel says.

Meanwhile, The Grove (<www.thegrovehouston.com/>), located in the heart of Discovery Green Park, is noted for its stunning modern architecture, floor-to-ceiling windows and a cool outdoor terrace. Here, Heugel recommends the Ginger Margarita, made with Herradura reposado (aged) tequila.

And at the newly-opened Philippe Restaurant & Lounge (<www.philippehouston.com/>), "cowboy-inspired French cuisine" draws the Houstonian social crowd and foodies. Here, try The Sheriff, made with El Jimador Tequila, pink grapefruit and the bold punch of red chilli flakes. Never let it be said that they don't appreciate big flavours in Houston.

Recipe: Paloma (courtesy of Bobby Heugel, Anvil)

Anvil makes its own grapefruit beer for this refreshing tequila cocktail, but Heugel suggests substituting Fever Tree grapefruit soda, or another quality brand.

2 oz Siembra Azul Blanco Tequila

1 oz House Grapefruit Beer

0.5 oz Lime Juice

0.5 oz Simple Syrup

2 dashes Salt Tincture

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass with cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge and pressed mint sprig.

Kara Newman is the author of "Spice & Ice: 60 tongue-tingling cocktails", available <here>. The opinions expressed are her own.) (Editing by Peter Myers)

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