The Old Fashioned World Championship at Revolver Bourbon Social in Houston on September 25

old-fashioned-world-championshipIf you like Old Fashioneds, like me, then you should get excited about the Old Fashioned World Championship at Revolver Bourbon Social in Houston on September 25, 2016. Get your tickets on Eventbrite now. In fact, if you read this blog at all, you probably do like Old Fashioneds. After all, no other cocktail gets mentioned here so often. To me, it is the quintessential cocktail. And I can’t wait to try these innovators’ new versions.

That’s right. Bartenders will compete for the best Old Fashioned in the world! Or at least in Houston. And tickets are only $10. For that, you get to taste all of the competition’s drinks, as well as vote for the best one.

So come say hi on Sunday, September 25. It should be a blast. Even your dog can come! Now that’s service.

Oh yeah, and guess who’s going to be a judge! Come on! Guess! I bet you can’t figure it out!

Nuestra Mural and Milagro Tequila Dinner at Emma’s Mexican Grill in Pearland, TX

Next Tuesday, September 20 at Emma’s Mexican Grill in Pearland, TX, you can join me and a few other of your closest friends for a tequila and Mexican food paring dinner.

For tickets, go here.  It starts at 6:30, so get your tickets right away, and be sure to say hi when you see me.


Celebrated Street Artist from Mexico to Unveil Unique Mural at Emma’s Mex Grill

National “Agave Expressionism” Campaign Lands in Houston.

 HOUSTON – September 11, 2016 – In a collaborative effort between the Mendieta family of Pearland’s Emma’s Mex Grill and Milagro Tequila, famous illustrator and street artist Beo Hake from Monterrey Mexico, has been commissioned to complete a mural that will encompass the art of tequila, the Mendieta family history and their ties to the Pearland community. A celebration for the mural unveiling will take place on Tuesday, September 20th from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Featuring Milagro handcrafted cocktails, an intimate dinner prepared by Jose Mendieta, Sr., and live music, the public is invited to attend for $45 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Emma’s Mex Grille is located at 5010 West Broadway Street, Pearland, TX 77581.

The event coincides with Milagro’s “Agave Expressionism” campaign which unveils progressive artworks from top Mexico City street artists, embracing Milagro’s roots in the city’s creative culture. The initiative launched in 2015 and has since showcased inimitable works in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco via large public murals.

 Milagro Tequila has a deep-rooted connection with art—from its founders’ original inspiration to the artistry of its liquid and its bottle design. The vision of Milagro started with founders, Daniel Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi, who embodied the creativity and self-expression of modern Mexico City, particularly its innovative architecture, art, music and design. The first step in bringing their dream to life was finding Pedro Juarez, the Master Distiller. Pedro’s vision started where the art of tequila begins – with the agave itself. He insisted on using only the remarkable Jalisco Highlands 100% estate-grown blue agave, which is sweet, fruity and aromatic, setting Milagro Tequila apart from other tequilas. The artistry came full circle with Milagro’s bottle design. The Select Barrel Reserve bottles are handmade, each crafted around a sculpture of the agave heart, and the brand’s logo, as featured on the brand’s Core line, was inspired by the organic forms of Mexico city street art.

Beo will begin work on the mural on Monday, September 19 and continue working through the reveal event. Within the design of the newly opened 7,000 square foot restaurant, the family dedicated a wall space directly above the kitchen for the special artwork.

Join the conversation using #AgaveExpressionism on Facebook, Instagram @milagrotequila and Twitter @milagrotequila. For more information on Milagro Tequila visit

 About Beo Hake

 Beo Hake, an award-winning illustrator and graffiti artist from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, is inspired by his daily experiences. The core of his style is an ethereal sense of daydreaming with recurring themes of animals and nature. He has worked with several magazines including PICNIC and Cut Magazine and participated in gallery exhibitions like “Puro Machin” curated in in the José María Velasco. He won the international Threadless Adventure Time T-shirt contest, third place at Imjusan mural contest in 2012, and has painted at numerous festivals.

 About JP DE Loera

Based in San Antonio, Juan Pablo (JP) De Loera is the William Grant & Sons Texas Brand Ambassador for Milagro. Starting in 2008, JP began learning about the world of tequila through agave growers, jimadores and master distillers. He has two tequila degrees; one by Cultura y Capacitacion de Tequila, and the second by tequila’s governing body, the CRT, along with the University of Guadalajara. His love of tequila led him to meet great UK, US and other top international bartenders and mixologists. Inspired by the talent of bartenders and the diversity of tequila in cocktails, JP opened a tequila and cocktail bar in Guadalajara, Jalisco. JP’s has trained distributors, consumers, f&b teams, aficionados, and top global bartenders across the world. His family, like Milagro Tequila, is from Tepatitlan, in the highlands of the state of Jalisco.

 About Milagro

 Founded in 1998 by Mexico City natives Danny Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi, Milagro Tequila and has quickly escalated into one of the world’s leading tequila brands with one foot in tradition and the other in the future, combining the finest old-world techniques and traditions and applying modern technologies and processes to produce a superior product. This award-winning tequila brand from William Grant & Sons captures the spirit of modern day Mexico, from its entrepreneurial founders and artisanal bottles to the ingredients and distillation process.  The Milagro Tequila range consists of six expressions, with Silver, Reposado and Añejo expressions of its Core and Select Barrel Reserve ranges respectively. All Milagro expressions are distilled in both pot and column stills for the perfect balance of smoothness and agave flavor from 100% estate-grown blue agave.  Milagro Silver is crisp and clear, and is renowned for its smoothness, mixability and agave-forward taste, making it perfect in the signature Freshest Margarita, made with agave nectar and fresh lime juice.  All Milagro Tequilas have an ABV of 40% and retail between $24.99 to $43.99 for the core range and between $52.99 and $98.99 for the Select Barrel Reserve range.  For more information, visit

The Mexican Martini recipe: a Margarita with olives

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Yes, I know. And I agree, don’t worry. I understand, yes, that the Mexican (or Texas, sometimes) Martini may just be the stupidest cocktail in the world. I understand that even calling it a Mexican Martini is like calling beans and cilantro “Texas caviar.” It’s just dumb.

But then why are they so delicious? Huh? Why can I quaff three of them and enjoy every minute of it? They are oh-so-good.

I first had one a few years ago when my friends met up at the local chain Chuy’s, which started in Austin, I believe, but has now migrated not only to Houston but all over the freakin’ United States, it seems like.

Chuy’s has decent food, but I tend to like tacquerias, not Tex Mex. Still, I like my friends, so I went. And they were all drinking what they called Mexican Martinis. I hung my head in shame at the silliness of my friends and their low-brow drinking habits.

Until I tried it.

And thus ordered one.

And then another.

But now I know better than to order these $12 drinks. And now that you have the recipe, you can know better, too.

How to make a Mexican Martini

To make your own Mexican Martini cocktail, combine in a shaker with ice:

shake well, and strain into a chilled glass that has been rimmed with lime and kosher salt, if you like. Garnish with an olive or two and a lime wedge.

Like I said, it’s really just a big margarita with some olives.

But damn, it works.

Spirit Review: Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky (or Whiskey)

Balcones whisky. These lone star superstars know what they’re doing.

Texas is not known for whiskey. If anything, we’re known for beer. Lone Star. Stuff like that. Whiskey isn’t even from Texas. It’s from Kentucky and Tennessee, crappy states like that.

Just kidding, Tennessee.

But think back to the old west, and whiskey has to come to mind. Lonesome Dove is full of whiskey-swilling cattle drivers who get drunk and lose their cool. Or they get drunk and regain their cool, depending on the character. Like George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire saga, Larry McMurtry’s characters find their courage and their doom at the bottom of a whiskey jug. And Larry McMurtry was killing off your favorite characters long before Martin came along and started killing off practically everyone.

I have hopes that Tyrion will rise from the dead, though.

So even though whiskey isn’t what Texas is known for, we do know whiskey (or whisky, as Balcones iconoclastically calls it). And Balcones makes some of the best whiskey in Texas.

The nose is oaky and spicy, of allspice or cardamon. There’s just a hint of smoke with some dried fig on the back. It’s sweet, with butterscotch and toffee. As far as whiskey goes, it’s up there with the best.

And I’m from Texas, so I know what I’m talking about.

P.S. If you haven’t read the books, I guess you don’t know about Tyrion’s death. Too bad for you.

Drinking Houston Bar Review: Springbok South African Kitchen

Springbok South African Kitchen hosted the Houston Food Blogger Collective, so I had to tag along to try a few of their proprietary cocktails, as well as my old standbys to see how well Springbok crafts their cocktails.

It’s in downtown Houston, so I don’t have a reason to go there as much as I would like, but it’s worth the trip. Go eat dinner and have a couple of cocktails at Springbok, then walk down main until you get to Moving Sidewalk or Captain Foxheart’s.

The food at Springbok

First, let’s get the food out of the way.

Frying bread is genius, by the way.
Fried bread filled with spicy ground meat. I mean spicy ground goodness!

It’s good, okay?

Nuff said.

They even showed us how they make the special South African jerky, and then let us try it. And it was damn good. Everything is spicy in just the right way. The bread was excellent, especially when fried.

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Go there to eat. It’s all worth it.

But make sure you have a few cocktails, too.

The cocktails at Springbok

They can make anything, though. Give 'em a challenge!
The cocktail menu at Springbok

They started us off with the Springbok Mule, which had an interesting twist: Fernet Branca. Those of you who read my blog know I have a love/hate relationship with this stuff. Pretty much, I hate it by itself, but I love a touch of it in anything. And putting it into a Moscow Mule is pretty much putting it in anything, if you ask me. Maybe I will go to some highfalutin cocktail bar and they will have a Gin and Tonic with Fernet in it. As long as they credit me, who cares?

Maybe the Fernet thing has gone a bit too far?

The problem is that it works. Springbok mixes it with rye and Goya ginger beer, which is excellently spicy, too. It adds just the right amount of menthol and mint flavor to make it a tad different.

The Springbok Mule with rye, Fernet Branca, and Goya ginger beer
The Springbok Mule with rye, Fernet Branca, and Goya ginger beer

Then I had to try the Zulu Warrior. With tequila, yellow Chartreuse, lime, grapefruit, and more Goya ginger beer, this drink was excellent. The best I had all night, in fact. I love Chartreuse, as you guys well know. Both kinds. And this drink had it all: the sweet, the sour, the spicy, the herbal. Really, it hit every taste bud imaginable.

The Dutch don't stand a chance against these warriors.
The Zulu Warrior cocktail with tequila, yellow Chartreuse, lime, grapefruit, and Goya ginger beer

Then I headed upstairs, and they have an entire bar up there, too! Here, I talked with the bartender a while, and when he told me that his favorite drink to make was an Old Fashioned, I had to take him up on it.

Pour it, man! Pour it!
Making an Old Fashioned the right way: sugar, bitters, rye, and an orange peel.

Old Overholt is their well rye, so it started off very, very good. Just a touch of simple syrup, which is fine, and a few dashes of bitters. Not quite as spicy as I usually make my own Old Fashioneds, but still competent. He knew what he was doing.

Be sure to watch the Metro train go by.
The view from the upstairs deck of Springbok.

And while you’re up there, you can check out the view of Houston’s metro rail from their second-story deck. And then head back inside to play some ping pong. Or, if you go on Friday, you can pay the $5 to get upstairs and see whatever band is playing.

Just don't play against me. I'm a ringer when it comes to the little balls.
You can even play ping pong for who buys the next round.

Springbok is worth it. Most of us know nothing about South African cuisine, so I can’t comment on how Springbok compares to other South African food, but as a restaurant all its own, it’s great.

Drinking Houston Bar Review: Harold’s Tap Room

0607162129Harold’s Tap Room is a part of the Harold’s enterprise on 19th Street in the Heights. There’s Allie’s Pizzeria, Harold’s Restaurant, and now Harold’s Tap Room occupying the narrow space between the stairs and the pizzeria.

I say narrow, but really, the bar is exactly what I want. First of all, Harold’s Tap Room is actually a bar. Not a lot of seating that isn’t at the bar. I like that. When I go to a bar, I want to sit at the bar, not at a table. Call me old fashioned, but I like bars. I love it when the bar itself is the largest thing in a place.

0607162026Second, I like it that it isn’t that big. Because the bar occupies so much room, it means that the place can’t hold that many people. Even if it were crowded, it would still seem small and intimate. I like that, too.

They have a whole selection of Chef Antoine Ware’s take on bar food, but I didn’t go there for that. I didn’t even try any of it. Like I said, I like bars. When I want a restaurant, I go to a restaurant. Man, I sound like an old curmudgeon. Young whippersnappers with their fancy chef hats!

The first thing I noticed about Harold’s Tap Room, however, was the music. First, there was Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Then “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. And “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister.

It’s kind of what Harold’s is like. Not metal or anything like that. Heck, it’s not even what they normally play there. But it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It isn’t pretentious, thank God. If you want a craft infused cocktail, they have you covered. But if you want a freakin Budweiser, they got you there, too. It’s a bar, even if it is a nice one, and anyone can go in a get a good beer or a good drink without having their tastes shat upon.

The beer at Harold’s Tap Room

0607162206It isn’t called Harold’s Tap Room for nothing. They have a pretty good beer selection, with eight taps and about that many wine taps (yes, they have wine taps).

All from Texas: Karbach, No Label, St. Arnold’s, and two I had never heard of–Town in City and Stesti.

So of course I tried the Town in City City Porter and Amber Pale Ale along with the Stesti Bohemian Pilsner and Lager.

If you know anything about my tastes from reading this blog, you know I lean toward the bitter hops and away from the porter style. Yet the Town in City City Porter was great. It’s chewy and bready with dark chocolate and hazelnut flavors.

The surprise was the Stesti lager. I’m not even sure exactly what it was called, but I loved it. Funky and malty, yet bright and drinkable. I would definitely order that again.

I loved seeing Texas breweries that I had not tried before, and I commend the Harold’s crew for carrying local beer, especially good local beer. I also like it that they let you do a beer flight. For the same price as a 16 oz pint, they will let you have 4 4 oz glasses of any beer you want. That’s cool. I wish more beer places would do that.

The infused cocktails at Harold’s Tap Room

0607162050It may be called a Tap Room, but the infused cocktails are the star of the show. Lots of places may infuse a few spirits, but Lauren Muse, the bar manager and drink maester has built her entire program around infusing spirits.

There’s all kinds of them. Thyme, raspberry, and mint vodka, pineapple and ginger gin, cherry and apple rum. The list goes on. You can make your own cocktail by telling them which spirit to use with which mixers, too.

Me, I trusted Lauren’s muse and went for the published cocktails.

0607162027First, there’s the Alarm Clock, which uses coffee infused rum with a simple syrup of both light and dark sugars, and a bit of Ancho Reyes, a spicy and sweet pepper liqueur that is popping up everywhere. Yes, I am a fan. The cocktail is good, too.

0607162040aThen I had to try to Not So Old Fashioned, which uses peach infused whiskey, another fine drink featuring their infusions. I would recommend both of the drinks unreservedly, although I would perhaps reach for the Alarm Clock first. After all, it may wake you up. Something about the chili and coffee work perfectly.      0607162123 Overall, Harold’s Tap Room is a fine bar. Great cocktails, a good beer selection, an easy place to sit and talk while having whatever you want. They really do aim to please, and they’re doing it right.



How to use aquafaba (or aguafaba, i.e. chickpea goo): The Got to Be Kidding Cocktail

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The Got to Be Kidding Cocktail: Hornitos Tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, aquafaba, lime, syrup

Basically, you use the same amount you would of an egg white, which is normally about 3/4 to 1 oz.

Wait, wait, wait. Some of you don’t know what aquafaba is, do you?

Well, it seems to be all the rage these days. I haven’t actually seen it on a cocktail menu in Houston yet, but it’s all over them interwebs.

It’s chickpea goo.

Yep. You know when you drain a can of chick peas, it isn’t just water that comes out. It’s like a goo, a thick, chewy substance that absorbs quite a bit from the chickpeas. It absorbs so much, in fact, that you can substitute it for egg in cocktails or meringues or anything.

I’m not joking.

So when you’re making some hummus with a can of chickpeas, make sure you save the goo, otherwise known as aquafaba, or aguafaba. And make some good, frothy cocktails with it!

Make a damn good whiskey sour!

Make a Sloe Gin Fizz!

Anything that requires egg whites.

For me, I wanted to go for something a little different, and something that I haven’t tried before: tequila and Chartreuse.

Sounds great, I know, but it works.

The Got To Be Kidding Cocktail Recipe

To make the Got to Be Kidding Cocktail, combine in a mixing glass:

  • 3/4 oz Hornitos Plata Tequila
  • 3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz aquafaba (chickpea goo)
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup

If you like it a little sweeter, you can up the simple syrup, but I like it more tart and herbaceous.

Dry shake it a bit without ice. Then add ice, shake the hell out of it, and strain it into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with anything leafy and herbal. Me, I used lemon balm because, well, I love lemon balm, and I have a lemon balm plant. Mint would also work.


Just make sure you make some hummus, too. Don’t just use the chickpea goo.

The Summer Rain Swizzle: Reyka Vodka, Creme de Violette, watermelon, mint, Angostura

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The Summer Rain Swizzle: Reyka Vodka, Creme de Violette, watermelon, mint, Angostura

Step One: Clean out the gutters. Literally.

Cleaning out the gutters has been on my mind for a while now. I don’t really know why, though. And I’m not being metaphorical here. It’s not a euphemism for an enema or anything like that. I’m talking about actually, literally, getting up there and cleaning out my gutters. Our gutters don’t do a damn thing, and they’re falling off the house anyway, but I still have to clean them every now and then. And the roof was covered in pine needles, so I figured it was time to get up there.

After lunch, though, I needed a 30-minute quiet time. You know, the thing you make your youngsters have when they’re supposed to be napping. After my short snooze, I jumped up, grabbed the ladder and climbed on the roof with a broom in hand.

No sooner had I begun sweeping off my roof then the rain started. Wait, though. Those of you who are not in Houston need to realize that it hasn’t rained in over a month. Just 98 degree hell. Yet today, the day I decide to get on the roof and clean my gutters, the rain falls. Heavy.

Oh well, that’s the hand I’m dealt. So I cleaned my gutters in the rain and swept the entire roof trying not to slip off and bust my ass.

And it felt good.

After a shower, though, it was time for a cocktail.

Time for a swizzle.

Step Two: The Summer Rain Swizzle Recipe

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After a hot summer rain, there’s nothing better than a swizzle

First, you need watermelon juice. All we do it put a bunch of watermelon in a blender, and voila! Watermelon juice. Tasty on its own, sure, but also delicious in cocktails.

To make the Summer Rain Swizzle cocktail, muddle quite a few mint leaves. Basically, as much as you think the glass can handle. Then add about half a glass of crushed ice. To that, add

  • 1 1/2 ounces Reyka Vodka
  • 2 1/2 ounces watermelon juice
  • 1/2 ounce Creme de Violette

Then fill up the rest of the way with crushed ice and add about five to ten dashes of Angostura bitters, and garnish with another mint sprig.

Easy breezy, and it goes down easy, too. My kind of recipe.

Spirit Review: Herradura’s Ultra Anejo and the Herradura Colección de la Casa

IMG_2370The Herradura Ultra Anejo Tequila

Herradura’s Ultra Anejo is unlike any other tequila I’ve had. It is a blend of extra anejo tequila (aged 49 months) with anejo, which is a bit younger. Then they put it through a charcoal filter so it’s clear like a blanco.

Why do they filter it?

Who cares? It tastes amazing! At $70 a bottle, this is not mixing stuff. This is the stuff you serve to your father-in-law after Thanksgiving dinner. This is the stuff you sip with a Cuban cigar in the other hand. This is the stuff you savor and hide from your friends who want to do shots. If I see anyone with a lime and salt in one hand a shot of Herradura Ultra Anejo in the other, I will slap the drink out of their hand.

Tis better to throw good tequila on the ground than to waste it on swine, as the good book says.

Don’t think this stuff tastes like regular tequila, though. It’s a sweet, vanilla-almond bomb. According to the press release from last year, they add a bit of agave nectar before bottling, which may be why it’s so sweet.

In fact, it has none of the typical, vegetal tequila characteristics. It has more in common with an aged rum than it does with tequila.

The finish is ultra smooth, with nary a hint of burn in sight.

The Herradura Coleccion de la Casa Tequila

IMG_2371The unaged tequila in Herradura’s newest Coleccion de la Casa is an unaged spirit bottled straight from the still at 110 proof. I, for one, have never seen a tequila with that high of a proof content.

Compare it to the Ultra Anejo, and the two are night and day. This one is much harsher, but not as much as you might think considering the lack of maturation and the higher proof.

It is still absolutely drinkable on its own, or perhaps just slightly chilled.

This Coleccion de la Casa is meant to highlight the agave and only the agave. Nothing from the barrel. Nothing filtered out. Just the pure agave spirit.

Unlike an aged tequila, this one keeps its pepper vegetable quality. The finish reminds me of roasted peppers.

If you know someone who loves unaged tequila, then this bottle’s for them. At $90, it’s a special bottle. Keep it, too, away from the margarita lovers. Don’t let them be fooled into thinking this is just another blanco.

The Herb Alpert cocktail: mezcal, tequila, lime, oregano, jalapeno

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The Herb Alpert Cocktail from Imbibe Magazine, created by Phil Ward of Mayahuel.

I was just telling my wife today that I need to find a use for the overgrown oregano plant that is trying to take over my herb garden. Even my mint can’t seem to fight it.

Enter the new issue of Imbibe Magazine, which features Phil Ward’s drink the Herb Alpert, one of the popular drinks at his New York establishment (the other one!) Mayahuel.

If, like me, you have an overgrown oregano plant and need to know what to do with it besides spaghetti sauces, here’s your drink. Or if you bought some to make spaghetti sauce with and have some leftover, here’s your solution. Either way, it’s fantastic.

How to make the Herb Alpert

Chill your coupe, and then chop about half of a jalapeno, seeds and all. Add the leaves from about three sprigs of oregano. Muddle those.

Then add

  • 1 oz Montelobos (or any other smokey, full-flavored mezcal)
  • 1 oz Milagro tequila blanco (or any other blanco tequila)
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz rich simple syrup

Shake well with ice. Really well. Then double-strain into your coupe and float an oregano leaf on top.

The original recipe calls for infusing the jalapeno into the tequila, but I find I can get a similar effect from simply muddling it.

The original also calls for 8 oregano leaves. I used about four times that much. Of course, my oregano leaves are small, but I found I needed more to make an impression on the drink. Experiment with it until you find your taste.

Why the name Herb Alpert?

The name has three meanings, methinks.

First, there’s the herb in Herb. Not that herb. The oregano herb. Literally. Oregano.

But then there’s the play on the name itself. Herb Alpert. The musician.

And third, there’s the play on the  music of Herb Alpert. He has the Tijuana Brass, after all, and this drink features both tequila and mezcal. Sure, it’s made in New York City, but Herb Alpert was from L.A., so it matters nothing.

Listen to Whipped Cream and Other Delights, and make yourself an herbal Herb Alpert.

Cocktails, Spirits, Bars, and Beer in Houston and all over Texas