CREDIT TO: In Houston, Local Bars Rival the City’s Best Restaurants BY: BRETT MARTIN

It is no secret that Houston has become a top culinary destination, but it’s also got a burgeoning drinks scene of almost as much diversity, sophistication and excitement. You could argue, in fact, that the first salvo of Houston’s modern culinary identity was fired at a bar: Anvil Bar and Refuge (see below). For obvious reasons, it’s hard for a car city to become a great drinking city, but the combination of ride-sharing and increasingly concentrated neighborhoods has created a vibrant alcoholic ecosystem—high, low, new, old, formal, casual—that matches H-Town’s dining chops. Here are a few suggestions for where to start knocking them back.

close up shot of a tall cocktail

Anvil Bar and Refuge

Bobby Huegel’s OG Montrose spot is still going strong, both as a drinking spot and a talent factory, even if it occasionally walks the line of suspendered, mustachioed mixologist parody. (When I once asked for a Manhattan variation served on a large ice cube, the bartender answered, “Sure. If you want to rape the drink.” [Ed note: we do not suggest using this phrasing in your personal life. Just our two cents!])

woman mixing cocktail behind bar


You can experience Alba Huerta’s cocktail lounge as a scholarly museum that traces the history, development and influences of Southern drinking. Or you can come in out of 100 degree heat and luxuriate in tall icy classics like the eponymous julep, made here with mint, bourbon and turbinado sugar, or lyrical house creations like the Strange Shores, a combination of rum, aloe, strawberry, lime and pineapple.