Good Spirits

Shaken, stirred, muddled or strained, we’ve found 28 local cocktails sure to quench your thirst in the blistering heat. Go ahead. Have another. Just remember, drink creatively.

by Courtney Dabney • Photography by Jason Kindig

Lucile’s Bloody Mary
Water Horse Pool Bar Strawberry Basil Mojito
Bayou Jack’s Cajun Grill Swamp Juice
Blue Sushi and Sake Grill Sapporo Sake Bombs
Waters Lavender Honey Pear Martini
Boiled Owl Raining Blood Shot
Revolver Taco Lounge Artisanal Pineapple Margarita
Ruth’s Chris Blackberry Sidecar

Oui Lounge – Basil Gin Smash $6
3509 Bluebonnet Circle
When Tim Love took over the perennial Bluebonnet Circle hangout, he returned the decor to its 1970s glory days. The classic Basil Gin Smash begins by muddling fragrant basil leaves with 1/2 ounce of simple syrup. Next, add 3/4 ounce Tito’s vodka, 3/4 ounce Hendrick’s gin, and half of a fresh lemon to a cocktail shaker. The mixture is strained into a rocks glass and served over ice with a splash of club soda, garnished with a lemon.

Lucile’s – Bloody Mary $7
4700 Camp Bowie Blvd.
There is a lot to love in this 16-ounce house specialty. Vodka is mixed with a combination of V-8 and tomato juices, plus a secret blend of spices––including celery salt and pepper. Traditional additions of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces are blended in. Technically, this cocktail counts as a full serving of vegetables. Sample the house-infused black pepper vodka for an extra kick.

The Usual – Montpelier $9
1408 W Magnolia Ave.
Owner Brad Hensarling says it is all about the quality of ingredients for his Montpelier. Buffalo Trace Bourbon blends with house-smoked maple syrup. Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum and Dolin Sweet Italian Vermouth also come into play. The mixture is stirred and served in a martini glass, topped with imported Luxardo cherries.

Water Horse Pool Bar at the Omni
Strawberry Basil Mojito $9
1300 Houston St. 
Seasonal summer favorites like juicy strawberries and hardy basil are incorporated in this contemporary twist on a classic Cuban mojito. A fresh strawberry and a few sprigs of basil are muddled in 1 1/4 ounces of white rum, releasing their essence. Then add 1/2 ounce of Rose's Lime and a splash of simple syrup. The drink is shaken and then topped off with a splash of soda and garnished with a strawberry and a basil leaf. Best enjoyed poolside.

Scat Jazz Lounge – Old Fashioned $10
111 W 4th St. # 11
Scat Jazz Lounge is the closest thing to Harlem you can find this far from the Big Apple. A classic Old Fashioned befits this swanky underground hangout. Rye Whiskey is blended with Regan’s Bitters and Angostura Bitters, a dash of sugar and some fresh orange zest. This cocktail is served in a rocks glass with a cherry on top.

Grace – Seven $9
777 Main St.
The elegant bar area is tucked behind a wall of glass overlooking Main Street. It is sleek, modern, and upscale as well as the rendezvous of many for after-work socializing. Fresh mint and cucumber are muddled together to create this enticing cocktail. Ultimat Vodka, simple syrup and ice is added, along with freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices. The Seven is served in an eye-catching salt and cayenne pepper rimmed rocks glass.

Waters – Lavender Honey Pear Martini $12
2901 Crockett St.
Sitting beneath dangling strings of oyster shells in Waters’ sunlit-drenched bar, you have a tough choice to make. Chef Jon Bonnell is well known for his oenophile prowess and the wine list is heady. But, this snappy, shaken concoction might tempt you away. Belvedere Vodka blends with sweet and fruity ingredients, including fresh pear puree and house-made lavender honey syrup.

Bayou Jack’s Cajun Grill Swamp Juice $7.50
2401 W. 7th St. Ste. 117
Served in a Mason jar (also known as Cajun crystal), this fruity rum punch gives you a real taste of New Orleans. The rum-based specialty cocktail features coconut and clear rums, blended with pineapple and orange juice. It is shaken and served over ice with cherries for garnish.
The look and feel of the swamp comes from green melon liquor.

Ray’s Prime Steak and Seafood – Pomegranate Martini $9
3206 Winthrop Ave.
Whether sitting inside listening to live piano music or out on the front patio taking in the evening breeze, a Pomegranate Martini hits the spot. This martini is sweet with hints of citrus, blushing in a lovely ruby tone. A 1/2 ounce of pomegranate syrup is shaken with 1 1/2 ounce each of raspberry and citrus vodka, and a splash of cranberry juice. It is served icy cold in a martini glass with a lemon twist.

Rodeo Goat – Moon Tang  $7
2836 Bledsoe St.
You might describe this one as a frozen screwdriver. Fitch’s Goat, a small-batch moonshine, Tang and “other thangs” are mixed together just right so that the result is chilling, delicious, and very potent. And yes, the primary flavor is Tang––the powdered drink mix everyone loved as a kid––the one astronauts took to the moon. It’s served in a 13-ounce rocks glass, garnished with a cherry and an orange slice.

M Lounge Martini Bar – French 75 $9
835 Foch St.
Be sure to peruse the Legends menu, which boasts 65 martinis ranging from "oldies but goodies" to contemporary combinations. On it, you'll find the French 75, named after the 75-millimeter field gun used by French soldiers in World War I. At least that's how the story goes. This simple, yet potent cocktail starts with good-quality gin, sugar, and fresh lemon juice, topped with champagne.

Blue Sushi and Sake Grill – Sapporo Sake Bombs $4
3131 W. 7th St.
Inside the lovely Sake Bombers Lounge, everything takes on a bluish tinge – the lighting makes sure of it. Beautiful aquariums filled with tropical fish add to the overall aesthetics of this happy hour hotspot. The most entertaining way to consume a sake bomb involves laying chopsticks across the top of a pint of Sapporo. Balance a shot of sake between the pair. Hit the table until the shot falls into the pint glass. Chug.

Blue Mesa Grill – Silver Sage Cocktail $10
1600 University Drive
Two pieces of cucumber and two sage leaves are muddled in a shaker tin. Then 1 1/2 ounce. Peligroso Silver tequila and 1/2 ounce Germaine Elderflower liqueur are added along with freshly squeezed lemon juice, and agave nectar for a touch of sweetness. Ice is added and the mixture is shaken vigorously, then strained into a rocks glass. It is topped with a double splash of Sprite and garnished with a sage leaf.

Ruth’s Chris – Blackberry Sidecar $12
813 Main St.
Looking more like dessert than a drink, this is one of the most popular cocktails in the sophisticated bar. Muddle three blackberries and simple syrup into a mixing glass, add ice, 1 1/4 ounce of Remy Martin VSOP Cognac, with 1 1/4 ounce of Cointreau, and 1 ounce of lemon juice, shake and strain into a sugar-rimmed rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Add two dashes of Fee Brothers plum bitters and garnish with three blackberries resting on top of the ice.

Joe T. Garcia’s – Margarita $7.50
2201 N. Commerce St.
When you are sitting on the patio in this Northside oasis, whatever you are drinking will taste top shelf. Trick your rita out any way you like––perhaps upgrading to Cointreau. Keep in mind that the biggest seller at Joe T’s has always been the regular margarita. The simple ingredients make it special. Fresh squeezed lime juice, gold tequila, and a good triple sec is blended to perfection.

The Gold Standard – Taxation Without Representation $6
2700 W. 7th St.
Not for teetotalers...this tea-flavored specialty is the perfect way to celebrate Independence Day. The best-seller at the Gold Standard begins with Absolut Wild Tea Vodka, then simple syrup, and a squeeze of both lemon and lime juice. It is simply refreshing. It is served in a rocks glass with a lemon wheel on the rim.

Michael’s Ancho Chile Bar – Jalapeño Margarita $8.75
3413 W. 7th St.
The Ancho Chile Bar is a perfect place to lounge before savoring Chef Michael Thomson’s “contemporary ranch cuisine.” His version of a traditional margarita has a hint of spice. Ingredients include two parts of 100 percent agave jalapeno-infused Tanteo tequila, with one part freshly squeezed lime juice, 3/4 part agave nectar or (simple syrup). Shake until frosty cold, strain into a salted glass with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

La Familia – Bourbon Margarita $7
841 Foch St.
Also known as the Family Slush, it is served in a frosty beer mug with a garnish of lime and a flaming sugar cube on top. Fresh orange juice, scratch-made lemonade, iced tea, and Jack Daniel’s are mixed into this frozen concoction. La Familia wins major points for the stunning presentation of this frozen favorite. 

Revolver Taco Lounge
Artisanal Pineapple Margarita $15
2822 W. 7th St. 
A nod to frozen paletas sold on almost every street corner in Mexico City, this refreshing cocktail is testament to this establishment’s mission to elevate traditional Mexican cuisine. Deliciously sweet pineapple pulp is plentiful throughout. House-made fresh pineapple syrup––the base for any pineapple ice pop––becomes the star in this margarita. A splash of tequila, Cointreau, and freshly squeezed lime juice round out the creation.

Reata – Clear Fork Cherry Vodka Limeade $9.95
310 Houston St.
The most important ingredient here has to be Three Olives Cherry Vodka. Two ounces of that premium brand are shaken along with 1/4 ounce of Grenadine, adding that bright pop of color, 1/4 ounce of Rose’s Lime, 2 ounce of both sweet and sour mix and Sprite. The concoction is served in a margarita glass and garnished with a lime wedge and maraschino cherries.

Terra Mediterranean Grill – Sangria $6
2973 Crockett St.
This delightful, fruit-filled sangria is a cool way to beat the heat on a hot summer day. The alcoholic component is brandy instead of traditional wine. Fresh fruit juices finish the composition including: pineapple, orange, cranberry, freshly squeezed lime, cherry and a house-made strawberry puree. The sangria is served in a mojito glass and garnished with seasonal fruit.

Brownstone – Skinny Colada $8
840 Currie St.
While you won’t actually find the Skinny Colada on any bar menus, it is still available upon request. It is called Skinny because of the lighter ingredients it contains. Start with fresh pineapple juice, add pineapple and coconut vodkas and add a splash of sparkling soda water. Lighter on calories, but loaded with flavor. The Skinny Colada is served in a tall Collins glass with fresh pineapple decorating the rim.

The Capital Grille – Grapefruit Buck $10
800 Main St.
The perfect summertime pick-me-up. The dominant flavor of ruby red grapefruit comes from the Absolut Ruby Red Vodka and a fresh wedge of grapefruit garnishing the rim. This shaken drink is served in a highball glass along with ginger beer and has the crimson color of Campari floating on the top. The drink holds its own against the strong masculinity of rich mahogany woods, granite counters and a warm golden glow of the elegant bar area.

Piranha’s Killer Sushi – Spicy Pear Martini $9
335 W. 3rd St.
A Spicy Pear Martini is an ideal complement to wild sushi and sashimi creations. Pear Vodka, Rose’s Lime, Jalapeño Simple Syrup and a fresh squeeze of lime are combined in a cocktail shaker, shaken and poured into a martini glass. A slice of fresh Jalapeño gives this drink extra bite.  

Del Frisco’s – VIP $13
812 Main St.
In this case, VIP stands for Vodka Infused Pineapple. Fresh Hawaiian pineapples are soaked in orange-flavored vodka for several days. The pineapple is then hand-pressed into a martini shaker to release all of the pineapple essence. It is shaken and served with ice chips and an orange twist.

Rio Mambo – Stone Dyer $7.50
6125 SW Loop 820
Get adventurous with this remix of the frozen margarita. Made with raspberry liqueur and Grand Marnier, the Stone Dyer is a potent potion that will take your tastebuds on a quick getaway, even if you can't. It goes down a little too easily in the summer heat. Be careful, the drink packs a punch.

Fireside Pies – Grapefruit Rickey $9
2949 Crockett St.
Even if you aren’t a grapefruit lover, this pretty sparkler combines sweet, red grapefruit juice with elderflower liqueur and vodka. Then it’s all topped off with effervescent club soda and a lime, which is sure to delight any patron. The Grapefruit Rickey pairs well with any of the restaurant’s 13 pies.