6 New Riffs on Classic Cocktails in Houston

Timeless drinks served with a twist
July 24, 2015
by Marcy de Luna

While the modern cocktail movement has given us some unforgettable boozy mixtures, there's a reason traditional cocktails have endured the times. But even those need a little freshening up from time to time, which is what some of Houston's most talented bar gurus have done with the six classics below. 


We're clueing you in to a boozy little secret — there's an incredible riff on the Cuban classic at Johnny's Gold Brick that's only for those in the know. The refreshing blend of blackstrap molasses rum, fresh lime juice and turbinado syrup, plus banana liqueur, is your ticket to paradise. There's even a tiki-style garnish to help put you in an island state of mind.

2518 Yale St.

Mai Tai

Downtown's The Pastry War has breathed new life into the tropical standby. The Mi Corbata​, made with ancho chile–infused scotch, Jamaican rum, curaçao, pepita orgeat and lime, has a pleasantly spicy kick.

310 Main St.


The Sunshine Daydream at Coltivare​ is an extra-boozy shandy that swaps out the usual beer for a mix of 100-proof apple brandy, Texas peach grenadine, fresh lemon, Crème de Noyaux, vanilla, ale and thyme.

3320 White Oak Dr.; 713-637-4095

Harvey Wallbanger

Midtown's Love and Squalor lounge, located inside Weights + Measureshas introduced countless drinkers to the joys of inventive spins on familiar favorites, including its take on a ubiquitous 1970s party drink, the Harvey Wallbanger. The Harvey Wallbanger Strikes Again substitutes dry gin for vodka, bringing a deep herbal depth to the libation. Fresh orange and lemon juices brightens the mixture, while a sweet herbal liqueur and housemade, bitter orange-vanilla marmalade work to ensure a velvety, smooth finish.

2808 Caroline St.; 713-654-1970


Spare Key pays homage to the sweet, Cosmopolitan-like bramble with a version sans the blackberry liqueur. Instead, they sub in the more acidic crème de cassis, a dark-red liqueur made from blackcurrants, plus the usual suspects: gin and fresh lemon juice.

2416 Brazos St., Ste. C; 832-701-1973


New York gave birth to the classic stirred cocktail, but Sanctuari Bar at Triniti takes it to a whole new level with six creative options. Dubbed the Lower Manhattan Series, choose from The Sweet, The Dry, The Perfect, The Bitter, The Rich and The Smokey. Our favorite is the The Rich, a bold sweet, spicy and bitter combination of bourbon, vermouth, amaro, French apéritif, Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas and aromatic bitters. 

2815 S. Shepherd Dr.; 713-527-9090

the pastry war
weights + measures
johnny's gold brick
spare key
sanctuari bar at triniti
riff on classic cocktails