Move over tequila, there's a new spirit on the rise in Houston. Meet sotol, a Mexican spirit that's becoming a bartender favorite for its nutty flavor and less potent alcohol levels. "Sotol has a little more rustic flavor," explains barman Sean Beck (Hugo's, Backstreet Cafe, Trevisio, Caracol). "It's got an untamed backbone to it that I really like, and it's a good blending cocktail ingredient." Check out five drinks featuring the versatile liquor.
The Downtown bar is serious about Mexican cocktails, including this beautiful number starring sotol blanco (pictured at top) combined with lemon juice, agua de pina, damiana honey and crème de menthe. It's garnished with two tied mint sprigs.
310 Main St.; 713-225-3310
Grab a seat in the bustling bar area — decked out with sailboat booms and suspended sailcloth — or in the spacious dining area (the best seat to take in the view is from the tables alongside the front windows) and ask for this tasty tipple. Sotol blanco adds an herbaceous note to the mix of elderflower liqueur, sparkling Spanish wine and passion fruit syrup and gets a frosty kick from a jalapeño-and-coriander ice cube.
2200 Post Oak Blvd.; 713-622-9996
The cozy and artsy Montrose cantina offers up authentic Mexico City fare and this refreshing Mexican drink made with un-aged sotol plata, simple syrup and lemon juice. Crushed chia seeds pepper the drink.
214 Fairview St.; 713-942-0000
A mix of sotol plata, French herbal liqueur, maraschino liqueur, Aperol and lime, this can't-miss cocktail is the perfect match to the cantina's mix-and-match tacos. We recommend the barbacoa with smoked crema, avocado and pickled red onions, or the mushrooms with chimichurri, queso and poblano rajas.
419 Travis St.; 713-229-8181
The longtime Montrose hot spot showcases imaginative south-of-the-border food and drinks, including this sotol blanco-based cocktail with ruby red grapefruit soda and salt.
1600 Westheimer Rd.; 713-524-7744