even though we've been back from Houston for over 3 weeks now, i can't stop reminiscing about our adventures there. maybe it's because philadelphia has been getting pelted with all manner of frozen precipitation ever since our return, and i long to go back to that sunny patio where we sat and drank iced coffee. maybe it's because seeing our dear mary was a sharp reminder of how intensely she is missed here. or maybe it's that the routine of working, schlepping home on the septa bus, and "being cozy" (that is, staying in to avoid the cold) is making me long for another vacation.
regardless, one facet of the houston trip that has stayed with me is the creative, lovely cocktails that we sipped at a few places across town. at home, i'm rarely drawn to bars that offer the new class of craft or pre-prohibition mixed drinks. the steep price tags and my unyielding love of beer may be to blame. chick's is just a block away from my house, and i've stopped in a few times, but with no real regularity. the wonderful southwark, too, is just a stone's throw away from my abode, but i like to reserve my trips there for special occasions. the thing about vacations is, is that every day is a special occasion! especially when you're cavorting around with three of your best lady friends, it doesn't take much convincing to order a fancy drink once the sun has gone down.
while on the plane en route to texas, lauren and i took turns thumbing through the most recent issue of saveur. in their "top 100" feature, the head chef at dolce vita was quoted about some crazy salad they serve, and we said, almost simultaneously, "we should totally go there!" and so, we did. the food turned out being great, and the drinks fully held up their side of things. we ordered these appertifs before our antipasti arrived, and they primed our palates for the delicious food to come.
vodka cocktail, with lemon and basil
negroni with a big splash of prosecco
anvil, a "bar + refuge" (oh geez), located on a jumping strip of westheimer, was packed out on a friday night, and the skilled fleet of bartenders were moving like soldiers on a mission. and while the bar had some pretty whimsical and weird drinks on its menu, it was what i would consider a serious place. once you placed your order, the bartender would literally fly into action, never needing to so much as glance at a recipe or menu to double check one of the eight obscure ingredients. they poured, stirred, shook, and served with absolute precision.
"the diplomat:" gin, bonal, curacao, maraschino, orange bitters
halimah and i fought our way through the yuppie crowd and both ordered the diplomat, a heady and strong cocktail which i assume earned its namesake from the around-the-world nature of its ingredient: gin (england/the netherlands), bonal (france), curacao (the caribbean), maraschino (italy) and bitters (well, i guess those could be made anywhere). i loved the delicate glasses they were served in, which inspired me to buy a few of my own on a recent thrifting binge:
the cheapest happy hour: a homemade vodka martini
another stand out drink i had was at a funny joint, beavers, which involved lemon and marigold infused vodka, made with flowers right from the restaurant's garden. i didn't get to snap a photo of this drink, but it was a perfect balance of floral (not soapy, just fresh), citrusy, and dry. like summertime in a cup. just thinking about that little glass of joy makes me smile, and helps me to remember that there is a light at the end of this wintry tunnel.