September 8th, 2010

H-Town Showdown: Sugarcane vs. Anvil Bar & Refuge

We have taken some time off from the H-Town Showdown – too much time if you ask us. After having Kenneally’s vs. Mcelroy’s, West Alabama Ice House vs. Hans’ Bierhaus, Agora vs. Brasil, and even Bourbon Street vs. Washington Avenue the Showdown got lost in the shuffle. Today we resurrect it, much like the cocktails that both of these bars are trying to bring back to the public conscious. It’s Sugarcane versus Anvil Bar & Refuge. Who ya got?


Contender #1: Sugarcane
From the guts of Corkscrew springs life eternal and a new kid on the artisanal block. Sugarcane is chasing eco-friendly trends as they carefully craft organic cocktails with a menagerie of funky juice and ingredient combinations. And they do so with artsy gusto; the┬ápieces on the walls are for sale, naturally, but Sugarcane comes full circle by pumping profits into the artists’ favorite charities. If sustainability is the name of the game for a new generation, Sugarcane is playing for keeps.


Contender #2: Anvil Bar & Refuge
After being on the scene for more than a year now, it’s difficult to continue to refer to Anvil Bar & Refuge as a plucky upstart. What started out as a niche for premium cocktails has turned into a burgeoning market. Anvil is at the head of this growing Leviathan. They take just as much care in each cocktail served as they did the space they renovated and the obsession they continue to cultivate. Pre-prohibition cocktails couldn’t have asked for a better Houston hero.

The Final Jabs
- With success comes entirely too crowded weekends at Anvil.
- Local beer (Sugarcane) or exotic micro brews (Anvil): Who ya got?
- Sugarcane is still just Corkscrew, albeit new drink-type and new paint.
- Parking your own car at Sugarcane avoids the annoyance of Anvil’s valet.
- Obscure indie tunes at Anvil for the win.
- Lack of seating at Anvil for the loss.
- Montrose… ick!
- Washington… ugh!
- Sure Sugarcane is organic, but are the cocktails actually good?
- What gives first because of the throngs at Anvil: quality cocktails or personable bartenders?

— The Loop Scoop


A — Wednesday, September 8, 2010 12:13 pm

My vote at the moment would be “neither”. My husband and I were very early patrons of Anvil before it became popular, but I can’t say we go often anymore. The last time we went (on a weekend) the bartenders were awful and rude. We all said that we felt like they were doing us a favor by making us a drink!! And, they paired down the menu so much and every drink that someone ordered was just so-so. It was a sad experience for us since it was our favorite place in Houston. The only time we will go again will be on a weeknight or very early on a weekend.

On the other hand, we really liked the space at Sugarcane, but the drinks were just OK. We only found 1 so far that we would come back to order. But, the bartenders were all very nice and there was ample parking so I’d say we would head back there before Anvil. I still think there is room in the market for another bar of this sort!

The Kid — Wednesday, September 8, 2010 12:21 pm

I’ve loved Anvil sinced it opened. I’ve almost never gotten the same drink twice and I’ve never been disappointed; not once. I will admit that I don’t like to go there on weekend nights because it is so crowded, but I also like to do my heavy drinking on the cheap, so Anvil is more of a Happy Hour, 1 or 2 drink type of place for me anyway.

I have only been to Sugarcane one time (on a Wednesday night). I got the Washington Ave Buzz, and I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever had a worse cocktail in my life. Not sure if the bartenders were having a bad night, but they were reading off the menu to remember what went in the drink. My wife got a Scarlet Letter, which was equally bad. We left and went next door to Liberty Station to wash our mouths out with real drinks.

T — Wednesday, September 8, 2010 1:25 pm

I agree with A, my vote is definitely neither. I have been to Sugarcane a total of 2 times and probably will never go back. The first time was the second weekend it was open and our server was awful. He had to come back and ask our table 3 times what our orders were. We kind of laughed it off because they had just opened, but really it was not acceptable when there were only maybe 20 or so people there. But our drinks were good so we decided to go back one day. The 2nd time was last Saturday, we went after Taps down Washington got to crowded. We walked in and thought the place was closed, there were a total of 2 people inside not including the staff. We asked the bartender for some menus and he said that they got rid of the menus. Umm excuse me, but if you are going to have a bar with unusual cocktails you kind of need menus. The bartender was nice and made us all different drinks, some turned out great while others were not so great. I don’t forsee this place lasting much longer. I don’t know, maybe Saturday is not the night to be there, but the rest of Washington was crowded.

Then there is Anvil, the only reason I like Anvil is for their micro brews. I have tried almost all of there mixed drinks and can honestly say I only like 1 and to me it is not worth the 10 bucks and crowds on the weekend to enjoy it. We go to Anvil occasionally because we live in the neighborhood, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to go there.

So to LOOPSCOOP….Bad Showdown Choices

Paul — Wednesday, September 8, 2010 2:09 pm


I would love to take the blame here, but we opened up nominations for the Showdown last week and nobody said anything. We learned it from watching you! We wait for your suggestion for next month’s Showdown with open hearts and minds.

That goes to anyone. Submit your suggestions to our email at or just leave them in the comments below.


P.S. We prefer “The Loop Scoop” over “LOOPSCOOP.”

Tea Jones — Wednesday, September 8, 2010 4:03 pm

This Showdown obviously struck a chord with people, T, and it’s good to see people airing frustrations. It was a GREAT Showdown selection on that front. My personal opinions aside, it seems that according to most posters, the once and potential future kings have some explaining to do. Want to see your favorites throw down in the Showdown? See above…

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