August 24th, 2010
Sugarcane: When Life Gives You Lemons…
In 5 Words: Local, Organic, Refreshing, Cocktails, Rebirth
If you’re like me, when you hear of a new bar concept being opened on Washington Avenue you usually let out a little sigh and resign yourself to trying it at least once or twice. Love it or hate it, Houston’s first paved street is the centerpiece to our nightlife these days. Thankfully, when Sugarcane was announced, I didn’t so much groan with discontent as my ears perked, eager as I was to check out a few new drinks as the cocktail craze continues to build in Houston.
The crowds on Washington are predictable, so I choose to stop by Sugarcane for the first time on a Wednesday. It’s much easier to get the lay of the land during the weekday, not to mention, much easier to judge a bar on the drink rather than the wait it takes to get it.
There is no fighting over parking spots as I pull up to the building that used to be home to The Corkscrew. The very fact that there’s parking at all is a boon to the new concept. They have done away with the seating in front of the bar and moved it to a new covered location in the back, so the only thing standing between me and my first sip is the door.
As I walk in to the space, newly opened and freshly painted, I spot my friend, who has beaten me here, sitting on one of the leather couches pushed up against the wall to the right. You might ask yourself, “leather couches in the ‘organic’ bar?” I think that’s a natural (or not so natural) query. Hopefully they used the rest of the cow proficiently throughout Sugarcane.
Walking in to shake my friend’s hand, he chooses not to greet me with a “hello,” but with a warning. “Don’t get the Old Fashioned.” I have taken to the classic drink over the last year, only to find out that I was taking after a trend created by Don Draper, unbeknown to me until I started watching Mad Men recently. I’m my own man, not one to be influenced by fictional heroes, so a change in drink might do me well.
Standing at the bar, inspecting the menu, I get asked what I would like. “Something new,” is my reply. The bartender points me to the right column off of which I decide on the refreshing sounding Cucumber Mint concoction. It’s presentation leaves nothing to doubt. Is there cucumber in my Cucumber Mint? Don’t ask me, ask my green and white garnish.
I get back to the leather sofa with what appears to be a mural of a tree looming over it to sip my drink. It’s cool and refreshing, just as expected. The taste of vodka shines through. My friend has already finished his unwanted Old Fashioned and is heading to the bar for a redemptive second beverage.
On the other side of the bar a corporate happy hour is winding down. This seems to be the kind of place that would attract such events. With it’s focus on local produce, organic ingredients and it’s location on Washington, Sugarcane fits the bill of being just socially-responsible and corporate enough to house parties for ExxonMobil to Bubba’s Mom & Pop store.
My friend and I finish our cocktails as we relax and think about what’s next. The answer doesn’t necessarily have to do with that of life’s unexpected turns, but the hunger for dinner that has recently popped up. With the crowd remaining at two dozen strong on a Wednesday night, it doesn’t seem like much exciting will happen here, but don’t discount the posiblity of Ms. Corporate Happy Hour getting a couple too many organic gin drinks and dancing on a table.
We decide to let Sugarcane live to fight another day and make our way down to Feast. Drinking organic seems fun, but eating organic wins every time.
Where – 1919 Washington Ave., Houston, TX 77007 (View Map)
What – Local Produce Turned Organic Cocktails
Wear – Straight from Work to Straight to Flip Flops
How Much – Middle of the Road
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