Houston Julep Cocktail Bar Focuses on Chef-Created Dishes and “Migrant” Ingredients

End of July, Julep, which was named Best Cocktail Bar of 2021 by the Houston Press, has updated its menu – its first new since it reopened on May 1. It was closed for several months due to the pandemic. Located at 1919 Washington, the southern-inspired bar has added several cocktails, as well as food items.

On the drink side, the owner of Julep, Alba Huerta, created what is called the “migrant” cocktail menu, which tells the story of the arrival of certain ingredients in America. To reinvigorate the food offer, she joined forces with the chef Kate mclean (formerly Tony’s Executive Chef) on four new dishes. Houston Food Finder was invited to sample several of the new additions.

Apero of nightshade in Julep. Photo by Jenn Duncan.

The cocktail menu has a mellow atmosphere, with the exception of the Nightly nightshade aperitif. This highball riff is a blend of white port, Manzanilla sherry, Select Aperitivo, lemon and tonic with thyme and pepper. Native to Central and South America, bell pepper is the “migrating ingredient” and introduces a spicy touch, along with a hint of sweetness, to counter the dryness of sherry. However, the peppery and herbaceous qualities of thyme stand out, transforming the cocktail into a multi-faceted drink.

Ela Milk Punch at Julep’s. Photo by Jenn Duncan.

Cardamom is the flagship component of Ela Milk Punch. The spice, which has roots in India, is mixed with bourbon, brown sugar, milk, and bananas. While cardamom offers nutty and herbal flavors, it appears subtly, allowing the banana to take the lead. The sweetness of the brown sugar gently dampens the intensity, making this cocktail an easy drinker.

Other new libations incorporate rare ingredients into classic cocktails. New Old, the Julep version of an Vieux Carré, combines rye, rum, sweet vermouth infused with alligator pepper, Amaro Montenegro, mole and the Bitters of Peychaud. (Alligator pepper is a West African spice with flavors similar to cardamom and cloves.) Alligator pepper gives earthy notes, but it has to rival the sweetness of rum. The Tepeche Julep emphasizes tamarind, a fruit popular in countries of South and Southeast Asia, Central America as well as Mexico, combining it with pineapple, verdejo wine, maraschino, mezcal and raspberry.

Overall, the cocktails are well executed and are good introductions to guests new to craft cocktails.

Oyster picnic board in Julep. Photo by Ryan Baker.

McLean’s new dishes on the menu include a French Onion Dip with caramelized onions, candied onion oil and shallot-infused vinaigrette combine sweet and savory with a spicy flavor. The ample texture is smooth and smooth, punctuated by pieces of onion and shallot. Kettle chips add crunch, making snacking a complete and enjoyable experience. The Oyster picnic board came with six raw oysters from Murder Point, a tie of Toulouse sausage, herb infused butter and a baguette from Houston’s Magnol French Bakery. The presentation of the board is impeccable and the French sausage brings frank flavors and textures that compensate for the silky brine of the oysters.

McLean’s Show Thief is the Homemade burger. A first for the Julep menu, the burger features Texas Akaushi beef, American cheese, a sesame seed bun from Magnol French Baking spread with the aforementioned French onion dip, and crystal pickles (a crispy pickle and semi-sweet). Beef patties are thinner, with a searing that brings a solid bite unlike the soft, chewy bun. The burger essentials are balanced and create a substantial and filling vehicle for the tangy punch of the French onion dip.

Bourbon Pearls Dessert at Julep

The latest addition to the menu is Bourbon pearls, a range of chilled bourbon and Texas pecan fudge balls coated in mint powder. The fudge is rich, but slightly cut off by the refreshing mint and the cool serving temperature. The combination allows guests to enjoy the whole dish without feeling heavy.

Julep, which has served Houston since 2014, is open daily from 4 p.m. to midnight and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. In addition to the most recent offerings on the migrant-inspired drink list, the Julep’s menu features 80 classic cocktails, as well as a varied menu. Visit Julep’s website for details.

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