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Houston Bars & Bartenders Get Major Nods From Upcoming National Conference


Tongue-Cut Sparrow owner Bobby Heugel with general manager Peter Jahnke. Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

Posted: June 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The team at influential cocktail bar Anvil Bar & Refuge (1424 Westheimer) and upstairs hideaway Tongue-Cut Sparrow (310 Main) are among finalists for The Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail, a conference held annually in New Orleans that is arguably the biggest and most recognized of its kind in the United States. Anvil is a finalist in the Best American Bar Team and Best American Cocktail Bar categories while Tongue-Cut Sparrow—at a mere five months old—is in the running for Best New American Cocktail Bar. Anvil has previously been selected for the Top 10 in both of these categories but has never won.

In addition, bartender Adrienne Feinberg of Boheme (307 Fairview) is a finalist in the Marie Brizard “Toast to Herstory” competition. Feinberg was challenged “to create a cocktail using a Marie Brizard liqueur inspired by, and in honor of, iconic women of the past and present.” Her “I Am The Lizard Queen” drink is an ode to to an icon of the animated kind: Lisa Simpson of The Simpsons cartoon. The cocktail is comprised of Rittenhouse Rye, Marie Brizard Apry, Kopke Ruby Port, lemon juice and egg white.

Anvil Bar & Refuge, Houston’s first bar devoted to classic cocktails, has long been known for its high standards and has been nominated for several awards since its inception. Photo by Julie Soefer Photography

Feinberg will compete against four other finalists from around the country at “Tales” on Friday, July 21st. She doesn’t seem concerned about creating an egg white cocktail for up to 400 people. Apparently, she’s summoning Lisa Simpson’s can-do attitude. If Feinberg wins, she’ll land a prize fit for a lizard queen: a custom leather bar roll full of premium tools and an all-expenses-paid trip to Bordeaux, France to compete in the Marie Brizard Global Masters Competition 2018.

Adrienne Feinberg’s ‘I am the Lizard Queen’. Photo courtesy of Boheme

Tales of the Cocktail was founded fifteen years ago by Ann Rogers (now Tuennerman), who started the New Orleans Original Cocktail Tour—a walking tour of the most intriguing bars and cocktails New Orleans had to offer. The festival grew its attendance in the mid-2000s with the addition of The Spirited Awards, which “recognize the efforts of the best and brightest professionals within the cocktail and spirits industries.”

Adrienne Feinberg, general manager and beverage director at Boheme. Photo courtesy of Boheme

The Spirited Awards selection committee evaluated over 1,000 nominees and selected the top 10 for each category. According to Tuennerman, just being nominated a “monumental accomplishment”. There are 24 total categories that are also divided by region. Additionally, there are four writing and four general global categories.

Another Texas city, San Antonio, also has something to crow about. Downstairs at The Esquire Tavern is another finalist in the Best New Cocktail Bar category. In addition, The Esquire Tavern is among Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar candidates, while Sternewirth Bar & Clubroom at Hotel Emma is shortlisted in the Best American Hotel Bar category. Dallas is noticeably absent from the nominations.

There will be a Facebook Live event this Friday at 2 p.m. CST where the Top 4 nominees in each Spirited Awards category will be announced. The Top 4 in every category will be invited to New Orleans for the live ceremony. Winners in each category will receive the iconic Riedel crystal trophy.

Josh Armendariz is Houston Food Finder’s lead freelance beer and cocktail writer. He can often be found on a stool at your favorite bar, sipping a hoppy craft beer and talking about the Astros with anyone who’ll lend an ear. Follow him on Instagram at @drinkwithjosh.