Acclaimed Washington Avenue Bar in Houston Rolls Out Chef-Driven Summertime Menu
Alba Huerta, owner of Julep at 1919 Washington, just revealed new signature cocktails and a menu of light bites and small plates developed in conjunction with consulting chef and former MasterChef competitor Alvin Schultz. The ornate, Gatsby-style bar is an ode to the South’s opulent cocktail culture that was recognized by Esquire in 2017 as one of the best bars in America. Along with the new cocktails and food, some of the libations from Huerta’s 2018 book, Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned, are coming back for another turn on the drink list.
The inspired cocktail list includes Proceed With Caution, made with aquavit (akvavit), a Scandinavian neutral spirit usually flavored with caraway. The drink is rounded out with apple compote, pineapple, lemon and soda, then garnished with a striking addition of pineapple leaves that adds a tiki vibe.
Another charmer is Pappy’s Pipe, a mix of rooibos tea-infused whiskey, burnt Scotch honey and pepper tincture. The cocktail is smoked and served in a glass box for a presentation worthy of the drink’s deep flavors.
Greater Understanding is a creative and refreshing drink that features a rare inclusion of jackfruit, plus rum, lemon, coconut and hazelnut oil.
Returning selections that were published in the cocktail book include Spiced Julep, a update on the classic that combines turbinado brown sugar, applejack brandy, Jamaican rum and mint. Another throwback is the colorful, crimson potion called the Cherry Bounce Sour. The latter combines bourbon, cherry bounce (a fruit-infused spirit that was reputedly a favorite of George Washington’s and closely aligned with moonshine culture), lemon and egg whites, resulting in a frothy white head over a bright red body.
From the kitchen, an assortment of southern-inspired dishes pair with the bar’s latest roster of drinks. A warm cheesy boudin dip combines elements of a homey spinach artichoke dip with the dirty rice of a boudin link for an intriguing comfort food experience. The Kentucky Hot Brown Frito Pie is a natural crowdpleaser. It’s served in a Fritos bag with cubes of smoked turkey, thick crispy bacon, roasted tomatoes and a cheddar Mormay sauce that coats the chips like gourmet nacho cheese.
Despite the Frito pie’s impressive presentation, it’s the “Nashville Style” Hot Duck Confit that takes the crown on the small food menu. A hefty confit duck leg is deep fried to crispy perfection in a mix of Nashville hot spices that lend a bright reddish hue. It is served over two pieces of toast and accompanied by pickled okra and house slaw, plus a side of extra chili oil for the truly masochistic. As with the other edible offerings, it’s an addicting and elevated take on classic bar fare in an unexpected setting.
The new Julep summer cocktail and food menus roll out this week starting on Thursday, May 16. Julep is open Sundays through Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Weekday happy hour, from open to 6 p.m., features $1 oysters and $2 off all cocktails.