New Houston Bar Present Company Is A Colorful Spot for Picture-Perfect Cocktails
Owner Shawn Bermudez has been around the restaurant and bar block with The Burger Joint, Stone’s Throw and now closed Royal Oak under his belt, but he’s never created anything like this. Frankly, we don’t think anyone has. Every inch of Present Company has been designed with intent from the birdcage chandeliers hanging from the ceiling to the custom furniture and vibrant decor. It’s commonplace for businesses to have an Instagram wall where patrons can snap selfies, but Present Company is the first venue where every spot is a hot spot.
Bermudez and business partner Michael Leitner had plenty of time to perfect their image. Shortly before it was supposed to open last year a massive fire completely destroyed the second story. Bermudez says that the fire wasn’t all bad news as it gave beverage director Rex Nielsen extra time to make the cocktail menu match the environment.
The standouts are the Stranger Danger and Principal Kisses Alligator cocktails, which are served in topless La Croix sparkling water cans garnished with berry and mint. Another eye-catching beverage is the Whispering Eye, a tequila-based cocktail with ginger liqueur, lavender syrup and a blue butterfly pea elixir that is added slowly to create a purple layer.
The stories behind the cocktail names are all over the map. Principal Kisses Alligator is a reference to the Bay Colony Elementary School principal who kissed an alligator for Hurricane Harvey relief funds. The spiced rum milk punch Don’t Tell The Butcher (About The Milkman) is an ode to Rodney Dangerfield. We’ll let Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Paul Rudd explain what the Whispering Eye pays homage to.
There are also three frozen cocktails available. Once Bitten is a frozen gin & tonic with grapefruit and hibiscus syrup, Twice Shy is a coconut-rum piña colada riff, and the most straightforward named Irish Coffee combines cold brew coffee, Irish whiskey, coffee liqueur and dairy-free soft serve.
There’s a full kitchen serving food until 10 p.m. each night with a limited menu available until midnight. Chef Matt Pak, Bermudez’ partner from The Burger Joint, designed the menu. Some crowd favorites from Royal Oak like buffalo chicken pizza and truffle fries have returned to the menu. There’s also a generously-sized chicken Parmesan sandwich that covers the entire plate and a large selection of exclusive burgers.
There’s a sizable wine and beer list on the menu as well with 15 bottles available for under $40. The “official unofficial beer of Montana” Montucky Cold Snack is $3 for a 16-ounce can, with perfect summertime Stiegl Grapefruit Radler only $6 per 16-ounce can. Plenty of Texas beers are available as well with rotating options from 8th Wonder, Deep Ellum, Karbach and Austin Eastciders.
Happy hour runs from open to close on Mondays, from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday and noon to 7 p.m. on Fridays. During happy hour, select house wines are $5 per glass with certain bottles only $15. Draft beers are discounted by $1, domestic beers are $3 and special pizzas are only $7. Tuesday is steak night with a 14-ounce ribeye for $15.95. On Wednesdays, diners receive a free pizza with the purchase of a bottle of wine. Weekend brunch is available from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. with $12 mimosa pitchers and $6 bloody Marys.
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.