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Visit Houston Part One – Six Bars to Experience

I just returned from an amazing trip to Houston this past weekend. You know the kind of trip that you never want to end, well this was it. It was everything that I was hoping for in a good-for-the-soul kind of trip. There is so much to share with you guys, but we are kicking off my Visit Houston series with a look at five bars you MUST experience while in town. With one caveat – two of the coffee shops I visited while I was there double as bar-like, but those will be included in the coffee-shop post coming up later this week.

Drinking in Houston is an experience. If they don’t have music playing, the ambiance and history is killer. From Houston’s oldest bar to the coolest ceilings you’ll ever see Houston is by far one of my favorite places to find a cocktail {and I live in DC people!}. So, let’s get down it, shall we?

 

La Carafe {813 Congress Street} – Believed to be Houston’s oldest bar, La Carafe is located in a building on the National Register of Historic Places and has been a public venue since its opening. Don’t bring your credit cards or your desire for cocktails here. La Carafe is cash only and boasts a pretty healthy wine and beer list. But I came for the cash register and the atmosphere. The amazing and giant all metal cash register still works and the ‘ching-ching’ of the bell is the best sound ever! The candles which burn endlessly are a thing of beauty, and if you were to visit La Carafe’s facebook page they just recently announced the latest passing of one of their candles. Sounds weird maybe, but go check it out and you’ll see what I mean. La Carafe also self-proclaims themselves the owner of the best jukebox in Houston, which I for one won’t argue with. The tunes during my time there were on point. For me the atmosphere and the music are what make a place like this, so leave your credit cards at home and make La Carafe one of the places you stop in Houston.

Public Services {202 Travis Street} – Housed in one of Houston’s cool old buildings that they don’t tear down (take notice cities!) is Public Services. Set up in the Cotton Exchange Building, built in 1884, downtown Public Services has found the balance between modern and vintage. With its large bar, oversized cushioned couches and dim lighting this may have easily been my favorite places. Even standing for a while doesn’t put you out because of the feel of this place! The service was wonderful, with knowledgable and friendly bartenders who bring your drinks to you wherever you happen to end up. My whole purpose for coming here was to find a particular kind of Scotch – Glenmorangie Nectar D ‘Or – because when you are visiting a fellow Scotch drinker you want to take advantage of that. Public Services specializes in hard to find Whiskeys so this would the place to go. If that wasn’t enough, they also offer special classes to educate you about liquor and wine.

By Ed Uthman, Houston, Texas, USA – Own work, CC BY 3.0

Captain Fox Hearts Bad News Bar {308 Main} – After you catch your breath from saying the name its time to hike up the narrow stairs to the bar. Captain Foxhearts truly feels more like a speakeasy, which makes the vibe kind of awesome. Combine that with the deep red walls and dark wood and the ambiance is a winner. You can also step out on the patio if it’s not too cold. If you’re looking for a quiet and chill place this might not be exactly what you’re looking for but their version of an Old Fashioned was interesting enough. Snag a classic Old Fashioned for $5, a deal you can’t beat.

Deans Downtown {316 Main Street} – Located in another original building built in 1893, Dean’s has seen several incarnations – department stores, other bars and Deans Credit Clothing. The bar table is made from 100-year-old timber reclaimed from the Saint Arnolds Brewery. My favorite part about Dean’s was probably the outside, with his fluffy velvet couches and chairs, and cool artsy tables (one that had keys mixed in with the marbles) lets you be a part of what’s going on at the bar but with a little fresh air. Grab yourself one of their killer Old Fashioned (what can I say, I’m a creature of habit).

Houston Watch Company {913 Franklin Street} – For a more low-key end to your evening find yourself sitting at the bar at Houston Watch Company. With a cozy feel, excellent Old Fashioneds and some chill bartenders Houston Watch Co is a nice place to relax for a few hours. Located in the Historic South Pacific Railroad the original watch company was the “unofficial timekeeper” for the local railroad employees. You won’t find televisions or loud obnoxious music, but you will find good cocktails and a variety of whiskeys to choose from.

Ready Room {2626 White Oak Drive} – Located in what is known as Heights, Ready Room is a nondescript building next to Ritual (another great place to visit, which you’ll see in a future Houston post). Created with giving a huge nod to old Houston in mind, the owners of Ready Room created a menu with different sections, they call ‘Wards’ that pays homage to the original Wards of Houston. Grab the Lincoln drink from the Third Ward, which I had. Its a different take on the classic Old Fashioned. But what makes The Ready Room special and unique only starts with their menu. From the amazing tile ceiling (probably the coolest ceiling I’ve seen in a bar), the dapper dressed barbacks, the pineapple lights and dim lighting combine together to make this Speakeasy feeling Jazz club at the top of the list of places you should visit in town.

 

 

You might have a stellar tour guide like I did, but at least this list can get you started in the right direction. The Houston Bar scene has dramatically improved and become downright stellar over the last six or so years. This list barely scratches the surface!

Visited any awesome Houston Bars? I wanna hear! Find me over on Instagram and share.

make sure to check out my other Houston Posts!

Houston Coffee Shops and Houston Arts and Entertainment

 

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