Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Day That Cocktails Really Caught My Eye

Please note that I plan to be writing for a Houston on-line publication shortly. Quite frankly I was embarrassed that while I have been actively twittering my dining experiences, I had not written in this blog since traveling this summer. I choose to write about Anvil as my bridge article because there is so much similarity between my experiences at Anvil and those traveling.

The other day someone asked me what my passion about food and travel have in common. I would say it is simply this; I enjoy history, tradition, architecture, innovation, beauty, and being around people who enjoy it. There is no food or drink establishment in Houston that captures these feelings more than Anvil.

A visit to Anvil can be a place one where you go to meet friends or a chance to leave the outside world behind and be transformed. When I walk in Anvil, I want to be wearing my little black dress, pearls, gloves, high heals, and a pill box hat. I love sitting at the bar and sipping my drink out of the antique cocktail glasses, watching the bartenders mix the various libations, gazing around the room at the other patrons, and giggling with my friends.

Do you know that they serve over 100 different types of cocktails?

Anvil does it with such flair that one feels transported back in time to another place. For me, it is a little bar in a hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland. The drink was a Brandy Alexander and my mother told me that this was a drink a girl could order and say to her date she could only drink one because it was so rich. I loved the taste of the drink, the twilight colored light in the bar and the beautiful glass. It is a drink I will never forget.

For me a cocktail is about the total experience, the taste and everything that surrounds it.

Currently, I would identify myself as a martini drinker. In retrospect, that became my drink of choice because I enjoyed the total experience, that of watching the preparation and then sipping my drink out of long steam glasses with a wide mouth. Drinking out of martini glasses enables me to elegantly raise the drink to lips, fill my nostrils with a large bouquet of the citrus (if it is made with a lime), then tip the glass back and fill my mouth with a refreshing cool liquid.

Therefore it is not surprising that I keep on returning to Anvil. When I order a cocktail there, each drink has a history, is crafted by knowledgeable bartenders, and served in vintage stemware.

Anvil’s New Cocktail Menu

On Thursday Anvil unveiled their new fall cocktail menu. Arriving close to opening time, I was greeted by several of my friends in the food industry, including one of the newest foodie power couples: Ecky Prabanto and David Buehrer co-owners and baristas at Tuscany Coffee in Greenway Plaza Randy Rucker of Tenacity as well as other associated local personalities.

Pliny's Tonic at Anvil

I got a chance to take a sip of several of the new cocktails that my friends were busy sampling, it was the Pliny's Tonic that blew me away. I ordered the drink. Bobby Heugel the chief mastermind behind Anvil told me the cocktail is named after the first century philosopher and naturalist, Pliny the Elder who wrote about medicinal uses for cucumbers. The blueprint: gin, lime juice, turbinado syrup, cucumber slices, mint leaves and tincture of habanero/serrano/thai chile or a complex journey in one glass. At first sip the drink tastes sweet, then it tastes tart, and finishes spicy. I was falling in love and it was just a cocktail.

Balmoral at Anvil

The other cocktail I enjoyed last Thursday was the Balmoral, named after Queen Victoria’s Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The Balmoral at Anvil is a mixture of Old Town Gin, Dolin Blanco Vermouth, and lavender-vanilla bitters. The drink was on the sweeter side and for those of you who like a boozy tasting drink without any tartness (no citrus), this is one for you to try.

On the Food Side

There are several cheese and charcuterie options, I have not tasted their newer choices.

Thursday I had a few nibbles of the Campari popcorn (made with sea salt, olive oil and dehydrated Campari) which was tasty. They have also added sweet potato beignets made by Plinio Sandalio, whose far from pedestrian dessert creations can be tasted at Textile in the Heights. Bobby tells me there are more food choices to come.

For now, I frequently head over for a couple of quick burgers and fries at Little Bigs on Montrose on the way home.