Houston >Anvil Bar & Refuge
“The bar itself has a nice ambiance to it.”
“It's a place for a really good, well-made drink or two, then move on for a spot with better ambience.”
“The bartender was very helpful, but the space was so small it was hard for me to maneuver through the crowd.”
Best cocktail bar in Houston, bar none. Don't go here for vodka, go here for carefully constructed cocktail spirits. You'll have to wait for them to be made, but what you'll drink is delish. Weekends will be crowded. Chefs have been known to make an appearance here.
The cocktail list is impressive and long. While they'll make you spot on renditions of the classics, try the regularly rotating selection of house cocktails.
One of the best things about this popular cocktail bar, aside from the stellar drinks, is watching the skilled bartenders make them.
Anvil Admiration versus Anvil Angst.
The superbly fresh and sometimes home-made ingredients lend for an excellent cocktail experience.
My biggest complaint, however, is that I always get attitude and/or resistance to make a drink that is NOT on their menu.
Excuse me, Bobby,Kevin, and Steve... but you proclaim proudly and loudly that your raison d'etre is:
"..a return to the elegant simplicity of a past era when cocktails were fashioned with pride and bartending is a profession that took years of apprenticing to master. It is this sense of history that we embrace at our establishment...."
The fact is that if your bartenders cannot mix a cocktail that your customers desire, without getting a look of exasperation and disdain, or do not want to be bothered to look the ingredients up - then simply put, you are not doing your jobs and dishonoring your own Mission Statement.
Knowledgable bartenders, but get there early.
The anvil is a little place on Westheimer that I had never noticed although I had been to Etro next door. It is small and trendy (I recommend a cute little skirt for girls and a button-down shirt for guys) and gets really loud because it is so small, even though they weren't playing any music.
Their drink list contains "100 drinks to try before you die" which is about the greatest idea I've ever heard. It has on it all the usuals like Manhattan, Cosmo, Gimlet...and a bunch I had never heard of. They also have a couple nice beers on tap, good for the DD (which I was that night unfortunately).
The bartenders (of which there are several as opposed to just 1 or 2) really know their stuff and put the necessary work into making each drink. If it says "shaken," they really shake for 30 seconds+ so your brandy Manhattan comes out frothy and delightful.
Bottom line: if you want a GREAT cocktail, go here. It isn't a chill place to sit and chat over a beer. It's a place for a really good, well-made drink or two, then move on for a spot with better ambience.
The bar itself has a nice ambiance to it. It's the kind of place I'd like to go to after work to relax and have a fun drink.
But that was not the experience I had at all. The bartender was very helpful, but the space was so small it was hard for me to maneuver through the crowd. The loudness of the music made it very hard to have a conversation with the group I was with. Felt more like a club.
It feels like it should be more intimate, but I'm willing to try it again. It may just have been the Saturday night rush.
Citysearch Editorial Review. There are several things Houston had never heard of before Anvil opened. One of them is the bitter, pink aperitif Campari and the other is waiting in a line out the door. Nowadays, the bar and its passionately artisanal cocktails are all food and drink aficionados can talk about. Each Negroni and Pisco Sour is tenderly crafted using fresh and often house-made ingredients before being poured into carefully selected vintage glassware. Don't expect to be served too quickly and don't request shots or flavored vodka--you won't receive anything but a dirty look. The menu of featured drinks changes with the seasons but a list of "100 Cocktails to Try Before You Die" remains constant.
Great for club kids....not if you want relaxing atmosphere.
We went a few days ago and we were disappointed. While the selection of liquors is great, the resulting product did not live up to my expectations. We had three drinks each which ended up about $58 total which is fine if there was a good alcohol content. But there wasn't so we ended up at Poison Girl for a nightcap.
Other thing that was disappointing was the atmosphere. They appeared to be playing a cd of a college band at a fairly high volume. I guess that fine if one likes it, but while I drink a cocktail, I prefer something more subdued and tasteful.
So far so good. I also use the point and order method at this bar. All the drinks on the menu are old skool and it's fun even to watch the bartenders mix (usually with a shaker in each hand) Last time I ended up with a Pisco Flip which had a whole egg in it. The drinks average around 9 dollars, but are worth it when you think you usually pay around 6 and don't get near the knowledge or experience of Anvil. The only thing I don't like is that I've heard many people say they've gotten towed in the area and also there's not much seatin. I usually end up at the bar right by the door, but then everyone is pushing me out of the way to sit. It's a popular place so ... i guess i should expect all the seats to be full, but think that maybe they could set up differently and fit more in there... in any case this place is great.
I love this bar. When I go, I don't know what a majority of the drinks are on the menu, so I just close my eyes, point to one, and go with that. There are so many to choose from that you shouldn't be too concerned with making a bad choice. I don't like hot toddies, but I had one the other night (because my finger landed on it) and it was great.
From an ambience point of view, it is a completely mixed crowd. No particular age or social background.
If you're going just to have a drink like you would any other bar, find a different place. You can't ask for a rum and Diet Coke. I mean you can, but you won't get it. That's not what the experience is supposed to be about. It's about trying a drink you can't get anywhere else and enjoying the company!
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