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by Robin Barr Sussman
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Above: A cocktail assortment by Relish Houston. Photo by Julie Soefer

Gardening in Texas means bundles of fragrant basil, fresh mint, and the anticipation of fall citrus—hello Ruby Red grapefruit and Meyer lemons! Shake or stir your own cocktail at home—we’ve provided a coveted recipe below—or pull up a chair at one of these neighborhood spots for the sip of the season.

Julep founder Alba Huerta, one of the most celebrated mixologists in the country, recently unveiled her first new bar menu since the pandemic. Her 10 original cocktails ($12-$14) are each made with migrant ingredients and thrive on freshness and flavor. Nightshade Apero combines red bell pepper, lemon, thyme, white port, Manzanilla, and tonic. The impressive food menu—try the Texas tomato pie—also has been updated with French onion dip, Oyster Picnic, and a hefty house burger. Julep, a Houston original, celebrated its seven-year anniversary this summer.
1919 Washington Ave., 832-371-771,

All ten invigorating cocktails ($12 each) on the Relish menu include local ingredients from the garden. There’s even a Garden Party cocktail prepared with Tito’s vodka, rosemary, jalapeno shrub and lemon. The pretty Rosé Spritz floats fresh strawberries with Lillet rosé aperitif, sparkling rosé and basil. Also refreshing is the slushy Salty Dog starring Deep Eddy grapefruit vodka, rosemary, jalapeno shrub, preserved orange and a chili salt rim.
2810 Westheimer Rd., 713-599-1960,

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Above: The Sun Soaked On Monte Beach cocktail at Space Cowboy. Photo by Dylan Scardino

The Sun Soaked on Montie Beach cocktail ($10) was a hit from day one at Space Cowboy bar in the still new Heights House Hotel. Just like a tropical vacation, get your passion fruit on with fresh ginger, mint and two different rums. Featuring a pool adjacent to the 2,000-square-foot patio, this newcomer is part staycation getaway, part local watering hole. Let’s get this party started!
100 W Cavalcade St., 713-869-7121,


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Above: The Mint Julep at Julep. Photo courtesy of Julep

Julep’s Mint Julep
Time to use up all that flourishing garden mint that won’t last through winter. Here’s a classic and cooling recipe from Julep founder Alba Huerta. Her treatment of mint is quite meticulous—for authenticity’s sake, no shortcuts allowed.

10 mint leaves
½ oz Turbinado syrup
2 oz mid-80s to 90-proof bourbon

2 or 3 whole clean mint sprigs
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Place the 10 mint leaves and syrup in a metal or copper julep cup and lightly press with a muddler. Leave the muddler in the glass and add the bourbon, pouring it over the muddler to rinse it off. Stir with the muddler mix. Fill the cup a little more than halfway with crushed ice and stir with a bar spoon 15 to 20 times. Add more ice to form a dome on top. Place the straw in the cup.

To garnish, press the mint sprigs between your fingers to release the aroma and tuck them into the ice next to the straw. Dust the mint sprigs with powdered sugar.

Yield: 1 serving