Even the shots at Sanctuari Bar are splendidly garnished.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Rain or shine, warm weather or freezing cold...come Thursday, we get thirsty. Whether it is the excitement of getting a headstart to the weekend or a reason to celebrate making it (almost) through yet another grueling week at work or school, nothing seems more fit than to celebrate the appropriately coined Thirsty Thursday with a cocktail.

While beer specials and discounted you-call-its during happy hour are nice, there is something about craft cocktails skillfully assembled by your bartender that give you a sense that This was made for me. Like a colorful dish or mouth-watering dessert, you'll notice extravagant cocktails are as much a conversation piece as they are a beverage—discussed at the bar, photographed extensively and shared on social media, then finally sipped and savored. From ingredients ranging from fresh habaneros to raw eggs, the sky is the limit for bartenders experimenting with new and adventurous creations. This week, we're spotlighting some of the hottest places in Houston to kick back with an out-of-the-box cocktail on Thirsty Thursday.

Sanctuari Bar
2815 S. Shepherd Dr.
713-527-9090
sanctuaribar.com

The interior of Sanctuari Bar at Triniti is a picture-worthy place in and of itself, with a stylish lounge and extraordinary bar. Add a cocktail to the mix and you'll find yourself in #selfie mode before you know it. Laurie Sheddan Harvey, the head of the recently transformed bar inside Montrose hot spot Triniti, is a master of her craft and will wow you whether you want to stick to your staple gin and tonic or try something new, like perhaps the tart cherry pisco with ramazotti, dolin rouge, cointreau and egg white. Got all that? Happy hour is Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and features $6 craft cocktails on special. If you're feeling extra bold (or if you happen to have Friday off), ask for Harvey's beautifully crafted shots, sweet in flavor and garnished with a rose petal.

El Guapo at Stone's Throw is indeed handsome.

Stone's Throw
1417 Westheimer Rd.
832-659-0265
stonesthrowhouston.com

The new kid on the block on the Westheimer curve at Montrose sits Stone's Throw, an exciting addition to the bar scene with a very unique take on happy hour. Starting at 4 p.m., specialty cocktails and adult punches are priced at $4, increasing by $1 every hour until they reach $7 at 7 p.m. Punch bowls are a popular choice for big groups and range from $28 for a half bowl to $50 for a full bowl. Stone's Throw is adventurous in their experimentation with craft cocktails, serving up an El Guapo made with Reposado tequila, desert pear syrup, lime juice and house-made ginger beer. The colorful cocktail is meant to be savored and will no doubt make the social media rounds. Visually striking with a patio, second floor loft and a towering bar filled with back-lit bottles, Stone's Throw has made a statement in Montrose as crowds flock in on weekdays and weekends.

The habanero-serrano house margarita at The Pastry War will kick up your Thirsty Thursday.

Image: Megha Tejpal

The Pastry War
310 Main St.
713-225-3310
thepastrywar.com

If Thirsty Thursday is in fact Tequila Thursday in your world, then The Pastry War is where you want to spend your evening. With a quality choice of house margaritas on the daily menu including a habanero-serrano or a strawberry-balsamic version, The Pastry War also features a selection of agave spirits from family-owned vendors in Mexico. Other concotions include The Pastry War michelada, served alone or paired with tequila or mezcal; the Bravo Blanco Bravo made with pineapple and cinnamon-infused vodka; and the No Toro Rojo, a coffee cocktail made with Mexican coffee liqueur and rompope, which The Pastry War calls "a type of superior Mexican eggnog" (we don't disagree). Happy hour is daily from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and features $5 house margaritas, $3 Mexican beer and free games of pool. The narrow bar, set amidst the trendy bars of Main Street in downtown, is a sight in itself, decorated as an authentic mezcaleria that even accepts pesos (yes, seriously).

The bubbly Elderflower Elixir at Benjy's is a happy hour staple.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Benjy's
2424 Dunstan Rd.
713-522-7602
benjys.com

A longtime favorite of Houstonians for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Benjy's is by far the most popular during happy hour. Without fail, the cozy second-level space above the main dining room at the Rice Village location begins to get crowded as the clock strikes 4 p.m. and stays busy into the evening. The patio is a popular choice for the happy hour crowd as cocktails like the Elderflower Elixir—a bubbly blend of champagne, elderflower liqueur and pineapple—flow like water. Other delicious choices are the Citrus Blossom and the Peach Perfect, both made with fresh fruit. With small plates, wines by the glass and cocktails priced at $6 or less, I predict Houstonians will continue to spend their Thirsty Thursdays at this Rice Village staple.

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