In the current issue of Houstonia, Alice Levitt ponders if anyone still wears a hat in her deft round-up of the best restaurants for the ladies who lunch. While Pappas Bros. Steakhouse was not on the list, I would nominate it for any compilation of great eating establishments for women who prefer fermented beverages to make up the bulk of their evening repast. This knowledge not only comes from the fact I am gal who likes to stay smart, but also because recently I had the pleasure of sampling some of Pappas’ new cocktails at the steakhouse’s downtown location.
My dining partner and I both agreed that the Rival Sibling, a heady collaboration between V.S.O.P. Armagnac, Navarre Rosé Pineau des Charentes, Amaro Nonino, and angostura bitters, would be especially tantalizing after a long exhausting day. “It’s a real ‘man’s drink,’” she proclaimed, but in the spirit of gender nonconformity, I say, ladies, drink up.
I was less enthusiastic about the Columbia River Fizz, made with strawberry-infused Aviation gin, André Clouet Rosé champagne, egg white, vanilla, and orange blossom water. The froth from the foam left me with an unwelcome mustache and the liquid that lay beneath was ultimately too citrusy sweet. Skip this drink in favor of just a glass of the Andre Clouet Rosé, wonderful in its own right.
Far superior to both of these options was the Arugula Gimlet, a terrific twist on the classic with Wheatley Vodka, velvet falernum, lime, and (you guessed it) arugula. Refreshing, piquant, and perfect on a hot day (I know it’s January, but they’re coming, folks), this cocktail was the most on point with regards to balance of botanical flavors and alcohol.
The only thing detracting from my otherwise pleasurable experience was the cacophonous bar area populated by zealous corporate imbibers on their second or third round. One would even struggle to hear the booming crescendo of an Elaine Stritch ballad without an ear trumpet. But when the noise becomes too much, perhaps that’s the sign it’s time for everybody to rise and transition to a table. Don’t worry, after your porterhouse, the boozing can continue because Pappas Bros.’s also now offers a soothing, strong Irish Coffee that will bring out the brogue even in a fifth-generation Texan.