At Sanctuari, Changing Minds and Expanding Palates

Triniti’s new bar carves out new territory, both figuratively and literally.

By Katharine Shilcutt January 4, 2015 Published in the January 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

The “Hemingway Goes to Hebrides” at Sanctuari

Image: Audra Oden

“I like nothing more than to give someone a cocktail that changes their mind,” says Laurie Sheddan. It’s a cool, crisp evening at Sanctuari, her bar located inside chef Ryan Hildebrand’s much-lauded modern American restaurant Triniti, which itself casts a warm glow onto dark, busy S. Shepherd Dr. Suddenly, we’re glad we’re tucked away inside.

At the moment, Sheddan is intent on changing our mind about Scotch—as in putting it in a daiquiri. “It’s called the Hemingway Goes to Hebrides,” she says, serving up the concoction—redolent of the unmistakably peaty scent of 10-year-old Laphroaig—in a delicate coupe glass, the kind normally used for the aforementioned daiquiri. 

We take a single, tentative sip, then try the sour cherry garnish threaded across the top of the cheerful, Champagne-colored drink. The boggy, smoky taste of the Scotch immediately gives way to the delicately sweet flavor of grapefruit liqueur and maraschino, all of which is finished off with fresh lime juice.

It's the kind of cocktail that, in Sheddan's words, "turns people on to things they didn't know exist." Gently tart and earthy, its preparation is far too complex for the average home bartender to bother with, which is another way of saying that it, along with the rest of the revamped drink menu, is entirely worth a visit.

Triniti’s previously unbranded bar was christened Sanctuari in November, by the way, thereby giving Sheddan and the rest of her creative bar staff their due. Where Triniti is all light wood tones and Scandinavian lines, Sanctuari is glittery golds and bronzes set against chic dark panels, and accented by black leather Mod club chairs. “They’re almost opposites within the building,” says Sheddan. “Light and dark.” And if making Sanctuari feel separate from the rest of Triniti was part of the point, that point’s been made, it seems. The place has its own Yelp listing, for goodness sake. 

And as for that Scotch daiquiri? Yes, it changed our mind. Entirely.

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