Party City

Dinner Is Served: The Best Party Food (and Drinks!) in Houston

Caterers, cakes, and even a signature cocktail.

By Timothy Malcolm August 26, 2019 Published in the September 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Jackson & Co.'s crêpes fruit de mer will impress any guest.

Jackson & Company

With clients including Tom Ford, The Menil Collection, and even U.S. presidents, this firm has a reputation to uphold. While the team regularly coordinates Houston’s biggest bashes, they also handle private affairs such as dinner parties and weddings, with a robust menu curated over nearly 40 years in business. Sure, there’s New York strip, but there’s also $15 lunch boxes. Classics like bacon-wrapped quail and beef tenderloin appear alongside unexpected fare like crêpes fruit de mer and smoked-trout parfaits. “We look at trends and come up with new ways to serve things,” says sales director Kelly Biggs. 

Adair Catering

Can’t decide between charcuterie, fajitas, and burgers? Good news: You don’t have to. Adair Concepts launched its catering arm in 2016, after years of serving everything from bistro fare to Tex-Mex at beloved eateries like Skeeters and Los Tios. “It’s been nice for us to take a client and say, Great, you’re having a cocktail party; we think these passed apps work from Eloise, and these trays work from Betsy’s,” co-founder Katie Barnhart says. The company offers customers three tiers of options, from simple take-out to a full-service meal, complete with staffing, for 150.

Culinaire Catering

Founder Barbara McKnight and her team have been nailing custom cuisine since 2001. Just how custom? “People give us their family recipes and say, ‘Can you do this for 250 people at my son’s wedding?’” McKnight says. “One thing I always love to hear is, This sounds crazy, but…” Culinaire has served Nigerian, Russian, and Mexican fare, sometimes combining multiple cultures in one meal—like the time caterers served kimchi-topped zucchini pancakes with vegetable biryani. “It just meshed so beautifully together, and the parents and friends were happy,” says McKnight. “When we can do something like that, I feel like we’ve lived our highest purpose.” 

Over-the-Top Cakes from Houston Bakeries

Three Brothers Bakery

Bakery co-owner Bobby Jucker engineered this groom’s cake for a Houston man who really, really likes golf. Filled with berries and iced in buttercream, the golf bag–shaped cake is decorated with custom-made tees, balls, and strap. 

Cakes by Gina

The 40th-birthday girl wanted something classy and fashionable, and owner Gina Gutierrez delivered with this Chanel-themed confection iced in white buttercream. As for the Louboutin topper? Sorry, not edible. 

El Bolillo

Is anything better than an icy Corona bucket on a hot Houston day? Maybe one thing: a replica icy Corona bucket made from, yes, cake—in this case, white almond cake filled with buttercream–cream cheese icing and pineapple gelatin “ice cubes.” Don’t worry, the beers are real. 

Image: Jenn Duncan

Meet Your Oh-So-Impressive New Signature Cocktail

(Editor's note: Monique Cioffi-Hernandez is no longer with B.B. Lemon.)

The story begins, as the best ones do, with tequila—specifically, an extra case of the spirit that B.B. Lemon beverage director Monique Cioffi-Hernandez, then working at another restaurant, was trying to unload. After some experimenting, she came up with a stunner of a new cocktail, the Devil’s Garden, which “sold so well that it’s become one of my staple libations,” Cioffi-Hernandez says. The cocktail is pretty and light, with citrus balancing out the heat of its pepper-infused tequila. Making the drink for your guests will take some extra time, but the wow factor is worth the effort.

Image: Jenn Duncan

The Devil’s Garden

For tequila infusion:
  • 1 1L bottle silver tequila
  • 2 peeled cucumbers
  • 1 whole jalapeño
  • 1 whole red Fresno pepper
  • 1 whole habanero pepper

Infuse tequila in sealed container, at room temperature, for at least 24 hours; make a smaller or larger amount depending on party size.

For salted rim:
  • 1 T ground Cayenne pepper
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. kosher salt

Shake to mix.

Per cocktail:
  • 1 ½ oz. infused silver tequila
  • ¾ oz. Tres Agaves tequila
  • 1 oz. Combier Liqueur d’Orange
  • ¾ oz. fresh-squeezed
  • lime juice

Combine ingredients in shaker, add ice, shake. Strain into salt-rimmed Collins glass and top with fresh ice. Garnish with lime wheel and cucumber slice.

3 More Party Drink Suggestions

Need a few more options for that perfect party pleaser? We asked some of the best bartenders in the city to stir us up their recommendations (all ingredients measured out for one serving):


Ingredients: 2.25 oz. Probitas White Blended Rum, 1 oz. lime, 0.75 oz. Demerara Simple Syrup

Says Lei Low's Caitlin Vann: "A Daiquiri is a very simple cocktail—not the frozen, sugary mess most people think of. It should be strong, crisp and refreshing. It's also one of my favorite ways to showcase a really awesome rum."

Tequila Dranky Drank

Ingredients: 2 oz. Pueblo Viejo Blanco tequila, 0.5 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, 1.5 oz. aloe vera drink (strained), 0.75 oz. lime juice, 0.5 oz. agave syrup, 0.5 oz water (optional garnish: cucumber slices, bell peppers, and pineapple slices)

Says Two Headed Dog's Lindsay Rae Burleson"My go-to is always a margarita variation for a backyard gathering. I prefer to level it up a little bit with a cocktail that's one of my favorite flavor combinations: aloe and tequila!"

Summer Never Ends

Ingredients: 1.25 oz. Arette Blanco or Pueblo Viejo Blanco tequila, 1.5 oz. hibiscus tea, 1.5 oz. pineapple juice, 0.5 oz. agave, 0.5 oz lime, 0.8 oz. agave

Says Julep's Linda Salinas: "Be sure to brew the hibiscus flowers with cinnamon and five-spice powder in 25 ounces of water for 15 minutes, then mix. If serving for a party, add in a large punch bowl and a block of ice. Everybody loves a margarita, and we're in Texas!"

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