Welcome to Originals. Each month, I’ll recommend an original cocktail that I can’t get enough of from a bar that I also can’t get enough of.
When there isn't some random cold front pushing into Houston, this is the time to be out on the patio.
One of my favorite places to visit over the last year has been The Toasted Coconut, the second concept from the team behind Nobie's, located on Richmond and Mandell. With its enormous palapa (thanks, Maria Selma) and its "adult sandbox," the Coconut is meant for breezy evenings under twinkle lights.
Its drinks are in step, proving playful and drawing people out of their comfort zone. Sure, people may not initially be in love with rum-forward cocktails, but after giving beverage director Sarah Troxell's offerings a try, even the most ardent cane-haters may find themselves converted.
I like rum, but I stepped out of my cocktail comfort zone at the Coconut and tried the Sandy Banana, a mix of rye whiskey, peanut, banana, and citrus.
Normally, I'm not a big proponent of beverages that feature peanut or peanut butter. Sure, I'll take a sip of that boozy PB stout, but don't expect me to order a whole 10-ounce glass. Why? For one, people seem to mess up peanut and fail to bring out enough of its sharpness. And two, somewhat related, peanut is oftentimes just an excuse to get really crazy with other flavors—say, milk chocolate or grape, hoping to imitate the experience of eating a PB&J sandwich. In other words, it's a way to sell nostalgia.
So with a peanut butter and banana bomb being advertised, there was a possibility that the drink would be too hokey.
But the Sandy Banana neither loses the peanut nor goes overboard on the Elvis sandwich kick. The peanut has the sharpness you'd expect in a Thai curry sauce, while the banana smooths out the back end. Rye is a nice spirit for the Sandy Banana, as it keeps the drink's edges even as they fade, making it a tropical treat that never tastes like dessert.
Nailing the laid-back rum bar that also wants to showcase the thrill of a mixologist's skillset is hard to do. Do customers want to simply relax out in the palapa, or would they rather belly up to the bar and ask questions about hard-to-find Jamaican liquor? The Toasted Coconut proves both can be done in one place, and best yet, the weather is perfect for it.