Swimming Upstream cocktail at Julep. 

Image: Jenn Duncan 

Throughout the pandemic we've seen shortages in foods, and that scarcity has left many restaurants scrambling to satisfy customers. However, for a local Houston restaurant, its latest menu thrives on hard-to-find ingredients.

Alba Huerta, the owner of cocktail bar Julep in Houston, and author of Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned, has worked to revamp the cocktail bar's menu offerings. In the restaurant's first original menu since the bar reopened after the pandemic, Huerta has placed a particular focus on migrant ingredients.  

"We’ve existed in a world where ingredients are globally sourced,” says Huerta. “During the pandemic, we witnessed the breakdown of the supply chain—how quickly items arrive, what items are no longer available or less readily available, how prices have changed. Origin stories have always been important, but now the awareness of where ingredients come from and how they migrated here is crucial."

The revised menu consists of eight new original cocktails, in addition to its 80 other classic cocktails. Each of the new drinks added includes one migrant ingredient, like the Nightshade Highball, made with white port, Manzanilla, Select Aperitivo, lemon, thyme, and tonic. The cocktail's migrant ingredient? Red bell pepper. According to a press release, "using the red bell pepper in this highball added a more vibrant flavor with a tiny bit of spice."

Nightshade Highball at Julep

Image: Jenn Duncan

Other new drinks on the menu include the Ela Milk Punch, Tepache Julep, and the New Vieux. 

Huerta also enlisted the help of industry veteran Kate McLean (Tony's, Enoteca Rossa) to refresh some of the restaurant's menu offerings including both simple snacks and larger items to help fit the Southern aesthetic, and complement the new drink additions. Smaller items on the menu include the Oyster Picnic and the French Onion Dip, while hardy meals include the House Burger.

The Oyster Picnic, at Julep. 

Image: Jenn Duncan

If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, the menu also features a Bourbon Pearl, which serves as a salute to the Kentucky Bourbon Ball. The Bourbon Pearl is made with Ruby Chocolate, Texas pecans, and mint powder.

To supplement the restaurant's new menu rollout, fans of the popular Southern cocktail bar will also find some new renovations upon visiting the restaurant. Tables have replaced the banquette against the wall, plus there are new booth dividers and a new standing table to accommodate additional guests.

New renovations at Julep include new booth dividers and a new standing table to accommodate additional guests.

Image: Jenn Duncan

Julep is currently open for dining and takeout from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Located in Houston's Sixth Ward at 1919 Washington Ave.

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