The Eighteenth Cocktail Bar
speak easy, boys! speak easy!
Remember the pint glass night at Timber Wolf Pub, just up from Rice Village? Good times, but it isn’t 2004 anymore. That same building … since housing a parade of other bars over the years including the not-quite-right second location for The Gallant Knight and most recently Antique Bar … well, it’s gone old school on us. We’re talking like prohibition era old school. Worth mentioning this place isn’t ‘Animal House’ anymore either. So what is it? A couple of seasoned Houston bar scene vets have hit the rewind button to bring a new concept to the building that’s sure to turn some heads with styles from yesteryear. The Eighteenth Cocktail Bar (2511 Bissonnet St.) is open for business.
“Open” does not mean you will get in. First off, you have to know the “password,” see. That’s right – enter through the back door with a “password.” We are going full speakeasy theme here at Eighteenth Bar. And did they do. it. right. Boardwalk Empire right. I was absolutely floored (pun intended – look down when you get inside) with the remodel. Planks of raw reclaimed wood, period perfect furniture, a wall of antique mirrors, cement and brick all over – you might as well be in Atlantic City during prohibition drinking with Nucky after a raid on some bootleggers’ stash. Eighteenth Bar has really nailed the speakeasy scene with the rebuild. That does not mean they have not thought of everything, and I mean everything, that goes into a true quality bar. You know how when wood patios age, the boards start to warp, growing the gaps between them? Look down at the patios when you go outside. Notice the filled-in gaps. Who does that?? Guys who care, that’s who. Speaking of those patios, they are one way Eighteenth Bar does, for a moment, break from the speakeasy vibe. One sits on the front side facing Bissonnet and a nice and secluded second option is tastefully situated off the back. These, just like everything else here, are done just right. Gently draping shade covers, plenty of seating, areas glowing by candlelight – ladies and gents, this is an atmosphere well done!
No speakeasy exists simply because it looks cool. It exists because of the drinks! The resident mixologists, they know their stuff and are ready to go full bar scientist on us. A seasonal custom menu of cocktails will be served in delicate barware, looking just like it would have been in the years of yore. Want an old standard mixed drink, well you might get those served in coffee cups, also like the old prohibition days – you know, a cover in case the authorities stop by for a little raid. Beer (local and craft drafts, might even have some 8th Wonder Brewery on tap soon!) and wine are of course purveyed as well, as no thirst shall remain unquenched here. Drink well and drink what you want, settle in, relax and enjoy.
So, what’s the password? I don’t know, and honestly it’s just for thematic consistency anyway, so don’t be worried being denied entry. This place isn’t huge in size, but soon we feel it’s going to be huge in its reputation. Eighteenth Bar is about quality not quantity, and the owners want this to be the place for you to bring your out-of-town friends, a place to show off the best of Houston. We are talking prime time! What does that mean for you? It means if you get in (which you should, shouldn’t you?) things are good, dare I say great. If you happen to be stuck in line, well, I can’t see many reasons why those who are inside will want to leave before closing so you might be stuck spending your evening in some blind pig. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
2511 bissonnet st. | houston, tx 77005
713.533.9800 | www.18thbar.net
By Michael Cook
Photography by Daniel Ortiz