A First Look at Butchers & Barbers’ Cocktail Program

Plus, how to pair the cocktails with chef Reyes’ comfort food

Leave it to Jonnie and Mark Houston (Houston Hospitality) to constantly up the bar and nightlife scene with every new venue they open. I mean, wow, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. Next Tuesday, however, the brothers aren’t adding yet another drink spot to their growing repertoire of themed delights but rather an old bowery-style New American restaurant called Butchers & Barbers. Complete with meat hooks and barbicide jars. Tucked between Houston properties No Vacancy and Dirty Laundry in Hollywood, the 1,200-square-foot, 50-seat restaurant will feature New American cuisine by Chef Luke Reyes (The Corner Door).

So why a restaurant now? Besides courting the challenge of the food biz, Mark said it felt like a natural next step for them. “As I get older I desire an environment where I can sit down and have a conversation,” he said. “I think the next thing is breaking bread with friends, having dinner, and genuinely get to know each other.”

The food menu accommodates every kind of appetite. For snacking at the bar, there’s popcorn seasoned with roasted garlic, rosemary, and thyme oil. For something absolutely indulgent and hearty there’s the 34-ounce côte de boeuf. And even though these are shared plates, they’re the hefty family-style portions. “You have to be very cautious about ordering too much,” said Mark. “You want to make sure you order and don’t overstuff yourself because you might not be open to going out after.”

To go with the dishes, Houston Hospitality Beverage Director Joseph Swifka didn’t just complement the masculine feel of the restaurant with the use of heavy, brown spirits but designed a drink menu of eight food-friendly cocktails. With house-made infusions and syrups as well as fresh produce, the drinks don’t overshadow the food yet still manage to have interesting, sophisticated flavors. “I wanted to have a couple of drinks with sherry involved just because sherry pairs nicely with food in general,” said Swifka. “There’s also on the lighter end of things, nice acidity to balance some of the flavors and to cut through richer dishes that we have.”

If you’re looking to do your own cocktail pairing with dinner, he recommends starting with the Lillian Gish (name may change) or the Good Ol Laurel, a take on a gin and tonic. Both have “a nice brightness and acidity to get your palate moving.” While the mellowness of the Ava Gardner, thanks to the toasted hazelnut and honey, makes it a fitting sipper during the meal. And to finish up, go for the Battle Potomkin which “could stand in the place of a very strong cup of tea or coffee.”

Groups of friends can order up a barrel of cocktail, which won’t be used to age but rather as a serving vessel for four people or so. “They’ll go out to the table and they’ll be able to use the spigots to pour their own drinks.”

In terms of the beer situation here, there are six beers on tap and only one bottle and one can as that space behind the bar is very tight. The selection, although limited, hits all the major notes, from a light white ale to IPA to richer, darker beers by producers like Angel City, Ballast Point, and Saint Archer. As for wine, the list is primarily made up of Rosenthal wines. “They’re mostly French right now, but again food-friendly but pretty elegant stuff,” said Swifka.

Butchers & Barbers will be open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 6 p.m.

Butchers & Barbers, 6531 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-461-1464