Photo by Art Meripol

Is it happy hour yet? We hit up Mongoose Versus Cobra and got the scoop on why it's one of the best bars to enjoy a cocktail in Houston right now. And for those who can't make the trip, we've included two recipes from the bar menu (both Test Kitchen approved!) you can mix up at home.

THE VIBE: Housed in an ivy-covered building built in 1915, Mongoose Versus Cobra is a handsome mid-city spot that attracts a range of ages (wearing everything from Billy Reid to sustainable-food T-shirts). At happy hour, expect a diverse crowd kicking back at the bar. Later in the evening, the patio is the place to go for a post-dinner drink.

Photo by Art Meripol

THE BARKEEPS: Shafer Hall and Mike Sammons joined forces with Ian Rosenberg (co-owner, with Mike, of the popular wine bar 13 Celsius) to give Houston a craft beer and cocktail mecca that doubles as an artistic venue complete with live music and local art.

FIRST ROUND: Whet your appetite with a Gold Rush #2 ($7). The subtly sweet bourbon drink is infused with rosemary-honey syrup and served in a vintage tumbler.

SECOND ROUND: End appropriately with The Last Word ($10), a classic cocktail served exactly as it was created at The Detroit Athletic Club in the 1920s: 1 part gin, 1 part green Chartreuse, 1 part maraschino liqueur, and 1 part fresh lime juice.

BEST BAR SNACK: The Ploughman's Pail ($26): a bucket of cured meats (such as sausages and beef jerky), pickled eggs, chile peppers, cheeses, roasted nuts, and black bread.

WHAT THE REGULARS KNOW: Because most of the kegs are usually "floated," or emptied, over the weekend, come by on Sundays and Mondays for fresh kegs of craft beers.

INSIDER TIP: Check out poet Al Purdy's poem "At the Quinte Hotel" painted on the black steel surface behind the bar.


Gold Rush/ Photo by Art Meripol

Gold Rush/

GOLD RUSH #2 Combine ¼ cup bourbon, 2 Tbsp. Rosemary-Honey Syrup, and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice in a 12-oz. glass filled with ice. Stir until thoroughly chilled. Top with a splash of club soda. Makes 1 serving

ROSEMARY-HONEY SYRUP Bring ½ cup honey, ½ cup water, and 1 (3-inch) fresh rosemary sprig to a simmer over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until honey dissolves. Strain; discard rosemary. Makes ¾ cup