Spring Sips

More dining:
Eat Now (best new eateries)
Recipes (from El Tiempo, the Rainbow Lodge, and Field of Greens)

Ah, when spring is in the air, there’s nothing better than a chilled glass of vino. We asked Brad Odom, co-owner of Salud! Winery, what he likes for warmer weather. His choice, Salud!’s new whites: Salud! Woodbridge Reserve Chardonnay, with just a hint of oak blended with citrus; Salud! Harris Ranch Semillon with pear and grass notes; and Salud! Harris Ranch Pinot Grigio.

“They’re all slightly fruity, summer wines,” Odom says. “We also have a white Merlot that’s very popular. It’s a great, fruity wine for sitting on the patio by the pool.”

They also bottle wine cooler-style wines. Not the candy-flavored stuff that you bought at the grocery store in the ‘80s, but a real drink with real fruit. They make it the same as their other wines, then add a fruit juice pack at the end. At just $15 a bottle—and with four percent less alcohol—you can imbibe the afternoon away with concoctions such as Peach Apricot Chardonnay, Green Apple Riesling, Black Raspberry Merlot, and Exotic Fruit White Zinfandel.

Odom says that Houstonians don’t switch from reds to whites just because of the weather. “I think it’s pretty well split all year long. It’s not like Chicago here where you can’t drink a white in the winter.”

Brother and partner, Charles, agrees: “It was 32 degrees at Easter here last year, so you can certainly justify drinking a red in the spring. Basically, whatever you like is what you should drink.”

But do keep reds, as well as whites, in the fridge or a wine cooler prior to serving, and don’t let them sit in the sun. It’s the ultraviolet light, not the heat, which causes spoilage. Make sure and take the reds out so they can warm up a bit before serving. And if the red versus white debate is too much for you, there’s always bubbly.

“I think champagne is good anytime of the year!” Odom says. And, yes, they make fruit-infused champagnes and sparkling wines in the spring and summer, too.

Or, if you prefer something with more of a kick, try a cocktail. Everything old is new again, including the preponderance of dark liquors (vodka is so passé). Here are two recipes from the new bar at Hotel Icon. Both are kicked up versions of cocktail classics.

SidecarIconic Sidecar

2 oz. Remy XO
1 oz. 150-year-old Grand Marnier
½ oz. Lemon Sweet and Sour

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into martini glass.

The sidecar uses 150-year-old Grand Marnier rather than Triple Sec and Remy XO rather than a stock cognac to make it a modern luxe drink. Originally invented in the early 1920s, it is an indulgence at $40 but worth it for a special occasion.

Scarlett O’Hara

2 oz. Southern Comfort
2 each of blueberries, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries.
2 oz. Lime Sweet and Sour

Muddle all berries, then add all remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain. Shake and pour into glass.

Icon modernizes the Scarlett O’Hara by using a mixture of berries muddled together rather that just cranberry juice. A garnish of pineapple soaked in grenadine then dried in the oven accents the scarlet color of the drink invented in 1939 as a tribute to that iconic movie Gone with the Wind. Fiddle-dee-dee!

Marene Gustin contributed to OutSmart’s January 2008 People To Watch spotlight, interviewing foodie Carlos Meltzer and activist Steven Haynes.

More dining:
Eat Now (best new eateries)
Recipes (from El Tiempo, the Rainbow Lodge, and Field of Greens)


Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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