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Eagle Houston traces roots to early LGBTQ movement.

As a winner in the Best Martini and Best Happy Hour categories in OutSmart’s 2017 Gayest & Greatest Awards, Eagle Houston is (for those who don’t already know) a great place to get a “shaken not stirred” beverage that won’t break the bank.

But that description fails to address why and how Eagle Houston has become very important to generations of LGBTQ Houstonians.

For starters, the former corner-grocery building is a historic landmark and a fine example of the inroads our community has made in establishing safe entertainment spaces in H-Town. Eagle Houston traces its roots to the original New York City location that opened in the early 1970s as the LGBTQ civil-rights movement began to gain momentum. The Houston branch initially began as a weekly theme party in another area nightclub, and its popularity led to a series of relocations, expansions, and renovations that culminated in the opening of the current Montrose property in June 2014. And despite a few setbacks, including a fire in January 2016, Eagle Houston has proven phoenix-like in its ability to rise from the ashes and consistently impress customers.

Even if you aren’t an LGBTQ history buff, Eagle Houston will quickly become a favorite gathering spot. The crowd, entertainment, and deals are slightly different each night, but always enjoyable. On Saturdays, for example, “MEN:ERGY” fills the air as DJ JD Arnold (Best DJ in the 2017 Gayest & Greatest Awards) turns the tables for Houston’s hottest men’s dance party, while on Whiskey Wednesdays, a well-heeled set crowds the bar for $4 Crown Royal and $3 Fireball shots before ditching the button-downs and grooving to DJ Phelan. Football fans can get their pigskin fix via the bar’s big screens broadcasting NFL games, and the affable clientele almost guarantees you will be watching the game among friends.

Recent second-story renovations have added a wrap-around deck perfect for al fresco alcohol consumption, and the upstairs Phoenix Room has its own bar surrounded by large murals paying tribute to Houston’s LGBTQ history.

Eagle Houston is also the site of the Mr. Texas Eagle contest, in which leather enthusiasts vie to advance to the national Mr. Leather competition in Chicago.

You can cap off your visit by visiting the Eagle Trading Co. boutique that vends goods from brands such as Mr. S Leather, Tribal Son, and Ox Balls, and offers leather tailoring and repair. Pick up some toys or jewelry for your mister, or show your love by scoring some Eagle Houston swag to wear (or take off!) around town.

But leather couture, mean martinis, and creative beats aren’t what brings ’em back to Eagle Houston night after night. The people—from the lively regulars to the quick-witted drink-slingers behind the bar—are what make the atmosphere at Eagle Houston so addictive.  —Joanna O’Leary

Club or Restaurant with Best Happy Hour

Eagle Houston
Finalists: Bayou City Bar and Grill, George’s Country Sports Bar, Guava Lamp, JR’s Bar & Grill

Club or Restaurant with the Best Margarita

El Tiempo Cantina
Finalists: Bayou City Bar and Grill, Gloria’s Latin Cuisine, Guava Lamp

Club or Restaurant with the Best Martini

Guava Lamp
Finalists: Anvil, Eagle Houston, JR’s, Riva’s, Eagle Houston

Favorite Brand of Beer

Bud Light
Finalists: 8th Wonder, Karbach, St. Arnold, Stella Artois

Favorite Brand of Liquor

Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Finalists: Crown Royal, Dripping Springs Vodka, Maker’s Mark

Favorite Wine Bar

Bar Boheme
Finalists: 13 Celsius, Guava Lamp, Max’s Wine Dive

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Joanna O’Leary

Joanna O’Leary is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine and a freelance food and travel writer based in Houston. Her exploits are chronicled on brideyoleary.com.
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