FeaturesG&G 2020

Gayest & Greatest 2020: Drinks and Spirits

Reyna Rodriguez keeps things shaking at Hamburger Mary’s.

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Reyna Rodriguez is this year’s Favorite Female Bartender (courtesy photo)

Reyna Rodriguez is a woman on the up and up in the Montrose bar scene. Thanks to her friendship with a manager at the former Bayou City bar on Grant Street, she started working the door there during her first two years in the service industry. After that, she made the leap to the other side of that strip center on Grant and began bartending at Hamburger Mary’s, which opened in February 2017. After years of slinging drinks and entertaining customers, Rodriguez has won this year’s Favorite Female Bartender award.

She is also the first transgender woman to pick up this award. “It’s amazing. I always like to see my sisters doing something positive in the community. It’s good to have this honor,” she says of her historic achievement.

Hamburger Mary’s is a spot known for its raucous drag shows, tongue-in-cheek names for menu items, and crowd antics. For guests who are looking for a good beverage to partner with the signature burgers, she recommends the Hennessy Margarita.

“It’s not too strong, and it’s not too sweet. It’s a different flavor than the tequila, and people tend to like it more,” she says.

Rodriguez likes to take part in the fun at the restaurant, too. She recalls one of her craziest moments on the job when she was horseplaying with a coworker. “I fell, and I brought down a whole shelf of bottles with me to the floor,” she admits.

Embarrassing moments aside, her patrons look forward to her hospitality, even during the pandemic when service workers are always shifting roles and responsibilities to accommodate changing safety guidelines.

“I’m a chameleon. I roll with it and go with the flow. Luckily, I have other jobs, so it didn’t affect me as much. It is difficult because you don’t get that one-on-one time with your clients where you can laugh at the bar. I’ve had to get comfortable with the mindset of staying away from the people I’m usually physically close to,” she adds.

Rodriguez keeps herself perpetually busy when she’s not tending bar. She’s been employed by the State of Texas for the last nine years, first working with the Texas Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program before transitioning to social services. “I like the stability of the job, and because I’m a people person, it was nice to know I was assisting people who needed help during hard times,” she says.

While her state job is a good one, her dreams of entrepreneurship have been emerging lately, and she’s felt compelled to dive into a new course as an esthetician. Reyna had her eyes on the future when she recently opened Reyna’s Royal Chamber at 6776 Southwest Freeway. Her business is located in a suite with other cosmetologists offering services that complement her own menu of facials, treatments for damaged skin, and microblading services.

Follow Reyna Rodriguez on Instagram @reynasroyal_chamber.

Club or Restaurant with the Best Happy Hour

Houston Eagle
Finalists: BUDDY’S, JR’s Bar & Grill, La Granja Disco Y Cantina, Tony’s Corner Pocket

Club or Restaurant with the Best Margarita

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine
Finalists: 1308 Annex, Houston Eagle, Tortilla Joe’s

Club or Restaurant with the Best Martini

Guava Lamp
Finalists: BUDDY’S, Hotel ZaZa, Houston Eagle, JR’s Bar & Grill 

Best Drinks To-Go

Hamburger Mary’s
Finalists: Pico’s, Tortilla Joe’s

Favorite Female Bartender

Reyna Rodriguez
Finalists: Sarah Tompkins Gutierrez, Crystal Murley, Kristina Prats, Mya Ross

Favorite Male Bartender

Charles Garibay
Finalists: Chris Contello, Colton Gaul, Ronnie Thomas, Brian Wade, Travis Webb

Favorite Brand of Beer

Bud Light
Finalists: Eureka Heights, Karbach Crawford Bock, Karbach Love Street, St. Arnold’s Lawnmower

Favorite Brand of Liquor

Tito’s Handmade Vodka (tie), Dripping Springs Vodka (tie)
Finalists: Deep Eddy Vodka, Don Anastacio Tequila, Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, Ketel One

This article appears in the October 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Sam Byrd

Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to Outsmart who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture. Speaking of Houston, he's never heard a Whitney Houston song he didn't like.

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