Downtown Houston’s Cottonmouth Club is a veritable trip. At this decidedly unpretentious brick-laden bar, it’s all about the experience, as its founders will tell you–a guest’s drink is by no means limited to the confines of the menu (each bartender is more than happy to act as an accomplice should you choose to go rogue). “We had our say when we wrote the menu, locking in our ideas on what flavors, aromas, words and actions will combine to create something new and delicious for those who we are lucky enough to make cocktails for across the bar,” says Bar Director Michael Neff. “That said, the menu itself is just a placeholder. Ideally, when someone comes to us and wants to order a cocktail, we can make the time to put the menu aside and get to know what that particular person is looking for. This can lead to a more bespoke experience, making the cocktail program more flexible, open and competent enough to create things on the fly.” But, as with any great cocktail bar worth its salt, you’d also do well to order from the bar’s list of house drinks––you will not be disappointed.
For this week’s Drink DuJour, Neff dives into one of the most popular drinks on the menu–one that also happens to be a relative breeze to make at home. “You Look At Me Once, You Look At Me Twice is named after a lyric in a song by The Stray Cats, and originally came to me while making a menu for a guest shift at Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles, California. I had some absinthe to work with, so decided to add berries to a traditional absinthe frappe, thinking no one would pay much attention. It turned out that that cocktail was the sleeper hit of the night, so I put a bit more thought into it and put it on the opening menu for Cottonmouth.”
Neff adds, “Like most real classics, the frappe is a very simple drink—its magic is in its ingredients and execution. In that sense, it’s easy to make at home; all you need is a good absinthe, a bit of sugar, and a lot of effort in shaking those things up together. I like this cocktail because its simplicity highlights an ingredient (absinthe) that many people don’t understand. It’s thoughtful enough for people who are inspired by mixology, and accessible enough for people who aren’t as comfortable navigating a cocktail menu on their own. To that point, the You Look At Me Once is the only cocktail that has been on all of our menus since the bar opened.”
Brace your biceps, break out your shaker, and give Cottonmouth Club’s famed frappe a try at home with the full recipe below.
YOU LOOK AT ME ONCE, YOU LOOK AT ME TWICE:
2 oz Absinthe
Barspoon berry preserves
Fresh berries (small handful)
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain over a rocks glass filled generously with ice and garnish with a few fresh berries before serving.