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Take a Tropical Tour

If you’re sick of hearing Baby It’s Cold Outside, maybe it’s time for a quick trip to the tropics—minus the plane ride. Whether it is truly cold outside or a practically balmy Houston winter evening, the exotic flavors of pineapple, rum and falernum await to steer you away from the doldrums of darkness (that begins around 5:15 p.m.) and closer to the land where empty coconut shells double as glassware. You know what time it is: island time!

Stop 1: Kanaloa
Region: Market Square Park
Vibe: Tiki AF

Drink this: Painkiller - a tiki classic made from rums (yes, multiple variations!), coconut cream, orange juice and pineapple.
Hot tip: Closed on Mondays. Offers large-format drinks for groups, aka rum punch meant to be shared from the same drinking vessel. Don’t worry, everyone uses a different straw (they’re wild, but they’re not heathens, y’all).
Most likely to make you: Feel like watching The Endless Summer or break out into hula dancing.
Need to know: Tuesdays are for tiki, with new drink specials and deals on party drinks that serve up to 10 people.


Stop 2: Pastry War
Region: Main Street Drag
Vibe: Oaxaca chic
Drink this: Mezcal margarita, which is just like the classic you know and love, but—gasp—maybe even better? The smoky notes of the mezcal make for a sultry, complex cocktail ideal for lifting winter spirits.
Hot tip: Try the above-mentioned mezcal-a-rita with habanero-serrano flavorings for a real kick.
Most likely to make you: Book an impromptu January trip to Tamaulipas, Mexico with your extra airline points.
Need to know: You won’t find pastries served here. It’s named for a historic conflict between France and Mexico. But there are tamales on the menu.
 

Stop 3: High & Dry Rum Bar
Region: Main Street Drag
Vibe: Tasteful Tiki
Drink this: Ginger Flame, first of all, because it tastes delicious (overproof rum, reposado tequila, Campari and mango with fresh ginger and habanero Thai chili pepper tincture, anyone?) and second of all, because there’s fire involved in the process of making it, and that’s just cool...or hot?
Hot tip: Step out back to the patio, and enjoy its comfy seating and the soothing fountain.
Most likely to make you: Vow to find the vinyl collection of Bob Marley albums you stashed away in your parents’ attic after you left the nest.
Need to know: It can be hard to find, but look for the staircase to the left of Little Dipper and head up to the second floor.

Stop 4: Batanga
Region: Market Square Park
Vibe: Romantic South American
Drink this: Orange-Ginger Caipirinha, made with a Brazilian sugar cane-based spirit, ginger, orange and sugar.
Hot tip: Most weekend nights, you’ll find live music that spans a range of South American styles.
Most likely to make you: Want to learn the samba.
Need to know: Given Houston’s trend toward warmer winters, take advantage of their 3,600-square-foot patio, the largest in Downtown Houston.
 

Stop 5: El Big Bad
Region: Market Square Park
Vibe: Mystical Mexican
Drink this: Blueberry, jalapeño and cilantro margarita, made with their special infused tequila, and also available by the pitcher.
Hot tip: If you’re feeling brave, try a flight of infused tequilas. There are over 70(!!) to choose from.
Most likely to make you: Research ofrenda-making techniques.
Need to know: If you need a bar snack, it’s not just the tequilas that come in flights. Try a flight of salsas to really heat things up.
 

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