Anvil is the grande dame of the Houston cocktail scene. Indeed, it’s one of the most influential bars on the Gulf Coast, a veritable Ellis Island for talented bartenders who pass through its doors on their way to establishing their own cocktail programs around the country.
The menu at Anvil is a marvel: in what appears to be an exercise in restraint, the front side of the single heavy sheet of paper features just seven house cocktails, a few simple bar snacks, and a handful of selected spirits. The back side, however, offers an awe-inspiring compendium of cocktail wisdom called the 100 List. Now in version 2.3, the 100 List has seen some modifications over the years, but since the earliest days it has been a crash course in cocktailian discovery. One hundred drinks are grouped by flavor profiles like “Herbal & Spirituous,” “Boozy & Alluring,” and “Tropical & Tiki.” Popular classics (the sidecar, the manhattan) mingle with vintage obscurities (the Tuxedo, the Hanky Panky), all interspersed with drinks that are a category unto themselves, like a nitrogenated Cuba Libre dispensed from a beer tap.
Central to Anvil’s philosophy is the belief that each bartender should be involved with the development of the menu. El Berrinche is a contribution from Johnathan Jones and consists of tequila, fresh lime juice, kaffir lime leaf, orgeat (almond syrup), and sapin (a liqueur distilled from alpine botanicals and macerated with young fir buds). Meaning “tantrum” in Spanish, the name could very well refer to the explosion of flavors this cocktail creates on the palate. Bright and refreshing, herbal and springy, El Berrinche is as delightful to taste as it is to behold perched upon Anvil’s famous acid-washed–steel bar top.
1 1/2 ounces Tequila Cabeza
3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Emile Pernot Grand Sapin
1/4 ounce orgeat
dash Angostura bitters
1 kaffir lime leaf
Combine liquid ingredients and half of one hemisphere of the kaffir lime leaf in a mixing glass and shake with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the remaining portion of the kaffir leaf.