The shirt Ready Room’s general manager Cody Northcutt sported behind the bar read “to get somewhere you gotta start somewhere” across the front.
I couldn’t help but reflect on my own personal history of imbibing. When I became of age, I sipped the occasional Pacifico or a vodka soda, but I cared far more about the company of friends, the comedy show or live music I was going to see at Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club or The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in Chicago or The Blue Note in New York.
My first impression of Ready Room gave me similar speakeasy vibes — you won’t find a sign or logo anywhere, just a simple message in the lower right hand corner of the window reminding you that Friday and Saturday’s jazz nights are “by appointment only” for $10 from 9 p.m.-midnight.
An old-school piano commands your attention along the wall as you walk in and high-backed red leather barstools and an ornate ceiling with chandeliers contribute to the vintage vibes.
Northcutt told me Thursday nights will have more intimate shows, usually with three piece ensembles.
The rotating cocktail menu pays tribute to each of Houston’s six historic wards. Northcutt was roasting corn on a skillet for a corn and sage syrup to mix for the Jimador’s Punch ($16). This mixed drink showcases Mezcal Vago Elote as its base, as well as Nixta Elote Liqueur, grapefruit juice, lime juice and yellow chartreuse.
The trimmings on this one are rather elaborate, including a corn husk, a dehydrated grapefruit and a ground arbol chile pepper.
To start, Northcutt made me something off the menu. His concoction of Plantation Barbados 5 Year Rum, vermouth, orange bitters and chocolate bitters was refreshing and soothing.
The closest thing on the menu to what I had is probably the ‘Raising Cain’ ($12) which the menu notes is not related to the chicken joint. This cocktail includes Lustau Amontillado sherry, Antica Torino vermouth, Lillet Rouge (a French aperitif), chocolate bitters, and garnished with an orange peel. It is a spin on the classic Bamboo cocktail.
A regular at the Ready Room swore by the Sazerac ($11) so I made that my next order. Crafted with Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac and a house-made demerara syrup (made from coarse sugar that evokes molasses or toffee flavors) Peychaud’s bitters, and lemon zest. An Absinthe wash gives the Sazerac a subtle hint of licorice.
The Ready Room
Address: 2626 White Oak Drive
Dining Options: Dine-in
Hours: 5 p.m.-midnight Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Cocktail prices: $10-$16
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: None
Star of the show: Sazerac