Although I'm not normally a fan of national chains, I'd been waiting with bated breath for Houston's to open in Cherry Creek, because I have fond memories of long, delicious lunches at its siblings in Arizona and California. But those lunches were a long time ago, and either I've changed or Houston's has — because the Houston's that opened on April 4 is basically the Cherry Creek Grill with windows and a much smaller bar. Same better-than-average chain food, same bad attitude (and same corporate owner, by the way). When I asked the drink server (to call her a bartender would be to overstate her skills) if Houston's has any specialty cocktails, she replied, "All our cocktails are special. How about a nice Cosmopolitan?" Uh, no thanks. Then I spotted a bottle of VeeV: I'd read about it in the New York Times over a year ago but hadn't yet seen it in any Denver establishments. It's a very trendy 60-proof spirit made from acai berries (Oprah's number-one superfood) and prickly pear (which allegedly fends off hangovers), made by a company that uses sustainable farming programs and wind energy to fuel its stills. I asked the drink server what she could make with it, and she replied, "I don't know. I've never tried it." So I asked her to just chill some and serve it up — basically a VeeV Martini ($13) — and it was surprisingly good. Unlike many flavored vodkas that seem designed to conceal the taste of alcohol, VeeV tastes like a vodka with a hint of flavor. "It tastes just like the Capri Sun strawberry kiwi fruit water I serve my seven-year-old," my friend said. Lucky kid. Lucky me for finding the guilt-free intoxication of VeeV. But finding it at Houston's? Not so lucky.
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