VeeV martini at Houston's
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.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.