HOUSTON IS UNIQUELY equipped to weather a Covid-besieged winter in one way: This season is the perfect one for socially distant patio bars. And the owners of new Memorial Trail Ice House are counting on Houstonians craving outdoor options, especially for New Year's Eve.
Located catty-corner from the Westcott Street entrance to Memorial Park, the concept boasts a full bar, rotating food trucks, and a 20,000-square-foot outdoor area with lawn games, a brick patio and an expansive dog-friendly "backyard." The building was erected in 1932, and operated as a general store with living quarters for the owners on the second floor.
"This area needed a spacious, outdoor icehouse that brings a different experience than the bars and clubs along Washington Avenue," says co-founder John Shaeffer, who's lived in the Rice Military area for five years, and would drive by the historic building daily before deciding to purchase and convert it. "We want to leverage our proximity to the park as a landing spot for people after they've played a round of golf, run around the exercise trail, or played intermural games."
Schaefer and his team tapped the Ladies of Libation, Kris Sowell and Laurie Harvey, as bar consultants — and the end result is a unique list of handcrafted cocktails, plus 18 beers on tap and a curated wine list. The Bee Someone cocktail, with Tito's vodka, honey lemonade and hopped mint, is a fizzy refreshing treat — and $1 from the sale of each drink is donated to Memorial park Conservancy.
Beverly Shaeffer helmed the interior design, which seeks to retain the character of the nearly century-old building — exposed brick, original concrete flooring — while infusing the space with fashionable updates, a la furnishings chosen by Erin Hicks.
For New Year's Eve, Memorial Trail Ice House is serving $100 bottles of Veuve — and plenty of fresh air.