When her award-winning Houston bar, Julep, had to shutter at the beginning of the pandemic last spring, Alba Huerta had a unique solution: If people couldn’t come get a cocktail, she’d bring the cocktails to them. “We got a cocktail truck for home delivery,” Huerta says of the ice-cream-truck-for-adults she and her team drove around Houston, selling gallons of punch, Hurricane pops, and French 75s by the dram. “The truck is refrigerated, and of course we had to make our menu more concise—nothing that needed shaking and only things that travel well.”
And while the to-go truck will continue to make rounds, on Saturday, May 1, Huerta will finally reopen Julep for the first time in more than a year for their annual Derby Party, a chance to celebrate the cocktail that gave the bar its name.
Huerta’s menu boasts all kinds of variations on Julep’s eponymous drink beyond the classic, including a peach blend and one with apple brandy and Jamaican rum. But her sparkling iteration stands out. “It’s a refreshing, gorgeous, daytime cocktail based on a champagne julep,” she says. “It has lower alcohol content, so it’s perfect for day drinking. And we all have leftover sparkling in the fridge we can repurpose.” If you can’t find a Gamay or other red for this recipe, Huerta recommends a sparkling rosé, although anything sparkling will do the trick.