Texas Tiki Disco sounds more like word salad than a plausible nightlife concept. But the temporary takeover of Lost Lake by Houston’s Anvil Bar & Refuge—during a week when the bar’s usual honcho, Paul McGee, and his staff are on a research trip to Martinique—is quite charming and not at all desultory. On Monday night, the bartenders and servers donned cowboy hats and aloha shirts. A mirrored ball dangled from the ceiling next to taxidermied blowfish. The soundtrack played like a Time-Life disco compilation—Chic, Bee Gees, Donna Summer—garnished with some dusty outlaw country tunes for thematic coherence.
Anvil’s Bobby Heugel (the McGee of the Lone Star State) has created a menu of 12 tiki drinks and two punches that’s just as playful, from the names (Light Emitting Diodes, Backseat Leather) to the ingredients (the On the Rocks cocktail includes Pop Rocks). Each glass comes decorated with a variety of whimsical colored straws, cocktail sticks, and paper whatsits in the shape of, in one case, a flamingo. Lost Lake’s adjacent takeout restaurant, Thank You, has also been given some southern flavor. Pickle & Chub (aka Chicago chefs Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla) have replaced the usual Chinese dishes with deviled eggs, pigs in a blanket, Crockpot meatballs, shrimp cocktail, ambrosia salad, and other Texas delights.
The conceptual mashup of tiki and disco is actually a bit of revisionist history on Heugel’s part. The “admittedly absurd” origins are explained on the menu, which has an appropriately deco-inspired design: “The pillars of the original tiki movement—laid-back vibes and quality, handcrafted cocktails—could not coexist with the demand for super speedy service, dance floors, bell bottoms, and drugs.” For Heugel, Texas Tiki Disco is an “exploration of what might have been.”
Friday night is your last chance to check it out.