Bols in Houston

I’m headed back to my hometown today for the launch of Bols Genever in Houston. For industry and media, we’re hosting an event at Anvil Bar and Refuge from 1-3 tomorrow (Wednesday); contact me if you’d like to attend. Then for the rest of the night Anvil is offering a menu of cocktails featuring Bols and Galliano for anyone who’d like to stop in.

On Thursday I’m guest bartending with Mindy Kucan at Grand Prize Bar. This should be lots of fun, with Bols cocktails, kopstootjes, and even a frozen Harvey Wallbanger. That will run from 4:30 till 7ish. If you’re in Houston I hope to see you at one of these events!


Where to eat/drink in Houston?

I’ll be back in my hometown December 25-29. Obviously I want to stop in at Anvil, where bartender Bobby Heugel is serving up creative cocktails. And word is David Buehrer has finally brought great coffee to Houston with his Tuscany Coffee. Good Tex-Mex is a must and easy to find. I’d usually consider barbecue essential, but Podnah’s Pit in Portland is such a good fix that I might do without. Where else should I visit?


Spontaneous order in the wake of Ike

My friend Dan Rothschild has been live-blogging Hurricane Ike from Houston and today he has his first impressions of the recovery effort in today’s New York Sun. He directs the Gulf Coast Recovery Project at the Mercatus Center and reports that Houston, so far, is avoiding the top-down errors that plagued the Katrina recovery:

Because city and county governments are doing what they should do — enforcing the law, sharing critical information, and making honest assessments of the status and future of public services — they have cleared the way for the private sector to respond effectively. By yesterday morning, all local grocery chains had reopened at least some of their locations, and their trucks had made it into town and were busy resupplying. This would have been impossible if the city had been locked down, or if employees had been prohibited from coming to work.

Stressing that people should use their judgment rather than trying to freeze movement, officials have created space for what reports indicate is an incredible — and uncoordinated — response by people clearing streets and storm drains. The official attitude that recovery is a grassroots effort, of which government is just one sector that plays a supporting role, means that recovery is already underway, and people don’t have to wait for officials to draw up (and eventually fumble) a complex, top-down plan.

The private sector is playing a crucial role in sharing information. Citizen journalists have been liveblogging events as they unfold, the television and radio stations are sharing information called in by normal folks about grocery stores, gas stations, and hardware stores that are open. Indeed, the press has been a vital conduit of information throughout the process, as they were after Katrina when New Orleans radio host Garland Robinette famously stayed on the air throughout the storm serving as the only instrument of fact over a cacophony of official fiction.

Dan’s just a few miles away from my parents, who are currently without power or running water. They ran out of fresh food this morning and will be on to peanut butter and canned goods from now on unless they find a local fast food spot open for business. Luckily the house survived without major damage, but they say they’ve carried about 30 trash cans of debris from the yard already. They’re flying out to Little Rock for a pre-arranged trip on Friday.


Sweatiest cities

Old Spice has released a “scientific” ranking of the nation’s sweatiest cities, based on simulations of how much people would sweat walking around in the summer months. Phoenix tops the list. The good news for me is the bottom three: Portland at 98, Seattle at 99, and San Francisco at 100. The case for the Pacific NW looks better and better.

Houston ranks predictably high at number 7, while Washington comes in surprisingly low at 48. Having lived in both cities, I can say that Washington deserves a much higher score. The difference is in adaptation. In Houston you step out of your air conditioned home into your air conditioned car and park right next to your destination, which of course will also be air conditioned. Even in the denser parts of downtown parking isn’t better than in DC, and if you have to walk you can do so along the extensive underground tunnels.

In DC, in contrast, you have to walk more. If you do drive odds are you won’t be able to park very close to your destination. Taking the Metro involves significant waiting time in balmy tunnels. And our buildings, being older than Houston’s, often feature much less effective AC systems. People who tell me that since I grew up in Houston I must find DC’s humidity easy to deal with have no idea what they’re talking about. Aside from playing sports or doing yard work, it’s not something you have to deal with nearly as much there. In this aspect, at least, Houston has the advantage.

[Via the Capital Weather Gang.]


Praise for the hometown

Cato’s Randal O’Toole praises Houston in the Chronicle:

Houston is the freest major city in America, with no zoning and only moderate government intrusions into how property owners use their land. This freedom has made Houston the most affordable major city in America, with housing costs that are less than half of most other major urban areas. This freedom has also created an innovative and growth-friendly environment that is creating tens of thousands of new jobs each year.

Read the whole thing here.