Charcoal & Corea: A natural pairing.

Over the last year or so, several people have recommended Axelrad Beer Garden's
Wednesday night Jazz. As this colorful beer garden often feels like a second home to me, I figured it would be a great first stop for Cocktails at Intermission!

 The famous Axelrad tap wall!

The famous Axelrad tap wall!

Hunkered down under an umbrella, while enjoying a typical afternoon Houston shower, I began my evening at Axelrad beer garden. After a long day of consultant work, this was EXACTLY what I needed. While I waited for my friends to arrive (fellow music lovers of course) I began to peruse the bar menu and make my pre-concert drink choice. After a minute or so I spotted the frozen beverage machine in the corner and happily decided “challenged accepted.”
So, without hesitation, I asked the waiter what the frozen drink of the week was (?)
His answer: “Frozen Black Lemonade”. My face: gif. for effect to the right...

After a minute or so I spotted the frozen beverage machine in the corner and happily decided ‘challenged accepted.’

Nevertheless, I’m always down to try something new. To my surprise, this frosty beverage was delicious! Basically, it turned out to be a frozen vodka lemonade with a bit of “activated charcoal”. Interestingly, activated charcoal has been popping up in juice bars everywhere for its detoxifying abilities, however, I think the vodka may have negated that effect … Nevertheless, I really dug it!  This atypical cocktail ingredient lent a slightly smoky aftertaste that I thought was a brilliant pairing for the jazz yet to come.




Moving on to the music, after settling in with my slice of cheese pizza from Luigi’s (literally one of my favorite pie spots in town), my friends and I chose a spot a few tables back from the stage and braced ourselves for the smooth tunes of the evening.  


To our surprise, the band was not only made up by legendary and Grammy award winning drummer Mark Simmons (former member of the Al Jarreau band) but, local legend and guest Sax & Flute player Kelly Dean. Along with these two fine musicians were the band leader and pianist who brought the house down with his #killer solos and the smooth bass guitarist, both of whom I didn’t have a chance to grab names of (blame owed to the yummy cocktails!) They began with the famous Chick Corea piece “500 miles high”, setting the stage for an evening of classic jazz standards, embellished by expert Piano, Drum, Bass guitar, Sax, and Flute solos. As a particularly new musical resident of Houston, it was a pleasant and welcome surprise to hear legends, literally in what feels like my own back yard. While some will say the jazz scene in Houston died years ago, these guys represented that it is definitely alive and well.

As the music swelled, humidity dissipated, and light turned to dark, Axelrad, provided the perfect backdrop and cocktail offering for another beautiful Wednesday in #HTX.

P.S. I definitely went back for seconds of Frozen Black Lemonade at intermission ;)!


Recipe: Frozen Charcoal Lemonade Cocktail
Makes approximately 8 cocktails

12 ounces vodka (As a good Texan, I always choose Tito’s!)
12 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate
Zest of 1 lemon
24 ounces cold water
2 Teaspoons Activated Charcoal
Lemon slices for garnish

In a shallow freezer safe pan mix the lemonade concentrate, vodka, water, activated charcoal, and lemon zest. Freeze mixture overnight or about eight hours. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and fork the mixture into glasses. By using a fork you can break up the frozen mixture similar to the steps when making a granita. To finish off the cocktail and for extra effect, add a slice of lemon to each glass. Salute!