Make a stop at Moving Sidewalk, the newest addition to Downtown’s bar line-up in Main’s 300 block, around the corner from Market Square Park.
It takes a pretty brave soul to realize that a concept you loved isn’t quite working like you thought – and give up the ghost. But that’s exactly what Alex Gregg and his partners Brad Moore and Ryan Rouse did with Goro and Gun. The small restaurant with its taxidermy-decked walls was meant to be a restaurant and bar. But it was housed in a little space on Main Street, and the bar had been in the back, so passersby couldn’t quite figure if it was a restaurant with a bar or a bar with a restaurant.
So Gregg and Co. shut the place down for three weeks and re-opened earlier this month as Moving Sidewalk, a cocktail bar cranking out craft creations in historic chic décor. The result so far has been a big success.
“People feel more welcome now,” says Gregg, who launched the revamp with a new cocktail menu, although he emphasizes it’s not a mixology bar. “We have a fully stocked bar. So, while we’re thrilled with the takes on craft cocktails we have, we’ll make you a Crown and Coke and you shouldn’t feel weird asking for it.”
Make no mistake. It’s a sexy, stylish space. But while in other hands, that might translate to snobby, it’s not so here. The Hollywood-esque banquettes up front, antique crystal and brass chandeliers over the bar and lots of low light from candles add ambiance to the shotgun space. And the drinks showcase a creativity that combines both know-how and adventure. Take the Hamilton Highball, a combination of Rhum Agricole, spiced grapefruit soda, lime and a huge hand-cut ice cube.
“Rhum Agricole is a super funky,” explains Gregg. “It’s made with fresh sugar cane juice, not molasses, so you retain more flavor and it’s a little grassy.” The drink is both pastoral and refreshing.
Creating Moving Sidewalk
Gregg and the gang took the first couple of days after gutting Goro and Gun to brainstorm on how they wanted the new bar menu to be. They took field trips to farmers markets and spice shops, and mixed up what seemed like a million variations to get the drink styles they wanted.
“I must’ve made about 50 What We Do is Secrets,” says Jason Berger, who created the citrusy beer cocktail on the list. It’s a combination of Genever, sour ale, clementine, lemon, mint and orange bitters. “I just kept deconstructing, wondering how I could get a fuller flavor – which I got with the beer, then went looking for balance. The clementine is sweet, and the lemon works with that. Then, then mint comes in as a refresher.”
The name is the name of a Germs song, but it’s also a play on the old Secret deodorant ad that claimed it was “strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” This cocktail packs a punch for all its feminine mystique.
They even make a little bit of presto-chango magic. Gregg’s White Lady Corpse –> Reviver No. 2 puts liquid nitrogen to work for a drink that “transforms”as you sip. The cocktail is basically the two classics, built one on top of each other and separated by a thin sheet of ice formed by the liquid nitrogen [which gives the cocktail a lovely chill without having any ice melt]. As you take the first sip, you taste the White Lady, and as the sheet of ice melts, it is transformed in the Corpse Reviver No 2. Pretty nifty.
And that’s really the point of Moving Sidewalk – to have fun, kick back, appreciate the tongue-in-cheek nods to mixology snobbery. These dudes are all serious about drinks, but they don’t want to intimidate. Even their name has a little bit of a wink to it. Houston’s own Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame was in a band called Moving Sidewalks prior to ZZ. Gregg is a big music fan and always thought it would make a great name for a bar. Alex also got a kick out of the double entendre that works for this particular location on Main Street. With Pastry War and Bad News Bar on one side and the Little Dipper on the other side of the bar, it is often like a “moving sidewalk of bar traffic” as customers drop in and out of each to have a drink at a few locations.
“Downtown is in its adolescence, I think” says Gregg. “And I’ve been in it since the beginning, so it’s great to see it evolve into a destination. There’s a lot of foot traffic, going from one spot to another, and it’s been great to see how the re-imagining of our space has been with people so far.”