First Sip: Present Company | Houstonia

When you hear the phrase “present company,” you may first think about the LCD Soundsystem song “Dance Yrself Clean.” The lead track from the group’s 2010 album This Is Happening, “Dance Yrself Clean” features that line frequently in its opening few minutes, before slowly rising to a crescendo of vocals that lead to a drop the size of the Grand Canyon. It’s one of the most affirming and joyous moments in modern pop music.

Now, imagine that epic “Dance Yrself Clean” drop has taken the form of a place, maybe a bar. It probably would look a lot like the pastel paradise of the new Present Company in Montrose.

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Present Company is a long time coming, owned by Shawn Bermudez. He ran the Royal Oak Bar on the same property, then closed it to turn it into Present Company, but a 2017 fire tore up the second floor and delayed his dreams for months. But now it’s here, and it’s a wonderland inspired by 1960s-80s Palm Springs, perfect for happy hours, wild nights, and sultry saxophone solos. With pink and yellow birdcages hanging from the ceiling, neon signs straight out of the Cocktail ‘80s, bathroom wallpaper depicting David Bowie and Barbarella, tangerine-orange booths by vertical gardens (more than 4,000 individual plants), and mid-century modern living room furniture decorating lounge areas, Present Company explodes with a combination of Donald Wexler and boomer kitsch. It’s pretty wonderful.

Imagine yourself soaking in the late-summer (or maybe mid-fall) sun at one of Present Company’s rooftop tables beside a palm tree. You may be sipping on The Whispering Rye, a pretty purple drink that fades to white thanks to a mix of lavender syrup and blanco tequila (plus ginger liqueur, lemon juice, and a house-made butterfly pea elixir). Another fun one is High Dive at Ruby Dunes (mezcal, damiana liqueur, aloe vera juice, lime juice), but the Instagram is sure to be filled with photos of both Principal Kisses Alligator (gin, lime juice, agave, fresh blackberries, and blackberry-cucumber La Croix) and Stranger Danger (watermelon vodka, lime juice, honeysuckle liqueur, watermelon-kiwi La Croix, prosecco), which are served inside those used La Croix cans. Refreshing.

For a true summer treat, Present Company also features Don’t Tell the Butcher (About the Milkman), which combines spiced rum, banana cognac, and coconut milk for a truly creamy treat. And there are frozen drinks (no frosé, though), including a gin-and-grapefruit concoction called Once Bitten, and its sister, the coconut-water rum and falernum drink Twice Shy (available only Monday to Friday). All cocktails and frozen drinks run $8-$11.

Present Company (drink program by Rex Nielsen, previously of Stone’s Throw) is also serving plenty of wine ($7-$15 glass, $21-$35 bottle) and beer ($3-$6), plus eight different bottles of bubbly ($9-$30 glass, $26-$88 bottle). Daily specials include a Tuesday night steak night (naturally), Saturday and Sunday brunch (also naturally with $12 mimosa pitchers and $6 bloody Marys), and a Wednesday pizza special (buy a bottle of wine and get a free pizza [not during happy hour]). Perfect.

The menu, led by Chef Matt Pak, who partnered with Bermudez at Burger Joint, will emphasize shareables, like pizza, truffle fries, and beer-battered green beans. The idea is “fun,” says Bermudez, who hopes Present Company becomes a hot spot during those endless summer nights. Honestly, it’s pretty likely it’ll happen. Now, throw your little hands up.


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