Restaurants / Bars

The Woman Behind Houston’s First James Beard National Award Winner Looks Ahead — Alba Huerta is Determined to Keep Julep Rolling

This True H-Town Success Story is a Cocktail Queen

BY // 06.14.22

Foodies and champions of the Houston bar scene have been enthusiastically cheering since Monday night when beloved cocktail bar Julep took top honors as Outstanding Bar Program at the James Beard Foundation 2022 awards ceremony. It marked the first time that a Houston entity won top national honors in the James Beard, considered the Oscars of the restaurant and bar world.

Applause, applause for Julep owner and award-wining mixologist Alba Huerta for the coveted honor. Although there were a number of semifinalists and finalists from across Texas in the annual competition, Julep was the sole winner of one of the highest honors in the culinary world.

“Thank you to my city of Houston, Texas for loving immigrants,” she told the gathering during ceremonies in Chicago. “For loving immigrants like me, like my family, welcoming us — and giving us the path to opening our own businesses.”

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Julep, the classy cocktail bar on Washington Avenue, earns top honors in the national James Beard Award program. (Photo by Julie Soefer)

This was just the latest in Julep‘s honors. Earlier this month, the classy watering hole was named to the inaugural list of North America’s 50 Best Bars, the list sponsored by Perrier. Julep was the only Lone Star entry included in those rankings. And there is more to come. Julep is also  a nominee for Best American Cocktail Bar in the Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards (it’s the only Houston bar nominated) while Huerta herself is a Spirited Award nominee for Best U.S. Bar Mentor.

Further, Huerta’s debut cocktail book titled Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned received an International Association of Culinary Professionals award in the Wine, Beer and Spirits Category.

Catching her breath from all the glory, Huerta remains firmly grounded.

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She tells PaperCity that for the moment she is focused on the short term as her plate is very full. She continues teaching cocktail classes and is headed to the Aspen Food & Wine festival next week where she will be lecturing.

Huerta is determined to keep up the standards of her career — providing mentorship for her staff and “always focusing on the hospitality at Julep.”

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