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Restaurants / Bars

Midtown’s Newest Bar Combines the Best of a Dive Bar and a Cocktail Haven, Flexes Real Bartender Power

Two Headed Dog is a Beast Like No Other

BY // 07.24.19

A brand new boozy spot is setting the bar high for low-key hangouts in Midtown Houston. Industry veterans and longtime coworkers Lindsay Rae and Billy Boyd are launching their very own bar called Two Headed Dog.

And we double dog dare you to read on and find out more about it.

The pair of buzz-worthy bartenders have been friends for a decade, and worked together during their stints at funky Montrose watering hole Grand Prize. Over the years, each had considered creating their own establishment in a similar vein — fine craft cocktails served up in casual, laidback digs with a kickass playlist. Instead, they’re teaming up on that dream bar and creating it at 3100 Fannin Street (at the corner of Elgin). Plans call for Two Headed Dog to open at the end of July.

Think a trio of shaken cocktails, three stirred ones, eight draft cocktails, half a dozen spiked slushies and an ever-changing bottled cocktail specials. You can count on some seriously inspired flavor profiles, plus some kicky names — Boot Knife and Guava Slayer, to name a couple.

The interior will sit roughly 35, and a sprawling, 12,000-square-foot patio can sit about 70 more.

Both Rae and Boyd kicked around independent ideas to strike out on their own until they joined forces. And once they forged this dynamic duo, there was no looking back. They’re two sides of the same coin. Two heads of the same dog?

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“I feel like it’s a good complementary team. He’s more the big picture guy, I’m super detail-oriented,” Rae tells PaperCity.

“She’s got the finesse, and I’ve got the brute force,” Boyd says, triggering peals of laughter from Rae. “I’ll get you almost there, and she’ll finish the job.”

Their spirited shared vision is something of a mash-up, with high-end cocktails in a low-pressure, familiar scene.

Roky Erickson’s song “Two Headed Dog” was the perfect inspiration.

“It’s a little bit rock and roll vibe, but also has a little country feel. Billy and I both grew up in small-town Texas and came to the big city. We’re very active in our subcultures, rock and roll, punk rock. But you still hold a little bit of that small town charm,” Rae notes. “That’s what we’re hoping to create with it. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.”

In terms of aesthetics, that means a honky tonk vibe in the 1970s style, complete with penny-tiled bathroom floors, a labor of love and truly demanding DIY project — like, 36 to 48 hours worth of meticulous work.

“It’s a bit psycho. I originally wanted nickels, I’m not gonna lie. Wood nickels and real nickels. But we got about three rows in, and it looked terrible. We didn’t want to do pennies, because I’ve seen penny floors. But we just had to go with it,” Rae says.

“There’s a reason people do pennies. Plus, a nickel floor cost five times as much,” Boyd adds.

It was all part of their dive into the deep end, having called bars home for half their lives, but never having built one from scratch before. But when you’ve got passion in spades, you roll up your sleeves.

“We really want to bridge the separation between dive and craft, which is something I’m super passionate about. Some nights, I might drink Jaeger and a Salty Lady. But other nights I want to get a Hotel Nacional or Oaxacan Old Fashioned somewhere else,” Rae says. “If the traditional cocktail guy has a beer and a shot, and the beer and shot guy’s gonna have a cocktail, nothing would make me happier.”

“The lexicon is large now, you need to understand craft cocktails. But you also don’t want to shame vodka soda drinkers or the guy who wants shots of flavored whiskey or Lone Star,” Boyd says.

I’ve always thought, I don’t care if you’ve got $5 shoes or $5,000 shoes, you’re welcome here and we have something for everyone,” Rae adds.

These bartenders turned bart owners are on the same wavelength.

“It’s fun to widen people’s comfort zones, and I think that’s kind of our idea — bridge the gap. I like to hope we’re going to be the best dive bar and the best cocktail bar on the block,” Boyd says.

Drink Dreams — and Bloody Marys in Boots

Rae’s most pumped about the Guava Slayer, a spin on a cocktail she’s been brewing for some time now. The combo calls for guava nectar, mezcal, passionfruit liqueur, cinnamon and house-made orgeat. The Miami Vice frozen is another.

The subject of margaritas has split the staff in half for now, with 50 percent into traditional and 50 percent after Boyd’s heart with the Tommy’s Margarita.

But the Boot Knife is the true game-changer.

“He actually purchased glassware one day, he calls me and says ‘I don’t care if you like it or not, we’re serving Bloody Marys in a boot. I got these glass boots.’

“I said we’ll totally do it. And we’ll call it the Boot Knife. ‘I don’t care what we call it,’” Rae laughs.

This counts as a victory for Boyd, whose seen some of his innovative ideas and personal pet projects denied by city regulations.

“You can’t have a saloon door on a vestibule. You can’t have a chandelier in a bathroom,” Boyd sighs. But no one can stop him from putting a Bloody Mary in a boot.

Their drinks may be top-notch, but don’t expect any pretense from the bar that’s just one mutt shy of Cerberus.

“No egos, no attitude, first and foremost. Lack of ego and attitude. And no bad music,” Boyd says.

Good music could be Charley Crockett, The Band, Mickey Lane, Thin Lizzy. “And I’m not afraid to play some Lizzo, you know what I mean? I enjoy that too,” Rae says.

“And I don’t know what that means,” Boyd chuckles.

“Many a night I’ve played Whitney Houston and nobody’s paying attention, but Billy Boyd secretly dances. So it’s fine,” Rae says.

“It’s a thing I do,” Boyd admits.

“It’s this secret dance,” Rae jumps in. “He’s like ‘Aw, this is terrible guys, I can’t believe she’s playing this,’ and he’s dancing at the register. No one sees it.”

“And no one ever will. I’ll never do it again,” Boyd adds.

Overall, Two Headed Dog is meant to be a gathering place, a third place.

“I’m a big proponent of the third place, the ideology that it’s some place that’s not home, some place that’s not work,” Rae says. “For me, my whole life, my third place has been a bar. Bars have been my third place, my home.

“I’ve met people who if I were out in the real world, I would never have spoken a word to them. But this is the great equalizer, the third place. It’d be a great honor, putting one of these places together for the community.

“We’re never going to make a lot of money off this. We’re never going to be a restaurant group. We’re just bartenders who want to make a bar with a vibe we think is sort of missing in this town. Just a home.”

Get ready. It’s almost dog days.

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