Chris Frankel is bringing a new twist to the bar at RDG + Bar Annie, Chef Robert Del Grande’s flagship restaurant on Post Oak Boulevard. Known as the “Mad Scientist of Anvil” for his work at the award-winning Houston craft cocktail bar, Frankel takes over as Bar Manager at RDG with plans to create an internationally-inspired cocktail menu focused on brandy and eau de vie.
“I want to turn it into a destination spot,” Frankel said. “I think Houston’s cocktail scene, it’s developing. It’s grown a lot, but we still have a few steps to go before it can hit cities of equivalent size like San Francisco, New York, Chicago. I want to have a destination bar program that people in Houston appreciate and enjoy, something that a broader audience can take note of and say, “Hey, this is something interesting going on in Houston.”
A 2006 graduate of Princeton, Frankel served on the opening staff at Anvil Bar & Refuge in March 2009. He worked there for three-and-a-half years as bar manager and bartender, helping Anvil earn acclaim as one of the “Best Bars in America” by Esquire magazine in 2012, a two-time semi-finalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program and a two-time finalist for Best American Cocktail Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.
Frankel (@csfrankel on Twitter) was named “Best Bartender” in Houston by Eater in 2011 and one of “Houston’s 41 Most Fascinating People” by the Houston Chronicle in December 2012. While at Anvil, he received extensive individual press coverage both locally and in national outlets such as Imbibe and Cheers magazine.
Frankel also worked in 2012 as a bartender at Underbelly, where he had the unique challenge of preparing a cocktail list without a liquor license. During his five-month stint at Chef Chris Shepherd’s nationally acclaimed restaurant, Frankel served never-before-seen-in-Houston items such as homemade tonic water, homemade aperitif wines and house-bottled and carbonated cocktails. His work received press in the Houston Chronicle and nationally in Food Arts Magazine.
Before joining Anvil, Frankel was a bartender at high-volume cocktail lounges at benjy’s in the Village and benjy’s on Washington. He spent the previous two years as a bartender at downtown Houston’s Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, where he developed a strong background in craft beer.
After leaving Anvil in July of 2012, Frankel spent five months as a temporary consultant for the bar and beverage program at Cuchara Restaurant. The cocktail program at the upscale Mexican bistro has garnered rave reviews from the Houston Chronicle, Houston Press and CultureMap. Frankel then spent several months pursuing other ventures and traveling to major food and beverage markets around the United States before deciding to get back into the bar scene at RDG.
“Robert Del Grande’s restaurant has been around longer than I’ve been alive,” Frankel said. “That’s very humbling. He was one of the founding fathers of modern Houston cuisine. The ability to work under him directly and learn about the food and the business side is just really incredible. They’ve given me a lot of freedom – make it taste good, make it work, make it exciting and you can do what you want. It’s a big project, and I’m very excited about it.”
Frankel and Del Grande will collaborate on an exciting new cocktail menu in the coming weeks with additional changes in store to the bar at RDG + Bar Annie as well, including significant physical renovations, a revamped bar food menu, special themed nights and more. Look for details coming soon.
Press release provided by On The Mark Communications. Image obtained from the Houston Chronicle.