When planning the musical mood for the Pastry War in Houston, owner Bobby Heugel wanted to create a playlist that would reflect Mexican culture and history in a way that matches the bar’s drink offerings. “It’s one thing to serve traditional Mexican spirits, but we wanted our bar to share art, materials, and music from Mexico as well,” he says. “Together, I think we’ve created a bar that in all senses reflects Mexico, and music is a huge part of that.”
For inspiration, Heugel turned to the soundtrack of Guadalajara mezcaleria Pare de Sufrir and the backstory behind The Pastry War’s name. “When we opened the bar, about 5% of the playlist was French music—a nod to The Pastry War fought between Mexico and France that began in 1838, he says. “Nobody really got the concept, so I took all the French music off. Sometimes, you just overthink things—don’t do that with the music in your bar.”
To create a mix that would work well during both quiet and busy hours, Heugel made two playlists based on tempo and vibe with every song carefully chosen to pay tribute to Mexico. “We get a ton of Mexican tourists in Houston, and the biggest compliment is when they tell us how much they love the playlists and then ask if the person who made the playlist is from Mexico. Nope—just a Gringo from Texas,” he says. “But, that means so much to me. It means that we didn’t just pick and choose elements from their culture to build a bar around in Houston. It means in a lot of ways they approve of our attempts to build a bar that is a tribute to Mexico.”
Below is an abbreviated version of Huegel’s slow Pastry War playlist, which works especially well during happy hour when you’re winding down from a busy day (perhaps alongside a Bala de Canon or Cane & Clove cocktail). For the more upbeat list, head to his Spotify profile, where you can also find playlists for Anvil Bar & Refuge, Better Luck Tomorrow and Tongue Cut Sparrow.
Did you enjoy this article? Get more of the best of liquid culture when you sign up for a print or digital subscription to Imbibe Magazine. Click here for special savings!