Bobby Heugel makes the last part of his grueling mixology training open to the public for the first time ever at his Houston bar.

By Elyse Inamine
Updated May 24, 2017
Anvil Bar and Refuge
Credit: © Julie Soefer.

“No one has gotten it on the first try,” says, Bobby Heugel, owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston. “Some on the second try, or the 14th.”

He’s talking about the legendary Blind 50, a blind spirits taste test where you sip 50 and have to correctly identify 47 of them. It’s the final chapter in a grueling mixology training Heugel’s devised at Anvil Bar that takes about nine months to complete and is broken down into sections entitled “The Deer in the Headlights” and “The Tired Soldier.”

After years of hearing out customers, Heugel is finally making the Blind 50 open to the public for the first time ever—and it’s going down on January 8th.

Regulars who have signed themselves up have already stopped by Anvil Bar for practice rounds. “Those are kind of shockers for people,” Heugel says. “They think they would do a lot better than they do.”

Heugel’s rigorous program launched three years ago, and so far only 10 people have completed it. (Though to be fair, only 10 have entered it.) He based it on his own cocktail training before opening the bar 8 years ago. He read everything, from classic bartending books by Harry Johnson to Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, and he practiced speed and efficiency in drinks-making (which comes up about four times in Anvil Bar’s 12-part training).

“We wanted to find a way to bring the staff together,” Heugel says. “For us, it was like how can we push the staff to be better and create expectations for what we want out of our bartenders.”

And now everyone else can get a taste of the mixology world, literally.