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Permission’s Owner Opens a Super Secret, Membership-Only Speakeasy in the Heights

James will open in mid-September next door to Permission

An illuminated bar, outfitted with sleek shelves and surrounded by bar seats,
James is the newest speakeasy in town.
John Huang

White Oak Drive, a walkable street in Houston’s Heights area, is lined with drinking and dining destinations like Little Woodrow’s, EZ’s Liquor Lounge, and Korean steakhouse Karne. Now, Peter Nolan, owner of the bar Permission, has plans to make it one of the most mysterious speakeasies and lively jazz destinations in Houston.

Nolan will open James, a new membership-only speakeasy, hidden — almost — next door to Permission Whiskey (2920 White Oak Drive). The speakeasy, which offers only 100 memberships a year, will offer an intimate experience with menus and cocktails personalized to its members, plus rare whiskeys, and spaces reserved for specific clients. Non-members can score seating when available, according to a statement.

“I want to recreate these iconic nights that we’re known for, in a new and exciting way. Familiar but daring, something that you can just feel,” Nolan told Eater Houston over email.

A snapshot of a booth at speakeasy James.
James is slated to be one of Houston’s most mysterious speakeasies to-date.
A checkered floor leading down a dim hallway.

Mystery will be an enduring theme (the story behind the name is also unknown), with the lounge limiting photography inside the space. James will have no website, social media presence, phone number, or email for contact. To find the bar, bargoers must “inquire within” at Permission.

Nolan will also expand his footprint with another bar on White Oak. Most recently, he was named an operating partner of the Ready Room bar at 2626 White Oak Drive. Nolan and general manager Himanshu Desai, previously the beverage manager of luxe Indian restaurant Musaafer, will both oversee bar operations, “doubling down” on the bar’s cocktail menu while also bringing in more live music and expanding the outdoor patio to include a cigar-friendly space, all in the hope of making the Ready Room Houston’s newest jazz destination.

A cocktail garnished with lime and herbs sits on a table, in front of a glistening background.
Though bar Permission’s expertise is in whiskey, cocktails will be the main focus of James.

The Ready Room

2626 White Oak Drive, , TX 77009 Visit Website


2920 White Oak Drive, , TX 77007 (713) 696-9883 Visit Website