By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
Cotton ExchangeIt's hard to find plusher surroundings to knock back a Sazerac or two on the entire Gulf Coast than in this living reminder that Houston has a history. Vaulted ceilings encrusted with painted-on cotton plants overarch a marble bar and cozy nooks dotted with couches and Tiffany lamps, and the walls are festooned with pictures of Houston when cotton was king. Back in the day, this handsome high Victorian pile near the bayou was the center of the Houston economy and remains a place of negotiations; most of the clientele consists of bankers, lawyers and oil men cutting deals over Macanudos and single malt. That said, it would be a great place for a third date -- a deal of another sort. "Drink In the History" is the motto here, and better advice was never given, but if you go, make sure you're in high cotton; the drinks are pricey. 808 Franklin, 713-236-0499.
Crawdaddy’s 1053 FM 2094, Kemah, 281-334-2292.
Crooked Ferret 11835 Jones Rd., 281-894-0055.
The Crown Club 5001 Treaschwig, Spring, 281-443-0003.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell PavilionHouston's "summer shed" hosts the A-list national touring acts and packages across all musical genres. But while the seated areas provide a better view for a pricier ticket, the best action is often found on the lawn. That's especially true during rock shows, where the ant-free green carpet isn't the only grass being enjoyed up high. 2005 Lake Robbins Dr., 281-364-3010.
Dan Electro’sPredominantly an older, blue-collar crowd congregates at this guitar-shop-cum-nightspot on the eastern fringes of the Heights, which offers an intriguing mix of Texas-style rock, blues, bluegrass and country. Glass cases full of strings, picks and capos line the walls in the listening area, while out back is a lush garden under a canopy of live oaks where ferns, flowers, fountains and fragrant smoke provide a subtropical nirvana. 1031 E. 24th, 713-862-98707.
Darkhorse Tavern Housed in old 1920s five-and-dime, the Darkhorse feels like a bit of a relic. Nevertheless, this Sixth Ward bar features one of the best jukeboxes in town (Hooray! No Eagles!) along with better-than-average bar food. The laid-back and refreshingly eclectic drinking crowd is something of a novelty; you’ll feel welcome whether you’ve come in for a cold beer or a wine spritzer. 2207 Washington Ave., 713-426-2442.
The Davenport DJs and the bar staff spin a wildly eclectic cross-section of modern music at this Shepherd Plaza retro-lounge, where hipsters and button-downs alike flock in the early evenings. There they flop down on Jetson-style couches and Eames chairs and imbibe single malts, martinis and some of the most notoriously potent cocktails this side of moonshiner's convention. Walk, don't drive, to the Davenport. 2115 Richmond, 713-520-1140.
Dean's Credit ClothingYou can browse through racks of vintage threads while you imbibe at this thrift store-bar hybrid. A typical night finds it packed with pretty people who wish they had better jobs and more interesting lives drinking expensive cosmopolitans -- in other words, the most palatable of the uptight downtown bars. Live bands playing improvised rock and DJs spinning acid jazz provide the musical backdrop. Dean's is a dark place, so be careful who (or which article of clothing) you go home with. 316 Main, 713-227-3326.
Deb-A-Ro’s 916 W. Main, Tomball, 281-351-2599.
Delmer’s Ice House 15515 Garrett Rd., 281-456-0741.
DiverseWorks 1117 East Fwy., 713-335-3445.
Dog House Tavern Bring a picture of your pooch to hang on the walls of this chummy Midtown boozer. Pool-shootin’, game-watchin’ and jukebox-groovin’ occupy most of the affluent and young regulars’ time. The casual bar also features a Thursday steak night. 2517 Bagby, 713-520-1118.
Double Bayou Dance Hall A few miles south of Anahuac in the African-American village of Double Bayou, “the Place,” as it’s known locally, is a ramshackle but friendly Texas original set amid swampy, Spanish moss-draped live oak woodlands near Trinity Bay. Bluesman Pete Mayes and members of his family have owned and operated this hyperfunky juke joint — the oldest blues bar in Texas — since the 1940s. Mayes hosts big parties here on special occasions and some holiday weekends — at these events, the musicians cook up T-Bone Walker-style blues on stage, while outside on the front lawn, local men in cowboy duds smoke brisket and local women offer homemade pecan, lemon meringue and sweet potato pies. A quarter-mile east of FM 562 along Eagle Ferry Road, seven miles south of Anahuac, 409-252-4335, 713-633-0810.
Double Bayou Dance Hall 713-433-7550.
Double D’s Roadhouse Crosby, 281-462-9886.
Double T’s 14933 Bellaire Blvd., Mission Bend.
Downing StreetA veritable rat-packer’s paradise, Downing Street’s spare, conversation-friendly layout gives patrons the choice between secluded booths (each equipped with its own mood-lighting-control knob), a couple of huge couches near the entrance and a section of smaller tables designed for quiet socializing while serious drinkers just belly up to the meticulously stocked bar. The vibe is boisterous but not garish, and although folks are well dressed, they’re obviously more intent on enjoying themselves than on showing off. The most unique feature of Downing Street is its state-of-the-art walk-in humidor located in the center of the club, kept at a constant 73 degrees. The cedar walls are lined with hundreds of storage lockers wherein Houston’s cigar elite can keep their smokes safe from decay, if not nuclear destruction. 2549 Kirby, 713-523-2291.