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THE LOUNGE AT BENJY'S PISCO PINA

There's something I've always wondered about happy hour: Most bars provide drink and food specials for more than an hour, so why isn't it called "happy hours"? Feeling sad because of a man problem — and what girl doesn't on a daily basis? — I wondered if I could transform my mood from blue to blissful in 60 minutes. My research led me to cheerful Village hangout The Lounge at Benjy's (2424 Dunstan, 713-522-7602). Within five minutes, the jovial Kiko served me a Pisco Piña, made with Peruvian brandy and pineapple juice. It was so tasty, it produced my first smile. The subdued red, black and gray decor was peaceful, and people sat on couches chatting, drinking and, of course, getting happy. After 30 minutes, my mood was starting to elevate, but I couldn't really say I was joyful. With 30 more to go, a laughing group of girls entered the lounge, good-heartedly bitching about men, and these soul sisters made me laugh. With five minutes to go, another drink put me on the road to jolly, and then a fine-looking specimen sat next to me and smiled. Shit, it worked — I got happy in 60 minutes flat.

1 1/4 ounces Barsol Pisco brandy

1/4 ounce triple sec

Pineapple juice

Lemon wedge

Mix all ingredients with ice. Shake well. Serve in a squat cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon wedge. Wait a few minutes — you'll be okay.

 
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