Remember that movie Das Boot?
It was originally released in 1981, and is considered one of the best German-language films of all time, except perhaps if you have severe claustrophobia. It's set mostly in a Nazi submarine in 1941 and '42, and director Wolfgang Petersen went on to make a bunch of money in Hollywood with In the Line of Fire and Air Force One.
Das Boot is also the name of two liters of alcohol-y goodness that requires a deposit to procure at Midtown's Bar Munich (2616 Louisiana).
Remember in another movie, um, Beerfest, where they drank beer from a glass boot? Bar Munich's Das Boot is just like that, except you don't have to suffer through an awful plot.
Also, and this is key, you drink Das Boot in a group as a game, passing it round and round and round. As long as the person who drinks after you doesn't finish Das Boot, you don't have to pay the $24 for the next one. "Das Boot" is German for, as you may have guessed, "the boat."
Bar Munich is a new chapter in Houston's German-themed amusement history that dates back to singing clubs in the 1840s. In March 2010, Raymond Chan and a partner decided what the city was lacking was its own version of a Bavarian beer hall.
"We'd been to Oktoberfest in Germany and it was great," Chan says. "We wanted to bring a little of that atmosphere here to Houston."
What makes Bar Munich nice is its appearance. It is a clean, open, modern-looking space, built out as the epitome of minimalism. The floors are concrete, dark wood decorative accents give it an Old World vibe, and a bushel of high-definition TVs dots the walls.
The seating is simple but not unattractive, and a wall of windows offers a view of Louisiana Street. It's spacious without being empty, which is nice.
"We also hang out at Woodrow's (2306 Brazos) and every now and then Community Bar (2703 Smith)," says Kris Johnson, 29, a petroleum engineer. "But this place is really nice. I live nearby, so I typically walk."
What makes Bar Munich great, however, is its legitimacy. It really is German.
"Texas has really strong ties to Germany," explains Chan. "There's a lot of German ancestry in Houston."
A tiny Caucasian female bartender perks up and shouts, "Like me," then goes back about her doings. Chan laughs.
"Like her," he says. "I have a guy here who actually grew up in Munich."
In addition to the German humans and German foodstuffs (pretzels and bratwurst, yo), nearly all of the glassware at Munich is branded by Hofbrau and shipped over directly from Germany.
Beer is shipped over from Germany, coming via boat (or Boot) and taking ten weeks or so to arrive. ("That was important," says Chan.) Bar Munich is the only place in Houston that serves all the varieties of Hofbrau. More important to some, though, it's the only place that serves it properly.
"They have a lot of German beers on tap that most bars don't," says Nathan Miller, a 24-year-old software developer. "And even the ones that are found at other places, like Franziskaner, I prefer to get them here.
"I'm always afraid that if I get it at another bar, I run the risk of getting one from a dirty tap," Miller adds. "I like to order it here where people are ordering them more frequently so I know the taps are clean. It's also cheaper here."
Midtown's reputation took a considerable hit in recent years as the Washington Corridor became more and more popular. For the last 18 months or so, though, it's begun building itself back up with an array of nightlife selections.
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Including this authentic pocket of Bavaria tucked right into the middle of Houston.
Two things, one personal, one professional. The personal: Growing up, my father was in the military, and was stationed in Germany for a good bit. My sister was actually born there, which, duh, led to me referring to her nearly exclusively as Nazi Baby for the first few years of her life. When I got older and actually learned about Nazis, I was like, "Oh, uh, my bad, sis."
The professional: Young Money's Tyga performs at Warehouse Live (813 St. Emanuel) on Thursday. His hit "Rack City" is unbelievably enjoyable to consume at an unreasonable volume, reason enough to plop down the $26 he's charging to see him say words that rhyme. Go see him. Then go to our Rocks Off music blog (blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks) the following day to read the review and adopt the opinions and witticisms as your own. We all win.