Brave New World

The World Café (1340 West Gray, 713-520-9696) has had more makeovers than a River Oaks housewife, but its essential raison d'etre remains the same: Even beautiful people with expensive cars love cheap drinks and free buffets. My recollection of its last incarnation as Blue Agave is little more than a blur, as I consumed enough margaritas one Friday night that I forgot where I parked my car. My memory of World Café is likely to be equally hazy: Tuesday nights you can get smashed on $2 bellinis and feed your face with chips, queso and chicken wings. (Hell, you can even get a dozen shrimp for $3 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.) The wings are hot and the salsa has a kick, but the queso could use a little help and the bellinis get a little on the sweet side after the initial five or six. Frozen concoctions that come out of machines are not exactly what I look for in a specialty drink -- at times, I didn't know if I was choking back a bellini or some weird peach margarita -- but for $2, who's complaining? Just sit back, listen to the piped-in Santana and watch all the nonsmoking office types break out the Marlboro Lights and start getting happy.

World Café's Frozen Bellini:

2 bottles rum
1 bottle peach schnapps
Half-bottle cassis
1 pound frozen peach slices, pureed with water
6 bottles champagne
1 quart frozen orange juice concentrate
1 quart sweet and sour
1 T salt
1 cup sugar

Pour ingredients into a five- gallon bucket, and fill to the rim with water. Mix well. Blend with crushed ice. Garnish with a cherry or tropical fruit. Santana music, Gucci bags and Jaguars optional.

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