In the afternoon they answer the phone "Duke's," as in Duke of Hollywood, the tailor shop that's been holding its own downtown since the '30s. But by cocktail hour, the martini shakers come out, the regulars wander in, and the CharBar (305 Travis, 713-222-8177) takes over. Duke's/CharBar maintains its dual identity right through the evening hours, as Mike Shapiro (a.k.a. Duke) ambles around in his designer Hawaiian shirts with a measuring tape hanging loosely around his neck in place of a tie. Named after his daughter Charlien ("Charlie with an n"), this sleek and sophisticated bar has been open just three months. Rich wood and glass cabinets filled with suits line the walls. Freshly polished shoes await their owners next to the shoe-shine stand. When I asked about the house drink, Shapiro didn't hesitate: It's the Tuxedo Martini, a smooth chocolate concoction, with a twist. "The secret is the butterscotch schnapps," says Shapiro. "I first suggested mint, but it just didn't taste right." These things go down like candy. After a couple downstairs, and then two more upstairs, I was ready to get measured for a designer suit. Maybe that's the idea.
The CharBar's Tuxedo Martini:
1 3/4 ounces Stoli Vanil vodka
3/4 ounce Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream
1/4 ounce butterscotch schnapps
Pinch of chocolate sprinkles
To a martini shaker filled with ice, add vodka, chocolate cream and schnapps. Shake well and pour into chilled martini glass. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles and serve immediately.
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