I leave my downtown job at a quarter till midnight in search of a bar where I can have a drink and catch a little Mardi Gras action. The view from outside the windows of the Red Cat Jazz Cafe and Bar (924 Congress, 713-226-7870) looks all too inviting. Although I don't see any bare chests draped in beads, the five-piece band's horn player is wailing the end of his ass-kicking solo as I walk through the doors. I choose the lousiest seat in the house, behind a wall of liquor bottles at the end of the bar, where nobody can see me. The bartender seems to be ignoring me at first, but when he serves a couple of ladies who bellied up to the bar after me, I realize he's just a ladies-first kind of guy. I ask for a house specialty, a French martini. The band members end their set and take their seats at the bar, finishing whatever dinners they started before their set; looks like gumbo and fried catfish from where I'm sitting. I had planned to have only one before heading home, but the Cat's martini is so smooth I order another. A poetry open-mike starts up, and like watching a car crash, I cannot look away. The first in line is a New Orleans transplant, and she reads a piece called 'I Got's to Get Paid.' The musicians sitting at the bar eating and drinking nod their heads in unison and laugh, but in a good way, like they know who she's talking about. The inside of my glass dries up and the bartender is nowhere to be found. I pack it up and set out into the night. By the looks of things, all the flying beads are in another bar.
3 ounces Grey Goose L' Orange vodka
2 ounces Razzmatazz DeKuyper liqueur
1 ounce pineapple juice
Shake ingredients in a ice-filled shaker and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.
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