The Place: Char Bar 305 Travis 713-222-8177 The Deals: $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon The Hours: 5 p.m. to close Wednesdays The Scene: We've only been to Char Bar a couple of times, but each time there were always at least a few women present. Wednesday after work, however, there were none, except when a delivery woman dropped off some food, but less than two minutes inside and no drinks doesn't count.
Most gay bars we've been to have had a stronger female presence. (Which can be tricky as a straight man, because that scenario naturally means less competition for any straight females present, but oftentimes those straight females have come to a gay bar specifically to escape you.) But Char Bar was man-filled in a much different way - mostly white-collar guys who'd just gotten off work, sitting at the galley bar, bullshitting over vodkas and Miller Lites.
The bar, which is a tailor shop during the day and has been for the better part of a century, is long and dark, even during the most blindingly bright part of the late-summer afternoon. It smells kind of like a non-smoking casino. We're not sure why that is. Could have been someone's cologne triggering a memory. Maybe we have a gambling problem. Maybe not. Maybe...never mind.
The big news is the bar is just now getting outdoor seating. The block could use something in addition to the curb in front of Warren's, which admittedly can be a nice alternative to falling over. Char Bar will open a balcony overlooking Market Square at the end of September, when the weather will probably be a blustery 85 degrees. (Shit, that sounds good.) Hot or not, it'll be a prime place to sit out and watch the world. It's unlikely anything will top the epic chair-throwing street fight we saw from the La Carafe second-floor patio a couple years ago (pro-tip: People panic when you yell, "He's got a gun!"), but we'd love you to do your best, downtown.
But what to drink while you watch the weirdness of that corner of our city? Char Bar's cocktails are strong, though slightly pricey if you order top shelf. (My Manhattan was $11.50.) No one was taking advantage of it when we were there, but the PBR special isn't bad, though we're of the opinion that charging more than $2.50 for that or a Lone Star is borderline unconscionable. Looking at you, Leon's Lounge.
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If you'd like to get drunk and don't mind brain freezes, Char Bar has a couple of machines that produce Slushie-style drinks loaded down with plenty of vodka. It costs less than $5 for a large cup. My buddy got the lemonade; the bartender was not messing around about its potency. I drank about a third of it while he was dicking around on his phone. At the other end of the bar the shoeshine guy was discussing his marketing strategy with a man who apparently had some kind of voodoo phone that could control the Internet jukebox. The voodoo phone liked Son Volt. I always thought the Jayhawks were better at the earnest '90s alt-country deal, but I wasn't about to challenge the phone.
After a Manhattan and a third of the devil's frozen lemonade, we headed out. Walking into 95-degree temperatures from was unpleasant. Maybe we'll check out that patio closer to Halloween.