Cheap beer may be the beverage of choice at a honky-tonk, but open-mike night at a honky-tonk requires something stronger. As the nasal Robert Earl Keen imitators droned on one Wednesday night at Blanco's Bar and Grill (3406 West Alabama, 713-439-0072), I traded in my Lone Star for something that would prompt me to either leave, applaud or stagger onto the stage myself. "We don't have any hanging fern baskets, no Grey Poo Poo for your hamburgers," said Joe Parsons, unofficial Blanco's ambassador and host of Wednesday night's Redneck Jam. "But what we do have are some of the prettiest darn waitresses and barmaids in all of Texas." Bartender Nicole certainly fit the bill, and she was quick on the draw with her version of a tequila sunrise, a drink that when made properly tastes remarkably like an orange Dreamsicle. "Try drinking one of these with well liquor, and you'll probably never get around to the second," she said. But the good liquor kept coming, so we kept strumming, and as it turned out, a good time was had by all. With due respect to the wannabe musicians with the guts to pour their hearts out on stage, the highlight of Blanco's open mike is always Parsons's "Maple on the Hill" sing-along. "In a quiet country village stood a maple on a hill, where I sat with my Geneva long ago..."
Blanco's Tequila Sunrise:
1 1/2 ounces Cuervo Gold
1 ounce orange juice
Splash of grenadine
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Pour tequila and orange juice over ice in a large highball glass. Float grenadine on top to simulate sunrise. Stop when you begin singing the Eagles song of the same name.