One of the benefits of Houston's lack of zoning laws is all the "house bars" scattered around the city. It makes for some unique locations, not the least of which is The Gallant Knight (2337 West Holcombe, 713-665-9762), a Medical Center house-turned-jazz club that's been around for 35 years. The Gallant Knight has a Pulp Fiction vibe, as if Marsellus Wallace could walk in at any moment. Trophies adorn the bar, Christmas lights line the ceiling, and red-bulb chandeliers complete the effect. But what really lights up the place is the cast of characters that work here. When we first walk in, it's just us, another customer, someone called Big Bass and a bartender named Cynthia. The other customer tells Cynthia, "You better quit flirtin' with Big Bass and start flirtin' with me!" Cynthia gives us an invite to Cynthia's Bad Ass Birthday Party, telling us she's been an employee for 25 years, to which her suitor adds, "And I've been chasin' her for 24!" It turns out Big Bass is actually the band's bass player, but the Bass part of his name is pronounced like the fish, not the guitar. For 30 minutes the place is all but empty, but then there's an explosion at the door, and the sound of an army of bubbly girls fills the bar with endless amounts of ohmigods and yaaaaaays. Anywhere else, one might find this annoying, but at The Gallant Knight, it just adds to the atmosphere. The diverse crowd sums up what I love most -- and what so many outsiders fail to see -- about Houston. As I drink a Malibu punch and soak it all in, Cynthia asks me, "Are you doing good, baby?" "Yes," I reply. "Very good."
1 1/2 ounces Malibu coconut rum
1/2 ounce Bacardi rum
Splash orange juice
Splash cranberry juice
Splash pineapple juice
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Pour rums, juices and 7-Up into a hurricane glass and stir. Top off with ice and cherries. Quit flirtin' with Big Bass.