The Gatsby (2540 University Boulevard, 713-874-1310), a disco bar advertised with billboards showing a woman in 1930s vamp drag, seems curiously anachronistic, or maybe just curious. The club occupies second-story space in the Rice Village, sandwiched between the wonky Rice University campus and the Mom-Dad-Buddy-and-Sis enclave of West University Place. While the Village once boasted a real porno movie theater and some bars for serious drinkers, it is now mostly devoted to chain stores like the Gap and Ann Taylor, which have a very low vamp quotient. "It was called the Gatsby Social Club," explains a spokesperson, "but people thought that meant a topless club, so now it's just the Gatsby."
There are velvet ropes by the front door, a sunken dance floor and, by the bar, a glassed-in area with a second set of velvet ropes. On the other side of the glass are couches and low tables, and on each table is an ice bucket cooling an unopened bottle of champagne. A sucker room! This is all so 1982. Then it comes to me. The 1930s vamp look was popular in the early '80s.
I remember a Jay Leno joke from the trickle-down decade: "People say that Reagan makes them feel good about America again. Well, sure, so do a couple of margaritas." It so happens that on this night the Sauza Tequila company is having a promotion at the Gatsby. But in order to avoid a total '80s redux, I order a Sauza cosmopolitan instead. Cosmopolitans are the cliché drinks of today. The reddish liquid doesn't taste much like alcohol, which is what nouvelle cocktails all seem to have in common.
The Gatsby's Sauza Cosmopolitan:
1.5 ounces Sauza Tres Generaciones Añejo
1 ounce Hiram Walker triple sec
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ounce cranberry juice
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Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist. I'll be remembering these in 2021.