I chuckle every time I pass by the Velvet Melvin Pub (3303 Richmond, 713-522-6798), because the name strikes me as something high school seniors do to incoming freshmen, à la Dazed and Confused: "All right, you little twerps, it's time for a Velvet Melvin!!!" It turns out the bar used to be called the Velvet Elvis Pub, until it got sued by the estate of the King himself. But instead of a court battle, there was a name change. The Melvin is very much your typical American pub. Scattered with regulars and people watching games, it has a laid-back atmosphere. There's the usual pub games (pool, darts, Golden Tee), pub food (pizza, nachos, ribs) and pub decorations (neon beer signs, lava lamps). But on the night of my visit, the most interesting thing about the whole place is the jukebox, which is playing a steady stream of sub-mainstream '90s hits. We arrive to "Jerry Was a Racecar Driver" by Primus, drink a round to "In Bloom" by Nirvana and watch flat-screen ESPN to "Sin" by Nine Inch Nails. Let me tell you, watching NASCAR muted while listening to a song from Pretty Hate Machine is just plain weird. As far as drink choices go, the highlight of the night is the Starburst. The combination of good liquor and chemically overloaded energy drink gets us amped up and ready to go -- to another bar.
3/4 ounce Tuaca liqueur
3/4 ounce Absolut Mandarin vodka
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Fill a highball glass halfway with Red Bull, pour Tuaca and Absolut Mandarin into one shot glass, drop the shot into the highball glass, and chug. Now, let's go get those freshmen twerps!