It's a Wednesday night at The Rhythm Room (1815 Washington Avenue, 713-863-0943). A woman named Diunna Greenleaf, backed by her quartet, the Blue Mercy Band, sings a series of blues standards. She tells the handful of customers present that she's "built for comfort," which indeed she is, in the great blues-belter tradition. The low-ceilinged room, on a section of Washington Avenue where bail bondsmen and secondhand clothing stores can still be found, exudes blues-ishness. This is not a place where one should be overheard ordering a fuzzy navel or, God forbid, a bottle of Zima. This is a true blues bar, not a Disney Corp. simulacrum. I ask co-owner John Klotz for a real Lightnin' Hopkins kind of beverage. He obliges me with his Texas Tea.
The Rhythm Room's Texas Tea: This cocktail goes a long way toward helping you forget that mean woman or that if it wasn't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all. It tastes just like iced tea, but the effect is, well, different.
Half-ounce Stolichnaya vodka
Half-ounce Tanqueray gin
Half-ounce Bacardi white rum
Half-ounce Mohawk Triple Sec
Fill a tall plastic glass (you want Waterford in a blues bar?) with crushed ice. Add the liquors, a jigger of sweet-and-sour mix and a splash of Coke. Shake, then garnish with a lemon wedge and serve. If a disguise is needed, a plastic straw adds the final touch to your "tea."