My friend Hassan describes the differences between the new The Gallant Knight (2511 Bissonnet, 713-942-9940) and the old location like this: "It used to be way smaller, and white people would actually dance." She's right — most patrons are out on the patio, drinking dollar domestics (a Thursday special) and mingling where they can't even hear Sammie Relford and his band work through solid soul covers. Out here, they are decidedly white and prefer khaki shorts and polo shirts. (That's an observation, not a value judgment.)
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Simultaneous conversations bleed into one another; it's like being in a Robert Altman movie about fraternities. As I squeeze my way up to the outdoor bar, I overhear a guy ask his friend to head-butt him; a nearby girl inquires, "Mama Cass is still alive, right?" I hope both people answer "no." Once I make it to the booze, Amanda, who's still friendly despite the rush, whips up a quick and easy Chocolate Cake shot. The next overheard remark — "I go into anaphylactic shock every time I make love to a woman" — sends me inside, where Relford's Stax style makes this half of the bar the clear winner. Around midnight, the dance floor has picked up, and the band has migrated from Memphis to Prince and "Shout." It's like a wedding reception, every Thursday.
¾ ounce Absolut Citron vodka
¾ ounce Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
Shake over ice and strain into a shot glass that's been rimmed with sugar. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Go inside.