I'm sitting at The G.R.A.B. (809 Pierce, 713-655-0707) on a Sunday night talking with Alexa, the foxy, Uma Thurman-esque bartender who's dressed as a "Renaissance beer wench" for Halloween. In between drink orders, Alexa's been working on a way to sum up her scene for me. "It's tough to pin down," she says thoughtfully. "We're like post-hipster, but pre-scenester. Somewhere between The Proletariat and Poison Girl." With this line, Alexa wins my adoration and respect. What kind of a bad-ass comes up with a phrase like that? And she's right on the money, too. The G.R.A.B is a lot like an early-'90s hip-hop album -- it holds an unnecessary acronym (Game Room And Bar), it's filled with subtle references to American pop culture, and it's coated in brightly colored, spray-paint graffiti murals. From the goofy, Conan O'Brien-inspired flyers, to the eclectic mix of clientele, to the random bouquets of dead roses hanging from the ceiling, it's a welcome departure from the regular sports/club/lounge bar templates that Houston establishments tend to follow. People at The G.R.A.B. seem to be much less concerned about seeing and being seen than getting fucked up and having a good time. Alexa saunters over to the jukebox and puts on a Throwback Edits CD as two girls by the pool table turn on a fog machine, do a hair metal pose and smile for a photo. "We all pretty much live here," Alexa tells me. "Everybody that works here comes and hangs out on their off days. All the employees and customers are friends with each other. We're like one big, eccentric family."
1.5 ounces Absolut Vanilla vodka
1 Lemon wedge
3 Tbsp. sugar
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Roll shot glass in sugar to coat rim, pour in Absolut Vanilla and add lemon wedge.