I was driving downtown for nearly five minutes before I realized the radio station I was tuned to had lapsed into static. It had been that kind of day. I had plans that evening, though, and needed something to reanimate me, so I claimed a meter outside The State Bar & Lounge (909 Texas, 713-229-8888) and walked upstairs. The elegant bar beneath the Post Rice Lofts, which is furnished in part with artifacts from former downtown oil-money hangout the Capitol Club, was nearly empty. I struck up a conversation with bartender Dahnia while she mixed me her version of the bar's Gypsy Martini. Turns out she'd been through paramedic school, and while I probably wasn't going to develop a need for emergency care while drinking (official odds — 35:1), her EMT experience made for some good stories. She told me how, when working at an ER, patients kept dying while she was administering CPR. "I was really upset at first," she said. "'What am I, the angel of death?'" Just one cocktail in and already feeling revived, I was proof the opposite is closer to the truth.
1 ½ ounces Stoli raspberry vodka
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1 ½ ounces Stoli vanilla vodka
Splash cranberry juice
Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. The bar's usual recipe calls for a dash of dry vermouth instead of the cranberry, but Dahnia recommends it this way.