Tropical Breeze

Behind the planters of dark green mother-in-law's tongues and the hand-crafted equipale chairs stretches the long, gleaming wooden bar of The River Cafe [3615 Montrose, (713)529-0088], where three gorgeous women in little black dresses are laughing and drinking. The steamship posters and movie-star portraits hanging on the walls, as well as all the polished wood, make me feel like I'm luxuriating in one of those expensive resorts where you have to get dressed up for dinner. Before I can dazzle them with my charm, the women are joined by three young men with lots of hair and piercings. I have heard the words "Hey, you dork, those are the musicians' girlfriends" often enough before, and I am glad to be spared this time. On Tuesday and Thursday nights, The River Cafe features a jazz band in a cozy lounge just off the bar.

The River Cafe's Pineapple Bellini

If you're looking for a frozen cocktail that's not as sweet as a daiquiri and not as sour as a margarita, try this pineapple bellini. Bartender Erica Trickey substitutes pineapple juice for the usual fruit nectar for a light, tropical twist.

2 cups crushed ice
2 shots vodka
1 shot peach schnapps
1 shot grenadine
3 shots pineapple juice
3 shots champagne

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until slushy. Makes one large drink.

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