Rest of the Best: 10 Best Houston Places to Have a Drink on Your 21st Birthday

I get it. You're finally legally able to imbibe Brother Booze without all that The Man getting up in your grill. It's pretty much the last hurdle you clear into adulthood (Renting a car at age 25 just doesn't have that same oomph, you know?). The question is, now where will you go to declare to the world that you are now old enough to pour delicious poison down your throat?

Well, it's been a fair few years since I turned 21, but I did reach out to a coterie of young hot nursing students for their suggestions on making the most of their 21st birthdays at the bars in the city. Here's what we came up with.

10. Landmark River Oaks Theatre (2009 W. Gray): If you're of a quiet or intellectual bent, I really recommend the excellent bar upstairs at River Oaks for a nice relaxing drink. The idea of drinks and a movie is still so wonderfully new and newly wonderful that sometimes I'm afraid to talk about it lest it disappear back into the ether, and movie theaters are a familiar atmosphere. Plus, nothing lends itself to good weird foreign and indie cinema like watching it with a drink in your hand.

9. Baker Street Pub & Grill (5510 Morningside): Though it's part of a chain, the Rice Village BSP feels very neighborhoody. The patio is nice and spacious, and it rarely feels stifling. There's music and karaoke, but it's kept at a nice soft level that lends itself to either enjoying it or ignoring it for conversation. It's an easy place to wander in and enjoy.

8. Little Woodrow's (5611 Morningside): Pretty much a staple of Rice Village drinking, you don't get more traditionally Houston that having your first drink here. It naturally draws the biggest college crowd of the Woodrows chain, so first time drinkers will feel pretty comfortable. It's the sort of place you gather to drink and talk, not to watch sports, and it offers a slightly rowdier setting than Baker Street if you're looking to let loose.

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7. The Good Life (510 Gray): It's a pricier trip out than many of the other options on this list, but if you'd like to make something special out of the act of drinking itself then The Good Life should definitely be on your list. You get a ton of weird, pretty specialty drinks served in mason jars for a little kitsch, and their alcoholic desserts are the ultimate in decadence.

6. Under the Volcano (2349 Bissonnet St): What makes Under the Volcano a top spot for your first drink? The frozen screwdrivers. Seriously, no drink could possible be more conducive to graduating into Boozeworld than the frozen screwdrivers. Drink them slow, though, because brain freeze can be a right bastard. It's also got some unforgettable décor that should make for good conversation fodder for the awkward first social drinker.

5. Red Door (2416 Brazos): If you had to pick an "it" spot to crash on your 21st birthday then Red Door is a good choice. They can be a little strict on dress code for guys (Collared shirts and nice shoes) but like most places are more lax on the ladies as long as they look good. It sports a nice dance floor, the latest EDM and house mixes, and the bar isn't ridiculously priced. If you're up for a drink initiation right out of a movie then it's Red Door. Everything about it is perfect for screaming, "Look at me."

4. Benjy's (2424 Dunstan): The upstairs lounge of Benjy's offers a chance to feel really grown up and classy. It has elegance, but it's not overtly corporate so there's a more welcoming atmosphere. The music is soft, and the layout is ultra-light and modern. It can be a little claustrophobic when crowded, but the patio is one of the nicest in the city. Especially when the weather is cooler.

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3. Pub Fiction (2303 Smith): Arguably the most fun bar is Pub Fiction. The music is loud, the waitresses are all raucous and fun, and there are nice spots to get up and dance on whenever you've achieved the perfect alcoholic equilibrium. It's packed on the weekends and gets a little bro sometimes, but there's a definite let-it-all-hang-out vibe that makes it a good choice.

2. Avant Garden (411 Westheimer): When it's time to seek out something new and interesting then AvantGarden is one of the places to be. You'll want to check the calendar and see what's scheduled for the night, but I personally promise that if you decided to spend an evening there you will get to enjoy something new and different. Poetry, music, nude figure drawing sessions, or weird ambient whatsit, it's a hub for the alternatively creative. Plus the bar staff is top notch and the strange haunted-house layout cannot be beat for atmosphere.

1. Poison Girl (1641 Westheimer): Let's be honest, when you turn 21 what you really want to do is go drink in the place that you think would make your parents drop dead if they knew you were there. Welcome to Poison Girl, where the walls are covered with inappropriate art, the people are all deliciously tattooed and pierced, and the whole experience feels like it's right out of a punk rock movie. You'll meet some of Houston's coolest people, and you can buy cigarettes at the bar which adds to the realness of the place. Despite being full of "extreme" types, take it from me everyone is real low key and friendly. The edge is just for a little kink, and spices up a birthday nicely.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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