Of all the holidays built for drinking, Thanksgiving just doesn’t get its due. Sure, New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo are tailor-made for knocking down a few (or several more) drinks, but Thanksgiving is as well. Think about it. This is a day in which many people spend an entire day (or weekend, in many cases) confined with family and others with whom they have little in common. And even for those who do connect with their family, there’s something to be said for cabin fever taking hold after a while.
In short, many will venture out for a drink on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, Houston doesn’t lack for quality watering holes that also happen to be open. (This list is in alphabetical order.)
BIG STAR BAR
Big Star is the kind of bar you want to visit after being forced to dress up far nicer than you would have liked earlier in the day, all to eat a meal whose outcome didn’t come close to justifying the time spent preparing it. Point being, it’s the consummate dive bar, a place to go to when you’re in the mood to lie low, knock down a few cheap drinks and perhaps even hide out in solitude on Big Star’s dimly lit back patio. (1005 West 19th, bigstarbar.com)
FLYING SAUCER DRAUGHT EMPORIUM
Something about the Saucer just feels like the holidays. Maybe it's all the celebratory plates on the wall, given to those who imbibe a certain number of beers over the years (feels like family, almost). Or maybe it's the lively, warm vibe one gets upon stepping foot in one of downtown's best bars. Of course, the whole wall of draft beers certainly adds to the festivities as well. Open from 5 p.m. until last call on Thanksgiving Day. (705 Main, beerknurd.com)
THE GINGER MAN
Ginger Man is open 365 days a year, so of course it will be open to Thanksgiving revelers on Thursday (the bar is open 6 p.m.–2 a.m.). As the oldest of all the Ginger Man pubs, the Rice Village establishment has been serving up one of the city’s deepest beer lists for more than 30 years. This is the ideal spot to catch up with old friends over a few pints, all the while enjoying that laid-back Village vibe. (5607 Morningside, thegingerman.com/Houston)
KENNEALLY’S IRISH PUB
You wouldn’t expect arguably the best pizza in the city to be served up from a little dive-like Irish pub in River Oaks. Alas, Kenneally’s does just that. With an extensive array of beer, wine and, of course, Irish whiskey, Kenneally’s is a perfect Thanksgiving-night spot. The vibe is lively but not overly so, making it ideal for those looking to catch up with friends and family and not do so over green-bean casserole or dry stuffing. (2111 South Shepherd, irishpubkenneallys.com)
KUNG FU SALOON
Yeah, it gets a little bro-ish on occasion, as Washington bars — particularly on busy drinking nights — are wont to do. That said, Kung Fu is unique among its neighbors in that it features a number of free video games, including NBA Jam and Street Fighter. Thanksgiving is a time when many college types and twentysomethings return home to reunite with childhood friends. May as well do so over the games you played during your actual childhood. (5317 Washington, kungfusaloonhouston.com)
There are seven Woodrow’s in the greater Houston area, so you’re bound to be somewhat close to one of them. May as well ditch the family – or bring them along – and enjoy one of Houston’s finest neighborhood bars. Woodrow’s is a popular football-watching locale, which is convenient, since football is as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey and dressing. And for those who didn’t get enough of that at Thanksgiving lunch, the Shepherd location serves up a full food menu as well. (seven Houston-area locations, littlewoodrows.com)
You spent the entire day cooped up with the family; you deserve some whiskey. May as well make a night of it at Poison Girl, which features one of Houston’s best whiskey menus. The bar is open every day of the year, which of course includes Thanksgiving. And for those who may be rolling solo this Thanksgiving, the bar staff at Poison Girl is so friendly and accommodating, one can’t help but feel a part of the Poison Girl family as well. (1641 Westheimer, Suite B, twitter.com/poisongirlbar)
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Thanksgiving Eve at Rudyard’s will feature Bill Fool’s annual Thanksgiving Eve party, with the likes of Satanic Overlords of Rock n’ Roll and Dead Roses – yep, this one’s not for the grandparents. Tickets are only $8 a pop. If you’re not too banged up from that gathering, venture out to Rudyard’s on Thanksgiving day for some drinks and darts at one of Montrose’s finest drinking establishments. (2010 Waugh, rudyardspub.com)
UNDER THE VOLCANO
One of many Houston-area bars that are open 365 days a year, Under the Volcano is kind of a unique joint in a hard-to-describe way. That’s meant as a compliment, and it’s the perfect type of bar to take family and friends who aren’t from the area and are looking to sample a little local flavor. Speaking of, Under the Volcano prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients in its drinks, which probably explains why the mojito is so damn good. (2349 Bissonnet, twitter.com/volcanohouston)
WEST ALABAMA ICE HOUSE
Forecasts are projecting a high of around 75 and a low of around 55 on Thanksgiving Day. If that isn’t patio weather, there is no such thing as patio weather. May as well enjoy the weather on one of the city’s most storied patios, one that has been serving local customers for nearly 90 years. West Alabama always has a backyard party/barbecue vibe going on, which really works well over the holidays. So pull up a chair, order a Lone Star and watch a little football. And if you’d rather participate than watch, bring a ball and shoot a few on the basketball hoop. (1919 West Alabama, facebook.com/walabama)
Note: this article has been altered after its original publication date to replace Christian's Tailgate with the Flying Saucer.