Life by the Drop: A Dispatch from Houston's Bars

Maybe it was just Dutch courage, but last night Houston’s bar community didn’t seem all that concerned by the approach of Ike.

From the Continental Club downtown to Woodrow’s Ice House on the train tracks separating West U and Bellaire, drinking establishments enjoyed Saturday night crowds.

The Spec’s on Stella Link and Braeswood also had a banner night. As a multi-ethnic cross-section of the store’s Med Center environs queued to the back of the store, the manager, a jolly sixty-something man, laughed and said “Everybody’s gettin’ ready for the big blow.”

At the Continental Club, dozens of friends and members of the huge Miggins clan gathered to remember their late brother Rory. This event was supposed to have happened at Discovery Green, but organizers scaled it back and moved it indoors. Rory was much more on people’s minds than Ike, which is just how it should have been.

“I stuck a bottle of vodka and another of gin in my freezer, and now I am prepared,” said Allen Hill, who moved on to talk to some of the Migginses.

Bartender Crazy Mike said he stopped obsessing over the storm. “I check in on it about once a day,” he said. “It’s easy to get information overload on it.”

“I can’t believe we are closing tomorrow,” he added.

Over at the West Alabama Ice House, owner Petros Markantonis had no such plans. “We’ll be open at ten AM and we will stay open until it gets too rough,” he said. “I’m not leaving. There’s no way I’m leaving. I stayed during Rita and I banked.”

At one of the picnic tables in front, Raven owners Rob and Sarah Cromie were busy making contingency plans for the long power outages that seem certain to follow Ike’s wake – things like where to find ice, a commodity more precious than diamonds in a Houston suddenly denied AC.

“I want to be drinking when the Rapture comes,” added Erin, a customer sitting at a table nearby. A man seated at an adjacent table who wanted to be identified only as “Some Guy With A Scar on His Face,” said “If you’re runnin’ from this thing, you ain’t from Houston.”

Local biker Carlos Cortez said he threw a tarp over his Harley and was good to go.

Jug O’ Lightnin’ guitar hero Aaron Loesch was likewise full of bravado. “Here’s my ultimate evacuation route: my house to the beer store and back to my house.”

Loesch’s former Good Luck Band bandmate Greg Wood was more resigned. “Why should I run anywhere?” Speaking over the phone from his nearby apartment, he said he was even more fully stocked with booze than usual.

“I live like a hurricane refugee anyway,” he added.

(Note: During Rita, the following establishments stayed open much later than others: Café Brasil, Warren’s, La Carafe, Under the Volcano, and the Hollywood chain of stores.) – John Nova Lomax

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