The buzz in the industry circle is Monica Pope's Beaver's (2310 Decatur St., 713-864-2328). After hearing about this new self-proclaimed finger-lickin' good barbecue joint near trendy Washington Street, I have to pop in and try some of the creative cocktails people are talking about. From the outside, it looks like a typical Southern-style icehouse with a giant beaver painted on it, but inside, Monica's signature minimalist concepts prevail. I slither right up to the bar and get the attention of the young and eager bartender. I was hoping for hotties — the place is called Beaver's, remember, and really, does anybody really go to Hooter's for the wings? Instead, there's a mostly male staff. Oh, well, they still serve booze, and that's what counts. Beaver's has a foot-long list of drinks with silly names like "Opal Smash," "Hardly Lucid" and "Skip and Go Naked" (which sounds like something I might do after a few). I tell the man behind the bar to give me his nightly special — he claims there's a new one every night. Today's is called All the King's Horses, and he says it's strong. I order one with a Shandy, a mixture of Full Sail Session lager and Ginger Brew. My friends finally arrive and sit next to me at the bar, and I order them a round of exactly what I am drinking. We tap our glasses together, then tap the bar and shoot the "strong" drink down like a shot of cheap tequila. The bartender looks at me and says, disapprovingly, "That's not meant as a shot." Well, he did just meet me. My Friend Shaun takes a sip of his beer and says, "This beer tastes like meat." I just laugh.

1/2 ounce Mount Gay Rum Barbados

1/2 ounce Cherry Heering liqueur

1/2 ounce Pimm's

1/2 ounce Lillet

Black cherry

Lemon curl

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker full of ice and stir. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a black cherry and lemon curl. Sip slowly, or take it as a shot.

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Jason Kerr