Bar Beat

Bingo and Booze at Double Trouble

"G 48, G 48. Gee, I can't believe Whitney Houston was only 48."

The basic requirements of bingo-calling are so undemanding that an illiterate person could fulfill them. Doing it well, though, takes wit, and often the willingness to make "69" references in front of senior citizens.

I have no idea whether John Mills-McCoin reads on-level, or whether he makes dirty jokes in front of old people. He does, however, call a good game of bar bingo. At 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Double Trouble Caffeine and Cocktails, Mills-McCoin spins the balls and makes the calls, like the previous G 48 one. And he occasionally chases wayward balls into Winbern Street.

The game consists of three rounds - two standard and one black-out round where you have to get all the numbers on your card - and there's no money involved. Prizes are only valuable in terms of bragging rights. This makes DT bingo different from the games at the major bingo halls, where intense competitors focus on dobbing three cards at a time like they're playing Dr. Mario on speed.


Big-hall bingo can be entertaining, though you're probably not going to win any money. And some halls have been more crowded since younger people started playing, which a year and a half ago prompted the Chronicle council of elders to release white smoke from a chimney on the top of 801 Texas to herald the anointing of the Next Big Thing.

The small patio at Double Trouble may fill up for post-NBT bingo (no seniors), but it's much more relaxed. The cards are printouts and the ink dobbers are BIC pens. The light rail occasionally dings past, and it's sort of peaceful. Asking for a repeat or accidentally claiming a false bingo (note to passersby: doing this on purpose is not as hilarious as you think) will not get you verbally assaulted. And showing up on Valentine's Day with another straight guy with no plans? It might get addressed ("B 8, B 8. If you're playing bingo on Valentine's Day, you're probably going to go home and mastur-B 8"), but nobody gives a shit.

It wouldn't be surprising if things started getting more cramped. The bar/cafe is part of a developing nightlife district and has earned a lot of attention since it's been open. None of what I heard has been negative. Not even on Yelp, which is amazing for a place with ambiance described as "hipster." That's usually a hate-magnet for certain kinds of people.

The full-length cocktail menu isn't out yet, but the bartenders can easily handle requests. (One of the owners is a former Anvil bartender; both are Poison Girl alumnae.) A drink they do have on the menu is the Holy Mother - Booker's gin, pineapple juice, lime juice and jerk sauce. It's got the same meatiness, but it's hotter than an average Bloody Mary. Northerners should taste a friend's before ordering their own.

If this kind of bingo is too wholesome for you, try making side bets with other players. I won five bucks and got slight heartburn from the Holy Mother. Best Valentine's Day in a while.

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Glenn Livet