The Place: Double Cross Lounge
114 Gray St.
The Hours: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Saturday and Sunday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The Deals: Nightly drink specials. Always includes a one beer, one wine, one mixed drink and a selection from the bar's "small bites" menu. Signature martinis are also at a reduced price (on certain nights, determined by the bartender) until 7 p.m.
The Scene: The Double Cross Lounge in Midtown, on Gray, along the Cyclone Anaya's/Front Porch Pub/CoCo's strip, is basically what you'd expect from a vodka lounge in that part of town. The walls, for example, are decked out with script of Slovak poetry.
And it's not cheap. During the bar's "happy hour" on Tuesday night, one of the "specials" was $8 martinis, chopped down from $12. There was also a Tru Gin drink for $8 and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon for $6. Coronas were $3. And if you wanted an appetizer, you could get a caviar plate for $18.
When we showed up last night, a group of attorneys had just left. Or so we were told. The bar was actually empty, except for the bartender.
Of course, it is Midtown and there's always the possibility of someone showing up to sell hand-drawn pencil sketches of Tupac and Alicia Keys -- it happened last night -- and that can add some charm to a place. Unless the salesman starts haggling customers to buy him a drink. That did not happen last night, but the bartender says it does on occasion, adding that she's quick to run off the undesirables when it does.
The empty bar should not, however, be an indication of Double Cross's success or failure. It's more of a late night and weekend spot (a crowd did roll in later in the evening), not a prime happy hour location, unless you enjoy drinking $8 martinis before heading home.
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We imagine that Double Cross will survive -- it's only two months old -- because, if nothing else, it seems to have the capital to do so. The owner also also has downtown's popular Hearsay Gastro Lounge and Grille 5115 in Sak's at the Galleria.
The bar also has some kind of deal with Double Cross vodka, from Slovakia, served on tap. It's the only vodka the bar serves, and it's the only place you can get it (except Spec's, of course) in Houston.
And apparently, there's another Double Cross Lounge in New York City. Same deal, except that it isn't open to the public; it's strictly for the owners of the vodka and their private parties.
So feel exclusive, Midtown drinkers, and enjoy a Chilean Pear Martini from the Double Cross Lounge.