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Happy Hour Scene: Getting High at 43rd

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The Place: The 43rd 43rd floor, Wedge Tower 1415 Louisiana 713-739-5560 www.the43rd.com The Deals: $2.50 domestics, $3 select imports, $4 wells, $4 house wine

The Hours: 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays (these are the only hours the bar is open - lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays in the adjacent restaurant area)

The Scene: When you stick with someone just because the sex is good, it better be exceptional. And if you're going to drink at a bar just because of the view, it better be a real-life postcard.

The 43rd was completely empty when Katharine Shilcutt and I stopped by after work Tuesday. She took a seat, and I approached the bar. I felt like Jack Torrance if the Torrance family had wintered in a stale strip club instead of the Overlook. The décor looked like it was geared to impress executives 25 years ago. I'm sure more than one businessman took a quick glance down a secretarial blouse via the mirrored ceilings. I know that it works because Shilcutt told me, "I can see down your shirt." Which was bullshit given the button-down I was wearing, but the physics are right.

The bartender, who emerged from somewhere in the back, looked surprised to see us. We ordered two glasses of house red. He unlocked a cabinet and took out a bottle of Kendall Jackson Cabernet, which he opened and poured into glasses. We started to walk onto the deck area; he asked us to switch to plastic cups. (Probably in case someone gets one of those "Why don't I just drive across the center line?"-type impulses and drops a wine glass nearly 500 feet onto a busy sidewalk. And because of the wind.) We switched and walked out.

The deck is completely bare and the wine was spoiled, but it didn't really matter, because the 270-degree view makes the 43rd worth it. I could see my street in Montrose in one direction and several rooftop pools on top of lofts and hotels in the other. The height and angle made every black SUV heading toward us look like a hearse. Spindletop, the rotating restaurant down the street designed to offer good views, was less than impressive when seen from about 20 stories above its roof. If the Wedge tower were two blocks closer to the Press offices, I could have easily spit on my coworkers' cars.

Back inside, we ordered a couple cocktails. Shilcutt ended up with a decent Manhattan, and I got a martini that had little black flecks in it that probably came off the spout on the Tanqueray bottle. (It wasn't really the bartender's fault - he was doing the best with what he had.)

If you work downtown, go before it gets too hot to even make a 43rd-story deck worth a short walk. And stick with beer.


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