Bar Beat

Happy Hour Scene: Poscol

The Place: Vinoteca Poscol

The Deals: $2 small glasses of wine, $1 cicchetti

The Hours: 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays

The Scene: I like visiting bars where you might have second thoughts about touching anything in the bathroom, let alone eating. I also appreciate nicer places that offer quality food. But when it comes to work, I don't always know what to say about those kinds of places. That's why it's useful to drag knowledgeable colleagues along to restaurants like Poscol.

"Don't eat the rind on that cheese," Katharine Shilcutt told me.

She also once told me a friend of hers, whom she was worried I was going to hit on, was a lesbian. This time she was telling the truth.

Under her guidance, and with the assistance of a bartender who was friendly without being pushy, we sampled eight different kinds of cicchetti (Venetian-style snacks, presented here on toasted bread) and a couple kinds of wine.

We were the only people at the bar at 5:30. The place started filling up a little after six, but it never got loud or cramped enough to detract from the relaxed, (literally) cool atmosphere. Funk and R&B (Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, cheesy Morris Day-style stuff) played over the sound system, which was a little odd but not a bad thing. Poscol was a pleasant spot to decompress after work and absorb some meat knowledge from someone who, at the risk of understatement, is in love with all kinds of cured meat.

Cicchetti standouts were the squid, which was nice and tender; the soppressata on black olive spread; and the thinly sliced mortadella on cream cheese. Some Ubriaco del Piave cheese was also great. At a buck each, these samplings aren't meant to get you full. They do allow you to try a number of different kinds of offerings with your drink. Even those accustomed to Kroger cold cuts will appreciate the craft that goes into the meat Poscol sells.

The $2 wine options included a red, a white, a Prosecco and a sparkling red. The red is served slightly chilled, which was nice after escaping the heat magnet that is late-afternoon lower Westheimer. I don't normally like sweet wine, but the sparkling red was actually decent. It tasted like it could do the job for both high school cheerleaders and borderline wine snobs (also called oenophiles, a word that somehow isn't derived from Onanism).

The upside of the little bites and half-glasses of wine at Poscol's happy hour was a feeling of restraint and sophistication, which later that evening I ruined at the West Alabama Ice House with Tierra Caliente tacos and boilermakers. But it's there if you want it.

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Glenn Livet