Under the Volcano
2349 Bissonnet St.
The Hours: Monday through Friday 2-7 p.m.
The Deals: All drinks, except bottled beer and wine, are $1 cheaper than normal.
The Scene: Under the Volcano has never seemed like a happy hour kind of place. The drinks are too expensive and the crowd, in the early hours at least, is too mellow.
But during our trip to the bar on Thursday evening, we found a few things we didn't expect at Under the Volcano.
It started with finding a "Whiskey Smash" on the drink menu. The drink, made with Maker's Mark, lemon, mint, sugar and soda, was decent, but the name is odd, something that should be reserved for a place that resembles a frat house, and certainly not on the same menu as a Pisco Sour and a Strawberry Basil Margarita.
Above the bar was an advertisement for Volcano's Oktoberfest celebration (this Saturday, 4-10 p.m.) that features a moonwalk for the kids. A moonwalk? For the kids? At Under the Volcano?
On the patio outside, we found a group of 20-somethings drinking frozen screwdrivers and passing around cell phones, showing off "drunk pictures." Every few minutes, they broke into wild laughter.
The strangest thing, however, happened back inside at the bar, where we found a man sitting alone drawing on a napkin a picture of the state of Alabama. In different parts of the state, he had drawn little stars.
A couple of the stars were for his hometown and where he went to college, and the others were for the hometowns of two of the bartenders at Under the Volcano.
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Turns out, the man had been a steel salesman in Alabama, and when that industry took a nose dive (the day after Obama got elected, he said), he packed up and headed west to Houston.
He had a few friends in Houston, but no job, and the Volcano had become his home away from home. While he was drinking at the bar one day, he started talking to another man, and the conversation ended with Alabama Man finding his new job.
A beautiful story, no doubt, but at Under the Volcano, it just felt a little strange.
But as soon as we got our tab -- two happy hour drinks for $13.50 -- we remembered exactly where we were.