It's Wednesday. Hump Day. Still two days until the weekend. Honey, you look like you need a drink. Here's our suggestion. Tell 'em the Houston Press sent you.
"The best thing about this bar is $2 drinks. If you go to Midtown, it's $8. Forget it."
I've never been to Poison Girl during the day, so I've always missed happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., where wells are $2 and drafts are $3. I've also missed the fact that the ceilings have high wooden beams and how wonderfully odd most of the artwork on the walls is. I'm an evening patron of Poison Girl, and I tend to grab a Lone Star then head to the back patio to sit among clouds of smoke and sweaty hipsters.
Today, I'm hitting up happy hour, though. Bryan is behind the bar in all his bearded glory, and my buddy Paul is teaching me the ways of the Poison Girl happy hour regular. There's candy on the bar, he tells me, which I know from squeezing up to the front and digging through the candy jar while I wait for the bartender to notice me. This early in the day, though, there's still good candy.
"There's no other bar where you can sit and eat Laffy Taffy and drink $2 drinks," Paul says proudly.
But no one is eating the candy. In fact, hardly anyone is drinking the cocktails, because Poison Girl isn't really known as a cocktail bar. It's a beer bar with a killer whiskey selection. You order a bottle of beer or a glass of bourbon and you while away the night with the unusual crowd gathered here. On Wednesdays, it's the Ricers--patrons of the Rice Box food truck that parks in the lot across the street. They bring old, fancy cars and park up and down Westheimer and drink beer and eat Chinese food. Any other night of the week, it's a mixture of hipsters, neighborhood folks, oil and gas bigwigs, restaurant industry workers and vagabonds who wandered in off the street. And everyone else, according to my buddy. Everyone comes here.
"You have to tip based on how many hours you've been here," he explains. "Especially during happy hour. I can't sit here for three hours and drink $14 worth of booze, then tip $3. For that, you pay $20, and that's a good deal."
If this Manhattan is any indication, it's a great deal. Every bartender here is known for different drinks, so if there's something specific you want, you have to make sure your bartender is on duty. I came here intent on ordering The Dylan, an invention by Lindsay, another bartender here, in honor of the owner of Sinfull Bakery, Dylan Carnes. But Lindsay isn't here, so I ask Bryan what he makes.
"An Old Fashioned," he says simply.
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"OK then. I'll have one of those."
Bryan's Old Fashioned
2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon ½ ounce simple syrup 3 dashes orange bitters
Mix all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Stir thoroughly. Strain into lowball glass. Garnish with orange peel.