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.
"If I won the lottery, I would buy you Louboutins," the guy down the bar from me tells a bartender. "And dildos."
Apparently everyone else in the bar would get $100,000 each from this older gentleman, a regular (though I've never seen him), but this guy, Christopher...he'd get shoes. And sex toys.
It's Christopher's last day at 13 Celsius, and it's the birthday of another bartender, Kristen. There's a lot to celebrate here. We do so with champagne. And spritzers. And some funky red wine that is making my day so much better right now.
Look, I know this is supposed to be a cocktail column. I'm aware. But some days, you just want wine. And you want conversations with wine-drunk individuals at a large marble bar while incomprehensible music plays over the speakers and the distant smell of the magical mortadella sandwich winds its way through the crowd to your nose.
Some days you want wine, but because this is a cocktail column, I ordered a spritzer. It was actually really good.
"Why doesn't Houston have zoning laws?" someone at the bar asks Christopher. "Other cities, man, you can walk to all the good bars. What's up with Houston?"
"Stay in Midtown," Christopher says. "It's going to become the next 6th Street. Bars are opening up, people are moving in. It's getting walkable. Just wait."
I think of Austin's 6th Street and wonder if that's something we really want. When I was in college in San Antonio, my friends would descend upon 6th Street come any twenty-first birthday. It was a rite of passage to throw up in the streets outside a kitschy chain bar. I don't want that for my Houston. I don't want that for my Midtown.
"13 Celsius is a neighborhood bar," says the guy down the row from me when he notices me listening. I'm bad at surveillance.
"People from the neighborhood walk here for a good glass of wine and for the company," he says.
It's true. This wine bar sees the same people day after day. The same people come here regularly. They know the bartenders. The bartenders know them. Even people who only come in on occasion are remembered by the bartenders.
"I want a wine that tastes as much like water as possible," someone says.
"I know," says Kristen. "Try this. You had this last time."
Last time was at least two months ago, but she still knows. That's the mark of a good bartender, even at a place that only serves wine.
2 ounces Lillet Rosé 4 ounces Prosecco
Combine in wine glass. Drink until feeling good.