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Spindletop: Champagne and a View

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I've lived in Houston for just over 20 years now and I still remember my first visit to Spindletop fondly. A friend took my sister and I out for drinks and dessert downtown. It was winter in Houston, which isn't all that cold unless you're visiting from a tropical country like Panama, and we were.

This particular friend was very over the top and had procured fake fur coats for us. We thought we were oh-so-cool and chic. I've since destroyed any photographic evidence of those outfits. But at the time, we felt grand -- like movie stars. Or, at the very least, like stars from the show Dallas who were on a visit to Houston. We had a blast, enjoyed our cocktails, desserts, the view, the friendships.

Spindletop opened its doors in 1972 and, though it was never built to suitably accommodate a full kitchen, it quickly became a favorite of Houstonians celebrating landmark events. Allison Butcher is the current manager and she too has a little Spindletop history: When Butcher's mother found out she was pregnant with Butcher, she celebrated with lunch at the Spindletop. Butcher likes to think she has been around Spindletop for over 30 years.

It had probably been 15 years since I'd gotten into that glass elevator to the 34th floor of the Hyatt at Louisiana and Smith. Once off the elevator, we were greeted by a magnificent 360-degree view of Houston and a loungy space that was bright, classy and swanky. The "top" completes a "spin" in about 50 minutes; my sea-legs went away after 10 minutes and a cocktail.

We decided to try out as many of Spindletop's signature champagne cocktails as possible. I started with the Perfect Sunset, which was good, but a bit sweet. I quickly moved on to the Imperial Martini, nice and dry made with Stoli and Moet, then chased that one with a Moet Margarita. My friend started off with a Moet Pomegranate Drop, moved on to the Black Cherry Pomegranate and ended with a Perfect Sunset of her own.

Since we're not total lushes, we had some food: Enter the Crab and Avocado Dome, Spindletop's signature starter. My friend ordered the Horseradish Molasses Sea Scallop. Both starters were delicate and divine, though not enough to make a meal. We both had a great time, catching up, laughing it up, and certainly drinking it up. This is a great splurge for a girls' night out, special occasion or a romantic dinner. I can't attest to the desserts, but I'm going out on a limb and imagining them delightful.

Do you have an old favorite? Tell me about it; I may pay it a visit.

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