Stirred and Shaken

Looking up at the palm trees on Westheimer aglow with twinkly Christmas lights, I zoom right by the mandatory valet parking stand in front of P.F. Chang's China Bistro [4094 Westheimer, (713)627-7220]. "So arrest me," I tell the fascist in uniform when he protests. The upscale pan-Asian restaurant is sleekly Californian in design with exposed beams, track lighting and Asian art. I order a mai tai, but I am disappointed it doesn't come with a paper umbrella. It is extremely potent and very sweet, and I drink it too fast because I need to get back out to the parking lot before the tow truck arrives. P.F. Chang's menu promises a blend of Asian and Western culture. There is a lot of wine being served, which must represent France and California. Reproductions of ancient Chinese statues remind me of the Ming dynasty. And the valets are the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution.

P.F. Chang's mai tai: Created by Victor Bergeron, the original owner of the legendary Trader Vic's restaurant, the drink supposedly was invented for some of his Tahitian friends who proclaimed it mai tai, meaning "out of this world." Like the restaurant, the drink is an amusing fantasy with no real Polynesian roots. It often is doctored up with such exotic additions as almond-flavored orgeat syrup.

1 shot Bacardi rum
1 shot orange curaçao
1 shot 151 rum
1 shot Myers's dark rum
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
slice of orange
slice of pineapple

Fill a tall glass (preferably Buddha-shaped) with ice and add all ingredients. Garnish with fruit on cocktail swords and add a paper umbrella. Yields one.

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