Stirred and Shaken: Absinthe Brasserie's Vinyl Sunset

I don't love the taste of Absinthe, but I do love Absinthe Brasserie (609 Richmond, 713-528-7575). This gig sends me to a lot of bars, but if this isn't the coolest, coziest, most comfortable cocktail lounge in town, I don't know what is. From the dim candlelight and all-around warm vibe to the knowledgeable bartenders and tasteful music selection, this place fits my definition of what a great bar should be.

The Vinyl Sunset — fantastic name, by the way — caught my eye on the drinks menu during my last visit. Given my previous unpleasant experiences with straight absinthe, my expectations for this absinthe-based cocktail were low. But the drink, like the bar itself, won me over immediately. This, dear reader, is a great adult beverage. Subtle licorice blends surprisingly well with the flavor of lemonade and raspberry liqueur. The bright citrus colors gradually fade into blood-red cassis like sunlight in the gloaming, while the straw-pierced cross-section of an orange floats atop the ice like a 45" spinning on your older sister's hi-fi.

The drink's name itself drips with golden sentimentality. I don't own a turntable anymore, but if I did, I would put on a classic rec­ord and keep one of these cocktails within reach as the hot Houston sun disappeared from view.

1 ounce Pernod absinthe

1/2 ounce Cassis Raspberry liqueur

Fresh lemonade

Pour cassis into tumbler; add ice, then add absinthe; fill with lemonade; top with orange slice. No, you won't hallucinate. Please stop asking.

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