When I attended University of Houston, the only on-campus watering holes I frequented were the stadium parking lot and the Communication Building. (During one end-of-the-semester newspaper party, a colleague who also went on to write for this very column nearly pissed on my head from a second-story walkway. We're a classy bunch.) But today's UH students have a drinking option not available even at that party school in Austin — a fully-stocked on-campus bar. Jason, one of three owners of The Cougar Den (4800 Calhoun, 713-743-2255), tells me he and two friends opened the place in December because they were tired of other establishments relegating UH games to tiny TVs. "This is our fucking town," he says. And this is clearly their fucking bar.
He mixes me a Cougar Cooler — basically a red Long Island Iced Tea — and shows me around the place. The crowd is eclectic. The drinks, including the 18 beers on tap, are incredibly cheap. The nearly pristine main room is littered with UH memorabilia. The ladies' room — a particular point of pride for the ownership — is nicer than my apartment. And though it's hard to tell at night, Jason insists the view through the bar's large bay windows is spectacular. Pulling a gold spyglass out of a leather pouch, he aims his gaze toward the campus recreation center across the street. He says he's scanning the sidewalk for a species he calls the "North American brown-bellied mattress-thrasher." With skippers like Jason and Co. at the helm, UH students should be well served for some time.
3/4 ounce vodka
3/4 ounce rum
3/4 ounce gin
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3/4 ounce triple sec liqueur
splash of sweet & sour, pineapple juice
and cranberry juice
Pour ingredients over ice in a Collins glass.Stir.