If, for the sake of unholy adventure, you want to check out the Diamond Club — once called the Pink Pussycat, it's the only "cabaret" in the Greenway area — I recommend warming up across the street at the Velvet Melvin Pub (3303 Richmond, 713-522-6798). Here, the tonic water does not taste like quinine-infused Tums, you don't feel like you're in a Bukowski book that takes place in Cleveland instead of L.A., and there's no need to worry about black lights revealing toothpaste (swear on my first dog's ashes, it's toothpaste) stains on your sweater. Of course, there are no long-standing rumors of a one-legged dancer at the Velvet Melvin, and the music sometimes ventures into Nickelback territory, but you take the good with the bad.
Back in the good column, the Melvin's staff and regulars seem friendly. While Katie's behind the bar making me a Grapefruit Delight (the "best shot ever"), I strike up a conversation with a guy named Matt. Turns out we're the same age and went to the same private school, though he started the year after I left for HISD. After high school, Matt got a real job, hated it, bummed around Colorado for a while and is now back in Houston figuring things out. I ask Matt about my old friend T.; couldn't have predicted it in fourth grade, but apparently he's become a big fan of kinky group sex. And me, I'm just knocking out some research for a booze column before going on a hunt for an amputee stripper. Hail, St. John's!
1/2 ounce Finlandia Grapefruit vodka
1/2 ounce triple sec
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Splash of cranberry juice
Splash of Red Bull
Splash of sweet and sour
Shake over ice and strain into a shot glass. Maybe not the best ever, but pretty good.