Whiskey a No-Go

Speaking off the toque: Jim McCray, proprietor and wine bar manager, divino Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar [1830 West Alabama, (713)807-1123].

Q. Do you think that drinking distilled spirits before a meal is detrimental to the dining experience? Is that why divino is a wine bar?

A. Yes, whiskey just obliterates your palate. You can't taste anything for a while after drinking it. There is a reason it was used as a local anesthetic. And yes, we did not want to become a whiskey bar and all that goes with it. For instance, people tend to smoke, or smoke more, with stronger drinks. Then, part of our concept is to be a place where you can have a good bottle of wine with your food at a reasonable price. In Texas, if you have just a wine bar, the tax is 8.25 percent. If you serve hard liquor, you have to collect 14 percent sales tax on all your alcoholic beverage sales, including beers and wines.

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