Well, it’s about damn time. Ever since I heard the news that The Ginger Man pub chain was going to take over the spot formerly known as Rick’s on the Bricks, on Camp Bowie near Montgomery, I’ve been salivating.
Not because The Ginger Man is so amazing – I’d been to the one in Houston and don’t recall being overcome with ecstasy. (On the plus side, I don’t recall being severely disappointed either.) No, I’ve been licking my chops because a.) the joint offers a change of scenery, and, more importantly, b.) it’s near my house.
Seriously, with an unquenchable thirst like mine, there’s nothing better than having a local tavern, a place you can scamper to at a moment’s notice to clear your head or celebrate happy hour all night long. I’m not saying you won’t see me anymore at my Cultural District haunts (Wreck Room, Ten, Shamrock Pub, 7th Haven, Black Dog Tavern, Michael’s Ancho Chile Bar). But based on a soft opening of The Ginger Man last weekend, there don’t appear to be enough potential drawbacks for me to rationalize driving that extra mile down Camp Bowie toward town.
Not enough potential drawbacks … yet. I’m not going to criticize a place after its first day of business, and I like The Ginger Man’s dark, intimate, unpretentious, plain-Jane interior. I just hope that the Beamers and Tahoes in the parking lot aren’t an indication of things to come. Word to the preps: Michael is gonna be really upset if you stop hanging out at his Ancho Chile Bar. Don’t leave your boy hangin’!
If you think about it, the blockbuster movies of the past 20 years that romanticize the bar business, especially Cocktail and Coyote Ugly, come off as anti-bar. For all of Cocktail’s flying fifths and Coyote Ugly’s jaw-dropping barkeeps, neither movie takes the time to step away from showing the cool atmosphere to conjure the sensation of actually drawing on a tasty alcoholic beverage.
I guess we could say the same for those bartender flair competitions. They’re fun to watch, no doubt. I mean, what’s not to love about people flipping, spinning, and pouring shiny bottles? But the events are more about skill and intense focus than, y’know, getting fucked up. It’s like watching a football game where the opposing teams throw their equipment at one another rather than strap on the pads and get after it. Besides, I’d say the reason most of us love our favorite bartenders is not that they can do somersaults while squeezing lemon juice into tumblers 20 feet away. No, it’s because our favorite mixologists are fast and friendly, and, most importantly, they can make good, strong drinks.
Later this month, Baker Street Pub & Grill will host “Legends of Bartending,” a statewide flair competition. Though most of the competitors will be coming from all over the state, Baker Street publicist Angela Wyka said local walk-ons are welcome. “I know who will show up, but you can’t say who will win,” she said. “Most of the flair bartenders know each other. There’s a flair circle.” Heart, be still.
The finals will be in early February in Houston, where the top six will compete for a chance to perform at Quest, the Super Bowl of flair bartending in Las Vegas.
We’re not sure if the competitors are judged on taste, but if they are, I know a couple of local drinkmakers around town who’d win the title in a walk.
For more info, visit the web site of the Flair Bartenders’ Association, the group that oversees the sport, at BarFlair.org.
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