Last Call: Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Man For All Seasons?

Well, itís 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 Rickís on the Bricks, on Camp Bowie near Montgomery, Iíve been salivating. Not because The Ginger Man is so amazing ó Iíd been to the one in Houston and donít recall being overcome with ecstasy. (On the plus side, I donít recall being severely disappointed either.) No, Iíve been licking my chops because a.) the joint offers a change of scenery, and, more importantly, b.) itís near my house.

Seriously, with an unquenchable thirst like mine, thereís nothing better than having a local tavern, a place you can scamper to at a momentís notice to clear your head or celebrate happy hour all night long. Iím not saying you wonít see me anymore at my Cultural District haunts (Wreck Room, Ten, Shamrock Pub, 7th Haven, Black Dog Tavern, Michaelís Ancho Chile Bar). But based on a soft opening of The Ginger Man last weekend, there donít appear to be enough potential drawbacks for me to rationalize driving that extra mile down Camp Bowie toward town.

Not enough potential drawbacks ... yet. Iím not going to criticize a place after its first day of business, and I like The Ginger Manís dark, intimate, unpretentious, plain-Jane interior. I just hope that the Beamers and Tahoes in the parking lot arenít 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. Donít leave your boy hanginí!

Shiny Bottles

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 Cocktailís flying fifths and Coyote Uglyís 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. Theyíre fun to watch, no doubt. I mean, whatís not to love about people flipping, spinning, and pouring shiny bottles? But the events are more about skill and intense focus than, yíknow, getting fucked up. Itís 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, Iíd 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, itís 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 ďLegends of Bartending,Ē 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. ďI know who will show up, but you canít say who will win,Ē she said. ďMost of the flair bartenders know each other. Thereís a flair circle.Ē 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.

Weíre not sure if the competitors are judged on taste, but if they are, I know a couple of local drinkmakers around town whoíd win the title in a walk.

For more info, visit the web site of the Flair Bartendersí Association, the group that oversees the sport, at

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