March 8th, 2012

The Corkscrew Wine Bar: A Change of Spots

In 5 Words: Casual, Journey, Wine, Dine, Revelry

He/she will regret dumping me. I’m going to lose 20 pounds, quit biting my toenails and soak my scalp in Just for Men until my lungs burn. This is a brand new me!

Three weeks later, you’re back to wearing sweatpants, playing Call-of-Duty til 3 a.m. and yelling at Girl Scouts not to judge you for buying 15 boxes of Tagalongs. But you are who you are. A leopard can’t change its spots, so now’s the time to find a new pad, embrace who you are and hang out with good friends. And maybe sell the jewelry she left at your place for beer money, but that’s neither here nor there. For The Corkscrew, recreating itself was just as easy, it seems.


Washington was probably seeing someone else anyway, the trendy bitch, so The Corkscrew picked its stuff up off the lawn and crashed on a buddy’s couch at 2345 20th St. Except this jilted lover is pulling its weight in a very big way. This is what happens when people who love the complicated intimacy of wine, but also love the revelry and good times of your favorite dive bar, shuck the stereotypes of stylish and stodgy wine joints to give people what they really want.


The signature décor of The Corkscrew didn’t change too much with the move. Just look for their green and yellow sign, and you’ve made it. The inside is simple, and not crammed with all the armless chairs, pish-posh artwork and other crap that makes other wine joints feel about as comfortable as a wool sweater in June. A wall of wine that’s for sale (reasonably), a subtle faux finish to the walls covered in quotes di vino, pretty candlelight bouncing off crimson-tiled tables and a back room for meetings and karaoke sum up the fresh simplicity. Oh, and there’s also a shrine devoted to Mr. Joe Pesci in Casino. Why? If I had to take a stab at it, I’d assume it serves as a constant reminder that The Corkscrew “don’t shine shoes anymore”. For Billy Blatts, Washington Avenue or anyone else for that matter. So don’t go bustin’ their balls.


The Corkscrew doesn’t print their menu on delicate calf skin from the southern coast of Spain, and they don’t make you play Pin the Tail on the Donkey when ordering a glass of wine. We’re talking a white piece of paper partitioned into flavor categories so you’ve got some idea of what you’re getting into. Categories like “Lipsmacking” (jammy, velvety & plush), Redzilla (the big boy reds) and Big Bottom (toasty, citrusy whites) make it easy on the novice. If you’ve ever said “Well, the Cabernet varietal from the appellation that I’m accustomed to is more rich in colour and has much less acescence in the forefront of the palette” to impress a date at an Italian restaurant, just stop it. You don’t know what those words mean, and quit spelling colors with a u.

The laid-back setup and location attracts a much different and more eclectic clientele than The Corkscrew was trying its hand with on Washington. Was the first batch of wine in history enjoyed by gel-haired trust fund babies in rented Ferraris and the women that love them? No-it was actually enjoyed first by cavemen! (I don’t really have anywhere to go with that…I just thought it was interesting.) Young professionals blowing off steam after a work day mingle with nurses in scrubs and seasoned Heights residents with stories to tell. They’re all ushered into The Corkscrew fold by the owners themselves on most evenings. Andy and Doyle Adams cut up with everyone as they laugh and joke over a cup o’ cab. They are two of the friendliest bar owners you’ll meet in Houston, and their service reflects such.


The Corkscrew offers a delicious assortment of relatively inexpensive pizzas, paninis and charcuterie, so it’s not just a one-stop booze shop. A 4-7 happy hour knocks $2 off glasses of wine, and The Corkscrew’s Tuesday steak night is becoming a quick success because the grillmaster doesn’t just wing it. He actually uses a thermometer to get your ribeye cooked just right, and the accompanying garlic mashed potatoes and crisp, sautéed veggies make it a damn fine meal- not just bar food. Their annual Wine-a-Palooza is fast approaching too, where live music, food out the ying-yang, over 100 wines available to taste and a crowd-cap make the $40 cover well worth it.


After a month or two, you start realizing all that was wrong with her. She was flighty, pretentious and had that weird skin tag on her shoulder that looked like DJ Qualls. You’re better off without her, even if you are still eating Smacks out of a salad bowl. You’ve moved on to bigger and better things and aren’t looking back. Similarly, The Corkscrew has taken a short journey to find itself away from all the hubbub, and they’re loving every minute of it. Here’s a toast to not being able to change your spots.


Where1308 W. 20TH Street, Houston, Tx. 77008
What – Over 100 wines; steak, greens, pizzas or paninis
Wear – Scrubs, shorts, slacks, shirts or shoes—the last two are probably required
How much – Reasonable, during Happy Hour look for $2.00 off a glass of wine
When – Monday through Thursday: 4:00PM to 12:00AM; Friday through Saturday: 4:00PM to 2:00AM; Sunday: 2:00PM to 10:00PM
WebWebsite; Facebook; Twitter

— Tea Jones


thedude — Saturday, March 10, 2012 8:09 pm

Awesome chill wine bar! That area is shaping up nicely. It will be interesting to see what the Pub Fiction owners do at the new Crisp bar down the corner. Seems like it could be a cool spot as well.

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