The Bar Tab

Bombay Bicycle Club
3506 N. Saint Mary’s
Drinks: circa $8, excluding specials
Around 10 p.m. on a Friday night, the slight crowd at Bombay’s Bicycle Club is simmering. Minimal barstools entreat friends to lounge on the comfy mis-matched couches, while couples tuck themselves away in hushed booths. With only a few draft beers and a handful in bottles, Bombay’s leaves a lot to be desired. Conveniently located on the periphery of Alamo Heights near Trinity University, the crowd is somewhat mixed. The Club seems a worthy respite for students to whisper about the drama broiling in their lives, with sprinkles of school-work talk; raptors from Alamo Heights feel at home in the Club’s in-between vintage and Twin-Peaks feel, while suits still sporting the wrinkles of a long day at the office saunter in, scanning the environs for a prospect or a seat.

When I inquired about the origin of Bombay’s name, our server was frank and reflective. “Honestly, I have no idea,” she answered. “I think that people used to ride their bikes up here.” Fair enough. One cat she did let out of the bag was that the other location, (on Fredericksburg Road) is no longer affiliated, on account of a messy divorce.

Black and white photographs of zeppelins and ambitious jockeys decorate the walls, while antique bowling pins and horse-head lamps fill in the gaps. Tired drug store signs and vintage bicycles are suspended from the ceiling to establish some consistency. With billiards in the back, set along a milieu of an adaptation of C.M. Coolidge’s “A Friend in Need” — a rhino and other college fauna replace the famed dogs — Bombay’s is all hat and no cattle.

Although there were no specials on a Friday night, a petite chalkboard behind the bar invited you to “Try a Mojito.” And take my chances I did. Quite possibly the worst I’ve had, the “muddled” mint was scant and weak. Though they did throw in a few stale leaves for good measure. Midway through enduring mistake number one, I almost forgot what I ordered, since it leaned more toward soda water with too much lime than the famed Cuban cocktail Hemingway fancied. My advice: Don’t bother.

Feeling slightly obliging, companion and I decided to give the bar another chance and ventured into martini land. Mistake numero dos. As I’ve seen, “dry and dirty” with extra olives can translate into many things. What arrived were dense, cloudy concoctions, with large greenies skewered on candy-striped cocktail straws — though I was hoping something a bit sharper, as the night was still young. They were so dirty, “filthy” even, that the olive juice conquered what little territory the Tanqueray was allowed. Extra olives were so unnecessary that we considered bartering for “just a smidge” of gin each. The usually magnetic aroma was a bit rancid, and instead conjured memories of praying to the porcelain goddess in high school. In order to quell my confusion, I turned to the friendly patron at the next table, who said her Kettel One martini was delish. However, “I ordered it filthy,” she added. Well goddam. I wouldn’t have showered for the evening, had I known the “filth” I’d be getting myself into.