ON THE TOWN

Get ready to take the night(life)

otaylor@thestate.comJune 22, 2013 

Michelle Thompson makes a White Russian at Hampton Street Vineyard in downtown Columbia.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

Deciding where and how my nights on the town will end is something I don’t have to worry about. The choices are abundant, and decision making at times turns, in my head at least, into song delivered through verse.

And it goes a little something this...

Let’s see what’s cracking at The Kraken Gastropub. Or we can whisper to each other at Speakeasy. Or alone I can pretend to be the G.O.A.T. at Goatfeathers.

Wigging out to jukebox karaoke and pizza slices at The Whig? Sure.

Jagerbomb-infused dancing at Art Bar? When the bar is at capacity, getting a drink rises to an art form.

A nightcap at NightCaps? Probably, because if I’m there, it’s probably, as Shalamar sings, “A Night to Remember.”

Next on the evening playlist: The Cars’ “Drive.” You know, the song with the apropos lyric, “Who’s gonna drive you home/Tonight.”

But before I get to sing myself to sleep, I have to start the night on the right note. And that means spending time with Michelle, the person who holds the key to my nightlife voice.

Hampton Street Vineyard’s Michelle Thompson makes the most ambrosial White Russian I’ve ever tasted. Before I get to the bar and sometimes even before we exchange greetings, Thompson, usually dressed in jeans and a white oxford shirt with her spectacles dangling by a cord, heads to the kitchen to retrieve milk.

Hampton, as the regulars call it, is an American bistro frequented by lawyers, legislators, lobbyists, couples on dates and young professionals.

And me.

The White Russian is to me what the Old Fashion is to “Mad Men” character Don Draper, and Thompson’s has a luscious frothiness that I thought was reserved only for coffee drinks. I think Thompson has a secret ingredient, though she claims the ice — rhomboid cubes with sunken centers known as “dice ice”— along with shaking properly is all there is to it.

I trust she’s not being coy. On more than one occasion, I’ve even entrusted Thompson, a broker and realtor during the day, to make night-altering decisions for me.

I don’t have sob stories to share with Thompson. I’m happy when I see her because, to invoke another title from The Cars’ catalog, she gives me “Just What I Needed.”

And when I leave, I’m ready to take the night.

 

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