Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Masked Drinker's Guide to Gay Bars (For Straight Dudes)

So I was at Fashion Week last, uh, week, surrounded by bizarre examples of genetic perfection, free wine, and toilets whose seats never stand. I spent some time trying to get the designers of Original Penguin to release a nice line of comfortable-yet-stylish masks, but they just don’t yet see the market for it. Anyway, this is all just to say that it made me feel now was a good time to write up why gay bars are basic places of superfun.

My first experience with a gay bar wasn’t really my best. However, it was a bar in West Virginia, and that state and the word “best” never go hand-in-hand. See, my high school buddies and I found out that there was a gay bar in the town near where we grew up and we were overcome with curiosity. It was what you’d expect in an Appalachian gay bar: dudes whose only idea of gay culture is what they’ve seen in bad comedies and ladies who could kill every one of us without even loosening their large-custom-buckled belts. The music was loud and bad, and we were too young to get served. The best part was a redneck football player we had grown up with running up to my friend and proclaiming, “I always knew you were, too!”

Anyway, that’s not the usual scene from what I can tell. Gay bars, maybe especially if you’re straight, are just fun, relaxing places to be. Even some fairly open-minded guys are a little freaked out by the idea that “OH SHIT I AM GOING TO BE HIT ON!” Listen, in New York, at least, gay dudes are hell of picky. If you DO get hit on (which probably won’t happen), then consider it a pretty awesome compliment. If you can make it in the NYC gay scene, you are one hot fellow. (Unless you’re at a chubby chaser bar, but whatever, you probably aren’t.)

Gay bars—and I stress bars here, not clubs—usually have decent selections, prices, and specials. The happy hour at my favorite gay bar, Nowhere, is two for one domestics and well drinks for, like, four or five hours. That’s fucking crazy! A man can get much loaded on Yuenglings and whiskeys while hardly spending anything.

Gay bars are actually pretty amazing for dates, too. Bring a girl to a gay bar and you know no asshole’s gonna try to hit on her while you’re peeing. And, at gay bars I’ve patronized at least, straight couples are almost as cute and exotic as puppies playing with tiger cubs. That’s pretty fucking exotic and cute. Also, there’s usually a juke or DJ with danceable music, and after a few cheap rounds you are so on that, admit it.

Lesbian bars are a bit trickier. First off, if it’s a really anti-male lesbian bar, don’t be an idiot; just don’t go. But most lesbian bars are just bars that happen to be run for and by lesbians. Whenever I’ve found myself in one, I act like I always act in a bar not really meant for me. Just stay friendly, and don’t hit on anyone. And don’t hit on anyone by not hitting on them, either. Girls are totally onto that trick, guys. It’s just that straight girls sometimes pretend it works because it’s easier that way.

I don’t know if I have any gay readers yet, but I just realized that if I do, this is probably the lamest article they’ve ever read. So here’s a picture of Clive Owen as a measure of apology to you, my theoretical gay reader.

Anyway, not all gay bars are alike, obviously. But I’ve never been to one that wasn’t a fun time. I’ve never been forced to dance ala Police Academy. The bartenders are sometimes happy to hear about girl-dating problems to remind them of some of the reasons it’s awesome to be gay. This is, at least, what I’m telling myself whilst I bemoan my latest girltragedy.

So try it out. I recommend, as I said, Nowhere on 14th between 2nd and 1st Avenues. Good juke, pool table, nice seating, fun environment. But please don’t go all at once. Then you’ll ruin it. I know my audience is comprised of ruiners. RUINERS.

pictures stolen from the internet, as he so often does, by the Masked Drinker

dude how hot is Clive Owen? It's ridiculous.


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Vodka Vixens

Apparently the office suffered a power outage over the weekend. I suspect some sort of kitchen-appliance blunder, but as yet have no proof. In apology for the lack of content, I felt that I might contribute something.

As I have mentioned before, after the War, I made my wages as a writer of novels for men and certain jaunty ladies who crave adventure. My recent forays onto this internet have shown me that my works are out of print and rarely spoken-of. Forgive the ego of an aging man who wishes once more to share the stories he found inside his brain. From time to time I'll share excerpts from my older novels; truly, going back and having my loyal manservant type them up has reawakened the love of the craft. I have begun taking notes on a new work, my first in many years. As for now, I hope you enjoy this selection from The Vodka Vixens, the sequel to my 1965 book, The Vodka Killers.

Charles checked the .44 like he did every morning when he woke up. It was a routine that almost comforted him. There were no complications. There were no expectations. There was no anger, no sadness, no emotion at all. Ever since that fateful day in '56, uncomplicated times were seldom indeed.

But that was a long time ago and far away from his current location. Getting into Cuba had been easier than he had anticipated. The agency had set him up with a rubber raft after he disembarked from the so-called "fishing ship" the Orca. It had seemed legit, but civilians rarely are used in such a capacity as this Quint. Charles also knew that in this line of work, it was sometimes beneficial for the right hand to be kept in the dark about the left hand's activities, lest they find themselves handcuffed together.

After his other routines and calisthenics Charles put on the sort of linen shirt popular in the area as an attempt to blend in. There were fewer Anglos doing business here than in Batista's days, and fewer still vacationing since the embargo. But there were enough, and the dark, swarthy features Charles inherited from his Apache grandfather would help him look more like the local Spaniards than most Agency men.

He winked at the girl at the front desk as he left the hotel and her tan skin blushed even further. He walked the streets a bit, turning here and there, in an elaborate pattern established to discern the presence of tails. Finding none, he went to his meet-up destination, a bar hidden away on a side street.

It was dingy, sparsely-populated, and hot. Charles immediately felt at home. The bartender's hair was tight and curly, but Charles couldn't draw his eyes off her lips. Thick like soft pillows inviting him to come rest on them for a night or two. Perspiration caused her white linen shirt to cling to her in ways that Charles' never would.

"Hola, Senor," she said with a voice somehow both thick with sensuality and lilting with promise. "What'll you have?"

It took Charles a moment to notice she'd spoken to him in English. Nerves ajangle and ready for death-causing action. "You speak English . . .very well," he said, testingly. He wondered if his meeting place for his contact had been compromised.

"I was born in New York, actually," she replied. "I welcome the chance to speak the way I grew up."

"New York, eh? What brings you here?" Charles' hand slid subtly down towards where he kept his sidearm hidden.

"And I'll have a bourbon, neat."

"No bourbons here . . .have to go somewhere that can get past the embargo. Let me make you a local drink." She began mashing a mint into a glass, mixed it with cane surgar syrup, carbonated water, and rum. Charles was intrigued.

"You never answered me why you're here," he asked, watching her top it with a lime.

"Here in this bar or here in Cuba? I'm here in Cuba because I had family here. I'm here in this bar to meet you, Charles."

In less than a second Charles' .44 was leveled straight at her, but her smile nor the sparkle in her eye remained unperturbed.

"Canary Jackanape Soluble," she said.

"Moist Familial Arbitrary," Charles returned.

"I've never known a man with seven heads," she continued.

"Babe Ruth was a fat bastard," Charles continued, knowing he was a phrase away from success.

"Kitty kitty meow meow smell the HELLO," she said.

"Abraham Lincoln was a homosexual," he finished and put the gun down. "They should have told me my contact was . . ."

"A woman? Oh, Charles, I'd heard you were at least a bit more open-minded than that."
He took a long swig from the drink she'd made. "No. That my contact was so . . .intoxicating. What is this drink?"

Smile and eye still unperturbed, yet eyebrow arched, she replied, "A mojito. The sin here almost makes the rest of it worthwhile. Cigars, rum, love . . .but I get the feeling the Reds won't stand for it too much longer."

"Well, I always say 'Enjoy it while you can.' Besides, we'll kick this bearded Marxist out soon enough. Now what say we get down to business?" Charles said, downing the rest of his drink.

Her finger traced her collarbone and her smile widened. "Business before pleasure?"

Charles smiled, but before he could decide they were interrupted.

"Oh, Charles, it pains me to see you drinking this filth," one deeply accented voice said.

"With this filth," an almost identical one replied. Before even turning, Charles recognized it. Olga and Natasha, the Rasputin twins. Two of the Kremlin's deadliest and most beautiful agents. And he had a feeling this time he wasn't going to get off so easily.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Masked Drinker's Guide to Etiquette and Protocol

So far my Masked Drinker’s Guides have been pretty situation-specific. But I get asked fairly often about very general issues dealing with drinking. It’s kind of surprising and amazing what some people don’t know. However, I have to remind myself that not everyone is a seasoned, well-worn barhound. Some people go to bars pretty rarely and are therefore unaware of some standard practices that seem obvious to a guy like me. So I’m going to try to address these general issues for the inexperienced drinker in this column; topics like tipping, buybacks, flirting with the patrons or staff, etc.

First off, tipping. The basic rule is: tip, you fucking asshole. Bartenders make an extremely low wage, and, like all of America’s service industry rely on tips to actually live. So they’re busting their butt to get you that sweet sweet booze that makes the sad go away. So tip. Bare minimum is a dollar a drink. But here’s the thing; some drinks are more work-involved than others. If you’re asking for a martini or a cosmo or anything that involves shakeage, it’s courteous to leave something more. I tend to leave two dollars for my first drink, and alternate between two and one for most of the night. Never tip with coins, it’s a pain in everyone’s ass. And if you think your tender is doing a substandard job, tip anyway. Just tip a dollar. Everyone has an off day, but if you shirk on a tip you can guarantee you’re persona non grata in every bar that tender knows. That’s just assy.

Another big topic people ask about is that of buybacks. In case you don’t know, a buyback is a drink the bartender buys for you, usually after three or four that you’ve paid and tipped for. It’s a personal thing on the number, and some bars don’t even allow it. So, for Pete’s sake, don’t ask the bartender about it. That’s basically heck of gauche. It either happens or it doesn’t. And when it happens it’s a magical, wonderful time full of rainbows and superpowers. Appreciate it. And always tip for it; I tend to tip extra for a buyback. Not the full price of the drink, obviously, but two or three bucks is a nice way to show your tender that you appreciate them. And the buybacks will come more often if you do so.

“Hey, is that bartender hitting on me?” If it’s a male bartender, maybe. Remember, it is his job to talk to you, in a way. But it certainly happens. If it’s a female bartender, the answer is almost always no. So don’t hit on them. They’re at work, they hear it all the time and they don’t want to deal with your drinking ass hitting on their sober ass. Be friendly, respectful, joke around, but don’t hit on them. If they’re interested, they’ll let you know when they’re off shift. But they aren’t. Trust me. And guys, as Ms. Weiner’s article shows you, be careful about hitting on patrons, as well. I already went over how to meet girls at bars, but let me reiterate that going up to random girls in bars is very rarely a good idea. Make sure you have your signals straight if you think she wants you to, and be ready to immediately and politely retreat at the first sign of resistance. Better for everyone that way.

I know there’s a lot of debate about bringing babies and children to bars. My parents had a favorite bar that I was in a lot as a kid, but it was a bar-restaurant (with the best fried shrimp EVAR). That’s a big part of how I feel about it. If there’s food there, sure, bring your kid. If the place doesn’t serve food, leave the rugrat with a sitter. Babies under two get special exemption as long as they are not loud asshole babies. But once the little critters start becoming mobile, please leave them out of my bar. I know they drive you nuts and you need a drink; trust me, I know. But they drive us nuts too, and we didn’t choose to bring them into this world. I’m sometimes willing to make an exception if the kid is cute enough, shuts the fuck up enough, and basically sits there with their Shirley Temple/Roy Rogers/inappropriate whiskey drink and lets me forget they’re there. But that happens about as rarely as the Colonel not having an anecdote so just forget it.

I feel like those are the main topics I most often get asked about. Readers, if there are any other questions you’d like answered, respond to this post or email me at themaskeddrinker at gmail dot com. I look forward to hearing from you maybe.

retarded, spent way too much time on it photoshop by the Masked Drinker

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Guest Post: Dawn Weiner's Guide to Drinking Alone for Women

Hey, folks. I got an email from a faithful reader earlier in the week in response to my guide to drinking alone. Dawn wanted to talk about the female side of the issue and I thought it was pretty interesting. So here's our first guest post, written by the lovely young Dawn Weiner. If you have something you think might make a good guest post, email us at

So I’m sitting at the bar, by myself, eating a sandwich. A guy comes up and sits next to me. He glances over at me a few times. He’s interested. I’m not. I’m eating a sandwich.

Me: (eating a sandwich)

Him: So do you come here often?

Me: (mouth full of sandwich and without looking at him): Yes

Him: That a good sandwich?

Me: (mouth full of sandwich and without looking at him): Yes

Him: What do you…

Me: (interrupting him midsentence): Do you mind? I’m trying to finish my sandwich.

Him: Sorry.

After a few minutes I finish my sandwich. It's delicious.

Him: So do you…

Me: Look, dude, I’m not interested in talking with you so could you please stop talking to me.

Just another mildly annoying interaction recalled from my many years as a solo female drinker in New York City bars.

There are several assumptions floating around about women alone at bars.

They are alone and want someone to talk to them, most likely a man.

They are alone because they wanted some quiet time out of the house and to be around people but not be with people.

They want to engage in a friendly chat, either with the bartender or other patrons.

They want to read a book/magazine/paper and drink.

These are all true.

They are alone because they want to get fucked up and maybe also get fucked (perhaps by the bartender or any of the guys sitting along the bar)

They are alone because they are a drunk and couldn’t find someone else to check out with.

These are not always true.

If you’re a woman drinking alone at a bar, the bartenders are your best friends. They keep an eye out for you in case some hooligans from the other end of the bar traipse over to harass you. This happened to me once. I had my laptop up on the bar and was doing some research when these drunk tourists came by and the drunkest one of all stood next to me and demanded that I engage in some conversation with him. I refused his advances. All of a sudden he started yelling at me about what a bitch I was, and then all of a sudden his buddies grabbed him. One of them said, “Lets get out of here man. Come on! We have to go NOW”. What happened? Well, the bartender caught wind of what was happening and took the drunk guy’s buddy aside. He told him that if his friend didn’t stop harassing me, he'd physically throw them all out of the bar.

Most women are afraid to go to bars alone. I’m one of the few among my friends that hasn't been. I don’t do it much anymore, and if I do it’s to my friendly neighborhood bar. But I was quite a successful lone female drinker for a while, there. Wherever I went. Men wanted to talk to me (usually without hitting on me) about interesting topics. I was nice and polite to all my bartenders, and tipped them very well. Once, some mysterious stranger somewhere told the bartender to bring the lonely girl (me) a drink. Thanks, dude, but I'm alone, not lonely. At the bars I frequented most, the male bartenders became extremely protective of me, making sure that the men I was talking to weren’t bothering me. And making sure to let them know right away, because they’d take care of them pretty quick otherwise.

I even made up a signal at this one joint, where I didn’t even know the bartender. This drunk guy was slobbering all over himself and screaming at me about lord knows what. I yelled out really loudly, “YO!” and held my hand up in the air. The bartender looked up and I took my arm down, pointed it at the dude and then thrust my hand toward the door. I said, “This guy needs to go!” The bartender nodded, jumped over the bar and shoved the guy out into the street.

Sometimes people feel sorry for you. Once at Union Square Cafe bar (the best place to eat, there, is at the bar). I was eating seriously the best fucking donuts I've ever had in my life. Half the bar looked over when they arrived and exclaimed "Oh, my God, what is that? Is it good?” I was working on a glass of 20 year Tawny port when a drunk rich lady took the seat next to me as I was polishing off the remainder of my drink and asked me if I was by myself. How sad it was that I was by myself! I told her that I was very happy considering that fresh tasty donuts and port make for excellent company.

Personally I have more fun at bars by myself than with my friends. With your girlfriends you’re always chatting about boys and junk, and leering desperately at the men around the bar that you’re all too afraid to talk to. By yourself, you keep your own pace, decompressing after a long work day or whatever. You don’t have to gaze intently into your friend’s eyeballs to ensure her that you are indeed listening as she blathers on about this boy and that blowjob. You are free to look around! And that is especially fun when there's a cute guy at the bar. You can eyefuck the shit out of him. Who cares? Maybe they’ll talk to you. Maybe he'll get scared and leave the bar and you’ll run to the window to watch him go. This actually happened.

Another great thing about drinking alone is that the bartender can become your friend (for the time being) and even your matchmaker. They know all the people in the room and can set you up. You can’t get to know your bartender when you’re with your gaggle of girls. But you should, because he or she's the most important person in the room. Besides protecting you from men, bartenders are a great source of entertainment. They're interesting people who have have lives beyond the bar. You can exchange boy dirt with a girlbartender. They’re usually tough and smart and have good stories. Boybartenders are usually good to look at, have an excellent sense of humor and sometimes are good for a romp in the sack. Also, friendly banter with your ‘tender increases the likelihood of a buyback.

Drinking alone is a fun activity. You've gotten your quiet time, a nice buzz going, increased your knowledge of various topics depending on who you were chatty with at the bar, read your magazine or book, talked with, or drunkenly smiled at, a cute guy at the other end of the bar. Now its time to go home and burn frozen sausages in the pan because you drank too much and passed out long before they were cooked. Or you are buzzed enough to chat with your parents about what you’re doing with your life. It's a pleasant conversation. Or maybe you drink more and sing loudly to various musicals you drunkenly bought on Itunes.

Whatever it is that you do when you get home, make sure you get home intact. Be aware of your surroundings while you walk home. Don’t call people on the way home because it will distract you. No Ipods neither. If you’re really blasted, take a car service and ask the driver to wait until you are inside your front door. Be safe.

--Dawn Weiner

photo totally stolen from internet

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Morning After, A Syrcls Brunch Review: Spike Hill

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do when you wake up from a long (and possibly regrettable) night out is to get out of bed & cook yourself something awesome to make yourself feel more human again. At least for people like me, who pretty much don’t cook at all, going out to brunch is pretty much your best friend. So that’s why I’m here: to share my tales of urban brunching— tales of caution, and/or tales of awesome.

It was a semi-cold but sunny Valentine’s day morning. I was brutally hungover and in probably one of the most ridiculous inner fits of rage ever. I literally wanted to slap the roses out of every goddamn person’s hand I saw. The sight of couples swapping their spit made my head want to explode and increased my nausea tenfold. I was in no mood for having a civil brunch with my roommate.

For whatever reason, we decided that today was the day we were finally going to eat brunch at Spike Hill— a pub right off the Bedford L stop, famous for their burgers. As I’ve mentioned, I’m for the most part, pescatarian. But that day, I was out for blood. I broke. I was weakened by my throbbing head and desire for ripping flesh apart with my teeth. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna get a visit from Aunt Flo soon, to put things more in perspective.
I ordered a burger, okay! A BURGER. And you know what? It was GLORIOUS. Actually, I would say that honestly, I much prefer Dumont’s burgers, but I haven’t had any type of cow product in my body in probably about 7 months at least. I almost forgot what it was like to be full. I felt really gross afterwards and sort of regretted it. Yes, apparently, I had a bad one night stand with a burger. I like regret eating it, but damn, it was good while I was getting all up in that shit. At least I had a free mimosa to comfort me afterwards.
My roommate got the huevos rancheros, which were really, like San Diego quality excellent. Again with the metaphor of dudes/sex/whatever, I often find that I’ve historically been more of a “tapas” kind of girl. I have trouble committing to one dish, and always think I’m missing out on what everyone else is eating, so I feel compelled to try everything on other people’s plates. Dude, when did this brunch review turn into a Carrie Bradshaw voiceover? I apologize.Anyway, both of the things we had were good. Best burgers in Williamsburg? I don’t think so. Also, I think me & burgers are through. I had a tasty tortelli with butternut squash and truffle oil last night that I’m really into right now. Sorry, I can’t stop. Anywho, Spike Hill, blah blah blah. It was ‘aight. They don’t need any more publicity than they already have by being located at the epicenter of post-collegiate heaven. The end!

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Brown Derby Tasting

One of our more enjoyable tasks at the HCAR offices is cocktail tasting and testing. Recently, to bring a new life to the exploration we were sent a tattered copy of Patrick Gavin Duffy's The Standard Bartender's Guide by our sponsor and superior, Colonel J.R. Harmon. The drinks within hearken back to days when Galliano flowed the streets like gold, and requesting a Wild Turkey Mist with a Twist, would not yank forth looks of disdain from your bartender.

This week’s tasting was a small affair, and we decided to venture towards an area of drinking that not many of us were familiar with: Rum.

The Brown Derby.

Editor's Note: This drink is not actually in the book I loaned the young folks that staff this blog. I was deep in the midst of a conversation with the charming young Rachel whereupon she mentioned a time in which she drank a Brown Derby. I confirmed with her that it was, indeed, this drink, and it brought me back to another time. This drink was named after the famous Los Angeles location. I spent a few years in that torrid, horrid town doctoring movieplays, consulting with fat producers, and drinking whenever possible in order to rid myself of the awful malaise found everywhere in Hollywood. I was introduced to this drink by a young starlet who decency and history dare me not to name. I have always enjoyed it, and think fondly of her whenever I drink it. Here's to you, my dear, to all our failings and our triumphs. -- Colonel J.R. Harmon, Ret.

Tasting Roster:
The Masked Drinker
Faux-Bee June (your author)

The Pet
Fräulein N

It should be noted that there is another cocktail that goes by the name of “The Brown Derby.” This is not that cocktail. This is this cocktail:

Two Ounces Dark Run
One Ounce Lime Juice
One Teaspoon Maple Syrup

As usual, we mixed a small number of cocktails and divvied them up into smaller rocks glasses for the tasting.

For the first time in an HCAR tasting, every single person agreed whole-heartedly that the drink in question was quite enjoyable, and would likely be enjoyed again and again. Among the characteristics that were unanimously agreed on: The smooth finish, and light (not overpowering) rum flavor. Three of (us, myself, the Masked Drinker and Fräulein N) ventured into the tasting with a bit of hesitation about sipping a rum based cocktail. We were all pleasantly surprised that the rum really did not impose itself, nor did it leave the syrupy aftertaste we dreaded, in fact the MD thought the rum added an agreeable “heartiness” .

Rachel noted that the lime and maple syrup complimented each other. Ladyboy agreed that “the maple and lime are alternately dominant.” Sara noted that it was “sweet, but not too sweet.” The Pet and I were equally charmed by the maple syrup aftertaste which was, once again, not too overpowering, and not at all (shockingly) “syrupy.”

We all agreed that the drink was likely to be enjoyed by a wide variety of drinkers, even those not normally given to ordering cocktails. Ladyboy felt that it is not a drink that “requires a particular drinking style or encourages specific associations,” and Sara said that “It’s a cocktail for someone who doesn’t normally order cocktails,” although it was widely accepted that a few would suffice, and the drink might not stand up as the only drink of the night, if one were in it for the long haul.

The tasters mentioned in equal numbers that The Brown Derby could be enjoyed in the summer, on the beach with a funny little umbrella in it, and in the winter, cozied up in front of a nice wood burning fire place with one of those zigzag afghans that your great aunt crotched.

The range of ideas for improvement ran from “my glass would be bigger” (Sara, echoed by the Pet) to the idea of a pork garnish, by the Masked Drinker. (His interest in savory garnishes might not have anything to do with the fact that he recently reported on the Bacon and Bourbon Expo.) I couldn’t come up with a bit more than a sprig of mint for improvement, although Fräulein N’s suggestion of a splash of soda water sounded like it might cut the sweetness just that much more to appease my palate. She also mentioned that she would like to try it with maple sugar instead of maple syrup, which was suggested in the recipe, although the syrup texture pleased her as well. On the maple angle, Rachel admitted that she had previously enjoyed the recipe “kick[ed] up at least 10 notches” with the use of “a special high grade maple syrup that was aged in bourbon barrels” which (while the HCAR offices don’t currently stock it) just might make the shopping list.

Ladyboy was interested in seeing if it would work as a warm cocktail, but we dissolved into round two before testing the hypothesis.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Masked Drinker's Guide to the Astor Center Bourbon and Bacon Expo

Ladies and gentlemen, this past week I enjoyed a little slice of paradise. As if by astral projection, I found myself in a place beyond the pleasures of we mortal ken. Valhalla, the Elysian Fields, Heaven, Nirvana (yes, I know that one doesn’t really fit, shut up you pedant)--they all have a new companion, a new equivalent: the Bacon and Bourbon Expo at Astor Center in Manhattan.

I signed up for the Center’s mailing list years ago and consequently, as I have with all other things I sign up for, ignored everything they sent me. That is until last month when I saw those two magical, lovely words in a subject heading. Either one would have given me pause. But both? Holy fucking shit. I was in.

As I strolled up to the event, there was a line out the door. In a moment of panic I nearly began pummeling those more timely attendees ahead of me, but then I noticed the line was moving at a brisk pace. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I had tried to keep my hopes reasonable. I needn’t have, because the night was better than my meager mind could have imagined.

I walked around in awe, the smell of bacon thick in the air like an aphrodisiac for my mouth. Many brands of whiskeys and bourbons had stations set up for tastings. It was about at this moment that I ran into fellow staffer Ladyboy. Nearly overwhelmed by the surroundings and sensations, we banded together as a Two Man Team of Awesome. We first went to the table staffed by some folks from New York’s most famous secret cocktail-and-hot-dog speakeasy, PDT. They had previously infused some bottles of Four Roses bourbon with bacon and were pouring samples of a Bacon Old Fashioned. Maple syrup subbed in for sweet vermouth and it was pretty fucking delicious. We agreed it was a perfect way to start the evening.

Just then two plates of bacon passed by and we pounced upon them like hungry lions on the African plain. The first was a simple applewood from D’artangan with a nice sweetness laced in with the familiar savory base. Ladyboy scoffed a bit at the next offering, an uncured wild boar bacon. Our smirks ended as soon as those lovely bits of fried boar fat crossed our tongues. The fat in the bacon was smoother and creamier than any bacon I’ve ever had, and yet gave no lingering feeling of greasy regret.

We switched back to bourbon at this point and decided to start at what we figured was the bottom of the ladder. Wild Turkey isn’t a brand that you hear about much once you’re out of school. Once you can afford a bourbon that a) tastes nice, b) doesn’t punch your tongue with hate, and c) still is quite potent, you kind of leave Turkey aside for desperate times, like airport bars with no other choice. Well, the brand had brought their more upscale products and who am I to turn down free bourbon? We started, as recommended, with the American Spirit. A step up from old 101 (“Kickin’ chicken,” as we called in back in Kentucky, “it’ll put your dick in the dirt.”), it still had a strong, bitter start and the familiar sweeter tones of bourbon never dropped by. To me, it seemed more like a straight whiskey than a bourbon. Next we sampled the Rare Breed. This was definitely a step up, with that sweetness finally showing through yet still quite strong. We decided to wait to sample the American Honey, which the friendly rep described as a “dessert drink.”

Whiskey palettes sufficiently aroused (is Wild Turkey the fluffer of the nice bourbon tasting world?), we moved on to the Tuthilltown Spirits table. The charming rep at this table did little, unfortunately, to alleviate my natural suspicion of bourbons not made in Kentucky. People, my home state has very little over which it can be proud. Has there ever been a sports highlight reel without that goddam last minute shot Christian Laetner made at the NCAA finals? Basically we have the Derby and we have bourbon. So forgive me if I seem a bit proprietary here. Anyway, we started with the corn whiskey which is sweet and basically exactly what you’d expect: a commercial, nicer moonshine. Ladyboy remarked that it smelled more like tequila and he’s not off-base. Shine’s a purer whiskey, clear an without oak or caramel character. Their Baby Bourbon was next and you’ll forgive me for describing it as immature. It had the characteristic tastes of bourbon, but they weren’t rounded or fully formed. This was probably my least favorite bourbon of the night. Their Four Grain Bourbon was a marked improvement, but one I still eye with xenophobic caution.

I must interject with something amazing I heard at this point in the evening. A middle-aged couple in front of us at the Tuthilltown stand conversed with the rep. At one point the woman said, “Yes, we attend ALL the rum events.” How many rum events are there? Are they nautical by nature? We from the World of Whiskey are frightened and weary of these Rum Folk. Have we any rum people in our readership here? Perhaps we can learn from each other and forestall the imminent Booze Wars.

Actually, the crowd at this event was pretty weird. It was a definite odd mix of people. There were two or three groups of pressed-shirt middle-aged douchebags. You know the guys, they chew on cigars in public and learn about scotch so they can talk about scotch with other douchebags who learned about scotch to talk about scotch. They had a decent showing. Then there was the segment that looked more like the audience for a Weezer concert. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that nerdy white guys and their Asian girlfriends can find common ground in booze and pork-based products, but it took some getting used-to.

At this point, a talk was about to begin in the classroom. We moseyed on over and stood in the back. A few more bacons were passed around including a Hickory smoked number Ladyboy described as “hamtastic” for its sweet, glazed-ham flavor. A poem was read, the real meaning of “uncured” was revealed. (Apparently if it’s marked “uncured” bacon is still cured; but the government only recognizes select, very artificial methods of doing so. “Un”cured bacon is cured, but in a more natural, better way.) Pitmaster Scott Smith of R.U.B. in Chelsea talked about how he cures his own pork belly slabs and makes a deep fried bacon appetizer out of it. While that slab was beautiful and the appetizer sounded amazing, most of my attention was focused on the thick-cut wonder pictured here in full Captain-Kirk-looks-at-a-hot-alien fuzziness. That and the Evan Williams single barrel being passed around . . .who knew Evan Williams made something good?

As some woman in the audience then started to argue with the host about the proper pan to fry bacon in, Ladyboy and I escaped the room to sample more whiskeys. I made a beeline for the Buffalo Trace table. They make my absolute favorite bourbon, George T. Stagg. And while they didn’t have it that night (hell, it’s hard to find in the best liquor stores in New York, so limited is the batch), I had been wanting to try their other offerings. The actual Buffalo Trace bourbon was very tasty, probably the best straight bourbon I had all night. The vanilla undertones complimented rather than contrasted the sharpness from the high alcohol content. It really was like Stagg’s younger brother. The Eagle Reserve, however, was a bit disappointing. It fell flat . . .it’s definitely a nice bourbon, but I should perhaps have tried it before the Trace.

Our last table of whiskeys for the night were actually not bourbons at all. Frankly, I’d avoided it all night but was now at the point where I was brave enough to try. See, I can recognize other good whiskeys. I’ve had a scotch or two I could tell was just fantastic. But I didn’t like it. I’ve had so much bourbon for so long that other whiskeys just taste . . .off to me. So close and yet not quite there. But, hey, what the hell. I’d recently found a mixed drink involving Rittenhouse so how bad could their table be?

We first tried a real oddity, the Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. This was a weird whiskey, let me tell you. I’m sure it has its fans, but it is not for me. There was a slight licorice flavor to the finish that really troubled me. Not my favorite flavor profile, that. So it was with no small amount of dread that I continued on to the Rittenhouse Rye. My dread faded as soon as it hit my tongue. This was a good whiskey. Ladyboy and I agreed there was a flavor we couldn’t place. “It’s definitely in my spice rack,” he said. Despite the mysterious flavor, we both enjoyed it quite a bit. It officially became the first non-bourbon whiskey I’ve ever liked enough to want more. Luckily, they also had their 23-Year aged rye. Whereas 23-year-old humans more often than not are simple, undeveloped, and annoying, apparently their rye equivalents are wise old masters, the sort that might teach Kwai Chang Caine how to walk on paper without wrinkling it. The flavor was complex with at least three layers, each quite delicious. The small sample we had wasn’t enough to quite discern each one, but I look forward to trying later on.

After the event ended, Ladyboy and I ended up going back to the office to get some reports and filing done. Well, and to have a couple of wind-down beers as well. Rachel was there, having been polishing up a Wine profile, and as we excitedly described our night to her it became clear just how magical the evening was. Bourbon and bacon are two things we sometimes take for granted; I mean, they’re almost always good enough. But when they’re great, a sublime enlightenment occurs. Bacon may have originated elsewhere and bourbon may just be adapted from Scots-Irish whiskeys but there was something beautifully American that night. The sort of America known not for supporting third-world despots, but for being where Batman, Snake-Eyes, and the A-Team can team up to help out a school besieged by zombies; later on, they have pancakes.

God bless America.

photos by the Masked Drinker

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Morning After, A Syrcls Brunch Review: N. 6th

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do when you wake up from a long (and possibly regrettable) night out is to get out of bed & cook yourself something awesome to make yourself feel more human again. At least for people like me, who pretty much don’t cook at all, going out to brunch is pretty much your best friend. So that’s why I’m here: to share my tales of urban brunching— tales of caution, and/or tales of awesome.

After a, for some reason, long night of going to see Tim & Eric, and then watching one part of documentary Make ‘Em Laugh (despite the lame subway advertising campaign) and drinking tons of cheap beer, me & my roommate were jonesing for some
Roebling Tea Room or The Lodge. On the way, walking Northwest on Metropolitan in the crazy freezing 20 degree weather, we spied a cool vintage shop called 10 ft. Single (vintage surfboards in the window) on that weird corner where N. 6th splits off, right across the BQE, near Havermeyer. It reminded me that I had never been to the place located on the opposite corner, appropriately called N. 6th. Okay, we were kind of also attracted to it because a Playgirl van was parked in front, but anywho… We were the only ones in there for a while, even though it has a great location, and it was 12:30pm. The place isn’t heated especially well, as I definitely had to keep my heavy scarf on the whole time. I ordered a hot chocolate & OJ. I thought it was pretty cool that they serve even their non-alcoholic cold drinks in beer stein thingys. I have to say, though, that the hot chocolate was pretty “meh” and not even hot. Overall, however, I was pretty satisfied with the variety offered on the menu.

The waitress was especially friendly, and from San Diego (where I’m from), and helped me make up my mind between the various things I had picked out that looked good to me. It was between the French Toast, Zucchini Pie, Artichoke Pie, and Mozzarella/Tomato/Basil/Pesto panini. I went with the Artichoke pie, served with greens, and my roommate got the scrambled eggs with a goat cheese, mushroom, and truffle oil crostini.

When I initially got served, I had doubts that the small wedge and side of greens would be enough to satisfy me. The Artichoke pie is less like a quiche (as the Zucchini Pie was said to be), and more like a…uhhh….pie. It was pretty rich: mix of mozzarella, artichoke hearts, and flaky, buttery pie crust. The f
abulous crust was really the key element that that balanced out the richness, aside from the portion size. My roommate’s crostini was much tastier in the sense that it had a stronger flavor, though I really did enjoy the pie. However, I do disproportionately favor things with truffle oil in pretty much all situations.

N. 6th, like many places in Brooklyn, are cash only, but have an ATM inside. This came in handy, when we stopped by 10 ft. Single on the way back home, where I purchased an awesome sweater with seagulls on it, wearing sea captain’s hats. It’s definitely one of those rare places that have a huge space, and carry a combination of really nice vintage pieces and low-priced normal thrift store type stuff.

Anyway, getting back to the restaurant, though I was skeptical about the portion of the dish I had, and I definitely wanted more after I finished, I think the portioning was actually done wisely, as I probably would’ve felt gross had I eaten more. Though the venue itself and the hot chocolate was inexplicably cold, if this place played one of those weird games at the movie theatres where you pull a lever & it rates your “love level” or whatever, it would be “Red Hot Lover.” That certainly was a lot of build up for that lame of a joke. Oh well, you get the picture.

Photos by

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pegu Club Tasting

One of our more enjoyable tasks at the HCAR offices is cocktail tasting and testing. Recently, to bring a new life to the exploration we were sent a tattered copy of Patrick Gavin Duffy's The Standard Bartender's Guide by our sponsor and superior, Colonel J.R. Harmon. The drinks within hearken back to days when Galliano flowed the streets like gold, and requesting a Wild Turkey Mist with a Twist, would not yank forth looks of disdain from your bartender.

This week the office tasting was on Superbowl Sunday, and so we had many guests stop in. Ladyboy and Rachel made chili, the Masked Drinker donned his mask and shortly before Bruce Springsteen attached his balls to the camera, we sipped The Pegu Club.

Tasting Roster:
The Masked Drinker
Faux-Bee June (your author)

The Pet
Fraulein N

Two Parts Gin
One Part Curacao
Splash of Lime Juice
2 Dashes Bitters

As usual, we mixed a small number of cocktails (in this case, three) and divvied them up into smaller rocks glasses for the tasting. We used Beefeater Gin, and instead of curacao we used Cointreau.

Curacao, incidentally, is a liquor from the Island of Curacao off the Venezuelan coast. When the Spanish brought Valencia Oranges, the oranges failed to grow properly and the surviving trees produced a fruit now called the lahara citrus. This citrus is a major component in the flavor of traditional Curacao, though it is often simply made with orange. The blue color of Curacao is food coloring added to make the initially colorless drink look exotic. On the mass market, Curacao and Triple Sec are very similar, and since the HCAR offices didn’t have any traditional, high end Curacao available, we decided that Cointreau – a popular brand of Triple Sec – would better suit the drink than the taste of blue food coloring and artificial citrus.

The majority of the tasters did not know the ingredients or recipe prior to tasting.

The large size of the group arranged for a wide variety of responses. In general, the taste profile was agreed upon, and, in the area of improvement, many people had similar thoughts. But there was a large polarity when it came to the overall view of what place people thought the drink should hold in the umbrella culture of cocktails, which we I will explore after our initial discussion.

First impressions didn’t always match the end result, it seemed. Cleopatra was given the most strait forward impression, stating that it tasted like lime and gin, and was a suitable sipping drink. Sycrls and The Pet (both notorious for not liking to taste alcohol in their spirits) said, respectively, that it tasted “like rubbing alcohol and lemonade” and “like a medicine I was given as a child.” Nonetheless they both agreed, (along with IamanIndian, who had similar misgivings at first) that it grew on them, and was “not so bad by the third sip.” Which is also nothing startling considering that the main ingredient, gin, as long been considered an acquired taste.

Russell thought that it was similar to a margarita, which it is, and thought that if any change were necessary it would be to “take out the gin and add tequila. – Oh, and put salt on the rim of the glass.”

It is no surprise, given the comparison to a margarita, that most people would have liked to see a bit of sweetness added. IamanIndian mentioned simple syrup or orange juice, which LP and Lacroix echoed. JPMaxMan and I thought that more cointreau would have done the trick, but since that’s pretty much orange flavored simple syrup, there was little to argue.

From here we moved on to discuss whom we thought might be most likely to enjoy this drink, (pre-revision, of course).

For my own part, I’d like to mention that my first response was that it was not overtly masculine or feminine, and could be enjoyed by anyone at a cocktail party. I was very, very wrong.

The split went like this:

The women in the group tended to argue that it was a “Ladies Drink.” LP said it should be served by “Ladies on a Ladies Nite in the summer.” Fraulein N agreed, naming it “spiked ginger ale” but also saying that she wouldn’t be likely to order more than one. IamanIndian was a little harsher; she strayed from the category of “ladies” but argued that it would be the kind of drink that Mrs. Krabapple on the Simpsons might indulge in. Lacroix was the only one of the women to argue that, perhaps, it would be better suited for her grandfather’s palate, which is what most of the men would echo.

Running on the assumption that the Masked Drinker is a man, he felt it was for “A man in seersucker. He has a goal in life. He will meet it.” JPMaxMan would serve it to Lord Byron, while Juicy was a bit more flexible in his listing, stating that his uncle, Santa Claus, lumberjacks and Eskimos would be included in the target market.

The Masked Drinker and I, both being devout whisky drinkers and usually disgusted by gin, were both pleasantly surprised, agreeing that it would definitely be something to try again, but Juicy seemed to sum up the groups sentiments best. “This goes into the same category as a hot toddy. It has its place.”

All in all, this drink may demand a re-visit if not primarily because it does not contain a whole raw egg.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

One of our own spreads his fame

The masked one is too shy to brag, it would seem, but he has been interviewed and profiled at another place of good readings on this internet machine. Read it and know his secrets, lest he sneak up and attack. That is called intelligence.

Yours truly,

The Colonel

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Masked Drinker's Guide to Drinking in Bars in Which You Do Not Belong

Recently I've found great delight in a sub-genre of the drinking life. I've always enjoyed finding and walking into a random bar I've never seen. It's not always the greatest bar ever, but you're guaranteed at least one decent story, even if it ends, like every story from my high school years did, with the phrase, "and then we ran away."

Little did I know the thrill of taking this just one step further: bars in which you simply do not belong. You know them . . .you walk in and it is as if a needle scratches off a record. All eyes on you like a stranger in some old west saloon.

Now I don't mind saying, my first few times doing this, it scared the masked crap out of me. But after a few successes, I realized how much fun it was—I guess it's as close to my weak-stomached self can get to enjoying a roller coaster.

The reasons behind my out-of-placeness varies, but generally it is because I am "other." Other nationality, other race, other culture, other orientation, other gender, other age . . .you get the point. Like on the Electric Company, one of these things is not like the other.
Whether it's been an old mafia bar in Williamsburg, a Mexican salsa dive in Bushwick, a lesbian bar in the east village, or an old man speakeasy in Appalachia or anything else out there, the same method of becoming accepted has worked every time. So this week's Masked Drinker's guide is How to Go to Bars in Which You Do Not Belong.

Step one: walk straight to the bar. I won't lie—with every eye on you you're going to want to turn tail. Don't. Walk straight to the bar and sit down. Don't go to a table, no one wants to waitress for your alien ass.

Step two: order quickly and decisively. As to what you should order, look at the folks around you. Get the beer they're drinking. I don't give a shit if you hate Bud or Corona or whatever, get it anyway. You do not want to be the asshole asking for a goddam microbrew beer.
Step two-point-five: order a shot with your beer. No purple nurples or kamikazee's or other mixed drink shots. Make it easy on the bartender. Whiskey, tequila, vodka. Ordering a shot straight off shows you mean business. Real drinkers will take note, and you're one step closer to acceptance. If you want to go full bore, down the shot and order a second for sipping.

Step three: tip immediately. This might not be commonplace at the bar, but either way you let your tender know you're taking care of him/her. Don't overtip, though. No one wants a show off. A buck or two per drink is perfect.

Step four: listen. What's the tenor of the conversations going on? Baseball debate? Work woes? Raunchy jokes? Pay attention without being a creepy eavesdropper. Get the mood of the joint and basic personalities of the inhabitants.

Step five: talk. Throw something into the conversation if possible and appropriate. Crack a joke about something on the TV or juke. Whatever you do, just make sure it's funny and slightly self-deprecating. Establishes you as a fun person who isn't stuck up their own ass.

Step six: do not force it. Try joining in or talking no more than twice per visit. Sometimes the natives take longer to warm up than others, but the last thing you want to be is the annoying pest that keeps bugging everyone. Just wait and try again next time. I've never had to do this more than three times, and usually one will do.

Step seven: regardless of your reception, stay a while. Get at least two more rounds. If you've struck up a conversation with someone, buy them a round. This might seem like base bribery, but, hey, if it works . . .

Step eight: come back. Let them see you're not just a one-shot drinker who walked into the wrong place and acted like it wasn't a mistake (honestly, that's how this all got started). Come back within the next week and repeat the previous steps. Hopefully you'll see some of the same patrons or staff members. You're well on your way. Note, though, that you should be doing this alone. Bars in which you do not belong might accept you, but they don't want to feel like you and your asshole friends are going to take over. Once you're accepted, you can bring a friend or two over from time to time, but don't lead off with that.

There you have it, folks. Eight simple steps to making yourself at home in a bar where you're supposedly out-of-place. In today's increasingly tribal times, it's good to break through these barriers and get drunk with people who don't look or act just like you. Somebody get me the Nobel Peace Prize for Drinking now. I want it.

photos taken from internet

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This One's On Me: The Apologetic Bartender

Bartenders make mistakes. Some more than others, some fairly minor, some quite explainable. Life goes on, people get their drinks and an occasional bad review gets posted on the Internet somewhere.

Sometimes, however, a bartender makes a mistake so dire that it causes them to go against their bartender ethics. For these, we must repent.

One recent evening, as I was looking forward to wrapping up my shift, I noticed that a fellow was returning to the bar for his third pint of the evening. I have the luxury of being able to offer people a drink on the house at or around their forth drink. This is the buy back, and it’s no mythical creature, as some presume. It doesn’t exist at all bars in New York, as it is said to have in the past, and it is a discretionary gift from an attentive bartender where it does. I am unapologetic for those occasions when I miscalculate, when I misestimate the members of a group who are buying. In short, I do not feel bad if I forget to give you a buy back, it is a luxury extended to my by the owners of my bar, and it is my prerogative.

I did, however, make the ultimate blunder, for which I must now confess. The gentleman in question was a foreign chap. Possibly German, but possibly from an entirely different region of the earth, we only exchanged basic pleasantries and the name of his desired beer. His hair reached his shoulders and was a bit scraggly. By the time he came up for his third beer, it was clear that he either had been living in some part of the States for a while or had miraculously managed to read the section in the Rough Guide that covers gratuity. He had been leaving a perfectly appropriate dollar a beer and a genuine “thank you.” So I resolved that, should he return for a forth, I must remember to buy him his drink.

The bar became busier, and the number of long, scraggly hair wearers increased (the bar I tend is in a part of town where men take the occasion to wear their hair in this manner. There was probably a lot of confusion due to plaid, as well.) When our soon to be slighted friend returned, I was pleased that I remembered him and happily informed him that he need not pay for his drink. He, it seemed, was unfamiliar with the buy back process, was quite thankful, and asked me if I was sure twice. Again he left me a dollar tip, and very generous “thank yous.” So it only occurred to me after I had served a number of plaid wearing, long haired men that perhaps I had inadvertently bought someone’s first drink. Perhaps our foreign fellow was still sitting in the back, with his third beer. Perhaps I had bought back the wrong drink.

The thought of having bought some unassuming person’s first drink annoyed me a bit. There are only two reasons a female bartender would buy a strange male’s first drink. I do not find the scraggly/plaid look particularly attractive, and I am perfectly capable of paying my rent without using my boss’s alcohol reserves as an ATM machine. Nonetheless, mistakes do happen, so I carried on.

But it wore at me that perhaps this nice foreign fellow was going to go all night now with out a drink on the house. He’d have to drink eight or ten beers before he’d be up for another one, and by then my shift would be long over. I became consumed.

When he returned and ordered afresh, I put on my repentant face and as I handed him his next beer asked him if I’d bought him his last. He looked a bit confused, so I stuttered, mumbled, felt quite foolish I just, um, wanted to know if I got you you’re last beer, I’m, it’s busy… Suddenly I could see that something dawned on him. He said yes, and thanked me again. I picked up the ten-dollar bill he’d left on the bar, and by the time I turned around with his change he was gone.

I left the change under a coaster near where he ordered, and to my relief, he soon came back past the bar towards the bathroom, but when I tried to hand him his change he refused and looked down, embarrassed. My mission to show appreciation for a friendly, if not uninitiated, drinker was botched. I had inadvertently taken on the role of the greedy bartender and utterly failed at introducing someone to the simple kinship of the buy back.

Photograph from the Internet


Monday, February 2, 2009

Rachel's Style Profile: Tempranillo

Tempranillo is referred to as Spain’s “Noble Grape.”The word tempranillo literally means “little early one.”This seems quite appropriate considering the grape’s short growing season and early ripening tendency. With Spain being the world’s third largest producer of wine, Rioja being its most famous wine, and Tempranillo being the primary grape in Rioja, one can easily see the importance of this grape to Spanish winemakers. Tempranillo is grown primarily in the Rioja Alta and Ribera del Duero regions of Spain. Although traditionally Tempranillo is blended with other varietals such as Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo, and Graciano, recently we are seeing a surge of pure Tempranillo wines coming out of the woodwork. As its popularity increases, Tempranillo is now being grown in California, Australia, and South America.

What I love about Tempranillo is that when it’s pure, it’s BIG and BOLD. Think of it as Spain’s answer to Cabernet. Tempranillo is medium to full bodied and rich. You get hints of dark fruit, such as cherries and plums, tobacco, leather, strawberries, and herbs. Higher end Tempranillos are aged in oak barrels, so there’s often an oaky presence going on as well. Tempranillo is higher in acidity and lower in alcohol content.You can easily sip it just for the sake of enjoying its complexity, or it makes a great pairing with food. I think it makes an excellent companion to steak or lamb, and you can never go wrong with Tempranillo if you’re enjoying some traditional Spanish tapas.

So yeah, it may be cold--that kind of non-motivating, debilitating, couch ridden, order everything delivery, so as not to leave the house COLD, but there’s nothing like curling up on the couch with a big glass of wine and avoiding it all.

The Morning After, A Syrcls Brunch Review: Snowshed Lodge Cafeteria

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do when you wake up from a long (and possibly regrettable) night out is to get out of bed & cook yourself something awesome to make yourself feel more human again. At least for people like me, who pretty much don’t cook at all, going out to brunch is pretty much your best friend. So that’s why I’m here: to share my tales of urban brunching— tales of caution, and/or tales of awesome.

This past weekend, I went on a group ski/snowboarding trip to Killington, VT. So, technically, this isn’t an “urban brunch” post, but I felt the need to share this. After all, sometimes, we take some things for granted living in major metropolitan cities.

It’s not that I was expecting a ski lodge cafeteria to seriously be up to the standards of a brunch at a restaurant, but I guess I just was expecting the food to be edible. To be fair, the bagel I had was okay. Though, honestly, how do you fuck up a bagel?

I miraculously stuck to a vegetarian diet this weekend, despite the fact that, if you’re a vegetarian and go skiing, it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to find anything without meat of any kind. Everything is chili, steak, burgers, etc. etc. And for breakfast/brunch, everything was eggs, sausage, bacon, etc. Even the so-called “Mountain Muffin” was filled with meat. So this is why I opted for a bagel, a side of home fries, and an orange juice.

The prices were obviously a complete rip-off, which was to be expected at a resort, but honestly, the $3 I was forced to shell out for the worst so-called home fries in the history of humanity was possibly on par with getting mugged for $40 a few months ago— at least on a “why me?” level. When the girl at the counter was SCRAPING these flake remnants of what I can only assume were potatoes and bell peppers on to my plate, from one of those metal containers heated from underneath, I didn’t have the heart to tell her to stop. She was, for lack of a better descriptor, probably mentally challenged, so I felt kind of bad ordering her to do anything.

So I paid about $10 for the whole thing, though it was fairly obvious at that point that I would probably break my jaw if I attempted to chew one of these shredded, charred pieces of “home fries.” However, my roommate was unconvinced. He took my plate, slathered ketchup all over the place, took one bite, and looked like he was going to keel over. I was “for reals” legitimately concerned that he might’ve chipped a tooth. He then attempted to get my money back, which I think was a little excessive, but then again, I would go to great lengths to avoid food/server/cashier confrontations of that kind, because I’m kind of a pussy like that. Plus, I feel like you kind of take a risk when you buy food, and you just kind of have to be prepared for that stuff. I mean, it wasn’t the mentally challenged counter girl or Italian cashier’s fault that the quality of lodge food can sometimes be horrendous.

We didn’t get my money back, mostly because the cashier was Italian and didn’t really understand what my roommate was saying. I guess it could’ve been worse…I could’ve gotten bad meat. Right? At least that tainted peanut butter going around hasn’t made its way to me as far as I know.

Oh, also, there was this waffle hut I found the next day outside the lodge, more by the actual skiing area, that had amazing Belgian-style hand-held sugar waffles. I was about to not get one, because I was afraid it would make me late to return my skis. But I got it anyway… and never looked back. Moral of the story: ALWAYS get the waffle. Always.

Fun and semi-unrelated alcohol fact: there is a beer store just outside the Killington resort that sells nice ales. I got a LaChouffe ale that I had all to myself, because for some inexplicable reason, everyone was more interested in drinking Bud Light. But that’s another story. Whatevs, more for me!

Photos from the Internet