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Sometimes, social anxiety soothing is necessary.

20 Dec Hello! I'm on the left! The Washington Monument is to the right, not pictured.

Last night, We Were Pirates played a show at the W Hotel’s POV Lounge. It was a different kind of show than usual, in a different (classy! except for when people get stabbed I guess) venue, and I don’t really get nervous about shows, but I was pretty anxious last night before we went on. Then some more friends arrived and I realized I needed a drink. I wasn’t really drinking because we wanted to be sure to have a stellar performance, but it was at this point that I also realized that needing a drink does not: a) automatically make you an alcoholic, or b) always have to end in sloppy drunkenness.

So (I did that thing where you start a sentence with “So,” which is apparently all over social media and such) I sidled up to the bar with my friends and tried to figure out what to drink. My drink special choices were $5.50 Miller Genuine Drafts (not a bad beer – I’ll always have a soft spot for it because it’s the first beer I drank at a college party where I was like, “Oh, wait, I have stepped over a line. Beer is not awful. I could actually decide to drink this and enjoy it.”) and $8 “Cherry Manhattans” which… yeah. I had a sip of someone’s and it was like those chocolate cherries filled with medicinal liqueur. Although someone else bought me one after the show and it strangely was not as foul. And then I realized we had a band tab, and I could get whatever I wanted for free, so I asked the magic words:

“What do you have for scotch?”

That, my friends, is when at the end of a long list of sundries, I parroted, “Yes. Lagavulin.” Because I know some people who like that stuff. I also know myself well enough to know that I needed two rocks in it. And upon my first sip or two, all anxiety vanished, and then we played a ridiculously good show. I took occasional sips between songs, which was amazing and not like chugging beer or guzzling a Jack and ginger with a straw, which is what I’m ashamed to admit I usually do between songs. Repeat mantra: Needing a drink does not always have to end in sloppy drunkenness. Drinking is okay. Sometimes it’s more than okay; it’s necessary. And I am totally okay with that.

Rating:
Deliciousness: **** (add or subtract one star depending on whether you, you know, actually LIKE scotch)
Social Anxiety Soothing: *****
Table Dancing Probability: 50% (Depends on the venue. At the POV Lounge, the people watching is so good, there’s no need for you to actually dance. And no, I don’t mean there were fancy famous people there like we’ve all been led to believe. I mean there were lots of drunk people sloppily making out and bumping and grinding on the dance floor and climbing onto the windowsills and making silly poses with the Washington Monument. So you just leave the table dancing to that crowd, why don’tcha.)

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The best beer I’d never noticed

25 Aug

Kate and I drank these Tsingtao beers and ate hot pot and were hungover the next morning…from the hot pot.

20130825-085846.jpg

Melanie and Kate tested, Jesse approved.

I’m finding myself really attracted to crisp, light lager-type beers lately. I think it’s the oppressive end-of-summer heat (although the night pictured was distinctly autumnal). Or maybe it’s the heavy food I’m gravitating toward right now. Either way, all I really want to drink is something light and beery that won’t make me think too much about flavor profiles or hoppiness or mouthfeel. I want it to be there, in a bottle or a glass, to wash down the scallop and noodles that I’ve just cooked in boiling chili oil with Sichuan flower pepper and dunked in sesame-peanut-chili-soy-scallion-garlic sauce. Tsingtao does this with aplomb.

Rating:
Deliciousness: ****
Social Anxiety Soothing: *
Table Dancing Probability: 1% (You try dancing on a table with a giant well of boiling chili oil in the middle of it.)

It’s not always just about booze. It’s about foodz, tooz.

14 Jul

Isn’t this pretty self-explanatory?

So it’s Bastille Day tomorrow. In like a few minutes, to be exact. And I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get French food and copious wine tomorrow, so, you know, I thought that I should seek that shit out tonight.This led to my hubs and I having our #1 fight conversation, “Where should we have dinner?” Or, more specifically, “Where the fuck can we find a decent French restaurant around these parts?” Because really, if you don’t want to go downtown to Bistrot du Coin or even Bistro Francais in brotown (open ’til 4am!) or someplace fancier and less traditional like Brasserie Beck or Marcel’s or wherever, you’ve got to look at what’s available in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax County, and pick something that doesn’t suck.

The problem is, I’m not so sure there IS a place that doesn’t suck. Past experiences include:

  • Le Gaulois, Old Town Alexandria. The best restaurant ever, now CLOSED. There shall be no equal.
  • Bistrot Lafayette, Old Town Alexandria. Awesome when I went there with my dad in like 2003. Not awesome when hubs and I went there last year (funky mussels).
  • Le Côte d’Or, Arlington/East Falls Church. Traditional, great location, and quality is fine but $$$, full of old people who get angry when anyone under the age of 50 walks in, and just not the kind of place we look forward to going to frequently for whatever reason.
  • Chez Andree, Arlandria. Traditional, okay quality, and I used to go here with my dad, but… I don’t know. Maybe I’m really not looking for a place THIS traditional

And sadly, folks, that’s about it. There are literally no other French restaurants in Arlington (I’m not counting gastropubs with mostly Belgian fare, etc. like Lyon Hall… it just doesn’t FEEL the same as what we’re looking for) or Falls Church. There are a handful in Old Town but they seem to be pretty expensive and we frankly don’t go there a lot if we’re not headed to a sure thing. I *almost* settled on a place in northern Old Town for tonight but decided it was maybe a little fancier than we were looking for. For chrissakes, I’m wearing a t-shirt.

So we were torn between trying out Cafe Renaissance in Vienna, which has high marks in the online rating world but seemed a bit fancy/stuffy, and a new place in McLean called Bistro Vivant that seemed more like what we were looking for and was also highly rated, if for only having been around for two months or so. And besides, Cafe Renaissance had pasta and some other weird stuff on the menu that I really wasn’t expecting. So, Bistro Vivant it was!

Bad sign #1: Menus still marked as “coming soon” on their website. And you had to load PDFs just to read those words, rather than them just replacing the links with “coming soon” text.

Bad sign #2: This place is in a strip mall and took over a barbecue joint that hubs had been to before. He enjoyed the barbecue.

Good sign #1: Takes reservations on OpenTable. God, I love OpenTable.

Good sign #2: Charming bistro atmosphere.

Good sign #3: Sea urchin on the Daily Specials menu.

I’m getting really tired now, because it was an incredibly heavy meal, so let me just be uncharacteristically brief and say that I came here to complain about spending over $100 on our first (and mayyyybe our last? we’re not sure yet) meal here. The steak tartare was good and a HUGE portion but a bit gristly. The fries were so-so. Jesse’s risotto with porcini mushrooms and sea urchin (how could you NOT get that?) was tasty but the butter kept pooling in the bottom of the bowl. He was pretty convinced there was over a stick of butter in his entree alone. Our server was nice and knowledgeable and si si charmant and all those important things, though the service was a bit slow.

But the wine. My friends, the wine is why I’m so pissed.

We were going to order a half carafe of the pinot noir. At $15, it seemed very reasonable. Our charming, knowledgeable server promptly informed us that it would not nearly be enough, as it was about 1.5 glasses (the glasses were priced at $10). The full carafe was twice the price exactly at $30. We were brought full-sized wine glasses, and then the carafe came out. It was the size of a smallish water glass.

Now, I was really hungry before this meal, and I dove into the wine, so that’s why my eyelids are all heavy now and I have actually felt the way that one expects to feel after drinking a very small 1.5 glasses of wine, which is to say relatively pleasant but certainly not buzzed. But even the pleasant feelings wore off as we drove home and I started to analyze the quality of everything we had and how much we paid for it and I started to get really mad. And that’s when I found out that my normally very even-tempered husband was mad as hell too. We could’ve gone to Lebanese Taverna and had a full bottle of wine and some to bring home with us and totally gorged ourselves, albeit on Lebanese and not French fare, but that was the second runner-up for me earlier this evening while we were trying to decide where to go, and FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS blah blah blah but THAT’S HOW I FEEL! (credit: Mike Birbiglia’s wife)

But now that NyQuil commercial is on, the one that’s not for NyQuil but for ZzzQuil, and I feel better because I can’t believe Hibernol finally exists. Maybe next time I should just grab some ZzzQuil and hope to have dreams about eating a delicious French meal for a two-digit price tag.

Happy Bastille Day, y’all.

Magic Hat Numero Nerrrrrf

26 Oct

Oh, Love Potion Magic Hat #9. You are an excellent movie beer. I first saw tasted you at my mother’s house DC9 Nightclub in 1993 2004, I believe. My favorite thing about you is Sandra Bullock’s fake mustache your refreshing apricot flavor, which I actually just REALLY noticed for the first time very recently after the movie unexpectedly came on an obscure cable channel at a late hour drinking a bottle of Yuengling first, then drinking this delicious elixir immediately after.

Okay, but seriously, enough of that nonsense. I knew this beer was good, and I knew it had some apricot “notes” or whatever I’m supposed to say here, but I never really noticed until drinking it right after drinking Yuengling. Don’t get me wrong; I love Yuengling. I love it because it is cheap and available and offered to band members presenting drink tickets at the bar at DC9 and many other fine establishments that have live music. At DC9, however, Magic Hat #9 is $5.50 per bottle, which puts you fitty cent over the allowed spending limit for drink tickets. Can’t you just turn in a drink ticket and fitty cent and be good to go, you might be asking? No, no you cannot. That is AGAINST THE RULES. So what you do is you drink two Yuenglings because you get two drink tickets (or in my case you drink one Yuengling because you are not actually playing in any bands that night but you were given a drink ticket by a pregnant lady in one of the bands that is actually playing) and then you switch to Magic Hat #9 and are instantly refreshed. So then you drink two of those.

And then you switch to whiskey. And then you dance. You dance a lot. You jump up and down for at least one entire song, which is a lot of jumping. You twist and turn and mosh (because it’s 1994) and headbang (because it’s 1993) and skank (because it’s 1995), but you do not breakdance. You leave that to Erik Estrada (for real, this guy is having a baby with the pregnant lady in the band, and before lawyers find this and sue me for defaming him or whatever, it’s A DIFFERENT ERIK ESTRADA), because for him, it is 1986. And that was a good year for The Real Erik Estrada. I think. I dunno. I was six. I did watch CHiPS (is that how it’s spelled? I could ask the internet but I don’t want to), but I have no way of knowing if it was actually on at the time or just syndicated.

Rating:
Deliciousness: *****
Social Anxiety Soothing: ** (***** when followed up with Bushmills)
Table Dancing Probability: 0% (not enough tables)
Floor Dancing Probability: 88% (and then you are struck by lightning and transported back to the future)

DC9
I think I posted about it before, maybe
But if not you can Google the address
It’s on 9th just south of U St NW
It was closed for a while but it’s been open again for months
There was some controversy
If you don’t know about it, you should read about it
Also when you go there you should eat Ethiopian food first at Etete, which is basically next door
And maybe get your hairs cut at Salon Revive, which is where I get my hairs cut
Okay, when did this become free verse?

The truth is, I like cocktails.

6 Sep

So when I talk about “dressing my truth” (I am not even going to link to it…but I’ll go ahead and Google it for you: http://tinyurl.com/4444f7d), I am talking about dressing for cocktails.

As Mad Men tells us (and I know I believe everything that Don Draper says), there was a time in our country’s great history when people drank so much that the only way you could differentiate between during-work drinking and after-work drinking was by the outfits people were wearing.

Cocktail Attire

Gratuitous photo of me wearing a fancy dress and gloves and holding a martini (photo credit: KH--thanks, doll!)

Most days, I wholeheartedly believe that we, as a society, should still be doing this. I mean, maybe it’s better that we aren’t sipping Dewar’s on the rocks to get through that tough 2:00pm meeting, but we could definitely treat cocktail outings as dress-up occasions. This is how I feel when I think about the burgeoning (or fully-burgeoned, perhaps?) cocktail culture we have here in DC. For those who have not heard, craft bartending is kind of a big deal in this town. There are plenty of speakeasy-style cocktail joints here that you can visit if you want fresh exotic juices, house-infused specialty bitters, and perfectly cubic crystal clear ice cubes. There are also lots of regular old bars (usually tucked away in fine restaurants or hotels) with seasoned barmasters, all pushing the envelope with cocktail recipes as a matter of course.  

If there are so many people out there making beautiful cocktails, shouldn’t we be out there looking beautiful while we drink them?

Of course, this line of reasoning can lead straight to laments on the “casualization” of America (which is what we have to thank for this, this, and THIS) and/or to something even more esoteric, like the skirt and heels as the shackles of female subjugation. (I don’t make this shit up, people…it’s just something I may or may not have heard when I was in graduate school.)  

Then there are the days when I just want to drink in my Snuggie. I am aware that it would be considered gauche (at the very least) to take it out to bars, but there’s no earthly reason why I shouldn’t be able to throw my Snuggie on over my ratty jeans and old college t-shirt and use my warm-yet-mobile arms to mix a cocktail in the comfort of my own home. Right? Right?? Well, when I really think about it…if I’m going through the trouble of mixing something good, I should consider my home cocktail experience worthy of a little bit of style. I should bust out the nicer jeans, at least. Maybe throw a blazer on over the t-shirt. If I really wanted to wear the Snuggie, I could pop open a beer, or crack a bottle of reasonably-priced wine.

I know the conventional wisdom is to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. But in the case of beverages, I think you should always dress for the drink you are drinking. It’s not because anyone else will care (as one of my co-bloggers so astutely observed), but I do think that dressing up to drink becomes part of the enjoyment of said drink. For example, the martini I’m pictured with above is nowhere near even being in the running for the “best I’ve ever had” list. But I remember it because I was dressed up to drink it (and because the bartender I ordered it from somehow heard “dirty martini” as “three martinis”…I had to ask for extra olive juice, and well-dressed hijinks ensued).

So, what do you think?* Dressing for cocktails–yea or nay?

*(It’s brass balls, right there, to ask a question on a blog that doesn’t really have any readers yet. But I did it anyway. Oh yes I did.)

Champagne taste, Miller High Life/Mello Yello budget…

2 Sep

WHAT UP.

I’m the third musketeer in on this joint, hailing from the grand Colonial confines of Boston, Mass. It’s been a while since the silversmithing days of Paul Revere, but people get by. One if by land, two if by sea, and five makes the N.K.O.T.B.

Where was I… Oh, for the record, no. A lot of people don’t talk like Peter Griffin. They don’t all drink Pawtucket Pete, either. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the only folks in tricornered hats and lobster bibs are the tourists. It’s mighty difficult to actually find a parking space for one’s cah ovah in Hahvihd Yahd. Ya can get theyah from heyah, but you’d best take the T.

For all its historic glory (with a nod to Bill & Ted on this, Keanu Reeves’ 47th birthday), though, Boston has an underbelly as well. Granted, Roxbury pales in comparison to, say, West Philadelphia, but it’s downtrodden all the same. And if you’re going for the abandoned furniture/trash in the street chic, look no further than my neighborhood of Allston.

Boston is a fascinating city, completely walkable in a reasonable amount of time given the right weather (i.e., no Nor’easters). What gets me is how in my neighborhood alone, rents range from “meh” to “WTF?!” from block to block, and even with a delectably large liquor store situated at the main intersection, right next to a bus stop, people still insist on throwing down multiple dollars for single beers in one of the many watering holes interspersed throughout.

This is not appropriate d-double-oh d-double-oh style. (And for the record, that “Beastie Boys Fight” short film or whatever the fuck that was that I saw on TV the other day was NOT FUNNY in the least.)

Many moons ago, in the woods and parking lots of West Chester, PA (TWO words, not like Westchester, NY), Jackass was born. With the revolution brought by this series came a resurgence in popularity of the Champagne of Beers, Miller High Life. Four or so dollars for a sixer back in the day became six or seven dollars, but that’s still about a dollar per beer.

Yet these trendy fools park their asses at the bar on any given night and throw down those four dollars for just one High Life.

This is not LIVING the High Life. That’s fakeassery of the trendiest kind. And you probably don’t even watch Jackass.

In an attempt to quell this disturbing trend, the marketing geniuses behind the High Life line created a series of commercials in which two deliverymen reclaim beer from inappropriate uses and/or settings. One such commercial features a beer salesman at a dog show; another, a velvet-rope-lined establishment asking more than the price of a six-pack for an individual bottle. Each time, the deliverymen shake their heads, load the cases of beer back onto their carts, and wheel them away.

The marketing team went further a couple of years ago by sending the same two deliverymen to individual residences, bearing endorsement contracts for “average” folks who happened to enjoy the High Life. This all went well until they rang a doorbell and were met by some guy shaving his chest. Fortunately, the deliverymen walked away from that one.

This begs the question of whether anyone realizes the irony of these commercials. Yes, by subtle self-deprecation, Miller has likely drummed up sales of the High Life. But, in doing so, even more stupid people will jump on the train–wait, no, that’s Coors Light–and will order up the High Life in its overpriced form in lieu of taking it home with them.

Well shit.

I know that I like the finer things in life, and I do appreciate a good, cheap beer that doesn’t necessarily taste cheap. I’ve found that in Miller High Life. I’m also known for having a taste for expensive things, however, as evidenced by a fine parade of handbags and footwear. Balance the equation and you’ll realize that there’s champagne on either side. Just because I’m not drinking it out of the Stanley Cup (yet) doesn’t mean that I never will.

The moral of the story is that if you actually worry about the image that’s projected by what you drink–whether you’re “slumming it” with Schlitz or raising your hand (and your nose) when you order your martini “up” with olives and only the best vermouth–well, son, the truth is that nobody cares.

It tastes good and brings back memories of fat fucks throwing themselves into bushes. Long live the High Life.

Audi 5000,

-knxvil.

Bloody Mary is the girl I love…

30 Aug

Dang hipster camera makes it look like a Hawaiian (South Pacific?) punch...okay, I'll stop now.

I just got back from my summer vacation. While I would love to lay out on a beach for a week or two, all I could swing was a long weekend in Vegas with my husband’s fantasy football league (I know, I’ll call the waaahmbulance!). I’m not really into football, fantasy or otherwise, so my vacation was heavy on the draughts, light on the draft, if you know what I mean. I also spent a lot of time at the spa and by the pool. 

Pictured at right is a delicious bloody mary that was obtained from the pool bar at the Palazzo hotel. In the background, you can see my attempt to stave off skin cancer (stay safe out there, people).

There are many things to love about bloody marys. To name a few, a bloody mary is:

  • savory–a break from the typical sweet cocktail
  • versatile–a classic daytime drink that can be consumed at any time
  • fun–experiments(!)…you can put LOTS of things in there, and it will still be delicious

The one in the photo was tomato juice, vodka, just a touch of horseradish and olive juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and black pepper, and it was garnished with a celery stick, a lemon wedge, and a green olive.

When I make them at home, I usually use a combination of ingredients that my fellow blog author introduced to me when we had brunch at her house last winter: Hot and Spicy V8 (I use the low-sodium variety), vodka, prepared horseradish, clam juice, Worcestershire sauce, and a little lime juice (my addition), and I garnish with the lime wedge and a celery stick. The prepared horseradish makes it a little creamier, and I love lime in a bloody mary. I may try some olive juice and an olive in there the next time I make it, though.

You can really put anything you want in this drink, as long as it’s hot, salty, sour, vegetal, or briny. When the pool people came around with cucumber slices, I ate a couple and threw the rest right into my drink. My roommate in grad school used to put a pickle spear (and a little of the pickle juice) in hers. I’ve even heard of people putting in bacon or other varieties of cured meats. If you have a favorite non-sweet snack, you can try putting it into a bloody mary. (I’m guessing you’ll want to avoid putting in things like Cheetos…but the prohibition is really only because they would disintegrate and the texture would be gross. I’m sure it would still taste fine.)   

The best thing about a bloody mary, which I alluded to above, is that it’s a drink with a snack. Maybe a lot of snacks, if that’s how you like to make it. And that’s how I spent my summer vacation.