Los Angeles blog meetup

I’m taking a vacation to Los Angeles next week and my friend Ron Dollete (of Lush Angeles) and I thought it would be fun to organize a Booze Nerd Meetup while I’m in town. We’re going to meet at Bar and Kitchen in the O Hotel in downtown LA from 8-11 pm on Wednesday, July 13. Booze nerds and nerds of any type — I’m looking at you, libertarians! — are invited to join us. I’ve heard great things about the food and drink there, so I’m looking forward to it.

In an unexpected bit of synchronicity, Bar and Kitchen is also taking part in a Bols punch crawl that very night. Even when I go on vacation the genever seems to follow. Details for the punch crawl are available on Thrillist.

Here’s Ron’s Facebook description of the meet-up; hope to see you there!

Come join Jacob and Ron at Bar & Kitchen for a meetup of drunks, fools, liars and drunks.

This is just a meetup, so you’ll be covering your own tab. Unless you order a Harvey Wallbanger, in which case Ron will probably buy your drink.

Wednesday, 13th of July at 8pm at Bar | Kitchen.

Jacob Grier is a bartender and writer based in Portland, Oregon. You can check out his site at http://jacobgrier.com/ and on Twitter @JacobGrier

Ron Dollete is not to be trusted under any circumstances. You can check out his site at http://lushangeles.com/ and on Twitter @LushAngeles

Located inside the O Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, Bar & Kitchen offers something for everyone, from addictive bar snacks to full sized entrees. And because it’s Ron and Jacob, there will of course be cocktails, beer, wine and plenty of amari.

Twitter hashtag #BoozeNerdTweetup



House of Bols

I’m flying to Amsterdam today along with the rest of the Bols USA team to hunt the Kopstootje in its native habitat of the Netherlands. I’ll be back on Thursday, hopefully with a suitcase full of genevers, kruidenbitter, and maybe even the intriguing Bols yoghurt liqueur.

My schedule will be pretty packed, but any recommendations for site-seeing or places to get good coffee (by which I really do mean coffee) are appreciated.

[Photo by Effervescing Elephant.]


Gone chupacabra hunting

After a quick stop at Rickhouse in San Francisco tonight, I’ll be catching a flight to Guadalajara with a group of bartenders to celebrate Día de los Muertos and tour tequila distilleries. Call it vacation, call it professional development, either way I won’t be blogging. I’ll be back late next week.


UP with Michigan!


I’m headed tonight to Upper Peninsula Michigan. Door to door this trip will require a train, 3 planes, a car, and a boat. I tried to work a dirigible into the route too, but tickets were unavailable. While there I’ll do some blogging, but hopefully most of the time will be spent in lakes, boats, or hammocks, and at night taking in the peak of the Perseids meteor shower under spectacularly clear skies. I’ll be back in Portland late Friday night.


New Orleans bound

I’m headed out to New Orleans this morning for a return trip to Tales of the Cocktail along with the rest of the Bols team. Obviously this isn’t the most conducive environment to blogging — not the sort of blogging for which I’d to be remembered anyway — so this may be the last post of the week. I’ll be twittering while there though, and if you’re also in town for Tales let’s be sure to grab a drink at the Carousel bar.


DC bound

This morning I’m heading back to DC for the Cato Institute’s first-ever intern reunion, a massive event bringing together veteran interns from the think tank’s long history. This will be my first time back in well over a year. On my last visit I’d only been gone a few months and it felt like coming home. This time the city and my lifestyle there seem more distant, though perhaps I’ll slip right back into once I’m there. I will say this for DC: Despite the political world’s constant careerism and its priorities that are often not my own, I do miss the intellectual engagement the city always had on offer and the camaraderie shared by libertarians living in the belly of the beast. Where else could one pack a bar to the walls by offering drink specials and airing a Milton Friedman documentary?

In any case, the weekend will be fueled with copious food and drink. I already have a reservation at Columbia Room and Sunday brunch plans at my old hangout Eatbar (even if we can’t light up stogies there anymore). The lure of pollo a la brasa is strong. I’d like visit all the places on my old list, though that’s impossible. Eventide and Birch and Barley have opened since I left and I would love to visit them. What else is new that I should seek out?


Where to eat/drink in Houston?

I’ll be back in my hometown December 25-29. Obviously I want to stop in at Anvil, where bartender Bobby Heugel is serving up creative cocktails. And word is David Buehrer has finally brought great coffee to Houston with his Tuscany Coffee. Good Tex-Mex is a must and easy to find. I’d usually consider barbecue essential, but Podnah’s Pit in Portland is such a good fix that I might do without. Where else should I visit?


So much driving to do

Apropos of yesterday’s post, National Geographic offers up 50 “drives of a lifetime.” I’ve spent time in proximity to many of them but only taken two: California’s Pacific Coast Highway and Italy’s Amalfi Coast (as a passenger). Two of the others are in Oregon, so I have no excuse not to visit those. Oddly, they leave off Crater Lake; the drive along the rim roads offers stunning views from every side.

As a bonus, here’s 10 more from ABC.

[Both links via Craig Newmark.]


Hitting the road

I really enjoyed Paul Theroux’s Smithsonian article describing his first trip driving across the United States. Paul had traveled the world but hadn’t seen many of the vast spaces between American cities, remarkable for their varied landscapes and cultures and the freedom from official road blocks. It’s worth reading.

About a year ago I took a round-about route from Arlington, VA to Portland, OR over the course of two months. Though I love Portland, like my job, and am generally happy here, if I could put my stuff in storage and hop in my car again I’d do it in a heartbeat. This time I’d take fewer Interstates,* as Paul did, and get to the deserts of the southwest and the wilds of Montana and the Dakotas. I’d schedule my departures better so that I don’t hit some of the best sights in darkness; I hear Big Sur is amazing, but having driven through it at night I really couldn’t tell you. And I’d try not to go solo for some stretches of the trip, which caused me to pass on some places (like the Grand Canyon) that I’d rather experience with others.

*That said, there are some amazing Interstate drives. The Utah desert rivals the California coast in beauty and the wind farms stretching across Kansas are unimaginably large.

[Via Idea of the Day.]


A perfect Oregon day

The rain in Portland can be a bit much today sometimes, but every once in a while we get a perfect winter day with cool weather, mist, and Sun. Today was one of those days, so wine blogger A.A., a few friends, and I ventured out west to sip pinot noir and take in the beautiful scenery:


(There’s actually a second rainbow there, but it’s hard to see in the iPhone photo.)

There are enough wineries to the southwest of Portland that one can drive out without a particular destination in mind. We visited three today, Torri Mor standing out as my favorite for both the setting and the wine. A.A. has a longer write-up here.


A Repeal Day for the ages

Free to Booze Bar

With the end of December almost here, it doesn’t look like I’m going to get to that big Repeal Day wrap-up I had planned. Luckily Tom Pearson’s all over it with Repeal Day and post-Repeal Day entries, so check over at his site for the links. See also Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s adventures in DC and “libertarian kind of guy” Lance Mayhew’s thoughtful reflections about Prohibition and the growth of government.

I was in DC too, kicking off the day at Cato’s Free to Booze event. I wasn’t able to watch the forum, being too busy setting up the bar in the lobby and teaching the interns some practical skills like how to juice citrus for 200 people. Thanks to their help, spirit donations from DISCUS, and a very last minute purchase of sweet vermouth, Jeff and I were able to mix up some tasty vintage cocktails for the thirsty mob. Here’s what we served:

Manhattan: Bulleit Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, and Angostura Bitters
One of the first uses of vermouth in a cocktail and a true classic to this day

Martinez: Beefeater or Tanqueray Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, and Orange Bitters
Forgotten cousin of the Dry Martini, also born of America’s love affair with vermouth

Sidecar: Hennessy VS Cognac, Cointreau, and Lemon
An early mix of spirit, orange liqueur, and citrus, a versatile combination enjoyed today in the Margarita and Cosmopolitan

Aviation: Beefeater or Tanqueray Gin, Lemon, Maraschino, and Crème de Violette
A beautiful classic regaining popularity thanks to new imports of violet liqueur

Stone Fence: Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Cider, Angostura Bitters
Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys drank a rustic version of this drink before storming Fort Ticonderoga. What are you gonna do?

Sazerac: Hennessy VS Cognac, Pernod aux extraits de plantes d’absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters, Angostura Bitters, and Sugar
Vintage New Orleans cocktail; though originally made with cognac, rye whiskey became standard in the 1870s

Pegu Club: Beefeater or Tanqueray Gin, Cointreau, Lime, Orange Bitters, and Angostura Bitters
A refreshing gin drink published in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) and credited to the Pegu Club in Burma

Jeff and I had a great time making the drinks. I hadn’t worked a busy bar shift since leaving Open City in March, so getting back into the groove and working through a long line of orders felt great. One of my favorite moments of the night was informing a person who ordered a vodka tonic that we had neither vodka nor tonic. Working with a limited bar and a small menu let us put the focus on introducing people to new experiences and I think we opened a few eyes to well-crafted cocktails.

If you missed the Cato event, it’s too late to make you a drink but you can catch video of the policy forum online. Organizer Brandon Arnold also recorded a podcast for the occasion.

Following a nice dinner with friends, I went off to DC Craft Bartenders Guild’s fantastic Repeal Day celebration, featuring drinks from some of the DC’s best mixologists. Then we took the afterparty to Gibson, the new speakeasy off U St. As Jeff notes, some of these speakeasy themed bars stand on ceremony to the point of inconvenience. At one I watched the host make a woman search her Blackberry for her forgotten codeword before granting entrance, despite the fact that every table but my own was unoccupied. There’s none of that nonsense at Gibson. There the focus is entirely on serving wonderful drinks in a comfortable, relaxed environment. And the drinks really are excellent. If you’re in DC, it’s absolutely worth visiting. I just wish it had opened before I moved across the country.

This Repeal Day will be hard to top, but the 100th anniversary is just 25 years away. It’s hard to predict what will happen then. Perhaps there will be blowback against the nanny state’s current excesses. Maybe we’ll finally overturn some of our outdated alcohol distribution laws. Given all the momentum in the craft movement right now, I’m hopeful we’ll see even broader interest in mixology and be closer to overcoming Prohibition’s legacy of crap cocktails. Whatever happens, we’re going to have one hell of a party.


Blog returns tomorrow

Sorry for the light posting. My internet access has been limited this trip and I’ve spent the past couple days orchestrating a last minute move of all my things that were still in storage in Virginia. Amazingly it’s worked out very well, given that I didn’t even have bids from movers until yesterday morning. It’s all on a truck now, so in a few weeks I’ll no longer be living with just two bar stools and a mattress. A couch, bed, assorted furniture, books, glassware, and several cases of liquor will be arriving soon. You can guess which items I’m most looking forward to receiving.

My flight leaves at 3:30 today, getting me back to Portland late at night. Regular blogging will resume in the morning.


An end to couch surfing

My lease in Arlington expired on July 31. Since that time I’ve been traveling the country, staying with friends and family throughout the US. Thanks to their incredible generosity I had to spend only two nights in hotels during the entire trip, in Kansas City and Las Vegas. I’m extremely grateful for their hospitality.

Thanks to the housing bust and the glut of new condos being converted into apartments here, it’s a good time to rent. Yesterday I signed a new lease at The Merrick. It’s in the NE quadrant, right next to the Rose Garden (meaning the basketball arena, not the actual rose garden Portland is famous for). As with most stadium areas, it’s a rather soulless neighborhood. Nearby are just a Starbucks, two fast food burger joints, a Subway, and a few other chain restaurants; it’s no comparison to my previous proximity to Murky Coffee, glorious Peruvian chicken, and all that Clarendon has to offer.

But on the upside, my rent is 30% less than what I was paying before and the location is nicely accessible to the rest of the city. It’s right across the bridge from downtown and the Pearl and within the no-fare zone on the train line. Groceries and restaurants are in the nearby Lloyd Center. And most importantly, it’s located within easy biking distance of the three coffee shops where I’ve been spending the most time: the wonderful Albina Press, the Stumptown on Belmont, and the Ristretto Roasters on Williams. In short, it’s going to be a great place for getting to know the city, and definitely good enough for a first year’s stay.


The United States is large

Hypothesis confirmed after driving 4,700 miles, visiting more than a dozen cities, and spending 71 days on the road.

Route 2008

I’ve finally arrived in Portland, having arrived last night after a brief stop for fantastic drinks from Jeff Morgenthaler in Eugene. This week I’ll be looking for apartments and jobs while getting back to regular, hopefully more substantive updates.


San Francisco wi-fi blues

I’m in San Francisco now, enjoying the city’s abundance of excellent coffee. Yet for such a tech-friendly town, I’m having a hard time pairing it with working wi-fi. The new Four Barrel, where I had a really nice cappuccino this morning, doesn’t offer it. Ritual does, but they’ve removed their electrical outlets. I’m here now and when my battery dies I’ll be unable to catch up on work or give them any more money. Blue Bottle in Hayes Valley serves my favorite espresso in the world, but they’re just a kiosk. Their new store doesn’t have wi-fi either. Is there any place in town that combines great coffee, internet access, and free electrons?