2.28.2008

It amazes me how easy it is to not understand anything

Have you seen this new NBC show called "quarterlife"? First of all, you know it's hip because they don't capitalize it. Capitalization is so Gen X. It's mostly a bunch of kids just out of college blogging about their oh so complicated personal lives and smacking up against the real world after years of having their false self-esteem coddled by schools and parents. Life is so hard, people!

I watched the pilot tonight and I just kept thinking that I would have loved this show about eight years ago, but now I think all the characters should just shut up and get a job. I'm probably getting old.

2.10.2008

It's getting hard to be someone, but it all works out

I meant to get around to seeing Across The Universe when it was in the theaters, but that never happened. I got a copy of the DVD from the library, though, and finally watched it tonight. I liked it more than I thought I might. Like Hair, the second half is pretty trippy but there's a sweet story at its heart that kept me interested. The visuals were great, too. I especially enjoyed Bono's turn as the Ken Keseyeque Dr. Roberts, even if his accent changed every five seconds.

About halfway through the movie I had an epiphany. I have lost touch with The Beatles. Well, I guess it's hard to ever completely lose touch with The Beatles. Even 45 years (yes mom, 45) after their first album, their music is everywhere. What I mean is that I personally have stopped listening to them with regularity. When I was 13 and 14, I lived and breathed the band. Now I just stop by for a brief check in once or twice a year.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm temporarily suspending my erratic alphabetical album listening to go back and meet The Beatles. I'm going to work my way through their 13 British studio albums chronologically and remember why I love them so and how they affected my taste in music. Mostly I just want to go back and enjoy all the great tunes they've left us.

2.06.2008

Getting closer...

I was checking out the menu for Jean-Robert's remake of Pho Paris called Chalk Food + Wine and was pleased that (1) they actually had drinks listed on the menu and (2) the drinks looked pretty good. Check it out:

MARTINIS
Manhattan………………………………………………….7
1792 bourbon, sweet vermouth, blood orange bitters
martini…………………………………………………….7
hendricks gin or tito’s vodka, dry vermouth
espresso martini………………………………………………6.5
tito’s vodka, espresso, navan, godiva, half & half
mexican mojito……………………………………………..7
pueblo viejo tequila, mint, simple syrup, soda water
mai tai…………………………………………………….6.5
light rum, dark rum, amaretto, orange, pineapple
bourbon presbyterian………………………………………7
makers mark, soda water, ginger ale
mimosa royale……………………………………………….6.5
champagne, orange juice, chambord
first down……………………………………………………6.5
makers mark, amaretto, cranberry juice
margarita……………………………………………………7
pueblo viejo tequila, grand marnier, lime juice
vanilla martini…………………………………………………7
tito’s vodka, navan, half & half, blood orange bitters
cucumber basil martini………………………………………..7
cucumber, basil, hendricks gin, simple syrup
pomegranate fizz…………………………………………….7
tito’s vodka, crème de cassis, lemon juice, grenadine

I still frown upon the espresso martini, but I love that they're resurrecting the Manhattan and the Mai Tai. I'm also happy to see them use Hendricks Gin, my very favorite gin in the world. The prices aren't bad either.

Now, Twist Lounge may serve interesting drinks like this, but I wouldn't know because they don't have a drink menu!

2.04.2008

Work is the curse of the drinking class

Ah, the difficult cocktail post. I've been thinking about bars in general and cocktails specifically for a while now. I have theories. I have prejudices, but most importantly I believe that I am right.

So here's how it works. If I'm at just a normal neighborhood bar, I'll almost always have a beer. If I'm really in the mood for a harder drink I'll order what I like to call a "something and something." You know, a gin and tonic, a vodka and orange juice or a rum and Coke (if I'm a sorority girl). I just don't trust a regular bar to know more than that.

And I'm o.k. with that. There's nothing wrong with a something and something drink as long as they're reasonably priced and well made and that's almost always the case at a neighborhood bar (although, I will warn you that I've run across my share of flat tonic water at these places).

Now, of course, there's a whole other class of bar out there. They're sometimes called "lounges," and you can almost always spot them by their proliferation of comfortable seating that isn't covered in vinyl. I'm a fan of comfortable seating so I like to check these places out. Unfortunately, they almost always disappoint me. At lounges, they like to serve drinks that end in "tini" and anything that ends in "tini" but doesn't begin with "mar" has no basis in reality. They are Disney World drinks.

The problem? Drinks that end in "tini" almost always cost $12 to $15 in these places, and if they're going to charge that much, I expect a transcendent cocktail. A transcendent cocktail doesn't involve chocolate syrup. It doesn't taste like a bowl of Apple Jacks, and it usually isn't pink.

Maybe I've been spoiled by my experiences at some great New York places like the Flatiron Lounge (there's that word again) or the Pegu Club. These are bars that specialize in unique drinks that are heavily grounded in the classic cocktails that have been all but forgotten in the "tini" world.

So I was very excited when I heard about a new place opening downtown. Twist Lounge is owned by Jean-Robert de Cavel, who runs about a billion restaurants in Cincinnati all of which I love. Surely he could do a lounge like it is meant to be. Jeff and I went to check it out right before Christmas with our hopes high. We had been to Flatiron Lounge just a few weeks before so they would have a lot to live up to.

Things didn't look good from the get go. The bartender came over to greet us at our table (which I love) but when I asked for a drink menu, she said they didn't have one. Drink menus are important people! Check out the one at The Alembic in San Francisco. You love it already, don't you?

Instead our bartender began to talk about all the great "tinis" they have. There was a vanilla one, a raspberry one and a chai one. It was like being at Starbucks, except without a menu. Jeff and I ordered the chai one still with hopes of transcendence, but it was not to be. We were presented with giant goblets of martini glasses, their bottoms covered with a swirl of chocolate syrup. There were no fresh fruit juices and I'm pretty sure that if I'd ordered a Negroni, I'd have been met with a blank stare and a turned back as the bartender referenced a dusty cocktail book hidden in the corner. When the bill came later, sure enough we were paying $12 for our frappuccinos with alcohol.

Maybe Cincinnati just isn't ready for house made tonic water, a reinvented Sidecar or a drink that doesn't end in "tini." But I thought if anyone could do it, it was Jean-Robert. Sometimes people just need to be shown that their $12 can buy something tastier than a Yoo-hoo and vodka. I guess I'm sticking with the something and something drinks in The 'Nati.

2.02.2008

I'm one of the Oceanic Six!

I can't tell you how happy I am about the season premiere of Lost! Of course it raised a ton of all new questions:

Who are the Oceanic Six?
Is Hurley really crazy?
Who are the people on the freighter?
What was Jack's dad doing in Jacob's cabin?
Who the heck is Jacob anyway?

But what I've realized is the questions are way more fun than the answers anyway. It's all about the journey. Combine that with the fact that there are rumors today that the writer's strike might be over soon and it's all starting to look like a Groundhog Day miracle!