Monday, May 11, 2015

Travel Tuesday - Earl Gray, Germany in Seattle, and a Funeral Home

Travel is not travel without a stop at the local watering holes. An affinity for excellent wine, beer, spirits is more than just a need, a yearn to intoxicate the senses. It's like getting lost on a beaten path of a city, taking the stroll down the avenue natives so often traverse. Sitting at the local tavern allows the traveler, me, to truly appreciate what the current surroundings offer, be it a person, a drink, an atmosphere...It's the moment in which you are able to observe the natural state of some, the uninhibited moments.

In short, I make it a point to visit as many cool drinking establishments in any city I travel, as much as possible. It's not that I am a lush, but yeah, I am a lush. My quest for the coolest of the cools are measured by the following criteria:


Proximity is exactly as it is written, the distance from "home base" to the location of the drinking establishment. Proximity is not necessarily essential, but it's convenience can greatly boost the rooting on the PDA scale. Distillation is the ensuing product(s) available to me, the consumer, and the variations available. A previous post on the subject of bars and books would have rated many of the bars with a low Distillation number given the small choices in liquor and brew, therefore, their atmosphere rating was needed to keep them in the running am these two up can ruin the remaining drinking experience. Ultimately, all three categories would reach an absolute 10 for the perfect bar experience. In my recent travel to Seattle, short as it was, I was able to visit 4 bars that embodied the experience of the PDA. This week's Travel Tuesday will break down the PDA of the best bars in Seattle.

Bar: The Pine Box
P: 10
D: 10
A: 10

Our hotel, The Paramount, was located smack in the middle of downtown Seattle; walking distance to Pike Market AND the space needle. It was perfect! But its perfection was only met once we realized how close we were to the Pine Box. It is important to note that my visit to Pine Box was on a night of much drinking. However, a seasoned drinker and Seattle local who hates drinking at bars but loves to discover new beers introduced my traveling troupe to the amazing Pine Box. Previously a funeral home, the bar retains the original wood craft, recycling the pews for seating at side booths. This is a place where the beer snobs take solace in the selection, while maintaining a full bar for those rum and coke lovers. This is also the location where our palettes were introduced to a sour that we (the fiancee and I) can finally appreciate. Rodenbach. If you have not tried Rodenbach, and you previously hated sours, this is the one you need to drink. The servers were helpful, and the food was delicious (albeit drunkenly devoured). The quick cab ride back to the hotel was a mere 10 dollars.

Bar: Rhein Haus
P: 8
D: 10+
A: 7

In fairness, I will preface with the following disclaimer: I FUCKING LOVE GERMANY AND GERMAN TAVERNS...which is why it is hard for me not to give this bar an all around 10. The beer selection was beyond any amazing German beer listing I had ever seen. The actual structure of the bar replicated a traditional beer hall AND included a  bocce ball court in the middle of the bar. All it was missing was sumo wrestling to complete its AXIS Powers ambiance (historian joke...). It was almost perfect...

Located in Capitol Hill, not so far from the Paramount Hotel, but most certainly not within walking distance, the place was ideal for a quick and cheap cab ride. The scene is young, but the beers are in abundance and the location is huge. You can certainly make do with the surrounding ambiance.

Bar: The Diller Room
P: 10
D: 10
A: 9

It would be hard to find anything I didn't like about the Diller Room. I loved it so much I insisted on visiting the place two nights in a row...on a weekend trip! Located on the corner of 1st and University, it is in prime downtown location, literally walking distance from almost every awesome Seattle site, as well as a multitude of restaurants to choose from.

But the best part of the Diller Room are the amazing craft drinks. Have you ever heard of tea infused gin? Bartender by the name of Justin beautifully creates elaborate, tasteful cocktails that at times can be lit on fire. Us non crafty connoisseurs would refer to these as tiki drinks, but they have a names like the Jamaica Barrel or the the Madame Pele (think sparklers a top a daiquiri looking cocktail). They are delicious, they are beautiful, and they are delicious. If you are fortunate enough to have a drink at this place, be sure to order their signature house cocktail "The Earl". It has that tea infused gin I mentioned, whiskey and some other ridiculously yummy spirits all masterfully blended together over ice. Have I said delicious yet?

And lastly, but most certainly has little to no douchebags, as well as some awesome seating options. The staff was great, the music was awesome. I sat there with the love of my life, my only brother, my two sisters, and a family friend as we laughed and reminisced to the sounds of Ian Curtis. I do believe the Diller Room provided the most perfect memory.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cinco de Que?: A Brief Education of Cinco de Mayo

The small kitchen TV atop the refrigerator sounded a noise similar  to the sounds of  "El Cinco de Mayo, la celebracion de Independencia". My mother's spoon stopped dead in the meat and chile filled pan.
"Que dijieron?" she asked as she walked closer to the TV. The verbal hell that ensued is a lesson neither or nor  my siblings will forget. My mother has prided herself on raising her children as Mexican as possible, while respecting the country she has adopted. While our school mates were leaving out cookies for Santa to retrieve, my mom was making us wrap the tamales that El Santo Claus would devour with a hot cup of atole. The Fourth Of July was met with hot dogs, history, and aguas frescas in our back yard, only to celebrate Mexican Independence Day two months later with enchiladas, sparklers and coca cola. We were raised to know it all, to acknowledge the reasons behind the celebration, el significado, as my mother would say. The significance.

You will have to excuse my crassness when I say, don't wish me a Happy Cinco de Mayo. I am not from Puebla, that is not my either of my two Countries' Independence Day. Too many times I have been asked how I will be celebrating Mexican Independence Day on May 5....Answer: I am not. But I am going to enjoy the history of culture of my family and take the opportunity to advocate the significance of the day. So if you feel compelled to celebrate this day, here are five things you need to know:

1. September 16 is Mexico's Day of Independence...not May 5.

2. 5, Mayo de 1862 is the date of the Battle of Puebla. It commemorates what many considered to be the unlikely victory of the ill prepared Mexican troops over the French army.

3. Although the Holiday is considered popular here in the U.S., Mexico as whole does not celebrate the day. Most of the festivities are in the state of Puebla.

4. If you have to celebrate with a drink, try a Paloma rather than a margarita. The margarita, although delicious and now a predominant staple of the Mexican drink, was popularized in San Diego in the 1940's. Palomas still incorporate the delicious tequila and lime, but are mixed with a grape fruit soda, and an optional salted rim.

5. No tacos! Puebla's location in the heartland of Mexico provided an opportunity for all rich flavors to meet. It is famous for its mole poblanos (a thick rich sauce heavily seasoned) and molotes (corn meal and cheese biscuits filled with sausage, squash flowers, and potatoes). Test out your culinary skills and whip one of these dishes up!

Now stop being an ignorant asshole, read up on your history, and enjoy our culture!

Begrudgingly, Happy Cinco de Mayo but more importantly, VIVA MEXICO!