it wasn’t until recently, while watching a seahawks game with friends, that i learned that yellow line in a football game wasn’t a real line after all. fast forward a couple years when my bbf (read: best boy-friend) secured tickets to the hawks/49-ers game. first thing first, i proceeded to procure the proper game attire; in this case, the evrgrn crash sack. if a sleeping bag and a snuggie had a baby, well this is it. needless to say, the hawks won (i’m fairly certain my sleeping bag coat had everything to do with it), and the next order of business was to find a suitable venue to keep us entertained while we escaped gridlock of post-game traffic. after a stint of indecisiveness, we stumbled upon then 12 day-old (coincidence??) jarrbar. built for the casual barfly and industry folk alike, it features tins of tapas and a curated cocktail list (jarrbar drinks!) the norteño, with smokey mezcal and jalapeño, was the perfect sipper to keep me cozy. and let’s face it, nothing raises the temperature like a long leg stretched out on the bar…iberian that is. the view behind the bar wasn’t too shabby either, especially in my crash sack.
it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…charles dickens couldn’t have known that those words would apply not only to the french revolution but also to a digital age over 150 years later (maybe that’s why it’s arguably the best selling book of all time.) by way of illustration, let’s take my now expired stint at the great empire – it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…and it was ultimately time to close this chapter of my life and start a new one. by invitation from an old acquaintance, i headed down for some r&r in santa barbara where i hiked waterfalls, biked wine trails, and of course consumed enough calories to more than make up for the efforts. mattei’s is one such purveyor set in an quaint 1886 stage coach stop. most notworthy was the roasted bone marrow – conjuring memories of st. john (*note to other marrow makers – *always* garnish with parsley and picked onions!), but there’s more folks…HASHBROWN accompaniment! gone are the days of toasted baguette, fried potato is where it’s at.
i have a basic rule: try everything twice. however, twice sometimes just isn’t enough, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. i’ve always been quick to judge, often opting for sparkle (read: shiny boy toy) over box turtle (the safe, stable bet) but upon urging from a friend, i opted to try again. drinks topped our agenda at herb & bitter, and the waiter described something like a blood & sand, with the cherry heering swapped out for a foam of éphémère cherry. whaaaa? so here’s the buzzkill…they don’t carry éphémère cherry anymore. womp womp. there were however promises made and the gauntlet was thrown down: the cocktail would be crafted if i produced the prize ingredient. challenge accepted…next date denied.
not since the sad departure of naga has seattle experienced such a strong showing of tiki drinks. how appropriate, as the go-to liquor for said libations is rum (or should i say rhum), and there’s plenty of it at rumba (60+!) i have to admit, it wasn’t an affinity for cocktail umbrellas that initially drew me here, but rather a tip-off from none other than yelp seattle’s community manager. you see, i’m part and parcel to publicans on my payroll, and i’ll follow david nelson‘s blood and sands to the end of the earth. however, start playing the name-your-own-cocktail game, and david might just start regaling stories of patrons past ordering cockeyed concoctions such as matt damon’s tears. how do you like them apples?
bartenders sporting vests. sure, it’s a little cliche but there’s something to be said about a uniform. after all, there’s a sizable market for schoolgirl fetishes, but alas i digress. perhaps the draw of uniforms is the predictability in a world so full of fucked-up surprises. or maybe it’s become a way to combat the ever-growing frumpiness plaguing our society. either way, i’m all for it when it comes to dapper eye candy concocting tasty libations for me; such is the case at pourhouse, a gastown icon when it comes to classic cocktails. but even beyond the vintage decor and those magical little glasses served from the bar handcrafted of reclaimed douglas fir is the perfect bite (or 5)- it’s the gastropub stable of the scotch egg, a soft boiled egg swaddled in fennel sausage. and if that wasn’t already enough, then BREAD IT and FRY IT. i could definitely have eaten enough of those to send myself to the poorhouse, but at least i was left with something to write home about.
fresh off a trip from the old empire, it was time to reintroduce myself to seattle and single-dom, a double ‘s’ threat as frightening as the schutzstaffel. equipped with the latest in euro-hosiery, i crashed some friends’ oyster eats and soon ended up in one of said friend’s newly relocated neighbourhood of greenwood. a microcosm much like west seattle or georgetown where us ausländers (read: eastsiders) dont hear much about, greenwood offers up its own local hangouts like the yard cafe – part mexican, part dive, very much frat-boy meets brunch bar. i can’t remember what caused me to ask, but upon inquiring about the origin of their bitters, the response was “the bitters factory”. at first taken aback, i realized i had it coming…i mean, i’m in a place that smells like industrial cleaner and tortas. valuable lesson of the night? don’t ask questions when the answer won’t change the outcome.
after a long, hard, poke-my-eyes-out-after-18-jetlagged-hours-of-sleep-across-5-days sort of week, it was time to rally and make the last night count in vienna. and that means euro dance party. i had queried the locals in the office that day of to find out the hot spots, but all signs lead to big box discotheques with lines and cover charges. time for plan b and thanks to tmobile’s amazingly free international data plan in conjunction with yelp wien, <insert 10 minutes of confusion and broken english at a nearby hostel> we found our way to a dark alley with an unmarked door. what was within was more than we could ever have wished for: euro trance meets williamsburg hipster, complete with a hot dog stand and fernet. we danced our asses off amongst the college clientele and being that it was our last night in vienna, it was all par for the course digging around at the bottom of our purses for the last of our euros…ah to be 20-something again.
so there’s always the age-old dilemma…where to go next? with a horde of co-workers? after a long week of work and jetlag, we all let our proverbial hair down and broke free from the confines of the airport-office-hotel bermuda triangle to head into the city for some grub and non-HR violating adventure. after taking a much-anticipated break from standard austrian fare, we debated outside the restaurant for a good 15+ minutes about “what now?”, and then just started walking in a random direction. much like a new orleans second line parade, we played the part of jovial (read: loud and obnoxious) americans until we came upon más, a mexican cocktail bar in the middle of vienna. with a drink menu of ~100 items, i quickly zeroed in on the fernet but was soon disappointed to find out they did not have coke. NO COKE. AT A BAR. scheiße. and then without fail, coworkers + drinks = work talk * 1000. luckily, there was a ginormous lava-like lamp nearby that inspired one of the crowd who rallied us to blow that mexican popsicle joint and ask “what now?”
life goes on whether you’re ready or not, and sometimes that’s the best thing possible- leaving your troubles 14 hrs behind and taking flight for a business trip to vienna. while in the imperial city, what co-workers envied as a work vacation was in reality a work-athon across three time zones. luckily, european sensibilities at the hotel bar soon prevailed and evening conference calls with the empire soon blended with cordial glasses of fernet in the adjacent business center. some of my colleagues were luckier than me and able to escape during the off-hours to enjoy the environs, including the nearby schönbrunn palace. but for me, mehr glück beim nächsten mal, in more ways than one.