The best part of the Palomar Hotel in San Francisco is the masterful bartending of Brian Means at Dirty Habit. Always learn something every time. Thanks Brian. (For you twitter people, see @myamericandram.)

Tonight it was a curry bourbon cocktail on the savory side that was just fantastic. Then a punch. We’ll call it On the Fly:
6 oz pierre ferrand 1840 cognac
6 oz citadelle gin
4 oz pierre ferrand dry curaçao
4 oz lemon juice
4 oz pomelo cordial (pomelo, sugar, jasmine tea)
12 oz prosecco
create. top with shaved cinnamon and black cardamon plus orange slices.

And there was Hirsch 20. Holy cow.

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Special thanks to Christopher Smith for finagling a table during a busy time.

Here at NPS we have a long and storied history with the Hotel Palomar. This is our annual base of operations during the RSA show (with thousands and thousands of computer security types). And every time we do a Silicon Valley swing we try to tack on a night in the city. We even fomented the “Battle of the Palomars” between DC, Chicago and San Francisco! Feels like home.

[If there were some fresh flowers, we would put a picture of that here.]

But as GM Christopher Smith points out, “Seems like you have a knack for swinging by mid renovation or mid conference shift :).” Yup! So sadly I am sequestered in 831 instead of in my more favorite room style (which when I walked by was in a state of disarray with furniture being moved around in circles.) In the beginning, I was assigned 904 which sounded about right, but that room had a plastic shower?! Horrors. The situation was quickly rectified by Justin.

The right kind of shower on 831.

The right kind of shower on 831.

Anyway, there will be no getting lost in this room! But the Internet works and my phone call filled day is going well. About the only other fly in the ointment is a sentence to have dinner in Pleasanton (or Dublin) at McNamara’s Steakhouse. Woe is us.

The room in all of its entirety. 831 Hotel Palomar.

The room in all of its entirety. 831 Hotel Palomar.

831 Hotel Palomar. All hail the door!

831 Hotel Palomar. All hail the door!

About the only thing that will salvage tonight is a stop by for some cocktails with Brian Means at Dirty Habits. Looking forward to that!

Five showerheads with less water pressure than they need to properly operate for the Hotel Palomar this time. We’ll be back.

United Airlines is terrible. We are attempting not to fly them in 2015. But don’t just take our word for it. Read the Wall Street Journal airline report.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.53.08 PM

Jeff Smisek should be fired.

At NPS, we have been staying at the Cowper Inn for twice as many years as this blog has existed. And it’s still great!

Fresh flowers at the Cowper Inn

Fresh flowers at the Cowper Inn

Room 31 was recently updated with a new showerhead. As shower people, we approve. We also approve of the espresso machine in the breakfast room. If you are doing business in Silicon Valley, stay here.

Old school elegance at the Cowper Inn

Old school elegance at the Cowper Inn

New showerhead, makes the glass cube in 31 even better.

New showerhead, makes the glass cube in 31 even better.

Room 31 at the Cowper Inn

Room 31 at the Cowper Inn

IMG_2349

Five showerheads for the Cowper Inn.

Dinner out at Tamarine was fantastic as usual. The Pho made with Kobe beef is outstanding. Add in some empress rice and maybe some banana beignets and you have a great meal. The bar program at Tamarine is back on track as well.

The new Italian place (run by Sicilians, so speak carefully) in Palo Alto is Arte Ristorante. Nice winelist. Decent Italian fare. Atmosphere was fine.

Drinks at Lure and Till were reasonable. They need to up their base liquor collection. Had a well crafted Sazarac (which would have benefitted from a better Rye and less absinthe). The Pisco Sour was properly made. Would love to see an even better cocktail joint in Palo Alto.

Just a few years ago (OK ten) I used to come to San Diego all the time. I stayed at the fabulous Estancia La Jolla so often that they got to know me. But now that Kimpton is, well, Kimpton we figured we could try the Hotel La Jolla on this trip as an alternative. It’s pretty Kimptony!

Looks Kimpton-y in 906

Looks Kimpton-y in 906

You know how we feel about the hamster cage hotel design here at NPS. Hotel La Jolla is what happens when you spiffify and stylize the classic rectangle of doom into a Kimpton property. That means comfortable bedding, cool bathrooms, and nice flooring. But there is only so much you can do with a concrete shell of rectangles, and noise is a problem here at Hotel La Jolla. Like the highway traffic leaks through the door and the building “wakes up” in the morning. Reminds me of living in an apartment in Italy.

On the plus side, you can see the ocean in the morning, and the room is very comfortable in the usual Kimpton way. It feels like a Kimpton.

Then there is the shower! Very cool indeed. A glass cube between the bedroom and the bathroom. We like.

906 rectangle view includes clear shower

906 rectangle view includes clear shower

A nice note and a welcome amenity of cheese was in the room as a greeting. (Sadly, no crackers!)

Karma welcome

Karma welcome

More on that shower, which incidentally has great water pressure too.

Looking in.

Looking in.

Looking out.

Looking out.

And then there is the Pacific ocean.

Night from the balcony.

Night from the balcony.

Day from the balcony

Day from the balcony

A high four showerheads for Hotel La Jolla.

Well almost. After a really yummy dinner at Herringbone during which we taught the barman Victor how to make a Broken Bike, we headed back to Hotel La Jolla for a nightcap. It was 9:15. The bar was staffed but closed. No service for us and no money for the Kimpton bar program.

So, miffed, we went back to Herringbone bar to close it down with Victor. Turns out it was Victor’s first night ever behind the bar (and not doing backbar). Negroni, Pappy 10, perhaps some Fernet Branca? Nice time.

Morning in La Jolla.

Regular readers will know that in the studied opinion of NPS, United airlines has gone to the dogs. Too many years of too many operational problems finally have come to a head this year. We’re going to attempt to avoid United whenever possible even though our home airport is a United hub. This after over a decade of 100K privilege flying. That’s how bad United is.

Long ago the Board of United should have figured out that Jeff Smisek is a terrible operational leader. An M&A specialist and a marketing person is not the right kind of person to run operations at a huge airline. And United is just too big not to suck.

So bye bye United. Until you get a new CEO and start performing better, we will do our utmost to avoid you. We are voting with our actual cash money.

bye-bye-United-Airlines

We’ll see how it goes this year and keep you updated here. First up, trans-continental flights on Virgin America.

Happy new year! Make sure to apply capitalistic tendencies with YOUR cash too.

It was a quick turnaround from no travel back to travel, but Kimpton helps make it all bearable. Back at the Hotel Monaco just like December, but this time up one floor in 503 (thanks Matt).

We should probably resist comparing the welcome package, but it’s NPS, so we just can’t resist. After all, that is what this prosthetic memory of a blog is all about!

Here is 2015.

2015

2015

Lets compare to 2014.

2014

2014

Hmm. No booze?! But we promise we have not gone dry as a misguided New Year’s resolution! In fact we had quite the adventure getting an after dinner cocktail, about which stay tuned.

Meanwhile 503 looks similar to 403 but it has been updated and is slightly more stylish with a nice scent of carpet glue in the air.

Alexandria Monaco 503

Alexandria Monaco 503

Alexandria Monaco 503

Alexandria Monaco 503

The shower is not plastic, and its pressure may just scour all of the old year’s dirt right off.

Not a plastic shower.  Great way to start 2015 at NPS.

Not a plastic shower. Great way to start 2015 at NPS.

Dinner (corporate style) at the Columbia Firehouse was very good. Great oysters and a nice rendition of shrimp and grits. Sadly, they make a pretty bad Negroni (which calls into question their cocktail capability).

After dinner, we headed over around 10:30 to Restaurant Eve for a cocktail as their bar is rumored to be good. But who would ever know if the bar closes well before its advertised closing time?! Lame. We walked in and the bartender who was wiping down was not at all accommodating about making a drink. In fact, he refused to do so. Guess what Restaurant Eve, that kind of crappy behavior eradicated ALL of the goodwill built up during the last (spectacular) visit. Chef, I believe you need a new bartender post haste!

imgres-1So chaimgresstened to deal with lameness in Alexandria, we returned to the Monaco in low spirits (or with no spirits as the case may be). A pleasant surprise awaited at Jackson 20. Though I am not at all a fan of the architecture or the way the bar is situated, Jackson20 has some good bourbon and rye on tap.  And a very good barman in Alvaro Colato.

Sazarac with Sazarac 18? Yes please. And a chaser of Eagle Rare 17? Sure, why not! Fabulous.

How to make a Sazarac (video from #glassaholic).

So there you have it. 2015, here we come. Five showerheads and a bourbon-based amenity for the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria.

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