When NPS goes on the road to deliver a talk, travel arrangements are often outside of our control. Oh woe is us. Usually that is worrisome, but sometimes it works out perfectly. This is one of those perfect times.

NPS is in Montréal for a talk, and staying in the heart of the old city at the Saint-Sulpice Hotel. It lives up to its reputation for luxury.

We have been assigned a suite, number 416. The suite itself is a rectangle, cleverly disguised with interesting angles an internal design that avoids hamster cage all together.

416 natural light

416 natural light

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Did we mention the natural light? Clever translucent windows allow that to pervade the room.

Let the light in

Let the light in

Bedroom in the middle with a small hallway around it.

Bedroom in the middle with a small hallway around it.

The light makes it all the way back to the bathroom. The bathroom is NPS approved. Very nice indeed.

That's real light on both side of the mirror

That’s real light on both side of the mirror

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And, of course the shower. This one for some reason reminds us of the fabian in helsinki.

Nice shower, gigantic tub

Nice shower, gigantic tub

Glass, yes. Cube? No!

Glass, yes. Cube? No!

About the only silly thing in this suite is the fake fireplace doohicky. A real fireplace is always nice. This fake thing is at least entertaining?! Mostly, it makes me miss my own very real fireplace.

No wait, there are also no outlets anywhere near the bed. What is this the ’80s? No, this is 2016. Clock radio? Nope. Power for my own personal electronics pile? Absolutely necessary. Minus ten on that one. Plus nine for camomile tea capability in room. So all told, we’re worried about power. Alarm across the room?? Really??!

Dinner at Modavie was super French—which means super delicious. Lamb poutine? Damn. And live jazz to boot. Excellent.

Cocktails at Le Lab were also very carefully crafted in an outstanding environment without pretense. Just solid. We may have to return for tiki night.

The drink of the night was a Bramble Sour:
sour base
1 dash egg white
1 oz simple syruo
1 oz lemon juice
1.25 oz gin
.75 oz blackberry liqueur

Shake until egg white foams, serve with mint sprig.

On Day 2, dinner was at the fantastic Joe Beef Liverpool House where the appetizer (a breakfast sandwich made with fois gras) was outstanding.

The we were off for cocktail adventures, first to Kabinet where people were having a blast and we challenged barman Ricky Lee Jones to make anything with Suze. Ricky is a new barman, but was willing to play with some encouragement.

Experimental cocktail
1.5 Milagro tequila
.5 suze
.5 lillet rouge
stir down. express lemon peel and smacked mint

Trinidad Sour
.75 Orgeat
.75 Rye (100% canadian club)
.75 lemon juice
.75 angostura bitters (!!)
.5 egg white
shake to foam egg white.

After Kabinet it was off to the new and very swanky Cloakroom bar. We were ably served by Chloe and co-owner Andrew Whibley. Andrew is still working out a cocktail menu for the new establishment.

The Riviera
1.25 oz bacardi
.75 oz bianco vermouth
.5 oz aperol
.5 oz amaro montenegro
,5 lemon
4 dashes peychauds
shake and garnish garishly

All told, hitting the cocktail scene in Montreal was a blast.

Four showerheads (quatre têtes de douche) for the Saint-Sulpice.

Is Chicago Is not Chicago

January 25, 2016

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A man drives a plane
Into the Chrysler building
A man drives a plane
Into the Chrysler building

Saskatoon is in the room
Poulsbo is in the room
Bennetsville is in the room
Palmyra is in the room

Is Chicago
Is not Chicago
Is Chicago
Is not Chicago

A man cuts in half
Just like he snaps a pencil
A man cuts in half
Just like he snaps a pencil

Khartoum is in the room
Phnom Penh is in the room
Pyongyang is in the room
Cairo is in the room

Is Chicago
Is not Chicago
Is Chicago
Is not Chicago

A man drives a plane
Into the Chrysler building
A man drives a plane
Into the Chrysler building
Into the, into the, into the, into the

Mailbox in Virginia

Mailbox in Virginia

Art at the MCA

Art at the MCA

MCA afternoon

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Architecture for a game

up

up

down

down

Mostly we were here for the astounding Eighth Blackbird. Sometimes when I perform my body has the same emotional response. But never when I watch. This is the future.

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This is the future.

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Excellent birds.

Oh, and the Palomar moved us down ten floors. Still a sweet suite.

no plastic showers

no plastic showers

sit

sit

stay

stay

Also of note, Bottlefork is a great place for brunch and Three Dots and a Dash is a nice place for a banana daiquiri. Yeah, I know.

Hello Chicago

Hello Chicago

Bye bye Westin, hello Chicago. The great East coast blizzard of 2016 has us stuck in the middle of the country until Sunday no make that Monday (at the earliest). But we don’t mind. We’ll make an adventure of the whole thing.

Job #1? Secure some rooms at the Palomar for the C-level posse. An email to the fantastic staff at the Palomar made that happen. Thanks Brandon Massey, Nabeel Toubayly, and Benjamin Gress. Sadly, the artist suite is occupied. Happily that doesn’t matter. Rooms 1725 and 1726 are a great combo package and situate you right in the middle of the city with excellent views all around. And get this, rooms at the Palomar can be had at less than half the price of the suburban Westin. Just wow. The world is seriously confused.

1725 entryway

1725 entryway

Man is it nice to be back where style rules the roost and the staff is top notch. Kimpton takes the cake.

View from one side of the corner, 1725

View from one side of the corner, 1725

1725 bedroom

1725 bedroom

1726 sitting room

1726 sitting room

Of course, here at NPS we are obligated to talk about the showers. In 1725 you will find a glass cube design and a huge tub. Very Kimpton.

Wait for it

Wait for it

The long glass cube

The long glass cube

Bathroom area

Bathroom area

Other aspects of the Chicago Palomar fit right in with excellence in showers. Like John Stanton and the Sable bar. The bar at Sable (not to mention the restaurant itself) is great enough to be a destination of its own. If you’re in Chicago, pay a visit. Not staying at the Palomar? Who cares, come to Sable anyway.

The best part of Sable is seriously great craft cocktail capability. Every time NPS visits, we learn something. This time, we were wowed by the Scot Toddy (warm, mint, lemon, wow) and an experimental beverage that John created on the spot which we’ll call the
Shaped Charge:
1.5 Rye Whiskey (Wild Turkey 100)
.75 Suze
.25 Carpano antica
.25 Caffe moka
2 generous droppers of Bitterman’s Hellfire shrub
Stir down. Serve on a big cube. Express lemon peel.

Seriously though, Sable is great and it is always a delight to see John in action. Plus you can end the night with a taste of George T. Stagg (2015) just like at home.

Back to the situation at hand. If you’re going to be stuck in a city, pick Chicago. Want some deep dish Chicago-style pizza? Try Lou Malnati’s pies. Doughnut for breakfast? Glazed and Infused is the way to go.

Our posse’s Saturday plans included a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, some jazz at Green Mill and taking in an obscure Tenessee Williams play (The Mutilated) at the Red Orchid.

Doughnuts at Glazed and Infused

Doughnuts at Glazed and Infused

Dali details

Dali details

More art from the Art Institute of Chicago on apothecaryshed.

Green Mill for Paper Machete

Green Mill for Paper Machete

Irish coffee chaser for Malort shots

Irish coffee chaser for Malort shots

Red Orchid Theater: Set for Mutilations

Red Orchid Theater: Set for Mutilations

For providing a safe haven from 24 inches of snow at home, we award the Chicago Palomar the massive snowplow award and five showerheads forever. Thanks for being home in Chicago.

Yeah. No.

Ever wonder how the other half lives? We find ourselves up in Chicago just in front of a major blizzard doing some business. We’re traveling with all of the C-people: CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, LMNOP. Frankly, these guys just don’t travel much. So it has been an interesting trip.

First off, the United experience (first of 2016) was outstanding. Upgrade? Check (first time in two years). Wifi? Check. Actual ceramic cup of tea? Check. Friendly crew? Check. Personal thank you with a look in the eye? Check. On time? Early even!

OK fine, it's business class, but this cup is REAL

OK fine, it’s business class, but this cup is REAL

United, you did well. Keep it up. That blue mood lighting in the 737-900 is outstanding!

Is it the C-level posse that caused that? LOL. More likely, it was the upcoming blizzard. Nobody with an “out” is traveling away from home today. But business calls, so here we are! Thanks mr. blizzard.

Back to our story. So just how does the other half live? Poorly, it turns out.

You see, there is the generic hotel situation. Westin North Shore? Not so much. This hotel has a nice lobby and a set of just awful hamster cage style rooms. You could spit and hit the interstate from here. We are in concierge level service. Well, at least I am (due to a bunch of starwood points?! go figure that). But no no no. This is not it.

Lets explore through pictures, shall we?

Welcome to hamster cage 1411 at the Westin

Welcome to hamster cage 1411 at the Westin

The bed pays homage to the TV

The bed pays homage to the TV

Enter the tiny bathroom

Enter the tiny bathroom

OH NO!  A plastic shower

OH NO! A plastic shower

Obesity bar. Shower curtain over tub.  Welcome to heck.

Obesity bar. Shower curtain over tub. Welcome to heck.

We pretty much do all we can to avoid this kind of experience on the road. But when in Rome, um, wear a toga? The other half puts up with this is what it is. Reality check.

The best part? The Westin (who BTW charges actual money for internet) defends their shower situation on social media. Fiesty!

We walked across the parking lot to dinner at Coopers Hawk Winery/Restaurant. They had cabernet! LOL. It was from “America” and we ordered the “lux” bottle. We believe it cost $29.95. The associated hardware for decanting was outstanding. Is it a winery really?? Skip it.

We pretended it was the CFO’s birthday.

On the positive side of this Westin, the restaurant Saranellos is very good. Delicious upscale Italian with a reasonable wine selection. Recommended.

Anyway, because of the hamster cage design, two tiny showerheads for the Westin. You guys have merged so much you are approaching the color of the universe—beige. We’re pretty sure the homeowners association would approve.

In the end, it turns out that the other half is more interested in getting some business done than in where they sleep.

Less than two handfulls of miles from the apothecary shed itself is a home grown distillery called Catoctin Creek. Since 2009, Catoctin Creek has been distilling Rye into various award-winning products. We’re partial to the Watershed Gin ourselves.

Catoctin Creek in the old Case building

Catoctin Creek in the old Case building

Baker Bob set up a long talked about distillery tour on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The tour was fantastic, carried out by Scott Harris himself. Excellent.

In between leading questions, Scott taught us some things.

In between leading questions, Scott taught us some things.

Scott talked us through the process to make Rye, Gin (in run 2), and Brandy.

Step one: Cook the Rye (soon to be more local)

Step one: Cook the Rye (soon to be more local)

Step two is brewing a rye beer to about 10%.

Step three: transfer beer to still and a 6 hour run.

Step three: transfer beer to still and a 6 hour run.

Gin takes a second distillation plus an infusion.

Gin takes a second distillation plus an infusion.

The bottling machine which caused a pizza party insurrection.

The bottling machine which caused a pizza party insurrection.

Shipment for Australia

Shipment for Australia

Yeah

Yeah

Catoctin Creek Tasting Room

Catoctin Creek Tasting Room

Pouring flights

Pouring flights

Custom flight: Gin and Two Ryes

Custom flight: Gin and Two Ryes

The Catoctin product set is certainly made with love. I remain a big fan of the Watershed Gin. The Roundstone Rye is rough and thin at 80 proof. The 92 proof has more body (and less water) and is a better product. I guess around here we’re used to a sweeter mash bill with some corn and wheat and a higher proof. The Catoctin Creek mash is 100% rye.

What does Sammy think of the Brandy?

What does Sammy think of the Brandy?

Aftermath

Aftermath

All told, the afternoon was very well spent with a gracious and committed host doing excellent work. Keep it up Catoctin Creek. We’re damn proud to have you here just over the river.

The fellers say, "Thanks Scott and Becky!"

The fellers say, “Thanks Scott and Becky!”

Back home again with some new stuff to add to the bar.

Watershed Gin always in stock here

Watershed Gin always in stock here

After an exciting and very fun evening with the Neo-Futurists at the Woolly Mammoth watching (and participating in) “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” we headed out for an after theater cocktail or two.

Souvenir

Souvenir

Our attempt to drop in at barmini was thwarted by their pretentious attitude. Fuck that place.

Fortunately, that meant we ended up at Brick and Mortar for a stellar post show time. We were served (mostly) by Marvin Zaldana who made some classics, played around with a drink or two of ours, and made two cocktails of particular note.

Fall Manhattan
2 oz Rye (Rittenhouse 100)
.5 oz dry port wine
several dashes of angostura
some drops of fresh lemon juice

Modern Vespa
1 oz vodka (pittsburgh’s Boyd and Blair)
1 oz dry gin (london style)
.5 oz cocchi americano
3 drops orange bitters
splash of fresh ginger beer (fever tree)

As you can see, Brick and Mortar has strong roots in great cocktails from the old days with interesting little twists. Delightful.

We were joined by two living neo-futurists.

Can you spot the actors?

Can you spot the actors?

And Now No Fly Nöel

December 18, 2015

True. We have not been on an airplane since November. But all these trips to Washington and Philly in cars are encroaching on our no travel respite.

Now it’s time to rest our bones beside the fire. Even if it is a really big fire and we’re dancing.

Solstice Fire 2014

Solstice Fire 2014

This year was the lightest travel year on record since 2002 with only 21 trips (not counting the last three!). Travel is becoming manageable, and that’s good.

Tripometer 2015

Tripometer 2015

Thanks for reading NPS! Salubrious solstice to all.

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