The Bayfront Hilton in San Diego has exceeded NPS expectations and set a new record for Hilton goodness. Lets see why.

One view from 2935

One view from 2935

The other view from 2935

The other view from 2935

Getting here on Virgin was very good indeed and a huge step up over united. On time, relaxed, room to work, wifi. You go Virgin.

Room 2935 is a hamster cage design, but it has two banks of windows with a gorgeous view of the city. A very nice room indeed.

Windows in 2935

Windows in 2935

From the door 2935

From the door 2935

And the shower is glass. NPS approves.

Hilton has a glass shower.

Hilton has a glass shower.

One of Kimpton’s fun hacks is putting a fish (usually named Walter) in your room for your stay. Hilton is trying to go there by putting virtual fish on the TV. Not quite the same.

And now some good things and bad things about this Hilton.

Real hangers = good

Real hangers = good

iPod dock = good Power by bed = good

iPod dock = good
Power by bed = good

Water for sale = bad

Water for sale = bad

All in all we’ll give this hotel four showerheads, which is a definite step up for a major chain. Most excellent!

In other San Diego news, El Dorado bar has seriously great cocktails as well as a bunch of antique collection bourbon and rye on hand (real Stagg from multiple years for example). Brionnie Briem made a superb and masterful Sazarac (with Sazarac 18). The experimental cocktail she whipped up was only meh, but hey you can’t have everything!

Experiment
2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
t of fallernum (too sweet!! too sweet!!)
2 dashes Angostura
lemon zest

Lou and Mickey’s is still a great place for a steak. Amazingly, they can handle a group dinner of over 20 without a hitch (perfectly cooked everything). Well done chef!

The secret speakeasy Noble Experiment is an oasis of hip in San Diego. Superb entrance, great skull decor, and best of all seriously good cocktails. My spoiled cocktail geek friends and home brewers all loved it.

We were served by Jesse Ross who was happy to play. Though my friends started with a Nevada (nice to see that on the list), but I went straight for the fun.

Pine and Rye
2 oz sazarac 6 rye
.25 oz sapping (a piney French concoction)
.75 oz Dolin’s dry
heavy dashes of Pernod Absinthe

This drink was so similar to what I have been drinking at home lately (the old 48) that it was a shock! Serve on a big cube with a healthy slice of orange peel. Boozy deliciousness.

Non-cyn Thriller
1.5 oz Whistle pig rye
.75 oz Port
.75 oz Campari
dashes of Chocolate Mole Bitters

We ended the evening with some 2014 George T Stagg. Hotter than the last couple of years, but something unbalanced about it.

The evening was just super fantastic. Do not miss Noble Experiment if you find yourself in San Diego.

USAirways to Raleigh

March 14, 2015

Surprise surprise! Commuter jets operated by Republic for USAirways have wifi, and you can upgrade for super cheap. Too bad they only fly out of DCA.

I am not sure what United has planned, or when its plan will be implemented, but they seem to think a plan is reality. Ridiculous.

I flew in and out for dinner and did not spend the night. But I did camp in the Marriott RTP lobby for a short while. Yuck.

At least Marriott listened (and brought out a cocktail to boot).

No driving. No flying. Nine inches of fresh snow. And on top of that, it is national absinthe day. What is to be done?

Create a snow-based absinthe drink! Without further ado, the absinthe snowball

The rum is a one year old elixer made of fresh vanilla beans soaked in brown island rum. Like vanilla extract only stronger and rummier.

The absinthe is Swiss.

The milk is 2%.

The nutmeg is fresh ground organic nutmeg.

The snow is not yellow.

Fresh snow.  Not yellow.

Fresh snow. Not yellow.

Shake other ingredients in shaker.

Shake other ingredients in shaker.

Pour over snow in fancy glass.

Pour over snow in fancy glass.

Sprinkle liberally with fresh ground nutmeg.

Sprinkle liberally with fresh ground nutmeg.

The Absinthe Snowball

Absinthe Snowball

Absinthe Snowball

OK, first of all we will still do anything to avoid United. They can have my loyalty back when they ditch the worst CEO in the United States. (Jeff Smisek. Smisek sucks. Ruined a whole airline.) Meanwhile, we’re trying to figure out how to navigate the East coast when we’re not on JW’s plane. We’re desperate, we’ll fly anybody!

Jet Blue works just fine from IAD to Boston. But NY? Not so much. Here’s the problem. JFK is just not going to work. Jamaica?? Yeah, that’s pretty far from the city.

For example, getting there on a Friday in the frozen tundra from Brooklyn (which is basically halfway there from Manhattan) takes an hour. Argh. Imagine if my flight were actually on time.

But what’s worse is that the Jet Blue terminal at JFK is off the beaten path. Car service parking? Ten minute walk. And once you are trapped there? It’s just like a very bad mall. You know, malls are dying out. Some of us know why.

I did find a good Negroni. But then I got some serious food poisoning. Really. Not good. I finally feel human again 48 hours later.

Plus Jet Blue pulled the drip delay thing that United does, flew a plane with no wifi, and well, frankly, reminded me too much of United.

Anyway, no more Jet Blue for me to New York.

hah hah hah. yeah. BZZZT.

Jet Blue fail.

Jet Blue fail.

The Eventi: NYC

February 20, 2015

The corporation has ditched the apartment in NY. Which means we now have to stay at the Eventi or 70Park when we’re in NY. Life is so hard!

It’s cold this week. Less than ten cold.

NPS is situated in 2304 on the top floor with a clear view of the back side of NY. See how cold it is?

Frozen city.

Frozen city.

2304 Eventi sitting room

2304 Eventi sitting room

The comfortable bed in 2304 bedroom dominates

The comfortable bed in 2304 bedroom dominates

Of course, we’re here for the showers. The marble clad Eventi design is great.

Two headed marble shower complete with bench

Two headed marble shower complete with bench

After our late-ish arrival, a welcome package made its way up. Thanks Christopher. Sparkling water.

Reward for Kimptoning

Reward for Kimptoning

In other NYC news, we hit Quality Meats for a nice dinner spiced up with way too much Pappy 23. Ouch. Then Roc Restaurant in Tribeca (a family place where they know us now and we speak some Italian). Get the oxtail ravioli. The Brandy Library is a superior place for a relaxing nightcap.

This NY run was fantastic. Five showerheads for the Eventi.

Oh, and we flew Jet Blue up here in our quest to avoid United at all costs. Jet Blue was fine, but JFK is not all that convenient.

By now we all know that Cary remains an acronym for “containment area for relocated Yankees,” right? Well, some of the Yankees must be rich. The Umstead is a gem.

The balcony view from 312.

The balcony view from 312.

There's a lake down there somewhere.

There’s a lake down there somewhere.

Last time I was here, they welcomed me with a nice amenity (chocolates! water! wine!). Why? Who knows. But I am apparently no longer on the list. This time I ordered my own (rather expensive) bottle of sparkling water. We’ll see if they get the memo before my April reservation.

Room 312 is very nice. In particular, the shower rocks.

It's all about the bathroom in 312

It’s all about the bathroom in 312

Umstead cubicles. One for the shower.  One for the toilet.

Umstead cubicles. One for the shower. One for the toilet.

That shower.  Yes!

That shower. Yes!

Five stars minus an amenity to the Umstead.

The capstone of this visit to NCSU was an over-capacity sold out Cyber War talk. Afterwards, a visit to Fox Liquor bar was superb. What a find. Real cocktails and real expertise. Garrett Waddell exceeded expectations by blending a Manhattan derivative with a (verboten) Blood and Sand. For the record, Scotch is not my thing. But this cocktail was great!

Message in Blood
1.5 oz Aberlour highland scotch
1.5 oz Punt et Mes
bar spoon cherry heering
3 dashes Agostura
Stir down. Serve up. Garnish with an orange twist.

Dinner at Buku was very good. They could use a pass to update their winelist, but the food was very tasty and the service great.

After dinner, we returned to Fox Liquor to round out the night.

This is a drink discovered in Denver, Colorado at the Williams and Graham bar (quite a fantastic place). This cocktail was invented by Chad Michael George one evening with a gaggle of geeks—a delicious beverage that runs hot and a little sweet with a bitters kicker.

Sexual Chocolate
2 oz Rye (barrel proof)
.75 oz Cocchi Torino vermouth
.5 oz Cynar
teaspoon of cherry liqueur (heering or luxardo)
7 drops chocolate bitters
stir. strain over big cube. add a luxardo cherry on skewer

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