September 29, 2014
Yes, its a gray and rainy day in London. Nothing at all surprising about that. But at the Zetter all is sunny and bright (in a virtual way). I’ve been a guest at this hotel multiple times and have quaffed many a cocktail at the Zetter Townhouse next door. This trip I am staying in the Townhouse itself, up on the third floor in room 11.
Rooms in the Townhouse have the same quirky design as the downstairs lounge. Antiques, old art, stuffed cats, fancy columns all thrown together willy nilly to nice effect.
Though the bedroom includes a huge gilded tub, there is a glass shower cube tucked away in the black and white tiled bathroom.
Best of all, upon my very early arrival from the other side of the pond, room 11 was ready to be immediately occupied. Short nap. Hot shower. We’re off to a good start.
Workshop coffee just across the street serves breakfast at all hours. And they make an espresso that even jOHN would approve of.
There’s nothing quite like a visit to the Tate Modern in an arrival fugue state to make life seem any more surreal than normal.
An early business dinner at Tramshed rounds out the first evening. Cow in formaldehyde with a chicken on its back.
And not to outdo the lesbian petting in the gents, there’s this.
To recover, a Liberal is in order, perfectly made at the classy Zetter Townhouse bar.
Night two included dinner at the modern pantry (right next door to the Zetter Townhouse). Interesting and very eclectic food that is hit or miss. Make sure not to skip the black sesame for dessert.
A nightcap at the Townhouse was going well until some jackass showed up at the bar and insisted on picking a fight?! Easy enough to walk away, but not the sort of thing you expect at an upscale establishment. I did not wait for the situation to be resolved, but simply headed upstairs.
But before that, we experimented with a couple of El Presidente inspired cocktails by Bobbie. Experiment 1:
40 cl myers rum
10 cl byrhh
10 cl fino dry sherry
5 cl grenadine
2.5 cl fernet
stir. serve up in a champagne glass.
40 cl myers rum
10 cl byrhh
5 cl fino dry sherry
5 cl grenadine
2.5 cl fernet
stir. serve up in champagne glass.
The only issue with this drink was inferior rum. A cuban anejo barrel proof would be ideal. Or maybe even mount gay eclipse. Will work this one at home.
September 23, 2014
Austin, TX. You can’t help but think of live music of course…which can be found in the airport BTW. But there is old school elegance here too from the early days of the “Republic.” Well, elegance if you’re into spittoons.
Checkin is efficient, Texas-friendly, and slides in the upsell without even blinking a lash or ruffling a feather. That’s just what happens when you have a glass shower problem!
I found myself in a corner suite due to the glass shower issue. Accounting may be mad, but we’ll get it handled. 536 is the “bridal suite.” Must be the hot tub. So Texas cheerleader.
Of course it’s hot out since it’s Texas. But no so very. Only 85 today, which compared to the 105 I know from my High School days is downright cool. Sadly, the view from the balcony has changed somewhat since 1886.
Reality check on the view. About as awesome as downtown Austin gets though. This is not Buenos Aires Toto.
But we’re all about the bathroom on NPS. Marble. 1886. Plus a Texas cheerleader hot tub (cheerleader not included).
536 is a nice room, and rumored to be the best one. It could use an ipod player from this decade (nano no worky). But what it really needs is some outlets. Any outlets. The bedside tables have none. The TV dresser has none. There are no outlets. Better hurry up and post this before my mac dies.
When I came back from cocktail hour at the very interesting bar in the Driskill, there was a note, some sparkling water and some fruit waiting for me. Thanks!
Four very high showerheads for the Driskill (oh so close to five). Just goes to show you how spoiled we are…and addicted to our machines.
A workaday “Italian” dinner can be procured at Carmelos. Skip it. There have to be better places to eat in Austin!
Drinks at the speakeasy Midnight Cowboy were very well made. Old school with a west coast flare. We did get one experimental beverage but neglected to write down the recipe. The interior reminds me of Bourbon and Branch. In a twist, the bartender comes to your table with a trolley to make drinks.
Late night pretzel and some William Larue Weller at Easy Tiger seemed like a good idea at the time. Real bourbon.
Fleming’s Steakhouse is pretty straight down the Bell curve in steakhouse-land. Good meat. Butter heavy sides. But the wine list is pretty lame. It’s as if TX is trapped in the ’80s wine wise.
Half Step is a world class bar with very talented barkeeps. About the only complaint about our visit was that the band was great but WAY too loud. Had to yell to talk. Every old cocktail we ordered was made to perfection (sazarac, corpse reviver #2). Whitney Hobbs materfully triangulated a Paige Ellis as follows:
1.5 bourbon (whiney used dickel 8 yr, I would use something hotter)
.75 barolo chinato
stir down, serve up with a big ice cube (drape drink over cube), express orange peel and slip down the side.
September 14, 2014
The Haven room includes a private bathroom.
But sadly, the shower situation does need some attention. Not enough water pressure only exacerbates the over tub design. Alas.
After a show in the nearby American Theater and an excellent tapas feast at Six, we arrived in time for a very late nightcap on the porch at 1:30am. (We brought the doctor’s bag.) The evening was beautiful.
Breakfast looked great, but we missed it to attend a brunch in Virginia Beach featuring sourdough waffles.
All told the Magnolia House Inn is a great place to stay. Four shower heads for this B&B.
September 10, 2014
Trouble in paradise this visit which started out about as chunky as possible—no reservation. I always rely on my travel people to get things squared away (thanks edie!) and they are great. This time I let an outside firm work travel. Yes, I did already know not to do that! When I tried to tack a day on to this trip, everything went south fast.
Having arrived in the nick of time to drop stuff off and head to DC for a business dinner, I was confronted with a problem. No reservation and no available rooms in the hotel. While very courteous, the front desk clerk Damien was ultimately not very helpful at all, and he did not escalate to more senior management. My inner circle Kimpton status did not seem to make much difference either. I was in a bind.
Fortunately, Stephan Vogel (GM at the George) had my back and started an email thread to find me a room on DC including the new GM of the DC Palomar Josh Lustig. (FWIW, Josh just took over from Abe Liao.) While they were solving the problem, I finally got a message back from the people who had messed up the reservation in the first place. They convinced the Monaco to give me a room. So that’s good…
But it was room 315, which if I were you I would avoid. It faces the street and is very noisy in the morning starting around 6:30am. It is also a handicap accessible room with a shower over tub design. Not my style.
Of course, not knowing I was staying the night made it hard for the Monaco to do anything to greet me or personalize my stay. Apparently they don’t monitor the twitter feed very closely. If they did, the problem would have been discovered way before my arrival.
I was told that I can get a different (better) room for the second night. Hopefully that is the case.
I rushed off to a fantastic business dinner at Le Diplomate (highly recommended, especially the world class bread). Larry secured us a VIP table. After dinner it was off on a bourbon search, first to bourbon (booked for a private event) and then to Jack Rose (also booked for a private event, but by friends as it turned out). Jack Rose has a fantastic bourbon selection that included Pappy 23, Pappy 20, and two varieties (US and Japanese) of Hirsch 16.
When I returned to 315 at midnight, I was greeted with a belated welcome note and a shot or two of bourbon (!!) from Pete and Jess, who turned out to be people from the organization hosting the meeting. Somebody is paying attention, but are any Kimpton people paying attention?! For the record I did have to go find a paper in the morning.
After a long day of meetings and presentations I returned briefly to the Monaco and switched to room 503. 503 is an excellent room and I appreciate the move, but strangely nobody mentioned the mixup, the bind, the switch. It’s as if “these are not the droids you’re looking for” applies.
Cheese plate and San Pellegrino. So they do know I am here! Awesome. But no note, so “they” remain unknown.
The shower in 503 is fantastic. Great water pressure and plenty of glass-defined space. As usual, there is a huge (unused) tub in this room as well.
More data from Alexandria, the Landini Brothers restaurant has workaday Italian with a weird but decent wine list and food served by Spanish-speaking waiters. The PX Lounge is so full of itself that though they might make a decent cocktail, it is ultimately skippable. The greeter/waitress/busybody calls herself a “den mother” which pretty much says it all. If you’re not a cub scout, ignore the reviews by foodies with no cocktail clue (sietsema) and go somewhere else. Yes, PX some of us know more about mixing drinks than you do.
Hotel Monaco is a great place to stay. Some more attention to personal service seems to be warranted. A low four showerheads for this visit. I’m sure I will be back and I will make sure to make my own reservation!
September 3, 2014
The Mojito is a popular drink that you can find all over the place these days, even in bars that otherwise suck. The key to a good mojito is simplicity: fresh mint, fresh lime, simple syrup and a good muddling stick.
We make mojitos around here in the summertime when the mint is growing like crazy.
3 oz dark rum (my gay eclipse)
8 mint leaves (and the top of a sprig to garnish)
1/2 lime quartered
1 t simple syrup 1:1 (cane sugar)
Muddle the mint, simple syrup, and lime in the bottom of a sturdy glass. Add 3 oz of rum and stir. Fill glass with ice and top with sparkling water. Top with a mint garnish.
Delicious and summery.