Home

Yep, it’s silicon valley time and that means the Cowper Inn. This place is so much like home that we request rooms by number in a particular order. Fortunately, we usually end up in 31 (the NPS preferred room).

The flight out on Virgin America was great. Upgraded to first class and ended up with a row of my own. Virgin America makes you pay to upgrade no matter what, but that works for NPS!

It became a clear sunny day in Palo Alto. If you have not visited, Palo Alto is a great place to walk around, window shop, and spend way too much money on furniture. Last time NPS was in town, we accidentally discovered a store which has since managed to sell us multiple very expensive and very comfortable chairs. That would be rejuvenation.

Sequoia

In the yard

Nice room if you ignore the wallpaper

That ’80s kind of shower that your parents had

Through the looking glass

The living room and breakfast room is almost always unoccupied after morning.

Always fresh flowers

In other news, do not go to Roots and Rye which sucks in all possible ways. A waste of gas to get there. workaday: lazy prep, stale bread, uninteresting cocktails, terrible architecture, service that needs training.

Five nostalgic shower heads for the Cowper and its gorgeous yard.

Delta does manage to trip over its feet doesn’t it?

On a multi-hop trip this week we ended up way overpaying to get an earlier flight (oops!) which put us in 1D in first class for an Atlanta to Chicago run. Nice flight with excellent service and some booze to boot.

Then the next day trying to be early again this time we opted to pay $75 for standy and the worst seat in the history of NPS! But it was fun.

Last row, no recline!

What a massive fall from grace. At least we got to get on the airplane first to stash our stuff.

So, does money matter? Yes it does. Does “status” matter? Hell no! You go capitalism.

#rockthecasBAR

May 11, 2017

When iteration one’s hashtag is #londonculling where do you go from there? Obviously #rockthecasBAR!

This time we fueled up before our London cocktail adventure. And we even paid.

Then it was off through the crowded streets of London to Dukes Hotel. If you are in the mood for a Bond-inspired super high octane cocktail on the martini spectrum, Dukes is the place. We were explicitly warned to have ONE (in all caps even) by a professional! Thanks for the warning Jacques, you were right.

We walked the few blocks up to the Ritz for round two. We were almost let into the casino to do some gambling (which was not the plan). A corrected trajectory put us through the front door to Rivoli. It was Negroni time.

The beautiful clear ice was branded in the Savoy style. Everyone is copying everyone else in London.

Time for a cab to Clerkenwell, hailed by a snarky doorman. Back to…wait for it…the Zetter Townhouse to see the dead cat. This is our regular London haunt and we were immediately recognized at the door.

Here kitty kitty

Sticking with the gin, we decided on a Zetter Gimlet made with some infusion or other (I believe a kind of tea). It was delicious. The cat joined in.

While waiting for companion three to arrive from across London at rush hour we started feeling parched, so we ordered a round of 20th Century, some pistachios, and some jerky sausage.

Twentieth Century
10 ml lemon juice
10 ml creme de cacao
20 ml cocci americano
40 ml dry gin (jensens)
stir. strain. express lemon peel. small lemon garnish.

The kitty will have another

Ramen is always helpful the day after too many cocktails, but we were just getting started. Prophylactic ramen is now a thing. Monohon ramen is just as great as we thought it would be. Super authentic and delicious.

As NPS is writing this and feeling rather surprisingly good in the morning, I suppose that the prophylactic ramen did its job. Unfiltered sake was not really what the doctor ordered, but we had it anyway.

Warning: This is not a cocktail

A short walk to Callooh-Callay was when our kung fu set in. We walked right past the waiting people, made a joke with the doorman about being tweeners, and immediately sat down at the crowded bar. We were served by either Carrie or Mary. Callooh-Callay is a raucous place where quiet conversation is not in the cards.

Either Carrie of Mary suggested a Hanky Panky. We’re always up for that.

Feeling like talking to each other again, we cabbed it over to the Savoy to visit the Beaufort. We are sad that the Beaufort has changed its menu. They now feature some kind of cartoon menu that seems very Disney. NPS does not approve.

We ordered a Silver Bullet and a Never Ending Story (or two) even though the waiter tried not to let us.

By this time our phone use capabilities were waning and hashtags were slipping into gobbleddygook. We cabbed back to home base at Mondrian Sea Containers, missing a train in the meantime.

Dandelyon was packed of course, so we used our magic to waltz right in and rearrange the furniture. Alex was behind the bar and one year older. Complimentary bubbly arrived which put us in the mood for a French 75.

This somehow made Fernet happen and then it was off to bed. Meanwhile, the guest experience fairies delivered a bottle of champagne while were were out and left it with a personal note. Nice touch!

#londonculling, #rockthecasBAR, what’s next??

Delta Business Class

May 4, 2017

Is Tumi better than Saks Fifth Avenue? That’s the main branding difference between United’s Polaris thing and Delta’s Business Class. All told, NPS still prefers the Virgin Atlantic business class to Europe experience. All of this is complicated by the fact that Virgin America was bought by Alaska in 2016. Every one of the alliances is re-aligning. No real loyalty left out there in airplane-land for NPS.

Delta and Tumi are a thing

The Delta pods are not quite as advanced as the United pods are these days, but they do lay flat. The tiny just out of reach touch screens need some ergonomic work (or a remote control).

Delta business class pod

The Virgin arrivals lounge at Heathrow (a Delta partner) is worth a visit. Hot showers and food that is slightly better than what you get on the airplane.

So delta will do. Pods make all the difference.

The plan was a bit intense and involved a taxi, a train, a plane, a car, and just over 25 hours. We did this to see the New Pornographers.

According to twitter, the day went something like this:

So all in all a long but great day ending at the Philadelphia Monaco in room 616. A room that we like so much we’ll severely overpay just to stay in it!

616 looks different by night and day.

616 by day

616 by night

A bed felt great after 5,000 miles

High style in the bathroom

But we’re here for the shower!

One of the top NPS approved showers on the entire planet

Plus look at this outstanding welcome. Personal note from Abby and a tiki-style beverage.

616 view by night

616 view by day

Anyway, the Monaco room 616 is fantastic. Great style, the best shower within hundreds of miles, a comfortable bed, and management that runs a pretty tight ship. Just avoid the NFL draft weekend crowds if you can! LOL.

Dinner before the show at Sazon was interesting and delicious. Make sure to BYOB or cider or case of cider (as the case may be).

Of course, NPS can’t go to Philly anymore without visiting Paul MacDonald and company at Friday Saturday Sunday. We enjoyed a Cloudbreak or two and a newly minted by as yet unnamed cocktail that we’re calling the Ombre Snowcap for the time being. Back bar Fernet was had by some and ignored by the uninitiated.

Friday Saturday Sunday may be the best bar in Philadelphia

The Cloudbreak

The Cloudbreak is such a good cocktail that it was instantly copied in Virginia at the NPS home bar. Paul makes the best version of course. We’re mere dabblers at NPS.

Paul intends to switch out the Cloudbreak for a summer drink that we call the Ombre Snowcap.

Ombre Snowcap (well we call it that for now anyway)

Ombre Snowcap
1.5 oz Fines Herbs infused Vodka (parsely, chive, tarragon 24-hours)
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz meletti amaro
1/16 oz olive oil
.75 egg white
Dry shake, shake, strain into rocks glass (no ice). Season foam with pechauds and soda and drop on top

This cocktail does a magical separation thing that is hard to describe. Paul’s work is truly amazing. Try this at home if you dare!

Home to the Monaco 25 hours in! Honestly the Friday Saturday Sunday visit was more fun that the masterly but non-charismatic show put on by the New Pornographers. Get some charisma you guys!

Back to our story. If you’re out until 2am after 25 hours, you sleep through breakfast. Which is why they make room service to bring you espressoand a muffin for $45. LOL.

Around noon it is off to Nom Nom Ramen for a leisurely lunch.

Nom Nom

Followed by a coffee at Elixer, and a cocktail at Milkboy.

A steamy day on the sunny side of the sidewalk in Philadelphia

It was a quick hit to Philly, but a great time. Five showerheads for the Hotel Monaco in Philadelphia.

A quick stop in at Vitae Spirits was a great end to a day of intellectual pursuit at UVa. Vitae is a new distillery, but their outstanding product belies their young age.

Tasting three products: two rums and a gin

Hard to describe how good the rum is (with no aging at all), especially the oustanding Golden Rum product. Proprietor and founder Ian Glomski is a microbiologist by training and his scientific background really shines through. (Kind of reminds me of Becky Harris from Catoctin Creek since she was a chemist before turning to distilling.)

The remarkable Golden Rum is distilled with grilled sugar cane and molasses. Charcoaled american oak chips give it some interesting characteristics (and its color). Post production sugaring with molassas (fairly standard with many rums) happens when the spirit is brought down to 80 proof from its run up over 150.

The Platinum Rum is also very very good. Some readers may recall from WAY back that the first spirit NPS had under its belt was rum. This one stands up to the range.

The Modern Gin? We’ll just skip talking about that.

The Vitae still is also very interesting—a hybrid pot still/column still attached in-line.

The hybrid still

Though we have never seen a still quite like this before, NPS is told that many craft distillers use hybrids like this.

Pot

Column

The whole shebang

Of course yeast and mash make all the difference in the world. Here is where the microbes do their thing to make beer for the still. The beer only comes in around 4% when it is run. That is low by rum standards, but whatever Ian is doing is really working well.

We also tried some experimental Anisette which is still in experimentation stage. This product is very interesting. Ian is working out a post production infusion plan now (testing regular lemon versus meyers lemon). Thanks for the palate clearing yogurt from your personal stash Ian!

Strong design

The best way to finish a distillery visit is to run out and try the product in the wild. Toward that end, we made a quick visit to the Alley Light where we sampled a drink called Castro’s Ashes
1.5 oz Vitea Golden Rum
.75 oz Cynar
.75 oz sassafras vermouth (maybe ransom?)
4 drops BBQ bitters
stir down. Serve up in a coupe. Flame orange peel and balance on the edge.

Castro’s Ashes from Alley Light

NPS is bullish on Vitae Spirits. Check them out before they get big!

Quaqua Hike: Grenada

March 11, 2017

Park HQ

When you’re not allowed to dive due to immanent flying, go for a hike. The Quaqua hike is great. Bring food and water. Get a guide if you want (though getting lost would require serious stupid skills).

View of Grenada from on high

We packed some boiled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches from Laluna and headed to the park.

The intrepid hikers

Or maybe that is the silly hikers

Big fern

Ryan the explorer

The top

Down was slippery

Then after a Stag beer, it was back to Laluna.

Dirty legs

The end