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Long ago in a galaxy far far away Joe Capalbo set the Kimpton hook by paying attention. Since that time, Joe has moved up the food chain, running the Onyx across town, and recently coming back as the General Manager of my Boston home away from home, the Hotel Marlowe.

Joe has been good to his word. He even listens to Where’s Aubrey. That’s above and beyond the call of duty.

Another personal note from Joe, this one featuring a song title.

Another personal note from Joe, this one featuring a song title.

The welcome setup in 621 reminds me of a miniature version of Christmas morning. Fun. Thanks Joe.

High information welcome package.

High information welcome package.

One of the four featured local craft cocktail bars mentioned above is Craigie on Main, which I can attest has a superior bar and some very skilled people working behind it. The coup de grace of a great bar is a real sazarac capability. The sazarac, though simple in concept, is always a very tricky drink to get just right. At Craigie they do it right (and they surprise you with it with a comped delivery after a delicious meal). Also of note is the fantastic wine list at Craigie. We enjoyed a stellar a 2010 Nit de Nin Priorat. The food was very good as well.

Craigie on Main makes a Mellow Yellow as follows:
1.5 Buffalo Trace bourbon
.5 Yellow chartreuse
.5 Becherovka (a new one on me, see below)
.25 Apricot liqueur
dash Regan’s orange bitters
Stir. Express orange peel and drop in.

Becherovka is a cinnamon bitters from the Czech Republic

Becherovka is a cinnamon bitters from the Czech Republic

Back at the Marlowe, some pictures from 621.

Glass shower de riguer

Glass shower de riguer

Bedroom

Bedroom

Bathroom mirror (mirror).

Bathroom mirror (mirror).

Telescope room.

Telescope room.

But wait, there’s more. Day2 the plan was to bar hop with Kimpton bar strategist and Tequila master Jacques Bezuidenhout and his trusty associate Ken. It was a dangerous plan and well executed.

We started at the Blue Room with a very good meal indeed. Their bar program is really looking up these days, and the space is nicely spruced up. Then it was off to drink for the best visit ever. Ezra Star was in the house and surprised that Jacques and I arrived together. (The planet is really small.) She joined us for some tequila after her shift. The highlight of the evening other than the company was a tour of the entire incredible kitchen drink/sportello/menton trifecta by Barbara Lynch’s very natty GM John. Amazing place and excellent tour. And somehow I now seem to owe Josey Packard a bottle of Amer Picon?!

Suffice it to say that 6:30am rolled around way too early.

Five showerheads and a very high bar indeed for the Hotel Marlowe and my favorite Kimpton GM Joe Capalbo.

In flying news, United saw fit to upgrade me on two of three legs for this trip. I’ll be checking a bag from Boston, because I was given a bottle of Rhum to bring home to the bar. (Directions are: 1/8 oz lime with pure cane sugar and 2 oz rhum – or so.)

Rhum Agricole from Guadeloupe.

Rhum Agricole from Guadeloupe.

Getting back up in the saddle can be a challenge sometimes, especially after no fly July. Michal Penek and her crack staff at the Hotel Marlowe are doing what they can to make things easier. (United airlines, on the other hand, flew me up here with no upgrade as per usual. United sucks.)

Before you threaten to get out your tiny violin and play me a sad sad song, note that there has been lots of music lately too during the July hiatus. No time for that in airplane mode! The last hurrah on the music front was this weekend’s 20th anniversary Oopstock in the far reaches of the New Hampshire’s darkest jungles.

Drive in at 11pm? No problem. Everybody said hi. Super friendly and nice welcome, even to a zombie cruising on 3 hours of sleep. Thanks you guys.

San Pellegrino and cheese puffs, what more could you want?

San Pellegrino and cheese puffs, what more could you want?

Day came on early and bright in room 621.

Instrument pile in the corner.

Instrument pile in the corner.

The telescope, blinded by the light.

The telescope, blinded by the light.

In Kimpton scuttlebutt news, Joe Capalbo is coming back to run the Marlowe after his stint at the Onyx, and Michal is headed to the Onyx to take his place. Musical chairs! Of course we selfishly like to see good management promoted, because it means more great service from Kimptons in the future.

Nothing but blue skies.

Nothing but blue skies.

Five showerheads and a wary look at the upcoming travel schedule for the Hotel Marlowe.

In other Boston news, the usual visit to The Blue Room followed by a late night at drink took place on schedule and slightly over budget.

Palmer concocted a Fancy Free as follows:
2.25 oz Eagle rare (wheated bourbon)
.75 oz Luxardo
2 dashes Angostura Orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
Express orange peel over drink (shaken and strained)

Two years ago when I was being treated as a random walk-in guest at Hotel Marlowe on visit 15 or so no less, Joe Capalbo, who was the GM at the time, took it upon himself to fix the problem. He even sent me a toy glass shower for my birthday which to this day lives in my office in Virginia. Thank goodness Joe is around, because he rescued a Marlowe visit again even though he runs the Onxy across town! Thanks Joe.

So what happened? Good question.

I was greeted by name on my arrival this time, and then promptly told by a very green and very chipper manager why they did not have the kind of room that I like available for me this stay. It’s not like I just thought this trip up last week. I have had a reservation for months. Time warp to bad! Guess what Connie and Michal, as a long time overly loyal guest I really don’t care how full the hotel is, why nobody was able to plan around this, or how you might go about getting me the kind of room I would like etc. I am not the hotel manager. You are.

My least favorite part of this “you can’t always get what you want” dance was being given a choice between a low inside cave room with a glass shower or a shower curtain room of the sort I used to whine about in 2010. That’s the very same trick we used on our toddlers to get them to feel they had some power in the “what’s for dinner” department. (They’re teenagers now, FWIW.) “Would you like yummy peas or delicious spinach?” we would ask. Of course, grownups get to say, “neither, thanks.” Toddlers can be bamboozled. I’m pretty sure I may be a grownup?! Maybe.

So I dutifully checked in to room 3-something (?!), ditched my stuff and caught the T to the new offices in Boston (very cool, BTW and situated in a hot area just by South Station). Underwhelmed by my Marlowe welcome, I tweeted, “The big ‘whatever’ from hotel marlowe. They know my name but whiff on preferences. @kimpton has me spoiled, but not this week. Minus 10.”

Cave room nice (but dark).

Cave room nice (but dark).

Glass shower trumps light when forced.

Glass shower trumps light when forced.

Window overlooks parking courtyard.

Window overlooks parking courtyard.

During dinner and when getting a nightcap afterwards, my Boston peeps had great fun tweeting to the Ritz about getting me to jump ship from Kimpton. Much fun was had by all. And lo and behold, when I returned around midnight there was a new executive class room set up for me with all my stuff in it and a stinky cheese welcome package from Joe.

Things were definitely looking up, because I have a telescope.

Exec class rooms with telescopes are what I like.

Exec class rooms with telescopes are what I like.

Now a little aside about management spin. After the midnight upgrade which remedied the situation, Connie saw me in the morning and insisted on letting me know that I was given this room “due to a cancellation.” Really? Not only do I not need to know this, all it does is underline how the Hotel Marlowe apparently really feels about my business. “Good thing someone more important to us than you didn’t show up so we could backfill.” Uh, thanks. Try this instead, “We noted your disappointment and fixed the problem. It will never happen again.” Green.

At least 621 is nice.

More room to spread out in 621.

More room to spread out in 621.

Morning light in the sitting room (which was properly used).

Morning light in the sitting room (which was properly used).

I brought my own bathrobe and slippers for the weekend in NH. (Music time!)

Looks like home.

Looks like home.

My kind of shower.

Functional yet glass.

Functional yet glass.

For room preference shenanigans we will award the Hotel Marlowe two showerheads and then at the last minute (only because a more important hotel did not show up) change it to four showerheads.

Just before heading out to NH, I had a very nice chat with Michal Penek (the new GM). It’s always good to put a human face on things. I’m looking forward to my next visit.

In other Boston news: Mortons is the same as it is in every other city (yawn). The Tufts kids are super psyched about software security. The Blue Room is as excellent as ever with yet another new chef who is taking the direction Florentine. And the coup de grace this trip, drink was in rare form, serving delicious Liberals (real Amer Picon in stock), milk punch, and an Ezra-made concoction.