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Want to be near the Pacific in a terrific city? San Francisco can do that for you.

This visit included a bug free stay at the Buchanan Hotel in Japantown where Emily G and her excellent co-workers made us feel especially welcome. Here’s how.

First, the giant tetris game that is specific hotel room request came out in our favor and we secured 416 (the best room in the property with lots of windows and a great bathroom).

Yellow roses

Yellow roses

Second, yellow roses!

Third, a mystery gift…

What's in the bag?

What’s in the bag?

Sleepytime tea, honey, and some pottery mugs. Just like home.

Sleepytime tea, honey, and some pottery mugs. Just like home.

Arrival was delightful.

416 and roses

416 and roses

Notes, sparking water, cheese and fruit.  All good.  Plus tea!

Notes, sparking water, cheese and fruit. All good. Plus tea!

416 has a spacious bathroom with a glass shower. No plastic showers!!

The glass shower cube

The glass shower cube

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A little rain never hurt anything. Especially in drought stricken California. The fact that the weather was perfect for the weekend was, well, perfect.

Rainy day Japantown

Rainy day Japantown

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With the expert help of Jacob, Saturday’s itenerary was outstanding.

Brunch at Foreign Cinema was first. We used the show up at 10:45 and walk right in at 11 hack.

Foreign Cinema brunch

Foreign Cinema brunch

Followed by a quick last minute stint at the Farmer’s Market

Saturday morning market

Saturday morning market

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And a trip to Lands End.

Land's End

Land’s End

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Who's that?

Who’s that?

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Cocktail hour was spent at the always fantastic Smuggler’s Cove for tiki, rum, and conversation. A meeting of the secret book club was held.

Smuggler's Cove is one of the best bars in the world

Smuggler’s Cove is one of the best bars in the world

Dinner was at The Progress. Super fantastic, rollicking fun time. And the food was good too!

Sunday should start with a great brunch, say at the Hillside Supper Club.

And then a trip to Napa on a gorgeous day! Domaine Carneros is a great target, especially if you have club privileges.

One of my favorite wines in the world is Old Hill from Ravenswood.

Pizza evening (due to a 2 hour wait at the sushi place we targetted) was followed by a visit to the delightful Churchhill bar. This is a low key almost dive like neighborhood place with an outstanding collection of serious booze.

In other San Francisco fun NPS gladly notes the following establishments:
lunch (every day) at cafe claude
ramen in Japantown at Waraku
fun and games with superb cocktails at Forgery
world class brunch at Plow
jacques incredible cocktails in a relaxed and gorgeous room at Wildhawk
outstanding food at rich table

About which these twitterz:

Thursday madness was particularly fun this iteration.

Five showerheads with a wink and a nod for the Buchanan where everything went as planned.

Sadly, Hartford, CT is lacking in both the boutique hotel and high-end cocktail bar departments. That makes life here at NPS kind of difficult. Marriott hamster cage for you! And mid-tier booze to boot.

View from the 19th Floor (Hartford, CT)

View from the 19th Floor (Hartford, CT)

The good news, relatively speaking, is that my travel companion this trip is a super Elite Marriott Platinum whatever. He booked all the rooms. What that means to NPS is that the bottle of water is free! Such amenity.

Here is what cage number 1921 looks like. (FWIW, 1921 is way better than 717 was last go ’round.)

Hartford Marriott 1921

Hartford Marriott 1921

1921 bed

1921 bed

1921 pays homage to the TV (standard Marriott practice)

1921 pays homage to the TV (standard Marriott practice)

The shower is glass and is very nice. NPS approved.

Not plastic!

Not plastic!

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A last minute hunt for a decent cocktail bar in the city came up with nothing. So down to the Marriott bar it was for a nightcap. Negroni? Check. Stagg Jr? Sure why not. NPS advises you to just skip the bar visit.

One ray of sunshine during this visit is that Max’s Downtown is a very nice restaurant with an interesting wine list. Highly recommended.

In the end, this Marriott property is a low three showerhead kind of place. Nice enough in its generic big hotel you must be here on business way.

NPS cleans the bar

June 30, 2016

Sometimes the bar must be cleaned. Here is a series of tweets from the @noplasticshower stream (follow us today)!

This accounts for about half of the collection. The other half (reserves mostly) are under the bar itself.

Perhaps this is a trend. Hopefully not! Anyway, NPS finds itself in another city not staying in a hotel. What?! The reason this time has to do with the rather appalling state of hotels in Ann Arbor. For example, these hotels.

There is still plenty of information that NPS readers can benefit from WRT Ann Arbor. So here it is.

First of all, there seems to be some kind of underground bread oven thing going on.

Bread oven

Bread oven

And, not following the Mason-derived construction rules can lead to hard labor.

For a supremely good brunch (especially on a Sunday) try either location of Cafe Zola.

Excellent Cuban food can be found at Frita Batidos.

Finally, there are some reasonable cocktails to be had at Mash.

The Ravens Club has an outstanding bourbon and rye collection, including George T Stagg, Hirsch 74, and Thomas Handy.

Ravens Club bar

Ravens Club bar

Though dinner at Logan was truly outstanding in all respects (fantastic food, super bar, very good wine list, top notch service), we were left with a sour taste in our mouth when one of the owners (there are three) stopped the bar from providing us a recipe for a cocktail before heading out the door. Fuck that. In our view here at NPS, keeping recipes and techniques secret is the domain of children and assholes. Don’t be one.

Logan's cute little bar

Logan’s cute little bar

The attempt failed.

Here’s how to make a None More Black
1.5 oz black sesame infused blackstrap Cruzan rum
.75 oz cocchi americano apertivo
.5 oz root
Stir down, strain into coupe, express orange peel and balance.

The Last Word on a Tuesday

The Last Word on a Tuesday

At the quasi-underground Last Word, we had a Last word (it was almost chartreuse day) (of course) and proceeded with a Rye and Bourbon lesson using the antique collection 2015 offerings. The Last Word is a great place to drink.

A Last Word at the Last Word

A Last Word at the Last Word

When visiting Ann Arbor, make sure not to be sentenced to three or more years of hard labor building a bread oven.

Glassaholic: Old Fashioned

November 15, 2015

The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail ruined by many a bad bar. There are two schools of Old Fashioned making out there. Here at NPS, we’re from the muddling school as you will see. This is a fantastic drink for a Fall day. You’ll need a muddling stick.

The Old Fashioned
2 oz bourbon (we’re using Bowman’s Small Batch here)
orange wheel slice
2 luxardo cherries
4 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashioned bitters
2 t simple syrup
soda water

Slice an orange wheel and put it into your glass. Add two cherries, the bitters and the simple syrup. Muddle. Add 2 oz of bourbon. Stir. Add ice. Top with soda. Put in an extra cherry if you like cherries!

A delicious drink for the Fall in front of a fire.

Glassaholic: Seelbach

November 30, 2014

The Seelbach is one of our favorite time-warp inducing cocktails. Named after either a Kentucky hotel or an upstate NY hotel depending on who you ask, this drink has been around since 1917.

The delightfully dangerous thing about a Seelbach is that you get an instant champagne buzz when you start drinking it, and when you’re done, you’ve just had a shot of bourbon.

We shot this episode of glassaholic at Nother’s Day.

The Seelbach
1 oz bourbon
.5 oz cointreau
7 dashes Angostura’s
7 dashes Peychaud’s

stir with a sterling silver spoon then top with dry champagne. Add a lemon twist to fancy it up.

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!

The Driskill Lobby screams cattle baron

The Driskill Lobby screams cattle baron

Where I'm Blogging From (apologies to Raymond)

Where I’m Blogging From (apologies to Raymond)

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.

536. Corner balcony.

536. Corner balcony.

Outside looking good.

Outside looking good.

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).

This shower no plastic has.

This shower no plastic has.

The powder room has his and her sinks (no hers and hers in TX!)

The powder room has his and her sinks (no hers and hers in TX!)

Three showerheads. Hot damn!

Three showerheads. Hot damn!

And then there is this (literally through glass).

And then there is this (literally through glass).

536 has a ceiling fan.

536 has a ceiling fan.

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!

Amenity and personal note. Nice touch Driskill.

Amenity and personal note. Nice touch Driskill.

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 suze
.75 barolo chinato
stir down, serve up with a big ice cube (drape drink over cube), express orange peel and slip down the side.