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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.

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.

Room 315

Room 315

Bathroom in 315

Bathroom in 315

Shower over tub full of handrails. The curtain blows in the wind.

Shower over tub full of handrails. The curtain blows in the wind.

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.

Two kinds of Hirsch 16

Two kinds 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.

Welcome back to 315 after midnight

Welcome back to 315 after midnight

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.

There's nothing to see here.  All is well.

There’s nothing to see here. All is well.

Cheese plate and San Pellegrino. So they do know I am here! Awesome. But no note, so “they” remain unknown.

Welcome to 503. Kimpton Karma.

Welcome to 503. Kimpton Karma.

503 suite is sweet

503 suite is sweet

Lots of light and no noise in the living room

Lots of light and no noise in the living room

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.

No plastic shower in 503

No plastic shower in 503

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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!

For a month now, the Chicago Palomar has been leading the “battle of the Palomars.” With their artists suite hack, replete with house made jerky and a truly outstanding bar downstairs, they were looking like a lock. (Not to discount what San Francisco has been up to this year, I just need to get back there!) But Steph Vogel, GM at the DC Palomar has joined the game, and the Presidential Suite certainly doesn’t hurt!

Super friendly checkin. The valet guys remembered the mosquito.

Room 924 is not just a suite in name, with tons of room and stylish decor.

The fruit and cheese welcome package came in very handy as dinner was slated for late. And loyal readers already know how we feel about sparkling water here in noplasticshowersland.

Greetings

Greetings

What President would like this?

What President would like this?

It’s refreshing to be in a presidential suite that was designed well after the Reagan administration. Compare this gorgeous space to what the nearby Westfields Marriott has to offer. Kimpton = skinny pants, Marriott = khakis.

Presidential sleep land at the DC Palomar.

Presidential sleep land at the DC Palomar.

This chair is crazier than it looks from this angle.

This chair is crazier than it looks from this angle.

There are two bathrooms in this space, and room for a small gathering.

Powder room.

Powder room.

The master bath has a glass shower and a gigantic whirlpool tub.

Old school glass shower with a marble floor.

Old school glass shower with a marble floor.

The usual sink.

The usual sink.

A visit to obelisk (right next door) for said late dinner was solid, but not outstanding. A couple of the creations were remarkable. However, the day’s entres needed more sparkle. Fourth visit not a charm.

It got better.

Cupcakes and san pellegrino!

Cupcakes and san pellegrino!

Imagine that after a long boring meeting you walk in to drop off your computer and you are greeted with cupcakes and a specially concocted cocktail. Jerry Chou made day2 special. Thank you Jerry. (Hey Jacques, you know that sitting a manhattan around in a barrel after mixing it destroys the vermouth, but the guys at Urbana don’t.)

A nice dinner at Noras followed by a visit to Bourbon just up the street made the day complete. And what does Bourbon have in stock?

William Larue Weller

William Larue Weller

Hirsch 16 Reserve

Hirsch 16 Reserve

Day3 allowed for some time at the Phillips collection after a nice lunch at Bistrot du Coin. The Van Gogh Repetitions show is fantastic even if you have been to Amsterdam (where I will be Monday).

The permanent collection (Bonard)

The permanent collection (Bonard)

This Bonard of the purple person shares a theme with the Postal Worker edition six. Disappearing subject.

Purple person Bonard.

Purple person Bonard.

Dinner at the much anticipated Range (a Voltaggio restaurant) interesting. Won’t be going back. See review here.

Five showerheads and current lead in the battle of the Palomars to the DC Palomar. Better watch out San Francisco and Chicago!

Kandinski at the Phillips.

Kandinski at the Phillips.

There have been so many visits to this fine property over so many years (almost all in room 30) that I will skip the pictures this time.

Here’s a VINE posting from the porch
https://vine.co/v/h67KvDvH0TU

If you stay anywhere in Bloomington, Indiana, stay at the Grant Street Inn. Four perpetual showerheads forever.

In other news, the Irish Lion has a very nice selection of decent bourbon. Rumor has it, they will have a shipment of antique collection bourbon soon. Meanwile, rye concoctions with Handy Sazarac Rye are available.