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Though NPS does not fly in July or December, there is still stuff to be done. The solution? A working meeting at the Lorien in Old Town Alexandria. We’ve been to the Lorien a couple of times since Steph Vogel took over as GM. Sadly, Steph is in Switzerland this week. We’ll pretend that the ship runs just as well without Steph at the helm (though it’s really not true).

The Spartan balcony off 619

This visit finds us in 619, which is similar to 615 only slightly smaller and on the other side of the building. There is a very large balcony on this side too. Because it’s 100 degrees this week (with an overnight low in the upper ’70s), the balcony will be ignored due to weather. Strikes us that a remake of these balconies as a garden would make them both more inviting.

Look to the left

Look to the right

Our meeting room was cavernous and highly functional. We spent all day working.

A cocktail was in order after all that work. The bar is still very good, though barman and detail freak Phil Clark is no longer around. Phil has moved to Phoenix. You can tell. Damien is doing his damndest to keep things up.

Whey Sour
.75 cachaça (novo fogo)
.75 rye (copper fox)
1.5 whey
.75 honey
1 lemon
pinch of salt
Shake. Serve up.

Snacks at the bar took forever to arrive. That ended up making them free. Timely is better than free.

Dinner at The Warehouse was a massive disappointment. The crayfish were good. Or was that the crawdads? The wine list?
Unusable. Skip it. In other news from the evening, the bar at Restaurant Eve still holds its own, but Jackson 20 has slipped to skip it level as well. So sad that the old Alexandria Monaco is now a Marriott property.

On return from dinner around 11, we were greeted with a nice amenity. Thanks Stephani. The ice cold San Pelegrino is particularly welcome.

Sitting room 619

Sleeping room 619

The huge glass shower will do just fine.

Shower? Perfect.

Once the work was done, there were museums to see. First stop was the National Building Museum to see Hive. Well worth the visit.

Home of hive. At least for a while.

That was followed by another great lunch at Bistrot du Coin.

And a visit to the Phillips Collection. The old building is under renovation, so only half of the paintings as usual were out. But still fantastic. An NPS introduction to the stunning art of German artist Markus Lüpertz.

German artist Markus Lüpertz

The suit

Detail from Spoon

German artist Markus Lüpertz

A fantastic day. Followed almost immediately on its heels by a fantastic evening.

Roses Luxury is just as stellar as its incredible reputation. Just go. We showed up at 5:10pm and walked right in for a 180 minute dinner extravaganza.

Those poor “other people” had to wait in line

Caviar service

Yes, we took pictures of our food. We also had extensive conversations about it.

The best dish of the evening was a soft shelled crab served with Singapore-style chilli sauce (on the sweet side) over steamed buns with pickles. Delicious.

So really. Go to Roses Luxury as soon as you can.

Then there was the Columbia Room in the back booth (our usual NPS haunt), this time with the geek patrol. Excellent as usual, this time less for the drinks presentation than the company.

Columbia Room

Ice

Seaweed?!

Rum from 1857 always seems like a good idea after the tasting menu is complete.

The moral of the story is: get your work done quickly so you can spend some time being spoiled in DC!

Five showerheads and a real wish that Steph were around. We miss you Steph.

#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??

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.

NPS has not been to the Palomar in Philadelphia for a while—six years! So why not. (Just between us, the Philly Monaco takes the win when it comes to Philly. More about why below.)

What’s happened in the last six years at the Philly Palomar is some renovation and some aging, both seemingly in equal parts.

Thanks to Abby Raymond’s magic, we find ourselves in room 2102 which is an exec suite of sorts (but on the small side and with a noted lack of design pop). The bathroom is great, however the rest of the room needs some work.

Did we mention the bathroom? Its great.

Lets start with that.

Yes please. A HUGE bathtub IN the shower. This one is a Kimpton record.

The view from the shower/tub combo package is nice. And you can leave the shades up if you feel like flashing the world while scrubbing your hair.

The hot tub IN the shower.

View from the shower (not the one through the huge window).

Obviously, NPS approves of the shower situation in 2102.

But then there is this view from the door.

Hamster’s view into the room. Nope.

You can see the dated couch thing in the background. Design. Design. Design.

The ’80s called and they want their TV pod thing back.

So the TV pod? Probably used to be nice in some previous decade. We no longer worship the TV. Stop it.

Water damage obvious. Time to haul this thing to the dump.

The rest of the room is small and very gray.

Nice bed. That goes without saying.

Anyway, the shower is nice.

Philly is nice too. After scarfing down a cheesesteak at Jimmy G’s it was off to Friday Saturday Sunday for some world class cocktails. Philly’s outstanding cocktail kung fu persists to this day. Make a point of visiting Friday Saturday Sunday. NPS liked it so much we went two days in a row. Thanks to Alec and Sasha for making Wednesday fun and Paul for the icing on the Thursday cake.

The Cloudbreak is a fantastic cocktail invented by Paul MacDonald who runs the bar program at Friday Saturday Sunday.
1 oz bonal
0.75 oz bols genever
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.75 oz simple syrup
0.75 oz heavy cream
egg white
dry shake. ice. shake. serve up. grapefruit peel + cinnamon

And glass shape does matter. Make sure the foam has a delivery mechanism with each sip.

On our Thursday return, we tried a brand new experimental cocktail by Paul that remains As Yet Unnamed
1 oz mezcal (del maguey vida)
1 oz lime jiuce
1 oz eden orleans herbal (a vermont aperitif cider)
1 oz buddha’s hand, juniper steeped syrup (no heat but 1:1)

Delicious. Paul is a master.

In other Philly news, skip Rouge. Too trendy and a lackluster wine list.

Maybe we just miss Tom Stoppard (it was great to meet Abby though). Four showerheads for the Palomar in Philly.

Late stage relationship Ehekarussell (loosely, the Marriage-Merry-Go-Round)

Big chains like the Park Plaza chain are generally something we avoid at NPS. But we neglected to set this trip up far enough out and it turns out the Embedded World conference fills up Nuremberg almost completely. That meant that the boutiques we would normally target were full. Only some seriously good detective work came up with Park Plaza (thanks for your help Abbie).

View from 614 Park Plaza

The hotel itself is situated just across a major road from the train station. Turns out to be a great location given the venue for the event (Indabahn). And the Nuremberg Park Plaza itself is much better than expected. Friendly front staff, early check in on arrival over the pond (!!), a modern spacious hip lobby, and get this—no plastic showers.

614

The bathroom is spacious and well appointed. (Sure, the shower pan may be vinyl, but the glass cube is fantastic.

Glass shower cube with two shower heads

LOL

Walking around Nuremberg is a great way to see the sights. The city is very walkable. Use these guides.

Some restaurants of note
Atelier Bar for sausages
Sangam nuremberg (very good Indian)
Pillhofer (get the crispy pork shoulder)
Hausbrauerei Altstadthof (house brewed red beer and award winning schnapps)

We’re still working out the cocktail situation in Nuremberg. Atelier Bar in the Grand Hotel is great. They not only made a cocktail called the Nuremberg Mule
4 cl Haas gin (a local product)
2 cucumber slices
1/2 lime
freshly ground ginger
muddle ingredients. add ice. Top with Thomas Henry spicy ginger. Garnish with cucumber slice

Nuremberg Mule

…they also accommodated NPS for breakfast 15 minutes before they were even supposed to be open! Get this, the weenies in the restaurant at Park Plaza have no flexibility to serve past their 10:30 cut off (on zee dot, you are late, NEIN). The solution is to walk next door to the Grand Hotel and find some actual service. Let this be a lesson to you and your corporate droids Park Plaza! Minus twenty.

Atelier Bar Nuremberg

In other cocktail news, NPS has confirmed that Bar Nürnberg is in fact a very good bar indeed. From the special cocktail of the night (a dark and stormy derivative with rhum agricole from guadalupe) to corpse reviver #2s to sazaracs, each cocktail was meticulously made with care and expertise. Highly recommended.

We got into the Fernet Branca and stayed until 1 am.

On our last day in Nuremberg, we had a very nice chat with Park Plaza GM Carsten Baumann who shared the history of the hotel, talked some politics, and veered on into distilling (predictably given our proclivities). Carsten is an interesting fellow. His outreach was very professional.

The DelikatEssen is a great spirits shop in Nuremberg hidden across the river. Bought some Haas products, an interesting German Windspiel gin, and some high end hazelnut liqueur.

Vintage Bar (just across the street from DelikatEssen in fact) is the second best bar in Nuremberg with the most passion of all. Spent a nice evening chatting with the owner.

Four showerheads and some training for the breakfast staff at the Park Plaza. Much better than expected and yet also short of the mark.

If the Lorien sounds familiar to you, dear reader, that’s because we stayed here just a few short weeks ago in a last minute mad dash to the Kimpton inner circle finish line. We made it across by the skin of our teeth! But we also got a great meal in old town as a fabulous side effect. Read all about that here.

We’re back, this time in the city on a keynote talk gig. Of course the conference is being held at some awful Hilton or other where NPS would not be caught dead staying. So Kimpton it is!

This time we’re in room(s) 611 and 615. I am here first for an evening and then the rest of the posse comes later. Plenty of room in this set of rooms! And a balcony to boot, which on a 68 degree day in January is awesome.

The balcony would be a great place for breakfast!

The balcony would be a great place for breakfast!

Sadly, the weather promises to turn to snow by Saturday morning. We might even get stuck here in the mosquito!

Looking in, French doors.

Looking in, French doors.

Living room

Living room

Living room

Living room

The bedroom is tucked away in the corner, but is very nice with doors that open to the outside. It is basically the penthouse corner of the 6th floor.

Bedroom 611

Bedroom 611

With all of the adjoining rooms, we need a huge shower to fit everyone. Fortunately, that’s all set.

A glass shower big enough for everyone!

A glass shower big enough for everyone!

The shower barely fits in the mirror.

The shower barely fits in the mirror.

After settling in, it was time for a drink in the great cocktail bar downstairs with Steph Vogel. NPS recommends highly the practice of having a drink with the big boss. Inner circle karma all around as barman Phil Clark and chef Wiedmaier made cocktail hour special.

The Apples to Apples
1.5 oz appleton VX rum
1 oz laird’s apple brandy
.5 oz cynar
.5 oz demerara syrup
4 dashes bittermen’s tiki bitters
Shake. Serve on large rocks in a whiskey glass.

After driving off for dinner with an actual sibling, we returned for a midnight snack. The charcuterie plate was remarkable.

Wine, notes, meat, cheese, dessert, sparking water? What more is there in an amenity. Thanks you guys.

Those black sesame things, just wow.

Those black sesame things, just wow.

Out of this world charcuterie

Out of this world charcuterie

Five showerheads for the Lorien. Can’t wait to see the style evolve at this hotel. We’ll be back as often as we can.

You know that quandry where you’re just below the threshold for Inner Circle status by one night? That. Somehow it happens every year.

Why leave this?

Why leave this?

Fortunately, NPS can always make the best of it by visiting Steph Vogel and finding out what he is up to. A little backstory, Steph has run a number of DC-area Kimpton properties, lifting them every time up into excellence: the Palomar, the George, and the Donovan. Now it’s time for the Lorien.

The Lorien’s main problem is competition from the very fabulous Hotel Monaco just down the street (and much closer to the water). The Monaco seems to have sucked up all of the great design resources, leaving the Lorien marooned in the dreamscape ’90s. That is all starting to change now that Steph is in charge.

For example, the bar and restaurant are already going places. Once a scary exclusively white tablecloth space is now a bar buzzing with life and engaged with the street (not to mention soaked in cocktail excellence). Phil Clark runs a very nice bar.

The Lorien bar program is top notch

The Lorien bar program is top notch

Get those drinks right!  Attention detail, you are now on call.

Get those drinks right! Attention detail, you are now on call.

Just take a look at the glassware. This is top shelf.

Liberty Punch

Liberty Punch

Bourbon Crusta

Bourbon Crusta

The amenity deposited for NPS in 619 highlighted both the bar and the kitchen to great effect. Just gorgeous, very welcoming, and kind.

Fancy a sweet?

Fancy a sweet?

How to make a Liberty Punch: Some Assembly Required

How to make a Liberty Punch: Some Assembly Required

Watching the rooms transform from their current stark, almost bland design to something better will be fun. NPS money says that in six months this property will be the hottest ticket in town.

619 Bedroom

619 Bedroom

Stark

Stark

The shower, we are happy to report, is glass shower excellence (and huge). NPS could shoot a movie in there!

Enter the glass door for showering

Enter the glass door for showering

NPS approved shower

NPS approved shower

And off the bedroom and sitting room both, is a balcony overlooking Alexandria. Can’t wait to come back and see what that is like in the summer.

View from balcony of 619

View from balcony of 619

Our visit was punctuated by a drink with Phil and Steph at the bar. And then it was off to the always fabulous Restaurant Eve for dinner. Eve did not disappoint. The five course tasting meal was absolutely delicious and worth every penny (that’s lots of pennies for those counting). Three hours of laughter, great flavors, and fun was just what the doctor ordered after this year.

We returned for a nightcap of Liberty Punch.

Four showerheads and massive velocity towards five for the Lorien. Let the transformation begin.

Great food. Great drinks. Great hospitality. 2016, we bid you adieu.