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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.

Eat, Think, Drink

February 26, 2017

The time has come to turn 51. And so celebration ensues—in the city, with friends.

Last minute plan refactoring required use of a federal style rental vehicle. You see, nobody has any kids left at home, and so cars no longer fit six in one go! (Unless you count the one Eli “borrowed” and took to Wisconsin.)

Das Rental Beast

Das Rental Beast

Special last licks at Le Dip while Baker Bob remains in power (a one week reprise before retirement really kicks in).

Amy strikes her best Vanna pose by the bread at Le Diplomate

Amy strikes her best Vanna pose by the bread at Le Diplomate

Larry Kilbourne is a master (and a philosopher to boot)

Larry Kilbourne is a master (and a philosopher to boot)

Fois gras parfait (huckleberry)

Fois gras parfait (huckleberry)

Then a play at Studio Theater. The Hard Problem is written by my friend Tom about the philosophy of my friend Dave. The play is very good if you can ignore the god coincidence nonsense.

Stage set at Studio Theatre for The Hard Problem

Stage set at Studio Theatre for The Hard Problem

And then the crowning glory of the evening, drinks at the venerable Columbia Room in the secret booth. Thanks Dante!

Cocktail time!

Cocktail time!

Woman themed drink menu

Woman themed drink menu

Inspired by many of these incredibly great bartenders

Inspired by many of these incredibly great bartenders

Is that you Audrey?

Is that you Audrey?

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A cocktail inspired by Becky Harris from Catoctin Creek

A cocktail inspired by Becky Harris from Catoctin Creek

Yo!  Forty Year Old Calvados

Yo! Forty Year Old Calvados

Last delicious licks

Last delicious licks

A perfect evening.

View from the Donovan

View from the Donovan

The Donovan has become our home away from home in DC mostly due to the fact that Steph Vogel (the GM) rocks. Room 1110 which we discovered on our previous outing here is well configured for a two day offsite.

We put ourselves to work. We got done.

Working in 1110

Working in 1110

The multiple amenities and constant supply of sparkling water helped.

NPS has covered the room in previous entries, so here is a video tour instead.

Sadly everything was not perfect night one, but life rarely is. A trip to the top floor bar led us to the not-cut-out-for-bartending Joel. Some people just don’t know when to leave well enough alone! Suffice it to say:

By contrast, our visit to the Columbia Room was just out of this world. A fantastic evening indeed. Alex Levy was holding down the fort while JP and Derek jet set in Charleston.

Five Course summer menu at the Columbia Room

Five Course summer menu at the Columbia Room

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Perhaps the Fernet shots and the 1938 Old Overholt pours were bad idea? LOL

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Thanks Alex!

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Can’t wait to return to both the Donovan and the Columbia Room in the near future. Five showerheads and a well made Negroni to you both!

Maybe it was the late night Negroni that was the bad idea?

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This is only my second time at the Hotel George (probably because it is so close to my actual home), but it already feels like home. Super friendly staff who have fun at checkin. Plus my friend Steph Vogel runs the place. You can tell his positive nature has sunk into the roots around here.

The presidential suite (or is it the royal suite??) is great (room number is 801). Nicely appointed rooms with the absolute best shower to be found in all Kimpton properties.

We’ll start with the shower. Glass and marble with a bench and its own window. Awesomeness.

When we got up to the room, we were greeted with excellent charcuterie from bistrot bis and a bottle of Côtes du Rhone. Delish. And some san pellegrino.

Meat!

Meat!

Here is the sitting room.

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Messy bedroom

Messy bedroom

Tonight we’re off to an adventure at the Columbia Room (tucked in the back at The Passenger, and Steph is coming with us.

The Columbia Room was absolutely fantastic as always. It is an oasis of calm and a great place to relax, converse, and maybe learn a little something about great cocktails. We chose to go à la carte this visit and were ably served by JP Featherston and Tyler. The food was particularly outstanding and only outdone by the phenomenal beverages.

Drink of the night was The Archimboldi (by JP Featherston):
1 oz Blanco or Resposado Tequila
.75 oz Punt et Mes
.75 oz Rainwater Madeira
.5 oz Nux Alpina
Stir down. Strain into a coupe.

The Columbia Room is absolutely worth a visit each trip to DC. And the George is a fiver showerheads plus hotel. Magic.

Leave it to my friend Stephane Vogel to arrange for the presidential suite! My first stay at Hotel George (a Kimpton hotel) was super fantastic. And the shower is simply not to be beat.

Room 801 (the presidential suite) at Hotel George

Room 801 (the presidential suite) at Hotel George

After a warm greeting by Blair at the front desk, I headed up to 801 where I was greeted with: note, wine, cheese, and sparkling water. A superb welcome. Thanks Steph, for the hospitality and the room! This is Kimpton Karma in action.

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801 bedroom at Hotel George

801 bedroom at Hotel George

The bathroom is fantastic.

Best shower in DC.

Best shower in DC.

A glass shower with a view.  And a bench!  NPS is in love.

A glass shower with a view. And a bench! NPS is in love.

Five showerheads and a free lunch for the George and its staff!

Dinner at Proof was good. Proof has a reasonable bar program and a great wine list. After dinner we somehow got trapped at the Bistro Bis bar which though not owned by Kimpton is associated with the George by reference of being attached to it. Ouch.

Among other cocktails and before absinthe hour, barman Ed Jenks created an experimental Essay #3
2 oz Laird 7.5 yr apple brandy
.5 oz Leizzaroni Amaretto
.5 oz malmsey madeira
.5 oz sour mix (fresh)
.5 oz chilli honey syrup
dash angostura
Stir. Strain. Serve with lemon twist. (In general, too much going on with this drink. Still needs work.)

Steph and I had a delicious lunch at Bistrot Bis next day after my talk. It’s always fun to catch up and learn more about the hospitality business.

Manet at the cusp of impressionism and the academy.

Manet at the cusp of impressionism and the academy.

The afternoon yielded some time to a visit to the National Art Gallery with Richard. An afternoon of art and discussion is just what the doctor ordered in late August.

As early evening rain fell, we made another fantastic visit to the incomparable Columbia Room where mel mixed some excellent drinks including the Leap Year Cocktail
2 oz plymouth gin
.5 oz sweet vermouth (cocci)
.5 oz royal combier
.25 oz lemon juice
shake. strain. garnish with lemon peel.

Dinner and bad bluegrass at Argonaut rounded out the visit.

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More Light at the Palomar DC

September 16, 2013

Maybe it’s the weather? But for whatever reason, room 739 is bright and beautiful this afternoon at the Palomar in Washington DC.

Steph Vogel, the GM had me all set up again though I believe I arrived earlier than the plan called for. The guy at the front who checked me it was a smidge flustered when he did not find the envelope with my name on it. But I knew the drill. While I was busy working away on the net upstairs a nice welcome package of cheese, fruit and san pellegrino arrived with a personal note from Jerry Chou. Turns out Steph is a new dad (again)! Congrats to you guys, Steph.

Welcome package with sparkling water.

Welcome package with sparkling water.

The room is brighter than it used to be. Or maybe it’s the crisp Fall light.

That '70s chair.

That ’70s chair.

The hilarious drive up window to the bathroom from the bedroom still makes me giggle.

Bedroom bed with opening to the bathroom.

Bedroom bed with opening to the bathroom.

The shower is very not plastic.

Glass shower cube next to a traditionally unused big old tub.

Glass shower cube next to a traditionally unused big old tub.

The sitting room has a purple couch again. And a purple chair. This time there is art in the corner.

The new model room has stuff in the corner.

The new model room has stuff in the corner.

A side trip to do main stage timing practice for tomorrow’s big keynote at HP Protect at the Washington Hilton reminds me what other hotel chains are like. As they say in Search for the Holy Grail, “run away!”

Tonight (Monday) we are off to have some oysters and delicious beverages at Hank’s Oyster Bar. Turns out that Hank’s is very good indeed. Great oysters and well crafted cocktails. A delicious combination.

We ended Monday night at the Palomar bar, which is making some decent progress as a bar. Jacques, we’re not quite Palomar level yet!! The bartender range is huge, all the way from Obi at one end (unfortunately on vacation in London) to “rum and coke” girl at the other. Rum and coke? Really?! And the ice just sucks. Machine-made cardboard that melts way too fast. Get some real ice please! Best drink of the evening was Dante’s Cocktail.

Dante's Cocktail from the Palomar bar

Dante’s Cocktail from the Palomar bar

Tuesday evening was my first visit to the Columbia Room inside of Passenger. The Columbia Room not only holds up to its own hype but far exceeds it! Wow did we have a delightful evening. Matt Ficke served us well, put up with our geekiness, listened when we talked about mixing drinks (without a hint of distain), and taught us some cool stuff. As you know, we’re no cocktail newbies, and we had a great time. The special service at the end was especially appreciated. We’ll be back as often as we can.

Experimental beverage from Matt
2 oz Laird’s straight apple brandy
.75 oz Amaro Montenegro
.75 oz Gran Classico (which I need to procure for my bar)
Stir with ice, lemon peel garnish.

Five stars and a happy birth of child wish for the Palomar. (Congrats on the birth of Mariela, Steph!) Great visit. Kimpton’s rock.