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The lobby flowers are upside down.  Monaco Pittsburgh.

The lobby flowers are upside down. Monaco Pittsburgh.

Last time we visited, things were just getting started—but boy were they great. If anything, everything is even better at the Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh! Rob Malinger (happy bday, rob) is doing a great job.

818 looks pretty similar to 835. The only major difference is the view (835 has one, 818 does not). The rooms are both beautifully styled in any case.

818 Living Room

818 Living Room

As always the welcome was Kimpton warm. Great door guys; friendly front desk staff; great amenity delivery people (that would be Marissa).

818 Bedroom

818 Bedroom

What a spread.  Cheese, fruit, sparkling water and a note.  Rock it Kimpton!

What a spread. Cheese, fruit, sparkling water and a note. Rock it Kimpton!

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The bathroom is gigantic and fits the NPS criteria to a T. Any glass shower with a bench in it catches our attention.

Shower Cubicle

Shower Cubicle

Can't wait to see how much hot water there is!

Can’t wait to see how much hot water there is!

The style in the rest of the property is equally impressive. From the living room landing on the first floor…

Living Room Landing Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh

Living Room Landing Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh

to the upside down flowers in the lobby.

For good espresso, slip across the street to Simpatico (thanks Rachel).

Simpatico coffee

Simpatico coffee

Just to round out PGH, a dinner trip to Altius was very nice indeed. Plenty of interesting dishes. Need some work on their duck, but duck is really hard to get exactly right. The view at night is not to be beat.

Uber cut both ways this trip, and that’s worth a mention. My colleague ordered an uberX to take us up the hill. Not only did the driver take an extra 12 minutes to “spiral in” and pick us up, she was also clearly a smoker who smoked in her vehicle. She got lost and had no clue how PGH is laid out (or, it seems, how to use google maps). The trip to Altius was non-professional and not really worth paying for. By contrast, on the way back the uber driver (uberXL whatever that is) not only knew the city, he was also playing Robert Glasper Trio covering Radiohead’s Reckoner in his spotless car. Uber needs to get its act together.

Then it was back to the Monaco for some nightcaps. The Commoner is uncommonly great as far as a bar program goes. Started by Kenny (now at Forgery in SF) and finished up by Mike Ryan (of sable fame), they have a great thing going here! We were served by the spunky and delightful Patricia Antram who was psyched to play. She mixed up a classic De La Louisiane as follows:
.75 Rye (cask strength)
.75 sweet vermouth (dolin’s would be best)
.75 benedictine
dash peychauds
dash absinthe
stir down. strain into a coup. garnish with spiked cherries.

Patricia also served up one of her own cocktails, Lía Loves Juan (a.k.a., Yellow Swan):
1.75 resposado tequila
.25+ demarara (1:1)
.5 lime juice
BBQ bitters
3 dashes whiskey barrel aged hot sauce
shake. strain into coup. garnish with lime peel.

A quick trip to Pittsburgh is always made difficult by the lack of flights in and out of town, but it’s offset by the very existence of the Monaco. Five showerheads!

I’ve been to the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria a bunch. In fact, it is now one of the “home away from home” hotels. This time when I arrived (in the mosquito) I was greeted by the doorman who recognized me (and my car). And so did the people manning the front desk. And so did Matt Hurlburt the GM. Cool beans.

I was assigned a great suite, room 503, which seems to be my usual room now. NPS approves!

Room 508 at the Alexandria Monaco

Room 508 at the Alexandria Monaco

The room has been spruced up a couple of notches since last visit.

503 sitting room

503 sitting room

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The non-plastic shower in 503 bathroom is very spacious

The non-plastic shower in 503 bathroom is very spacious

Sparkling water and a mini-amentity

Sparkling water and a mini-amentity

As I was finishing up a call with California, an incredibly awesome amenity was delivered by Rae and company. Gotta love the “Shine and Swine.” Just awesome.

Holy cow, look at that, moonshine and charcuterie.

Holy cow, look at that, moonshine and charcuterie.

I had a few minutes to catch up with Matt for a cocktail after work (and before heading out for a business dinner at Vermillion). Dinner was workaday at Vermillion. The soup outshone the rockfish.

Late night was spent at Jackson20 served by barman Andy Nelson. As has become our habit, we had a Sazarac with Sazarac 18 (wow) and some Eagle Rare 17. Great bourbon.

Fantastic visit, five showerheads and some shine.

It was a quick turnaround from no travel back to travel, but Kimpton helps make it all bearable. Back at the Hotel Monaco just like December, but this time up one floor in 503 (thanks Matt).

We should probably resist comparing the welcome package, but it’s NPS, so we just can’t resist. After all, that is what this prosthetic memory of a blog is all about!

Here is 2015.

2015

2015

Lets compare to 2014.

2014

2014

Hmm. No booze?! But we promise we have not gone dry as a misguided New Year’s resolution! In fact we had quite the adventure getting an after dinner cocktail, about which stay tuned.

Meanwhile 503 looks similar to 403 but it has been updated and is slightly more stylish with a nice scent of carpet glue in the air.

Alexandria Monaco 503

Alexandria Monaco 503

Alexandria Monaco 503

Alexandria Monaco 503

The shower is not plastic, and its pressure may just scour all of the old year’s dirt right off.

Not a plastic shower.  Great way to start 2015 at NPS.

Not a plastic shower. Great way to start 2015 at NPS.

Dinner (corporate style) at the Columbia Firehouse was very good. Great oysters and a nice rendition of shrimp and grits. Sadly, they make a pretty bad Negroni (which calls into question their cocktail capability).

After dinner, we headed over around 10:30 to Restaurant Eve for a cocktail as their bar is rumored to be good. But who would ever know if the bar closes well before its advertised closing time?! Lame. We walked in and the bartender who was wiping down was not at all accommodating about making a drink. In fact, he refused to do so. Guess what Restaurant Eve, that kind of crappy behavior eradicated ALL of the goodwill built up during the last (spectacular) visit. Chef, I believe you need a new bartender post haste!

imgres-1So chaimgresstened to deal with lameness in Alexandria, we returned to the Monaco in low spirits (or with no spirits as the case may be). A pleasant surprise awaited at Jackson 20. Though I am not at all a fan of the architecture or the way the bar is situated, Jackson20 has some good bourbon and rye on tap.  And a very good barman in Alvaro Colato.

Sazarac with Sazarac 18? Yes please. And a chaser of Eagle Rare 17? Sure, why not! Fabulous.

How to make a Sazarac (video from #glassaholic).

So there you have it. 2015, here we come. Five showerheads and a bourbon-based amenity for the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria.

This visit to the Monaco in Alexandria (across the river from Washington) was designed to perfection by GM Matt Hurlburt. Everything was all set before arrival. Even traffic in northern Virginia cooperated. Kimpton Karma. Hopefully not the last of it. (Now that IHG has bought the chain we will keep our fingers crossed that inner circle goodness persists. IHG also owns Holiday Inn Express??!!)

Room 403 is a nice suite with a great glass shower. A liquid amenity was just what the doctor ordered. Personal note, fancy cocktail, fruit and cheese (featuring apricots) and a bourbon flight for late night. Excellent.

Welcome to Monaco 403

Welcome to Monaco 403

The Virginia Gentleman made a great evening cocktail before the Leukemia Cup party at Port City Brewery.

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Then it was off to the Leukemia Cup event where we were surprised to learn that Team Tartan was the 3rd biggest fundraiser in the nation in 2014! Thanks to all of our supporters, including the Hotel Marlowe staff.

A quick drive back to the Marlowe got us there just in time to meet Matt for a drink. We decided to go to Society Fair and meet the czarina of the eat good food group twitterz, Vina Sananikone. She turns out to be a video artist as well.

Matt and I had a Wine and Whiskey designed by Todd Thrasher and implemented by Justin Owens. It’s a great beverage, but complicated to make:
Base
Sauternes
Orange Peel
Cardamom Pods
Star Anise
Cloves
All spice
Cinnamon
Honey
Crush and toast spices. Simmer 30 minutes. Strain

2oz base
1 oz bourbon (four roses)
1 oz canadian whiskey
dash orange bitters

This one was a bit too sweet for my palate. Would skip the honey and maybe add some heat to the spices. But a nice cocktail all told.

After a cocktail and some time with Matt (a great guy), we headed over to Restaurant Eve where we opted for the Thai/Philippines inspired tasting menu. Delicious and absolutely packed with flavor. The first course was incredible. A delightful departure from Eve’s solid fare. Go chef go!

Then it was back to the Monaco for a late night bourbon taste.

Bourbon flight

Bourbon flight

And a dip in the tub?! That’s right. First time ever in the big Kimpton bathtub.

Bathtub with actual hot water, bourbon and a book

Bathtub with actual hot water, bourbon and a book

403 bedroom

403 bedroom

403 sitting room

403 sitting room

403 sitting room

403 sitting room

this shower is not plastic

this shower is not plastic

Anyway, five showerheads and a tub full of steam for the Hotel Monaco. Everything a quick visit could be! No fly noël can still include car based travel, and to great effect.