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.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

Wow. Our first visit to the Monaco was so fantastic that it even eclipsed it’s big sister the Palomar. Well done Monaco! Thanks to GM James Adamson for queueing things up perfectly (and Steph Vogel for the intro).

We were in town to see our old friend (and famous philosopher) Dave Chalmers chat on stage with our very favorite playwright of all time Tom Stoppard. The chat was fantastic. Tom wrote a play based on Dave’s catchy “Hard Problem” phrase. Two astounding minds interacting live.

Tom Stoppard and Dave Chalmers Talk Consciousness

Tom Stoppard and Dave Chalmers Talk Consciousness

But it got better. After the chat, a bunch of us in Dave’s cadre retired to Charlie Was a Sinner for some delicious cocktails, vegan (?!) eats, and some conversation. About which more in a minute.

Charlie Was a Sinner is a great bar.  NO TV!  Real cocktails. Great eats.

Charlie Was a Sinner is a great bar. NO TV! Real cocktails. Great eats.

Philly was dressed for the holidays.


Perhaps our Republican politicians should read this.  Can they read?

Perhaps our Republican politicians should read this. Can they read?

When we arrived in the convertible (with the top down in December) we were greeted in classic Kimpton way with great style and extra brushes (?!).

Monaco Philly has a Flying Glowing Boat

Monaco Philly has a Flying Glowing Boat

Would You Like a Brush with That?

Would You Like a Brush with That?

We checked into gorgeous suite 316 after passing a flying pig.

When Pigs Fly (you go Pink)

When Pigs Fly (you go Pink)

316 Sitting Room looks out over Independence Hall

316 Sitting Room looks out over Independence Hall

316 Couch

316 Couch

The Bedroom in 316

The Bedroom in 316

Of course regular NPS readers know we immediately went to see the shower storage area, er bathroom, which we are happy to report has a shower so big that it has a soaking tub IN it.

Great Shower.  NPS Approved.

Great Shower. NPS Approved.

Now back to Charlie Was a Sinner. Boy were they accommodating to the group of philosophers, psychologists, computer scientists, cognitive scientists and theater people we gathered. The highlight of the evening? Tom Stoppard stopped in too.

Talking about why Searle's Chinese Room thought experiment is wrong with Tom Stoppard

Talking about why Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment is wrong with Tom Stoppard


My companion’s favorite drink was an invention by master barman (and baseball legend) Mathias Bable. The Say What:
5-6 basil leaves (spanked then muddled)
2 oz gin (beefeaters)
.75 simple syrup
.75 cranberry shrub (equal parts demerara, apple cider vinegar, fresh cranberry)
.25 lime
Stir down. Serve in a collins over rocks.

Say What? by Mathias Bable

Say What? by Mathias Bable

Sparkling water, a midnight snack and some notes.

Sparkling water, a midnight snack and some personal notes.

Breakfast came a bit early, we must admit. But it was off to Green Eggs Cafe for a massive breakfast. Lunch was elided for obvious reasons.

Still wagging our tails over this incredible visit to Philadelphia. Five showerheads and some absolution for Charlie for the Philly Monaco. How will we ever top this visit??

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”
― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

I’ve blogged about the Village Whiskey in Philadelphia before. Just got a chance to swing by again yesterday with Professor Blank for some outstanding mixology.

Not only did Keith and company have a complete set of the antique collection of bourbons on hand, they also had a bottle of Hirsch 28. Very nice.

Here is one of their standard superb drinks off the menu called Cuba Kula. It was created in 1937 by Ray Boehem:

.75 dark rum
.75 aged rum (amber)
.25 151 Demera rum
.75 Fresh lime juice
.5 Fresh orange juice
.5 honey syrup (50/50 honey and water)
dash Angustora bitters
dash Absinthe

Comparing Village Whiskey with Death & Company in NY is telling. Village Whiskey is way more relaxed and friendly, they serve better drinks, and they welcome real interaction with a knowledgeable staff. Wow.

A scant three months and change since my first visit to the Palomar in Philly, I am back near town giving a talk at Swarthmore (in combination with Bryn Mawr and Haverford with just a smidgen of UPenn thrown in for good measure). The drive to Philly was awful on a foggy, rainy day. I-95 was overcrowded. All was well with the world when a way too early to be possible checkin was facilitated by Abby Raymond (Concierge) and her fellow staff members at the Palomar. I dumped off my bag and scooted over to Bryn Mawr in the rain.

After the talk, a group of professors (two of whom I went to grad school with) drove back in to Philly for a raucous and yummy dinner at Tria. Dinner was great, but Tria needs either more space or less popularity. Fitting 5 people around a table there is a stretch. Also it seems like their demographic is 30-somethings. Am I getting old??! My favorite part of dinner was the way we ordered…in three big swaths “all the snacks, all the crostini, and all desserts.”

After dinner, those of us still standing walked two blocks down to Village Whiskey to visit Keith and witness his mixological magic. We started with my old faithfuls the Liberal and a Corpse Reviver #2. Then Keith made us a no-name Bourbon based concoction whose ingredients escape me now (for probably obvious reasons). There was some kind of Amaro with a red label which was neither Averna or Ramazotti. Must return and find out.

On review of previous entries, it appears I have been remiss in my duties to explain how to concoct my two favorite drinks. Without further ado:

The Liberal
.75 oz Bourbon (I like to use Pappy van Winkle 20 when I am feeling adventurous, but definitely something cask strength
.75 oz Sweet vermouth
.3 oz Amer Picon (or Torani Amer if you live in the states and always run out of Amer Picon. Add a dash of Orange Bitters if you go the Torani route, either Fee Brothers or Regans #6)
Stir over ice, serve up with a cherry.

Corpse Reviver #2
1 oz gin (I usually use either Hendricks or Leopold’s)
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz Cointreau
1 drop absinthe
Shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass with a cherry.

Anyway, dinner and drinks could not be beat. And then when I got back to the Palomar (room 1610 this time), Abby had gathered the very best welcoming package I have ever experienced…all of the makings for a Picon Punch or two. Amazing.

See my previous entry on the Philly Palomar for pictures of the room and the all important shower. (Didn’t use the huge bathtub this time either!)

The Philly Palomar is great and so is Abby. Five shower heads. Looks like I’ll need to concoct some more reasons to get to Philly!