Happy Hour, Lounges & Bars, Neighborhood & Local, Restaurants, Social Drinking, Uncategorized

Next Meeting Is Scheduled!

We are back and kicking off our next HHG meeting on Friday, May 13th at Herbs & Rye.  We have passed by this bar many a time and now, it’s  our chance to see what the fuss is all about!  Hope you can join us!

All events are posted on our calendar page!  Just click the link and poof!  You’re there!

Remember, keep calm and have a drink!

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Downtown Las Vegas, Happy Hour, Lounges & Bars, Neighborhood & Local, Social Drinking, Uncategorized

Downtown Cocktail Room

Tonight was the first planning meeting of the Happy Hour Gang. But due to illness, work, and new jobs I was the only one to show up.

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This amazing little bar is hidden behind smoky glass and a steel door and if you blink you may miss it. Tonight’s crowd was small, as it is a Monday night, but everyone is pretty friendly and ready to share a story or two.

Davey the bartender from Ohio, by way of England and is eager to share information about the Brew of the Month. (Trust me, you’ll want to listen,  his accent is dreamy, but don’t ask him where he’s from. But do ask him about Absinthe, he’s a true aficionado on the drink. Plus his accent! )

This month’s brew is Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc. It’s wonderfully light and refreshingly orangey.  The last bit of the beer changes flavor with the yeast that settles at the bottom.  I highly recommend it when you stop in!

The bar itself is dark and cozy, with wonderful couches and is lit by red votives. It’s truly a locals bar,  but some visitors will find it while waiting for a table at a restaurant.  Such as the guy from Montana who lives in a town that has more Irish residents than Boston.  I said people like to share stories!

Stop by,  their happy hour is 4 to 8 pm.

Downtown Cocktail Room
111 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas Blvd. & Fremont

-Kina

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Drink Locally, Experience, Happy Hour, Happy Hour Las Vegas, Lounges & Bars, Scared Scotchless, Scotch and Whiskey, Social Drinking, Travel

My Journey So Far

As of this year, I decided to do something different. Drink. Everyday. That’s right. I have a limit. I do not drink to get buzzed. I do not drink to get drunk. My two motivations are: a moderate amount of alcohol each day is heart healthy, which is how I determined my daily limit; and the other is flavor. I like the taste of certain types of alcohol. The pursuit of flavor has taken me from vodka, where I learned to become accustomed to ethanol; to rum; and finally to whiskey/scotch, and brandy.

With the assistance of a local fan of whiskey and generous purchasing of mini-bottles, I narrowed my preferences and saved a ton of money in the process. I know what I like, and why. I have a rather decent, but not overly large, collection of scotches and other whiskies (bourbon and corn) at home. I also have had the pleasure to sample others at various taverns around town.

There are right now certain scotches that are promoted by the scotch community as “beginner” type scotches. Ones that have appealed to the palates of drinkers in the past are easily found, represent a good value, etc. I believe the palate of Americans today demands a sweeter profile. It calls into question the selection process. I am determining for myself a selection of various distillers and expressions that will appeal even to a modern drinker.

There are, in general, certain geographical regions which can loosely define whisky in Scotland. Islands, Islay (pronounced EYE-luh), Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands, and Campbeltown. Always expect each distillery and region to produce a variety and blur the lines a bit.

The sweetest and fruitiest examples are likely to be found in Speyside, but can be found just about anywhere. The smokiest or peatiest are found in Islay but can be found elsewhere on
the west coast of Scotland since access to peat is essential to the process. Lowlands are home to some light whisky that might be compared to white wine vs red, but these too can be found elsewhere.
IMG_20150429_184222Major distillers whose names pop up again and again on forums are (in no particular order): Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Highland Park, Glenfiddich, GlenDronach, Glenlivet, Macallan, Bowmore, Talisker, Oban, Glenkinchie, Aberfeldy, Aberlour, Glenfarclas, Springbank, and if you add in Japanese single malts the list grows quickly.

Whisky is typically matured in barrels once used to age bourbon in America and elsewhere. Since bourbon must be aged in new barrels they have no need for them once they have been used. Every distiller in Scotland has access to these former bourbon barrels. Once matured, the whisky may be finished in other types of barrels including sherry casks and vats, port casks and vats, rum barrels, new oak quarter casks, and others to introduce various flavors not found normally in whisky as part of the base distillation and maturation process.

Adding to the complexity are the stills themselves. No distiller uses the same configuration as any other. Even if a distiller was known to use a given configuration, no other distiller would copy it anyway. Even then, when determining what part of the whisky produced goes into the barrel is different again. Peaty whisky tends to have more of the feints or tails added to capture more smoke flavor but introduces more of the heavier compounds rejected by other distillers. This makes for some rather unique scents and flavors. These heavier compounds are what turn many away from scotch if they aren’t prepared for it.

If one is accustomed to the caramel sweet, candy bar flavor of bourbon (I am, by the way), the taste of some scotch can be a real shock. It doesn’t have to be, but given the very limited selection of scotches available at bars, finding one you will enjoy can be a real challenge. Also given that some whiskies are matured for 12, 15, 18, 25, and 30 years or more, price becomes a huge factor very quickly if you plan on buying a bottle for yourself or as a gift. Even a decent baseline expression of 10 or 12 years can cost anywhere from 40 to 100 dollars for a 750 ml bottle. If you don’t have a friend who will let you sample some of these you may never find one you like before you give up in disgust.

I hope to be able to guide people to one they will enjoy. One does not have to collect dozens of bottles to enjoy single malts. Many really good ones are available with a bit of searching and you just enjoy your favorite(s). None of these are shooters. Hardly anyone pops the cork and finishes a bottle in one night unless you have a lot of friends helping you. Indeed, I carefully measure out each ounce and that one drink may last an hour. Many consume scotch this way. While others rack up a huge tab buying shots at the bar during happy hour, I can spend a very frugal sum on a few drinks over several hours and leave for home very happy, and very much under the legal limit, I might add.

I don’t claim to be an expert yet, but I can say I have quite a bit of experience under my belt already. If anyone is interested, ask away. I can, at least, get you pointed in the right direction. If you know a scotch fan and are secretly buying a bottle as a gift I can really help.

Lounges & Bars, Restaurants, The Strip

Time to go Coconuts!

When we arrived at Coconuts Beach Bar and Mexican Grill, there was a mix up on our reservations, but of course the gracious staff fixed us up with a great table and brought over Pepe, the bar mascot.  No, he’s not an actual person or an animal.  He’s a large red, pinata in the shape of a donkey…If he wasn’t so big, he would probably be our mascot today :).

The happy hour specials were great; two for one wells and house margaritas, and 50% off appetizers. We will be honest, the margaritas are a work in progress as they are trying to perfect a recipe, but we love that they admit they are still learning! And it was an honor to be a part of the taste test later on that night!  But let’s talk about the Sangria.  Delicious!  A pitcher works great for at least two people, but if you are like us, just order one and add a straw!

The atmosphere at Coconuts reminds us of a great little bar in Mexico where everyday feels like spring break. There’s a small patio area that over looks movie goers as they head to Rave Motion Pictures, and a nice high top table for larger groups right behind the hostess stand.  The huge main bar features hand painted menu boards, with great drinks like Butt Monkey, Malibu Barbie, and the Million Dollar Tequini. The DJ booth resides inside a VW shell next to a second bar in the back of the restaurant that leads into another section.  During the cocktail hour there are tables on the dance floor and stage, but during the evening festivities, they easily disappear.

Let’s talk about the food!  OMG!  If you don’t try the Coconut Cancun Calamari, your life will forever be bland!  Three of us devoured four plates in a matter of minutes. The Ceviche Cancun is great, but small…though it’s enough for two people, order one just for yourself! But if you and your friends are really hungry, The XL 4 FT Burrito is just for you!  This thing is HUGE!  BIG! Check out the photo for yourself!

All in all, we had an amazing time at Coconuts and many of us plan to go back again, but we eagerly await our invitation to go back  and help taste test the new margarita recipe!

Coconuts offers great events and specials, so  to help you keep up to date here’s a link to their site, their tweets and their status updates.  Thanks Coconuts, you’ve reminded us that our group is fun, wild and full of hyjinx.

For more photos of our “meeting” at Coconuts, head to our FLICKR account.  Next month we’re heading to Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe & Hookah Lounge.  Please join us!  We are always looking for Happy people to join our gang!  Remember until next time Keep Calm and Get a Drink!

Ki..ki..ki..Kina

 

Downtown Las Vegas, Lounges & Bars, Neighborhood & Local

The Mob Bar – He Who Pays Well is Well Served

It was a dark and stormy night, when she walked into the bar.  It was small swanky and filled the usual characters that are associated with a joint like that. She looked around until she saw him. He smiled a smile that can only mean one thing, trouble.

Ok , so it wasn’t raining or storming when I arrived at The Mob Bar, but it was swanky  and there was a guy in there that had a smile that meant trouble. It was only The Jerm, our host for this month’s meeting, waiting for everyone to arrive. We were excited to see what he had in store. First up was a questionnaire with great mob questions like: “Where in Vegas is the best place to hide a body?” and “Who in the group would be the best hitman?” the best part was the best Mobster impression! The winner got 4 cans of Chef Boyardi and $7.56.

The cocktail listing was standard, but it’s the ambiance that keeps this place exciting.  Many of the patrons got

into the spirit and dressed up, and the staff from the Mob Museum kept the place alive with laughter. Jazz music spilled over you while photos of screen starlets watch you drink. My favorite was the Espresso Martini, made with Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka, Absolut Vanilla Vodka, Bailey’s, Irish Cream, and a Shot of Espresso. Be careful on these, you can drink two without a second thought! Yummy! You can see their full menu on their Facebook page.

Food at the Mob Bar is provided by one of my favorite places to eat downtown, The Triple George Grill. We feasted on Clams Casino, Spaghetti & Meatball Bites (a favorite of Panda P’s and Bloody Maria), Caprese Salad and the Chicken Parmesan Sliders – Paddy Wagon swears by them!  The prices are reasonable and the portions are enough to share with one person, so order two and you’ll be set.

All in all, it was a great time.  You can call or email the bar for

reservations to really make you feel like a Mob Boss; just confirm with them a day prior to jog their memory. The bartenders were dressed with white shirts bow ties and barters around their arm, but it was kind of sad to see that the wait staff was not dressed as they were highlighted on their FB page.

All in all it was a unanimous decision that the Mob Bar meeting was a huge success and we don’t want to see this joint swimmin’ with the fishes.  If you get my drift! So if you know what’s good for yous…take the offer.

Ki…ki…ki….Kina

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