Category Archives: Travel

The Brilliant Math of Jenny Adams and Drinking in Airports

My friend Jenny Adams, the most deadly of all Jenns, once posted a brilliant piece of logic on Facebook.  She defined the odds of our particular tribe of travelling boozehounds running into each other and plying each other with drinks using the tools and extras that we seem to always carry.  It was a set of odds approaching unity.  It was kind of amazing.  However, failing that kind of happy serendipity how about sliding up to an airport bar and getting a drink?

I spend a lot of time in airports, running to airplanes, getting patted down, and hanging out in airport bars.  Airports aren’t exactly a haven of great cocktails – though there was a really wonderful bartender at JFK in T5 who went above and beyond and went scavenging for ingredients to make me a rum milk punch last year.  However, over the last year or so and in talking to other booze travellers a list of go to drinks has emerged that you can get anywhere and any time that you can assure yourself are pretty much impossible to make badly.  After all when your flight has been delayed again, or you find yourself stranded by the Oh God of Missed Connections you really need a drink.

Allow me to digress for a moment.  Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series once invented the Oh God of Hangovers. His reasoning for having it being an Oh God was that whenever you have a hangover you invariably say “oh god.”  Thus a deity of whatever scale, whose purview is made up of things that are not exactly desirable to encounter will almost always elicit cries of “oh god” or similar sentiments. Therefore, if such a deity were to exist, would it not make sense to call them an oh god instead of a god? Anyhow, tangent over, back to the matter at hand.

What can you rely on to slake your thirst, while away the hours, and please the palate?  What drinks will sooth your dire needs for anaesthesia and drive away the ennui of the halls of transportation?  Most importantly, what can you get anywhere that will be tasty and satisfying, well at least not bad.

Bloody Mary, Red Snapper, Bloody Caesar, Bloody Maria

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It’s pretty hard to screw up a Bloody Whatever, even ones made with a boring pre-mix can be easily doctored with that bottle of Tabasco and Worcestershire at the bar.  Even without those options, it’s pretty hard to have a bad Bloody Whatever.  Varying it up by adding gin to make it a Red Snapper, or tequila for a Bloody Maria help to keep it from getting monotonous and add options to the list.  I won’t deny that a really great Bloody Mary is a wonderful experience.  It is blessed to be like cold pizza for breakfast, you have to actively try to make a bad one in order to not be somewhat satisfying.

Gin and Tonic

No matter your views on colonialism, mercantilism, chartered companies, and empire, Great Britain left a few legacies that we can all savour to this day.  In order to combat malaria, scurvy, keep crews of their ships complacent, and any other myriad maladies that might befall them in the Fever Islands as the West Indies were sometimes known, Africa, and the Indian Sub-Continent, various spirituous beverages became commonplace and made the taking of medicine easier.  One of these was the gin and tonic.  Three ingredients, that’s it.  Absolutely impossible to screw up, refreshing, and crisp.  The gin and tonic is a tribute to simplicity and its benefits.  Even when you have nothing but gun tonic and slightly aged lime wedges, it still does the trick. Continue reading

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Ante and Bottoms Up!

Every now and then I like to head off and play a couple hours of blackjack.  Besides the fact that I like the thrill of a good gamble and matching skills and statistical universes against each other casinos also have one very important thing.  Free drinks.  We all know the routine, sit at a table or machine and eventually you’ll be offered a free cocktail or beer. Lately though, I’ve also noticed that more casinos have added an option to pay a deeply discounted price for your drink in order to upgrade to a better spirit or microbrew.

It’s hard to beat free, but you know what, the longer I live and the longer I sell booze, I realise something.  Life’s for enjoying, and if I can make my life more enjoyable for a pretty nominal fee, I’m going to be pretty tempted.  Hell with tempted, seize the opportunity with both hands.  Now you may ask why not just stay home and play in an online casino and drink my own considerable stash of booze?  I like the interaction with other players.  I like being able to smack the idiot next to me who can’t play and is screwing it up for the table.  I also like the other temptations that casinos have added to their offerings to separate me from my money.

In the last few years, the addition of cigar and cocktail lounges with ambitious menus and programs have started to pop up.  Not just in Las Vegas either where every form of excess is lit up and put on display.  Regional and tribal casinos have realised that people like to enjoy themselves and once having made the decision to go to a casino why not make a night of it and go all out, especially if they’ve had good luck.  After all, they may have won it at the tables, but that cash doesn’t actually have to leave the building.

Consider the Petrossian Bar at the Bellagio, probably the first bar in Vegas where I felt that things were starting to turn around.  I can say that I have spent far more time at the Bellagio over the years because of that bar than I would otherwise have.  I think that this is a trend to be encouraged and I think I’m going to have to start compiling a serious list of casinos where the drinking experience has been elevated.  Time to ante up and order a drink.

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Filed under Bars, Booze, Travel

AYCJ Creole

When I first started looking at this whole whirlwind around the country the ting that decided me was the ability to go to St Lucia and Martinique.  For the rhum obsessed like me it was my golden chance to go visit the mother ship.  Islands rising out of an azure sea, full rigged ships plying the waves, lush jungles, and most importantly cask upon cask of rhum as far as the eye could see, as soon as that image sprang to mind clicking the button to buy the ticket was pretty much a foregone conclusion.  Crossing the continent again and then heading for points south, I swear I could smell the rhum in the air as the plane got closer and closer to St St Lucia AYCJ 01 Continue reading

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AYCJ Texas – Gawd it’s big

Everything really is bigger in Texas, especially the amounts of excess you can indulge in.  I mean, one of my mottoes in life is ‘Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.’  Texas seems to embrace that ideal.  Everything is just as you know it, just carried to the nth degree.  For example, during my stay in Austin one of the days was a Saturday during college football season, so I needed to find a bar in which to watch my Huskies play.  I looked up a few likely candidates and went to check them out.  I knew I had found the right bar for me when I walked in, went up to the bar and amidst all of the requisite sports bar fixtures found Zwack, on tap.  Let me say that again, Zwack, on tap.

I imagine the conversation that resulted in that decision probably went something along these lines.

“You know, Jäger on tap is everywhere, and I like daring people to take shots of black, herbally, bitter things.  What’ll make us stand out?”

“Yeah, shots on a dare are great!”

“Let’s go to the liquor store and get one of everything from the shelf that Jäger is on and try them all!”

Time passes, many bottles, shots, and beers later…….

“Holy hell what was that last one?!”

“I think it says Zwack or something, you should have seen your face pucker!”

“That’s the one!  Let’s put it on tap, and not some weak ass cooler machine, it gets a tap!”

For me though, it was a nirvana moment.  Clouds parted, hosannas were sung, and I had found my home for the next several hours.  That Zwack handle became my friend as the need to dull the pain grew more and more acute as my team sucked it up.  We were terrible that day, and ice cold amaro dispensed in volume made it so much better.

I’d also like to take this moment to thank the genius who invented breakfast tacos.  You sir, or madam, need one of those Bud Light Real Men of Genius commercials, except not ironic.  In this wonderful time we live in of combining two things that are great into one awesome mashup, this has to be one of the most successful ever.  Breakfast food, good.  Tacos, good.  Place one in the other and enjoy, what’s not to like?  Thank you Texas. Continue reading

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All You Can Couch Surf

Carpe vitae!  Every now and then an opportunity presents itself that you know you will kick yourself forever if you turn it down.  So, why turn it down?  One night sitting on the internet a message came through, Jet Blue was doing their All You Can Jet pass again. Visions of flitting from place to place sprang to mind, seeing old friends and new, eating and drinking in exciting new places, and in distant favourites that had faded in the mists of memory.  Bars to visit, spirits to try, stupid things to do, and promises to fulfil, all these bloomed in my mind tantalizing me with possibilities.  I found myself credit card in hand buying a ticket, and the reality that this was going to happen set in.

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