Five to nine

Have a drink.

October 29, 2004

Cheers... to the end of all curses.

Wednesday night was a historic moment in Americana. Eighty six years after nineteen eighteen, and eighteen years after nineteen eighty-six, the sun, the earth and moon were in perfect alignment and it would seem that fate was sealed. When it became clear that my beloved National league was simply gonna roll over and make way for history without putting up much of a fuss, I decided to make my peace with this and just find an adequate place to welcome the moment. Mr. Sunshine and I decided to put our heads together and find an appropriate Irish bar. After very little deliberation, we settled on the oldest Irish pub in Los Angeles. We figured it would be a safe bet to house displaced Sox fans in L.A. We weren't trying to jump a bandwagon or anything, just be in a place of good spirits when the time inevitably came. We were right about the Sox thing. Though we arrived early enough to secure two adjacent seats at the bar, the joint was soon full of Bostonians, offspring of Bostonians, and their hangers-on. As we sat there, pitch after pitch, gulp after gulp (black and tan for him, Guinness for me) the feeling of inevitability grew stronger and stronger. As did the feeling of drunkenness. The only complaint I have against this fine bar was their impatience in pouring the slightly delicate Irish brew from a tap. When pouring guinness, it's important to pour half a glass and let it sit till the head rises, you are then to tilt the glass and pour the last of it down the side, so the newer beer is on the bottom therefore minimizing the size of the head, and making sure that it is thick and concentrated on the top. The procedure for making a black and tan is almost identical except the second pour is a light lager. Harp's works well. Our bartender lost his patience and poured the black and tans backwards and the Guinness in one impatient pull. The wait was a little sad, since i kept thinking that this venture out would mark the very end of Baseball for the whole year, and was punctuated only by occasional absences of my comrade to smoke a cigarette outside. During one of his leaves, I noticed a nice-looking bright redhead by the bar looking my way, not getting attention from the bartender. I scooted slightly right implicitly offering her my friends seat to facilitate getting her drink. During the small-talk, I learned this lovely girl, redheaded, fair-skinned and freckled was named Colleen, I believe Gaelic for 'girl'. Believing as I do in stereotypes, and seeing that she could not possibly have fit better into one if she tried, I jokingly asked if she was here to shed a tear for the Cards. "Ha ha, hardly. I'm mostly here to drink pints of Guinness with my friends. If the Sox win too that's awesome." What a woman I could not help thinking! Once Jared returned and she had been served, I thanked her for her company and he thanked her for keeping his seat warm, this Gossamer-Woman disappeared, and we got back to the important business of choosing a proper celebration whiskey for the end of the game. We felt adventurous and decided to try a barkeep-recommended serving of Tyrconnel; to be had from the end of the stretch to the end of the game. When the time came, the bartender served our whiskey and made sure to buy us a round before we left. I should take this moment to remark how much I appreciate a Bar having bartenders that look like they belong there. There were bartenders three, one of them graying and older all very slim, black pants, a white collared shirt and a bartenders apron.
When the inevitable inevitably came, I turned to my silver-tongued friend and asked what the appropriate toast was for this moment, which we would surely remember forever. Without hesitation, he raised his glass and said "to the end of all curses."

UPDATE: You can read an infinitely more verbose account of the night at Jared's.

October 27, 2004

My peers drink beers.

Brother Klein threw a party at his place last Saturday, and since I had to go there straight after work, I decided to try a social experiment. I am not an antisocial person by nature, but like a good meringue emulsion in the kitchen, mix me too fast, and I will not do well. I do best in a large group of people I already know and a few I have yet to meet. This however was not an option at said party. I would hate to go to a party and feel uncomfortable, or worse yet, drink till I feel comfortable and then do something silly. Instead I opted for remaining in my bar-keeping uniform. Stand behind the bar and volunteer to mix guests a drink. I spend a lot of time there, I have a lot of booze there, with the added authority of the uniform I have created a very effective barrier between me and the strangers. I am a part host, and the same rules and expectations do not apply to me. It worked out wonderfully at keeping my anxiety levels down, I fit into a nice role where i was comfortable. That coupled with the fact that most guests wanted a beer from the fridge rather than a highball or cocktail from the bar kept the number of strangers i had to interact with to an absolute minimum. I have lived through 21 Halloweens and not until right before this one did I stop to ponder the advantages in real life of a good mask. If you're looking for a good Halloween costume that will actually give you powers, I recommend 8 feet of oak.

October 22, 2004


  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • grapefruit juice

Fill 8oz glass with ice, mix in vodka and grapefruit juice. You can give your glass a salt rim to make a Salty Dog
There is a slight bitterness that hides excellently the taste of your booze. This is a highball that goes down easier than most, as a result you always get a little more into you than you thought you might. Grapefruit also contains some fun chemicals knows as furanocoumarins, which prevents certain enzymes in your small intestine from properly breaking down certain chemicals. This makes your drink work harder, as a result you always get a little more out of it than you thought. With surprisingly little effort, you end up feeling happy, contented and warm on the inside.
Ichabod is a four month old greyhound pup who had a broken leg and was about to be put to death. Jason, an old friend of mine who is sweeter than a cask of spanish sherry, could not bear the thought, and rescued him. Jason is a gifted artist with a limited amount of living space. He needs to find a more suitable permanent home for this doggy. Greyhounds are an affectionate breed. No hint of bitterness. Active and sociable, adopting one of these dogs will give you a little more pleasure and satisfaction than you expected. If you live in the NYC area, and have room in your home for a long cool pup, leave me a message and I will express my gratitude by buying you a long cool drink.
Cheers Jason and Ichabod.

October 20, 2004

Prohibida la entrada...

a mujeres, menores de edad y hombres uniformados.
The town in Mexico where my kinship lies, Jalpa Zacatecas, is in the state with the most expatriates to the United States. The town is very old. The catholic churches in the center are hundreds of years old. Up to about 50 years ago, the population was very widely distributed, most people lived in surrounding ranches, and the actual town had only a few hundred residents, and only about a dozen surnames that really mattered. Among them, those of my predecessors, Don Martin Sandoval, Don Froylan Sandoval, Don Simeon Sandoval. On Sundays, when the ranchers would come into town for mass and market day, they could also wet their whistles at "Bar La Jungla" or the jungle bar, owned by my great, great uncle Simeon; called the jungle bar because of the taxidermy decorating motif, you see my uncle was an avid hunter and he kept all his best trophies at his bar. His Brother, my great grandfather Martin had a herd of milk cattle, but he tended Don Simeon's bar with his free time. My uncle Simeon raised a semi-free range herd of Zebu which required less attention, so he spent most of his work time at the bar. My grandfather, though a youth, was the steward of the Governor's (Don Leobardo Reynoso) horses at the time, and with his free time backed for the bar. The funny thing is, neither my grandfather nor his father were ever drinkers. Across the street from the plaza, was the competition, a bar that was older than my uncles, in a handsome stone-masonry building.
Though the town looks much different, and has a population of about 22,000, not including a HUUUUGE expatriate contingency, both those two bars still stand. My family being liberal and progressive, willed the land evenly to daughters and sons alike, so the Jungle bar is much smaller than it once was, and next door are two boutiques run by wonderful women. Not all of the old families were as progressive as ours though. The competition that stands across the plaza is still there, still the same size, and still has much the same patronage as it did a long time ago. And in case anyone ever gets a funny idea, it still has the same sign it did half-a-hundred years ago. "No women, minors or uniformed men allowed."

October 18, 2004

Dear Moments

Omar at Iraq the model writes about an e-mail advertisement (not a spam, since it was personally written by the business owner) for a restaurant called the 'Coral Beach.' It is long winded, the grasp of english is shaky, but when money talks, it translates very well. The ad is aimed at foreigners doing business in Baghdad. It begins by expressing concern for the safety of potential patrons, it discourages those who do not feel completely safe from visiting. The restaurant has a delivery service to keep potentially discouraged patrons safe in their home. It operates between 6pm and 2am, after the prohibitive temperature of the desert has chilled a little. It seats 155, and you can reserve up to 75% of the seats for a private party for your "Event or dear moment." 25% of the seats will always be available to loyal patrons. Further rewarding your loyalty, after you visit three times, you are eligible for a membership card which gets you discounted prices, as well as priority seating. It is also "the only restaurant with special dancing  ground area with Bar for parties." I have never been, and already it is my second-favorite bar on earth.
Some things are not universal, and almost impossible to agree on. Sitting for dinner and drinks with people who are like you, or care about you is not one of them. You'd be surprised how well lamb and company feed the soul. Coral Beach uses this as a very good selling point.

Thought from the owner.

  Hopes and Inspiration for peace !

   Problems of life are not so acute , important thing is they are understood. As humans we must believe peace is not beyond reach, and we must know ,deprivation, sense of loss, these are things all of us experience in our own space .How we respond to the changes around and how it grinds us into becoming what we become, …it’s a choice yet unknown; . so let us not  lose hopes since its part of some one  nature,  let us all feel good . we try to be in safe yes ,and  believe the end of the day is never the end of the world .
The sun must rise tomorrow when there will be peace and love in the air among us.

Please Feel Good Now !

Gorgeous rhetoric with limited syntax and diction. I am unfit to respond or comment on the quote. It is not often I am at a loss for words. so i will just end with a drink that I believe is a good metaphor for this sentiment. This drink is attractive, it has a delicious 'virgin' alternative (no alcohol) which can be enjoyed by observant Muslims at your table, and the drink's name, like our clever capitalist, smacks of hope and optimism.

Tequila Sunrise

  • 1.5oz. Tequila (optional)
  • Orange juice
  • Grenadine

In a glass of ice, pour the tequila and the OJ, tilt the glass a little, and dribble the grenadine which will sink to the bottom and make your glass look like a glorious morning, packaged.

The times, they are a'changin'

"... is the new black."
Any ugly duckling who has ever slipped into her first little black cocktail dress to find a babe on the other side of the mirror, will tell you that there is no new black. Not last fall when it was navy blue, not this fall when it's grey, not next fall when it'll be plaid.
There is no substitute for the classics, but there's replacements. This is true in all walks of life, and the bar is no exception. I like some of them more than others.
"Can I get..." is the new "I'll have..." I hate this one most of all. No you most certainly can not get. If you get your drinks, then what the hell am I doing here? You may have anything you'd like.
"Martini" is the new "Cocktail" Cocktails are stiff drinks served very cold and without ice in a biggish (3-4 oz.) serving. They are meant to be finished quickly and ordered often. Martini is one thing, and one thing only; Gin with some vermouth garnished with olives (in odd numbers for good luck).
Cosmopolitan is the new Martini. There's a million ways to make it, our most decadent pop idols loved them, and they've stuck. Gentlemen are increasingly realizing there's no shame in having a cosmo in public. They're pretty stiff, and you can probably get your lady-friend there to match you drink for drink.
Sour apple martini is the new Cosmopolitan. They're sweeter, stiffer, and come in a more exciting color.
Vodka is the new Gin. Believe it or not, once upon a time the American Constitution forbade something. This made it difficult to distill complex and tasty drinks that require much attention to the subtle balance of ingredients that give it flavor. During the same time period, the number of establishments that served booze tripled. How to meet the demand? Neutral spirits! Take something like grain (or potatoes) and ferment it into alcohol plain and simple, making sure to filter out as much of the flavor as possible. But the process isn't perfect, this stuff still tasted like crap. Solution? Flavor it with juniper berries, and it's like drinking a christmas tree! Nowadays however, we have titans of industry and technology. We can take grains and distill the hell out of them, leaving not even a hint of flavor or aroma. This is good vodka. Potato vodka is rare these days, but you can still find it. The good people at glacier vodka have an exceptional product, as do the folks at Belvedere, called 'Chopin' (incidentally, it is this Chopin that is fueling my entry tonight. It's a Polish vodka, and being a rightie, I am exceptionally pleased with the Poles these days).
Rude is the new Polite. The people who used to say "you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar" never counted on their progeny's ability to manufacture vinegar. Maybe I'm exaggerating; having been raised in a strict, nearly Edwardian home, my standards for good manners may be archaic and unreasonable, but still, a smile and a 'please' will move a mountain outta your goddamn way.
These details of social interaction are always changing but I take it as a testament to the strength of our structure that the niches they fill are permanent. However, if the trend in ill-breeding continues, it may well sneak up on us and undermine our society. So everyone, take a minute to think about being polite and start practicing more. I do believe that a bar is a great place to start.
"Hello sir, may I please have a dirty vodka martini and a cosmopolitan for my lovely guest."

October 13, 2004

Cheap insurance.

Some cute girl turned you down. Some sketchy dude just hit on you. The life of the party is sobering up. That blonde bitch with the belly-button ring showed up. Some fool is talking religion.
There are many reasons to leave the party. When enough of these reasons add up, the party is over.
There's some good reasons for parties to end. You run out of booze, it's late, all the girls are gone, the cops have arrived, the feds have arrived, etc. How a party comes to an end is an inextricable part of the story, and helps define the quality of said soiree.
There's also terrible reasons for a party to end. Terrible because they can be avoided. I will be happy to outline the most common so that you may avoid them.
First is the cheapest of insurances. I have seen all types of parties end prematurely due to ice shortage. From cozy little cocktail parties to quarter million dollar rites of passage, no one is immune. Ice is cheap. Calculate how much you will need and then buy (or freeze) at least twice as much! Trust me, it's easier to get someone to drink a bad drink than a warm drink.
'Mixers' tend to run out in parties with people mixing their own higballs. People who don't drink, but feel uncomfortable not drinking can go through a quart of orange juice or cranberry juice just to have something to hold. Protect your favorite louches by preparing home-made syrups to take the edge off the lowballs. Simple syrup is cheap and easy to make, and hard to drink except with a good measure of booze. To make simple syrup, simply stir equal volumes water and sugar over a low flame. Simple sweet and sour is made the same way except with half lemon juice and half water in the recipe. The following liquors go well with nothing but a lot of ice and a splash of sour. Whiskey, Scotch whiskey, vodka, gin (gin benefits from an additional splash of soda), tequila. The following liquors go well with naught but a splash of syrup. Whiskey, Bourbon whiskey, rum, vodka WITH any sweet liqueur, gin with anything citrusy.
One thing that is free to fix is the timing of your party. This should depend on the type of gathering, number of guests you expect and what it is that you're offering them. Larger more expensive parties should not start too early, that will distribute the guests arrival time too much. Smaller more intimate parties should not start too late, this leaves plenty of time for your guests to decide what they may want to do with their late evening (assuming it's a weekend). Some of the best memories (or whatever's left of them) come from a good 'springboard' party.
And finally, lame people. We all know some, heck, some of us are some. Keep them away from social events. People who begin every sentence with "I have" or "I did", people who interrupt, people who judge. Concentrate on those friends of yours worth their habit.

Enjoy your party, and please don't forget to invite me.

October 06, 2004

Lujuria. Sangre y arena.

Blood and Sand

  • 1oz. scotch whiskey
  • 1oz Cherry-flavored brandy
  • 1oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • A splash of orange juice

Shake the scotch whiskey and vermouth liqueur together and pour on ice. Splash the orange juice and finally, dribble the cherry brandy on top.
When I was six, I lived a year in Mexico with my grandparents. On the occasion of my mothers visit from Los Angeles, my family took me to my very first Bullfight. I learned some valuable lessons about empathy and bloodlust that I did not quite understand until much later. I learned a valuable lesson about excise drinks that made a lot of sense right away.
As I sat there, with my chest tight, a lump in my throat, my heart racing but eyes wide open and with a gleam, I saw a guy with a bucket full of ice and coke bottles and thought it might be nice to have one. When he charged me for it it was $500 Pesos. "But they're only $300 at the store." The guy selling them, maybe twice my age, said "Yeah, but I'm the one who brought them to the Bulls."
At the time, I did not know the words "40% markup", but I certainly understood "almost twice as much." I also noticed that my uncle Manuel (an electrical engineer) was spending thousands upon thousands on a round of "wine" for his wife and in-laws. (Mexicans have the bad colloquial habit of referring to all non-beer drinks as 'vino' but my uncle was actually buying tequila.)
I also understood that what made this Coke and that Tequila valuable was the spectacle going on in the ring. It is the greatest show on earth, and I love it. It makes me sad that misunderstandings about the sport will prevent many of my peers and compatriots from understanding me. So, in defense of the indefensible, I'd like to outline the basics of this very calculated punishment without the shrill sensationalism of the activists, or the glossing over of the apologists. This is just what happens, beginning to end.
It begins long before the show, on the Haciendas. Working vestiges of a time when Spain was in charge. They are kept in free range herds, and before the breeding season, the animals are tested and separated in "tientas." The animals are herded and then one at a time sent into a ring with one of the men who run the Hacienda. The heifers are made to chase the cape much in the way you imagine. The bullocks can not be tested the same way, since that would ruin them for an actual 'run.' They are jabbed with a small spear (of course small is a relative term, it is not big enough to inflict a wound that the animal would not recover from by the time of the 'faena' or show) by a man on horseback, and their reaction is gauged and evaluated by the hacendados. After the test, the animals are separated. Those that fail are sent the way of the beef commodities market, and those that show especially aggresive and territorial traits are kept on the ranch. The heifers are sent back to the herd and the bulls are separated into lots of six. these six animals will be together the rest of their lives. Then, many months of attention are paid to them preparing them for the Run. Everything from a good long spirited chase on horseback to separating them one at a time to help them adjust quickly to new and alarming surroundings. All this is an inexact science and some haciendas have a better reputation than others of course.
By the time the bulls are about six years old they weigh half a ton and it is solid muscle. They are transported to the fair about two days before the event and are given little food and measured water to prevent cramping. During this time the bullpen is on public display, and the fans can take a look and decide wether or not this fight will be worth the ticket. They are expensive. Plazas (i.e. bullrings) are divided into first second and third tier. Countries that allow bullfighting are usually hot and include, but may not be limited to, Mexico, Spain, France, Portugal (but they're a story to themselves), Peru, Venezuela &c. Because the run begins at about 4 in mexico and a little later in europe, the sun can be especially unpleasant, so there is a shade built over half of the ring. Seats under the shade cost more, and help separate the rabble from the polite society. The actual 'faena' or test always follows the same proper procedure.
First the participants march into the stadium in a ceremonial manner, there is pomp and circumstance and a band playing the sounds you probably associate with the spaniards.
The torero takes the 'capote' and waits for the bull. In the bullpen, the bull is stuck in the chuck with a ribbon with the trademark colors of the animals ranch of origin. After running around the ring once or twice, the bull then begins to zero in on the torero. During this first phase, the bullfighter must take advantage of the especially large size of the cape to learn everything he can about the bulls pattern of attack. Charges are like fingerprints. When the judge decides the time has come, the picadors enter the bullring. This is the first actual test of the 'game'ness of the beast. How does he respond to physical torture. The picadors (usually two) are men on horseback. The horse is armored, and they sit on opposite ends of the bullring. The men are armed with a spear. The bull is made to charge at the horse from a short distance, and as he tries to gore his target, he is speared in the shoulder no less than twice and IN NO CASE more than three times. This injury is meant to atrophy the muscles that the bull uses to throw his head up during an attack, because the last two parts of the event depend on the bull simply charging forward as close to the cape and bullfighter as he dares.
Yes this makes the fight unfair, keep one important thing in mind, this is not competitive sport in which we are to determine which side is a better match, like baseball. It's an audience that paid good money to see a spectacle, and to see how it was that the one side exploits its vast resources, like Yankees baseball.
Once the picadors have left the ring, 'Banderilleros" enter to adorn the bull with colored dowels called banderillas near as possible to the spot of the previous lancing. If you place them too far forward or back, you will be booed. This is repeated two or three times for a total of no less than six and no more than eight 'flags' on your bull. Here begins the drama of the fight. The bull, no longer able to throw his head up, is then confronted by a bullfighter with a small red cape called the muleta. The smaller size of the cape, and the intelligent nature of the bull means (generally) that every time the bull charges he is increasingly closer to the matador. The passes and technical details involved especially in this part could fill a book. And they do. When the bull has given his all, the judge signals for the end of the run. The bullfighter tries to position the bull, and penetrate him with the sword through the ribcage and ideally into the lungs or heart, ensuring a quick death. If the sword bounces of bone, or becomes stuck in connective tissue, the crowd will boo. If you repeat this mistake, the crowd will boo louder. If you repeat this mistake twice, the crowd will not forgive you and you will not be cheered in the end. But if you are clean, concise, brave and correct, you will receive some commendation. generally performances are gauged by crowd response in the sports pages. they go in the following order of accolade.
Whistles (akin to being booed)
with enough ovation, the judge is then allowed to give the following awards
One ear
Two ears
Two ears and the tail.
to the bull (and by association his ranch of origin) he can award one of the following.
victory 'lap' of the body around the ring and...
if the bull was perfect, if the matador put on a perfect show, if it is a first tier ring, the bull can be granted a reprieve. This is most rare. Think, pitcher in a perfect game.
This is a slightly detailed account of the events. I would need to hire a poet if I wanted to write about the incomparable feeling from the stands, the lust for violence, the expectation of perfection, the agony of disappointment, the thrill of a perfect pass, and yes the inescapable sadness of knowing six gorgeous beasts shall come to an end today. We do love these creatures, and those who make their living at this feel for them a compassion, gratitude and appreciation the likes of which PETA members could never understand. Death is after all, what makes this an important event, and not just a show.
This is not a defense of what we love. If you want moral justification for exploiting beasts, go read Kant. If you want to intoxicate yourself with a wine that cannot be fermented or reproduced outside its still, visit Spain or Mexico this summer.

October 01, 2004

Cheers to Sunshine and happy hours

When one is fortunate, like I am, and has only spectacular individuals as his friends, like I do, one can get very lonesome going lengths of time without seeing some of them, like I get.
But L.A. is an important city, and every once in a while, someone has business here or a reason to visit. This month it was Jared Sunshine.
Since there is no bars to be worked behind on a thursday morning, we decided to take the day for some outdoor shopping and touring of the Venice Beach boardwalk. The street from his house to Venice is Venice blvd. The boardwalk is kinda local-hippie/tourist oriented, but there's a few things you just can't get anywhere else at a better deal as an L.A. local. After the window shopping and before the finality of purchase, we decided to clear our heads with some afternoon Brews. Heads clear, we made plans to go about the unusually gloomy, overcast beach and hop a few bars. First there was the all impressive Hooters Santa Monica happy hour. At first Mr. Sunshine was slightly opposed to the cheesiness of a PG titty-bar, and I could understand. But they have al-fresco tables where you can smoke, happy hour beer and wing specials and on top of that the vidal sassoon academy right next door and all the shapely waitresses to look at, we could satisfy all our neanderthal cravings for about $12.50. It was hard to argue with that. While finishing our wings, we discussed the very first branching of Los Angeles landmark Barney's Beanery and since it was but a short walk away, we decided to finish out happy hour there. The new beanery is a long narrow style bar with mirrors and lots of t.v.'s.
LOTS. I would guess somewhere between 120 and 160, most of them small. They have a few vestiges of what made the original great. Some pool tables, some games, nothing like the West Hollywood flagship. But the menu is the same as is the impressive beer collection. Anything domestic on tap $11 for the pitcher.
There was a time when I took extended periods of Heavy drinking with Jared for granted. I could pick at his smart brain for hours, indulge in his hedonist humanism, argue forever. Taking things for granted is nice, because when sometime in the future you revisit the nice things you doggedly did once, you'll be reminded how good your life used to be and how much you have to look forward to appreciating that you take for granted today.
There's something peaceful about sitting in a train next to a window facing backwards. Looking back at all the things you just missed is hypnotic. Sometimes I wonder if all the bar seats in the dining car face that way.