Category Archives: Drink

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 4

After three nights of partying in New Orleans it was finally Fat Tuesday and our last full day in the city. I woke up sleep deprived and hungry (like the last couple of days) so I left the hotel and went in search of food with my buddy Arun. We were able to grab some burritos at a Mexican joint called Felipe’s that was only a couple blocks from our hotel and the place was pretty good. After breakfast/lunch we meandered down Decatur Street near the river where we got to see the Riverboat Natchez close up.

We continued down to Frenchman Street where we were last night. The word around town was that it was a good spot to be for Fat Tuesday, and since we had enjoyed ourselves there yesterday, we figured why not. On our way there we passed by Jackson Square where people were gathered around watching some street performers.

Among the street performers there was this one blues band playing on the street who had an old school bus which the singer was using as his stage.

When we finally got down to Frenchman there was already crowds of people in the streets and mini makeshift parades starting up. A lot of people were dressed in all sorts of costumes and music was playing everywhere.

We stayed on Frenchman Street for a while, just drinking and hanging out and watching all the spectacles happen around us.

We were lucky enough to witness a delivery truck, which was trying to make it’s way through the crowds, stop, and then watched the driver jump out of the truck and start dancing to the nearest music beat. He then proceeded to get on top of the truck and dance around, putting on a show for everyone.  It was awesome.

As the evening crept up on us we decided to head over to the Tremé area where there was supposed to be an Indian parade, however we got there too late and missed it. With no other plans we decided to hit up Bourbon Street one last time and made our way down to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop which I had visited the day before. We got a few drinks there and hung out on their patio which was surprisingly not too crowed. Eventually we all got hungry and decided to grab some pizza at Vieux Carre which was nearby; the pizza wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t amazing either. As our night winded down we figured we should stop into one last place for some drinks, but we wanted to make it a good place. We ended up at the swanky Loa Bar in the International House Hotel where there was practically no one inside. The bartender was friendly and the drinks were superb. We stayed there until closing time and then grabbed some snacks (Gator-Tators) and a case of beers on our way back to our hotel. Back at the hotel, Arun insisted on trying on ALL of the beads we had gathered throughout our stay.

When he tried to take them off he got his head stuck in the entanglement of beads and he cried for help but we all just laughed (he was alright after all). In the morning we attempted to ride the Airport Downtown Express back to the airport from the city but became stumped on where to pick it up. After about an hour of walking around with our bags in the gross Louisiana humidity we hailed a cab. We zipped along the freeway in our taxivan and I thought about how great the trip had been, but I must say, all the partying took a lot out of me and I was kind of relieved it was over.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 2

After our first night of partying on Bourbon Street we woke up around noon and had a look out our hotel window. This was the first time we had a glimpse of New Orleans during the daytime and we were pleased to see it was looking awesome outside.

We could see parades happening in the streets below and enjoyed watching the Steamboat Natchez make it’s rounds on the Mississippi.

Even though it was past noon it was time for us to get breakfast so we hit the street in an effort to find somewhere to eat. This was not the easiest thing to do. We battled the crowds and parade routes trying to find a decent place to get some grub. It was even harder finding good food during Mardi Gras being a vegetarian.

After a while of walking around aimlessly we settled for some carnival style food from a street vendor. I bought a $5 piece of pizza which tasted like cardboard; it wasn’t good at all but at least we weren’t so hungry anymore. Since we now had some food in our stomachs we decided it was now time to grab some beers. We headed over to a place called the American Sector which is part of the National World War II Museum, so before going to the restaurant we stopped inside the museum to take a quick look around.

The restaurant was actually across the street from the museum and was connected to a place called the Stage Door Canteen, which is also part of the museum. We took our seats at the bar, had a friendly exchange with the bartender, and ultimately ordered their “P-51” dark amber ale.

After some time at the bar we wandered out onto their patio which was totally unoccupied. The restaurant wasn’t all that crowded even with Mardi Gras going on and it felt nice to get away from the crowds for a while.  Since the place was so nice and mellow we ordered more beers, cocktails, and had some food; all of which was great.

Having spent about 4 hours at the American Sector we finally decided we should mosey on to somewhere else. There was another bar nearby called Circle Bar I wanted to check out so we headed over and it was probably only a few blocks away. Circle Bar is appropriately located right off Lee Circle where the General Lee Monument is located.

Unfortunately Circle Bar wasn’t as mellow as the American Sector, and happened to be on the forefront of the next upcoming parade, so there was a $5 cover to get. We didn’t really have any other plans until later so we decided to pay the cover and went inside and grabbed some beers. Circle Bar was a little on the small side but wasn’t too crowded and had a great jukebox.  After a little time there I left my friends to go back to the hotel to get in a quick (unsuccessful) nap before we went out at night. Around 9pm my buddy Josh woke me up and it was time to go. Earlier in the trip, just by luck, he procured us some free passes to a Captain Morgan’s Party on Bourbon Street that was to have an open bar and free food. I was skeptical at first but as we walked up to the place it looked legit.

The party was being held at a place called The Bourbon Street Blues Company and with our passes we were able to go upstairs where we got balcony access.

I must say, once inside I was pretty impressed. The place wasn’t too crowded so it was easy to get drinks, and it was nice to hang out on the balcony to see what was going on down on the street.

After getting our fair share of free drinks and pizza I decided we should leave and see what else was happening. Josh wasn’t quite ready to leave so I left with my two friends Andy and Arun. We ended up wandering into some random bar to use the bathroom but also ended up getting drinks there. Andy got the jello shots. Two of them, because he’s awesome.

We eventually made our way back to our hotel room at some point and by the time we got back Josh had beat us there. For some reason he had locked himself in the bathroom and was taking a bubble bath; maybe he had to wash off the Mardi Gras. I eventually barged in because I had to pee, and then Arun, Andy, and I hit the town again for some more trouble.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans – Part 1

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is obviously one of the biggest parties in the United States, so that meant I had to go. Some friends and I had been planning the trip for a while and the time had finally come to go. We got dropped off at John Wayne Airport Saturday morning and with time to kill before our flight we while we decided to hit up one of the airport bars. My friends and I have sort of a tradition with starting off fun trips with margaritas, so we order a round with shots of bourbon to make them Mad Dog Margaritas for an added kick.

We had a 3 hour layover in Houston where we grabbed food and romped around the airport for a while. We were also able to have some more drinks… and then a few more on our flight (hey, we wanted to be ready for Mardi Gras).

We finally got into New Orleans at about 10:30pm on Saturday night with Fat Tuesday approaching the upcoming week. We got outside the airport and found there was a long line to get a taxi. We waited and got one for a flat rate of 60 bucks that would take us straight downtown.

Because of all the partying and the street closures our taxi driver could only get us about 4 blocks away from our hotel on Canal Street. That was okay since we were anxious to jump out and experience the party. As we walked to our hotel we got our first impressions of Mardi Gras and I think the best way to describe what we walked into was just madness.

Beads were flying, drinks were sloshing, there were street performers, and music was playing everywhere. We decided that the best thing to do at the time was to walk into the nearest liquor store and buy beers, which were not short on demand.

When then proceeded to check into our hotel (beers in hand) and I was really starting to like Mardi Gras. We got into our room and waited for our friend John to finish checking into his hotel across the street. We all met up, had a cheers, and then headed for Bourbon Street. We had a little taste of Bourbon Street as we walked to our hotel but now we were prepared to take it on in full force. It was not long until we were getting doused with beads and making friends in the street.

As we walked around I kept seeing people with this sort of canteen container filled with punch that hung around your neck which you could conveniently drink from a straw. I quickly became determined to get one of these interesting looking concoctions so I asked around and people pointed me to a place called Fais Deaux Deaux, which is usually just a little dive bar but since it was Mardi Gras they had a little drink stand set up out front.

With my punchbowl strung around my neck I continued up Bourbon Street to see what else was happening. It was mostly more of the same: people drinking in the streets and getting beads thrown down to them by people drinking in balconies.

Some parts of the street got really crowded but I continued to move on, and by this time I had lost the other members in my group, but I wanted to try to make it to the end of this party.  I kept walking, sippin’ on my travel friendly punch,  and squeezing through throngs of people. I probably walked four or five blocks on my own and still did not see an end in sight. By this time the booze punch was starting to really take effect and at this hour walking around with so many beads on the ground you felt lucky not to slip, fall, and break your neck. I decided to give up my search for the “end of the party” and head back to the hotel.

I’ll be honest and say I can’t quite recall all the details from this night but I do know I managed to make my way back to the hotel safety, retired my souvenir punch bowl to a shelf and reconvened with the rest of my friends. It had been a long day for all of us and I think we all called it a night around 5am Sunday morning.

Salzburg and Oktoberfest

Friday morning we checked out of our hotel in Prague and headed for the train station. This was the beginning of our day long journey to Salzburg.

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First we had to catch a train to the southern Czech city of České Budějovice where we had to then catch a train to the Austrian city of Linz. From Linz we caught our train to Salzburg. Once arriving in Salzburg all we needed to do was get to the bed & breakfast we had booked. Easy huh? Yeah, no. We knew we had to catch a bus up into the hills outside the city, but weren’t sure which direction the bus needed to be headed. We decided to just jump on the next bus that came along and see where it headed. Upon doing this we shortly got an unintentional tour of downtown Salzburg. Yes, we were headed in the wrong direction. We hopped off the bus and waited for the next one heading in the opposite direction. This turned out to be the right one and we finally got dropped off where we wanted.

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Then we had a short hike up a large hill to where we finally found our lodging, which was equipped with the latest decor (from the 90’s).

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The next morning we woke up early to get a fast train into Munich. The train ride was nice and we got complimentary juice and chocolates. Coming into Munich for the first day of Oktoberfest was not as crazy as I thought it’d be. The Munich train station was definitely buzzing with people pouring in for the festival but it wasn’t overbearing.

We were planning on meeting our friend John at his hotel, which was not far from the train station, but on our way there we ran into the first parade of Oktoberfest which inhibited us from getting there. The parade was neat to watch but it started getting very warm out in Munich. We decided to step back from the parade so we could get out of the sun and just wait for it to end. As we retreated from the parade crowd we just so happened to run into John. He was on his way to his hotel and got caught up by the parade as well. When the parade finished we accompanied John to his hotel where he dropped his luggage off and then it was on to the festival!

I think the best way to describe Oktoberfest is as a large carnival, complete with thrill rides, shows, fun houses and food, but also with huge beer tents all around with the majority of the attendees dressed up for the occasion.

The three of us walked into the first beer tent we saw and got in no problem, however finding a place to sit was another story. The place was packed and it looked like the only way to get a spot was to wait for someone to leave, and of course everyone who didn’t have a seat was doing this. Rather than wait around like vultures for the next available seat, we decided to keep moving. We grabbed some quick food and went in search of beer. It was surprising how difficult it was to get a beer at Oktoberfest. We found a small restaurant which we were finally able to squeeze into where we ordered three beers. It was cooking like an oven in the little restaurant booth so once we finished our beers we paid and got out. I kept seeing people walking around with bottles of beer but it turns out they just purchased those at a market before they came to the festival (smart). We thought that was a good idea and decided to walk to a market but on our walk we came across a beer garden right on the outskirts of the festival. We decided to try our luck there. It looked nice and shady with lots of tables and not as crowded. After waiting in a short line we were all enjoying large steins of German beer in a nice spot in the shade.

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It wasn’t long before the friendly gay men from Chicago, the hammered soccer (or drinking) team from Tuscany, and us three Californians were all hanging out and cheersing large steins with one another. I’m not going to lie, that little beer garden was Oktoberfest’s saving grace for me.

The time finally came to where we had to make our way back to Salzburg for the night and John walked us to the train station. I had one more beer on the train for good measure while Sayaka slept most of the ride back to Salzburg.

Getting back to the bed and breakfast was a lot easier this time because we realized we could just take a commuter train to a stop that drops us off closer than the bus did. This was nice after a long day of beer drinking.

Brussels, Amsterdam & Prague

The morning we left Paris was when it started. Runny nose, nasal pressure, and the beginnings of a sore throat. I knew sharing a sleeper cabin with a sick Australian dude was not going to turn out well. None the less, we were off to Brussels.

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The train ride was pretty nice: big first class seats, free snacks, wine, and coffee too. If I was feeling a little better I would have totally taken advantage of the free wine but instead just settled for the coffee in hopes it would make my throat feel a little better.

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The station in Brussels was chaos when we got off the train and there seemed to be no metro map posted anywhere. We finally figured out which tram to take and eventually found our hotel which was nestled in the hub of the old part of town.

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We got food from a market in town and had a small lunch. Afterwards I decided to rest since I still wasn’t feeling too hot and Sayaka went to look around town. She came back shortly and I decided I needed to get my ass out of bed so I could go out and actually enjoy the town. We wandered around town and I got to check out a couple of Brussels’ bars where I enjoyed some excellent beers.

The next morning we caught a train to Amsterdam.

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It was a fairly short train ride from Brussels to Amsterdam. Once in the train station we immediately booked our train for that night which would get us to Prague in the morning. With that done we wondered around town for a bit and walked past The Anne Frank House which did not look like a house at all. The outside looked to be converted into a modern style museum, which was a bit of a disappointment. We grabbed lunch at a burger shop which had surprisingly good portobello mushroom burgers. We wondered around a bit more and eventually made our way back to the train station to catch our night train to Prague.

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This time our train compartment was a six person sleeper, however most of the trip it was just Sayaka and I, with one brief extra passenger getting on and off somewhere along in Germany.

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We got into Prague in the morning and the weather was great.

The Irish Red Ale has been Bottled

I just love the sight of a batch of beer that has just been bottled.  It’s very satisfy to think all the time and work has paid off, and even better that it’s almost ready to drink!  I’m really excited to try this one.  While bottling I tasted a sample and it was pretty interesting.  It had a strong flavor; not very hoppy but slightly sweet.  I just wonder what it’s going to taste like when it’s done conditioning in the bottles.

Brewing Update

Well the “Oldcastle” brown ale we brewed back a few months ago turned out fine. It didn’t quite taste like New Caslte but it wasn’t bad.   It was actually a very drinkable brown ale, and the fact that it didn’t turn out like the actual New Castle isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.

Since then we’ve also brewed an amber ale which has turned out great, and as of now we’ve got an Irish red and a blonde ale fermenting.  The Irish red should be ready to bottle this weekend.  We added some honey to that one so I’m interested to see what that does to the flavor.