Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Barfly's Beat: Eating at the Bar

The bar ain't just for drinks!
Most people think of the restaurant bar as a place to grab a pre-dinner drink or lounge post dessert. Casual diners do not realize that in New York, bar seats in many establishments are as coveted as Manhattan real estate. The cognoscenti, who actually enjoy the camaraderie and directness of a bar meal, know that eating at the bar is much more that a pit stop. It is the destination. In premium eateries that have a bar scene, you need a virtual (and sometimes literal) reservation or at least know the bar staff to acquire a seat. Once you get that seat, you stay for a while ...a long while.

Last week I was eating at the bar in The Waverly Inn in New York's Greenwich Village. The snarky Douglas S. was behind the counter and as unspoken decorum demands, I signaled that I would like a Michter’s Straight Rye Manhattan (up) and a bar seat when one became available. The place was Thursday night crowded but the thought of John DeLucie’s perfectly cooked pork chop or Hudson Valley free-range chicken potpie and the general atmosphere of the place beckoned. I waited very patiently - like a “Saint” they would later say - cocktail in right hand, trench coat over left arm, felt fedora in free hand – for the other diners and drinkers to finish up and vacate the occupied seats. But I wasn't hurried or nervous about fighting for a spot, I know the drill. Though the place was filling up fast the next one would be mine. Some new patrons (who seemed a bit tipsy) "asked" already sat customers if they could get their seat but Douglas advised them in his signature direct manner that "this gentleman" (meaning moi)was next one on line. Now, there is no line at WI per se. It is more like a mob of folks sipping drinks waiting for their impossible to get table reservations and hoping to get a seat while they wait. But there are unwritten rules that transcend the specific establishment. In addition to first come, first serve - there are three simple rules I follow in restaurant bars – especially the good ones - that always get me in.

1. If you want a seat, kindly ask the bartender when they think one will be available for dinner and ask to be seated next. (Respect and courtesy can go far, even in this town)
2. Order a drink and keep the tab open. (This lets them know you are serious about sitting for a while)
3. Do not hover behind and upset seated customers. (First it is rude, second it will not get you the seat any faster)

My bar dinner at The Waverly Inn actually lead to another one this past weekend which I have to say was one of the best. While I was enjoying an after dinner Fernet Branca I recognized Igor, one of the superb bartenders and a proprietor of Employees Only. Since EO opened, Igor has made me countless cocktails and always made our crew feel first class when we walked through the door. He knows me as one of those guys who is serious about cocktails and invariably ends up having chicken soup late night. So I decided to buy him a drink and we got to chatting. I told him about my eating at the bar philosophy and he asked if I had ever had dinner at EO’s bar. To his amazement I told I had not and only sampled their killer Serbian chartucerie platter on occasion. Well he insisted I stop by the next time I had a chance and try it out.

Well the opportunity came the Saturday before Christmas. I figured the place would not be so crowded what with half of Manhattan heading back to see their families and I was spot on. Igor was outside having a smoke and welcomed me in with open arms. I got my usual seat (I like to occupy the "dugout" area of a bar for a sweeping view of the room). Starting out with a Negroni aperitif, I followed with a robust Super Tuscan when dinner arrived. The dinner menu was actually quite diverse but as soon as I saw Juniper Braised Rabbit I knew I was sold.

I began with crispy sweet breads over red globe grapes and fried capers.
For my entrée, I had no choice but to take the braised rabbit over creamy polenta and roasted veggies.
I topped the meal off with the dark chocolate cheesecake with banana whipped crème paired with a double espresso caffe corretto with Jacopo Poli grappa.

More grappa followed and then few other custom crafted cocktails such as the Ramos Gin Fizz and an Aviation. The conversation flowed with other bar patrons while Igor and fellow principal bartender Jose made sure my glass was never empty until I called it a night. The experience was exceptional because I felt as if I discovered a gem that had been under my nose the whole time. EO had outstanding food, impeccable and sincere service, and the experience was perfect way to kick off the holiday weekend.

Other Loungerati eating at the bar favorites:
1.Freemans – go for the seasonal cocktails, stay for the Venison Stew.
2.Balthazar – simply stop in for a plateaux des fruits de mer and a carafe of Sancerre on a lazy Saturday afternoon and you will understand.
3.Blue Ribbon – Brooklyn or Sullivan Street locations are winners. The attention to detail, raw bar, bone marrow, plus potent nightcaps make it a crowd pleaser year after year.
4.Bar Tabac – Sunday brunch with soccer on the flat screen and Michael Arenella jazz next to the bar. Throw in their Eggs Bar Tabac (baked eggs, ratatouille, and merguez sausage) and you stay for dinner!

So next time you consider a meal at the bar, remember that it is much more than chicken wings or nachos on a Sunday afternoon. Nor is it simply tapas or small plates before a sit down dinner. Whether you go solo or with a friend or on a date, the bar eating experience is communal and hardly ever solitary. Good bartenders are engaging and as long as you respect the unwritten code of securing a seat, you will be rewarded with a great dining and drinking experience … and heck a shot of Fernet may suddenly appear in front of you on the house.

- Fredo

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What We're Drinking: The Fez

Effervescent rocks the Fez
Is this a drink review or a Shriners head gear promotion? This month I’d like to dedicate a cocktail to the lovers of exotica and old-style lounging. You don’t have to belong to the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm Shriners or be an Ottoman Turk to enjoy the sweet and sour refreshment of The Fez.

The Lid: A fez is a brimless conical flat-topped hat with a neck length tassel attached. It is made of red or maroon colored felt and was popular in Islamic culture during the Ottoman Empire. The Shriners and Masonic fraternities adopted the Fez as a ceremonial headgear in the late 19th century. It became synonymous with the fraternal organizations, which were more known for their drinking, lounging, and carousing than their charity.

The Drink: The Fez is sweet and sour like a Sidecar but without the heavy cognac feeling. The citrus infused vodka Absolut Citron taste is enhanced by freshly squeezed lemon juice. However, the tartness doesn’t overwhelm the drinker because the Chambord compliments it. Chambord raspberry liquor is the key ingredient that gives The Fez its burgundy color, sweet fruit flavor, and swanky smoothness.

Dig it: I discovered this oasis in the sea of martinis upon a visit to the legendary Fez under the Time Café in NYC night club. It was a Thursday night; I had tickets to see the Mingus Big Band. I was in the mood for the eclectic jazz styles of the late great bassist and looking for an excuse to try a drink that didn’t involve “whisky” or “gin.” Usually, I would have skipped right over a sweet drink like The Fez but I was feeling the music.

The waitress served me a smoky crimson color cocktail with a crescent shaped lemon twist “tassel” hanging off the side. Skeptically, I sipped it and was surprised by the plethora of flavors on my palette. When I finished The Fez, I licked my lips and quickly ordered another one. Then I was off to the Casbah!
The Fez

2 parts Absolut Citron vodka
1 part Chambord raspberry liquor
¼ part of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon twist

Put a Martin Denny or Les Baxter album on the hi-fi. Scoot over to your bar. Combine the ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly. Then strain into chilled cocktail glasses and garnish with the lemon twist on the side. Serve immediately.
Sit back in your Barcalounger and enjoy!

- Fredo

(originally published in Atomic Magazine 2003)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Then, to add insult to injury, no buy-back!

by Grumpy

So I decide to have a drink and dinner at the bar at a local pan-asian joint in New Brunswick. I've boozed-it-up there on occasion so some of the staff knows me.

Draft beer. Stella or Kirin. Standard 12oz pours. 8+tax=8.56. Yes. They charge 8.56 for a beer. Honestly I think $9 for a draft beer would be less insulting. Seriously. What the hell is that 44 cents? Give me a break. What? Are they afraid that I'm only going to tip a dollar and this way the staff gets $1.44 tip on a draft beer?

I like single malt Scotch. So I order a Glenlivet 18. I'm asked if I want a single or double shot. Now, I'm not sure what they mean by that, because I didn't order a shot, I ordered a Scotch. Maybe some of you who do shots can explain it to me. Anyway, the Glenlivet 18 is about $68 at a discount retail liquor store. (I've seen it online for as little as $49.) Their price? $25 for a "single shot." At $25 per "Shot" that's a NINEFOLD markup on a "Premium" product. The fractional markup on a premium product is supposed to be less than the standard markup because the dollar amount of the markup will still be greater. No. Not here. I can't figure out if the problem is that they have no clue what booze is worth or that they think that their customers are all a bunch of rubes. Fortunately I ordered during "Happy hour" where the price is 50% off bringing the price to a reasonable, if still expensive level. I think the problem here is that the people running this place aren't Loungerati. They look at the price lists at other places to determine their prices. They see $18 for a Glenlivet 18 and decide to up the price a bit because they're a more "hip" place. Fine. Except that the reason that it's $18 for a Glenlivet at another place is that the bartender knows to make a heavy pour for someone who's a single malt drinker. I've never had a skimpier pour on a Scotch except for the time at Fredo's Bachelor party in Montreal, and I don't have to tell you why the joint we were at was light on the pouring.

Then, to add insult to injury, no buy-back.

On the up side the sashimi was the best I've had in New Jersey. That's not saying much. Most of the raw fish I've had in Central New Jersey is barely fit to feed my cat, but there you have it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Repeal Day!!

by Fredo

Today is the 75th anniversary of the day the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was repealed in 1932 with the ratification of the 21st Amendment! This monumental legislation effectively ended Prohibition and Americans could once again consume booze!

The 21st Amendment of the United States Constitution
Ratified December 5, 1933
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use there in of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

It is also Loungerati's first birthday! So the New York chapter be celebrating at a Dewar's Scotch sponsored event at Conker Hill pub in Hell's Kitchen. Rumor has it Fredo may be guest bartending.

Come on (hiccup)down and is your right!

Bottoms up from Loungerati!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Girl’s Gotta Make a Living…

by Jack Ruby Murray

When did nudity get so professional? The first Burlesque show I saw was in 2000 in an East Village bar with homemade costumes and a tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm that more than compensated the $5 cover charge. The Fifth annual New York Burlesque Festival held over four days and culminating in the “Saturday Spectacular” at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan was more Vegas than Village. It was seamless and seriously spectacular.

Surreal too, with acts like ‘Trixie and the Evil Hate Monkey’ a couple from Baltimore presented an high energy dance investigation of monkey on girl love was trumped only by the obscene Tigger with a frightening recreation of Little Orphan Annie. This included a ball swinging rendition of “Tomorrow” interupted by Annie’s sodomisation by Daddy Warbucks and culminated in Tigger plucking a condom from his stubbly arsehole.

The slick ‘Gravity Plays Favorites’ blew me away too with their mix of circus and new Burlesque: an acrobatic pole dance - two girls spinning on a steel pole and neither lost their pasties. Very classy.

The 'World Famous Bob' pinned today’s Burlesque to it’s roots with a recreation of a famous mother/daughter act from the 1950’s and this threw me slightly. The act in question was a tribute to Liz Renay who died in January – she claimed to have the first mother/daughter striptease act (the daughter here played by Ruby Valentine) and I guess she nailed it – Bob certainly bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Ms. Renay but the act in comparison to a set of original modern funny acts left me cold. It didn’t hold up. As important as this act might have been historically I’ll take Australia’s Imogen Kelly hilarous cream-smothered Marie Antoinette any day and honestly if I see another fan dance I’m going to start spitting feathers. This stuff is cute but Burlesque needs to keep reinventing itself.

Burlesque has moved to a level now where the performers can make a living (pretending) to take their clothes off. Ivan Kane is about to open New York branch of Forty Deuce and Dita Von Teese just launched her own perfume And with that sort of investment’s it’s going to have to keep up with the competition. These days that means XBox,Tivo,Blackberrys and Blockbuster. Burlesque is set to be an industry again and the money is definetly not ironic.

View The Fifth Annual New York Burlesque Festival slide show

Lead photo "Diamond Back Annie performing at the New York Burlesque Festival"
photo: Neville Elder

Friday, November 23, 2007

Congratulazioni to Neal & Sarah

by Fredo

Best wishes and congratulations to Loungerati Associate Neal (aka Effervescent) and his darling girlfriend Sarah for getting engaged on Wednesday Novemeber 22nd.

The debonair gent popped the question in the whispering gallery outside the famed Oyster Bar & Restaurant in New York's Grand Central Terminal. Surrounded by 100 year old Italian Guastavino tile work and confronted with a Tiffany's diamond ring Sarah said "Yes!" Neal wasted no time and whisked his new finacee to the Berkshires for several days of spa treatment and pampering at Blantyre. They celebrated over a bottle of 1993 Sassocaia Super Tuscan wine and Neal treated himself to Cuban Trinidad cigar.

The night before the event, Effervescent had picked up a bow-tie at Barney's and then b-lined it to Tiffany's for the rock. He also enjoyed his last cocktail as a bachelor, a Perfect Manhattan at La Houppa.

Tanti Saluti da Loungerati!

photo credit - by Will Lounge who was lurking in the shadows clad in trench coat and sunglasses and then acted like paparazzi for the evening.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Lounge Doctrine

Delivered by the Senator at the Algonquin Hotel, November 17, 2007

"Loungers, I come before you tonight, drink in hand, with a message of hope.

They said that there was no more room at the bar for us. They said that there was no longer a place where good taste hardly ever went out of style. They said that times had passed us by.

Well, my friends, I have seen how the other half parties and let me be the first to say to them: KEEP ON PASSING.

They can take their smoking bans and they can take their political correctness and they can shove it right up their asses. To you my fellow Loungers I say this: let us never inebriate out of fear, but let us never fear to inebriate.

We say, with not so silent lips – if you are tired, if you are poor, if you’re one of the huddled dancers yearning to drink for free, then you must be refused and your wretched ass must be kicked outside the golden door! On this fantastic voyage, nobody rides for free.

Unless you’re really, really hot.

The Loungers and the musicians, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death bars like Algonquin Oak Room. Even though large clubs of Manhattan and many old and famous lounges have fallen or may fall into the grip of the techno scene and all the odious apparatus of American Idol and that karaoke bullshit, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall drink to the end, we shall drink in the morning, we shall drink in the night, we shall drink in the gutters and the streets, we shall drink in the hills, we shall order wines with growing confidence and growing tolerance in restaurants, we shall order after dinner drinks and digestifs, no matter what the cost, we shall never throw up, and even if we do, which I do not for a moment believe, we shall boot and rally and make it to the last call!

And so my fellow Loungers, in closing, let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to an older generation. Let every dancer, lounger and barfly know, whether they wish us well or premium, gin or beer, whiskey or soda, that we shall pay any cover, tip any bartender, meet any manager or maestro, in order to assure the survival and the success of the lounge.

Thank you, and may God bless the gutter."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What We're Drinking: The Rusty Nail - The Drink That Satisfies

Monday - 6pm. The Barfly walks into a South Brooklyn dive bar and finds a seat at the scuffed wood bar. The bartender is a wiry “dude” in his mid thirties and wears a camp green t-shirt two sizes too small for his nascent beer belly. He arches his eyebrows and nods in The Barfly’s direction. The Barfly scopes out the place. A couple of pensioners stare into their measured shots of Old Grandad. Some floppy haired hipsters in Members Only jackets are “slumming” it in Brooklyn drinking Schlitz out of a can. A Corrections Officer from the Brooklyn House of Detention reads the funny pages in the corner seat with a Bud and a shot. Then the jukebox starts playing Johnny Mercer forchrisake!

Swiveling back on the badly upholstered stool,The Barfly signals to the bartender, “got any Drambuie?”

"Sure." Bartender points to a dusty bottle on the top shelf with its seal unbroken.

“Lemme start off with a Rusty Nail.”

"Want a shot of Pepto-Bismol on the side", the bar keep asks.

“Nah, just a bag of UTZ® Vinegar chips.”


When I embarked on my journey to write this review, I went right to a few local dive bars. I believed the hype. Naturally, a Rusty Nail could only truly be enjoyed in an establishment with peeling paint and New Year’s Eve decorations circa 1987. The Rusty Nail is a quintessential “Old Man” drink that sounds like it will knock you in the gulliver and send you on a third class trip to guttersville. The name alone is enough to send a shiver down your liver. The image: A nail. Sharp. Metallic. And rusty! Not too appealing if you ask me. It does not evoke the ante bellum scenery of a Mint Julep. Nor does it enjoy the sophistication of the Manhattan. On the contrary, when we think of the Rusty Nail, we think of some hole in the wall bar serving the flophouse residents.

Blended Scotch. Drambuie. A twist. An Old fashioned glass. That combination doesn’t sound like rotgut or bathtub gin! Wait, what is Drambuie anyway?

According to the company, Drambuie means the “drink that satisfies” in Gaelic and has a long history dating back to the mid-18th century. It was a secret recipe of Scottish patriot Bonnie Prince Charles circa 1746 and even played a role in Scottish history. Prince Charles tried unsuccessfully to usurp British control over his homeland and sacrificed his secret recipe as payment during his exile to France. The liquor is a combination of Scotch blends and heather honey. It can be imbibed on the rocks or in mixed drinks. After reading up on the regal story of Drambuie, it’s hard to believe that the honored liquor has become associated with such a dive drink as the Rusty Nail.

When choosing the brand of blended Scotch to use in your Rusty Nail, the quality is important. Cutty-Sark Scotch is one of my favorite medium quality blended scotches. In my opinion, it can hold its own against the popular Dewar’s any day of the week. Cutty-Sark seems to complement the Drambuie by not being overwhelming. For my second Rusty Nail, I upped the ante with Johnny Walker Black. Needless to say, the drink was sublime. Black’s rich and velvety flavor mixed well with the honey in the Drambuie and made the drink a pleasure to sip and savor.

The Rusty Nail

2 1/2 oz. of a Scotch Blend - Cutty-Sark(if in a good Dive)or Johnny Walker Black (on payday)
1/2 oz. of Drambuie as a floater
Twist of Lemon

Serve on the rocks in an Old Fashioned Glass and garnish with a twist.

Blended Scotch drinkers, you will love the Rusty Nail. Try one next time you desire a scotch and soda or a Rob Roy on the rocks. It doesn’t have to be in a dive bar. Indeed, let’s help the “the drink that satisfies” find its way out of the gutter and onto the lounge drink menu.

- Fredo

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nicola Conte - per tutti!

by Fredo

Matt Perelli sent us a great link to a series of videos from Italy's Nicola Conte including Kind of Sunshine and Bossanova. There are also some excellent songs from Brazilian song bird Rosalia de Souza.

Nicola Conte is an Italian DJ/producer whose jazz influenced albums (and clearly video like Kind of Sunshine) are influenced by Italian cinema and late 1950s/early 1960s bossanova/Federico Fellini/jet set life. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"I thought you could walk on water!"

The last of the Rat Packers passed away Wednesday night. Bronx native Joey Bishop was born Joseph Abraham Gottlieb in 1918 and began his comedy career with his brother Maury in the 1930s. Known for his dead pan delivery, Joey rose to fame in the 1940s and 50s televison (The Steve Allen Show),night clubs, and junket circuit. Then he fell in with the notorious Rat Pack which consisted of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis, Jr. He never had the high profile as the rest of his cronies but he was known as the "Hub of the wheel" and often played the straight man in their routines.

His comedic brilliance is typified in his reaction to a near tragedy. Frank Sinatra almost drowned while filming a movie in Hawaii, so Bishop wired him: "I though you could walk on Water."

After his Rat Pack days, Joey starred in NBC's "The Joey Bishop Show" from 1961-65 and appeared in dozens of movies and television shows in supporting roles.

Thanks for the laughs Joey. The old gang is back together now.

(More information on Wikipedia)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Signore Branca finds Heaven

Paul Branca, artist and friend of Loungerati was kind enough to send us a few pictures from what can only be called Vespa heaven. He stumbled upon this shop over the weekend while exhibiting at the Frieze Art Fair in London. Grazie mille!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Don't Think About Sex" and Lever House

by Fredo

Well now you can add actor to Loungerati Executive Director (Internazionale) Giancarlo Zingaro's resume. The "Outernationalist" sent us a video exclusive of "Don't Think About Sex", a club song by The HAVEX that is sure to be a staple on DJ's rotations from Leith to Ibiza to Berlin. The video was shot in the Leather Room of the Prestonfield Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hometown hero Giancarlo plays the poor lad with the naughty thoughts of burlesque performer Gypsy Charms. I wish all business presentations were this entertaining! The official release of the song is in November.

In completely unrelated news, I enjoyed an excellent Michter's Rye Manhattan at a wedding after hours party in Manhattan's Lever House on Saturday. The power dining restaurant and bar is situated on the ground floor of the landmark 1952 glass building which changed the face of Park Avenue and office building design. The building is still occupied by the Lever Brothers corporation, a soap and detergent company. The Lever House restaurant pays homage to the Jet Age with modernist design reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. After I stopped taking in the fantastic decor, I headed straight for to the bar. My cocktail was executed properly(in other words no shaking!!) and the bar staff was very attentive despite the crowd. Unfortunately, I did not stay for too long but I was able to relax in one of the circular booths that flank the left side of the room. I will definitely be going back to sample the food and enjoy the ambiance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Setting up a Bar at Home: Part 2 – Bar None Barware

Bravo! You have a devoted a corner of your living space to the art of home entertainment. Maybe it is a slice of Polynesia or a refined oak paneled decor; in any case you are making progress toward living the home bar experience. The lighting is just right, bar is in place, stools dusted off, and the Hi-Fi (err I mean Ipod Sound dock!) is filling the room with lounge worthy melodies. Now all you need is booze and guests, but wait let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

The second step to cocktail heaven is not a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin; you need to acquire the right tools to make your daring drinks. A professional set of bar ware tools can transform mixing a drink into a proper cocktail party. A chilled shaker combining ingredients for perfect drink distribution, a garnish tray filled with lemon twists, olives, pearl onions, and brandy soaked cherries, the perfect pour using a bar strainer, all these elements make for better cocktails and a lot more fun. 
Cocktail Shaker - Currently, stainless steel shakers are popular because the trend is cocktails shaken not stirred. Connoisseurs claim that this makes cocktails cold as the Klondike. Purists poo-poo this claim and insist that stirred not shaken is the real deal. Regardless of what side of this argument you support, you will need a cocktail shaker of some sort.

The standard shaker comes in three pieces: the cap, the straining lid, and the body. However, there are dozens of varieties of glass, chrome, and stainless steel cocktail shakers on the market. Vintage shakers can vary in style and material depending on the time period of production. Art Deco silver and steel shakers were used a lot during the Roaring 1920s. Decanters and drink pitchers enjoyed widespread appeal in the 1930s and1940s. Glass shakers often decorated with colorful and kitsch cocktail recipes gained popularity in the Atomic age 1950s-early 60s. James Bond brought back the metal shaker by insisting on his Vodka Martinis shaken. All of these types of cocktail shakers can be used to enhance your home bar. As a fan of late 50s Italian design, my favorite is the 17 oz. Alessi 1957 Design Polished Cocktail Shaker.

I have an extensive vintage collection of cocktail shakers. However, I rarely employ them for concocting drinks. Instead, I suggest using a 17 oz. Alessi for personal drinks or a 16 oz. stainless steel bar shaker and a no frills pint glass when making multiple cocktails. Granted my way isn’t as glamorous or dramatic as shaking a cocktail a la James Bond, but it is more efficient and can be used for making drinks that are shaken or stirred. The main advantage is the lack of shaker cap/top. During a rigorous mixing session the caps and tops can become stuck due to the vacuum created or the stickiness of the liquor.

Condiment Dispenser – Purchase a four-piece or six-piece stainless steel or Rubbermaid condiment holder at a restaurant supplies store. Foodservice Direct has great deals, dispensers ranging from $10-35. The small glass or steel bowls may also be used if you don’t have a lot of room. . The main objective is to keep your cocktail garnish within easy reach. I bought a Cinzano brand professional 6-piece condiment dispenser on Ebay for under $20.00. However, it took months of diligent searching and being out bid on other brands like Campari and Beefeater before I landed this find. The aspiring home bartender can do it my way of the easy way.

Double Jigger/Measure – Professional bartenders can judge a jigger worth of booze just by the pour. If you really must use a jigger to measure the proper allocation of alcohol, then buy a double jigger. Pedrini makes an excellent double jigger that measures drinks by 3/4 ounce (1/2 jigger) for the lightweights to the standard pour of 1 1/2 ounces (1 jigger). 

Bar spoon/stirrer - A long bar stirring spoon is used to measure small amounts of mixer and stir drinks.

Muddler - to crush mint and sugar in Old Fashions or Juleps.

Hawthorne and Julep Strainers – Stainless steel strainers to keep ice and extraneous ingredients from overflowing into your cocktails.

Bottle Opener – you’ll need to open up beer bottles and cans of juice mixer so pick up bottle opener that can make holes in a can too.

Paring Knife – is useful for cutting up garnishes and making citrus slices. Also get a Zester for citrus twists.

Waiter’s Corkscrew – is easy to use and less cumbersome than a traditional wine corkscrew.

Ice Bucket with Tongs or Scooper – Ice is a key ingredient for any successful cocktail. A medium sized ice bucket and tongs or a scooper should be kept next to the mixing area for easy access.

Small Cutting Board – is needed to dice up garnishes.

Swizzle Sticks – are used in mixed drinks like Gin and Tonics or Rum and Cokes. They are used to mix the drink and are a handsome decoration.

Blender – for making frozen drinks like margaritas and daiquiris. I suggest the Kitchen Aid or Waring blenders for their high quality and retro style.

Bar Napkin Holder – for cocktail napkins and your swizzle sticks. A professional bar napkin holder has side panels to hold swizzle sticks and other stirring tools.

Bar Towel – the quicker picker upper, a bar towel is a must have tool for wiping down the bar and

The amount of glassware one needs depends on how many guests are expected. I suggest buying dozen of each type of glass in order to cover any occasion. The basics in glassware:

Highball glass - There are many types of Hi-Ball glasses. I prefer the Double Rocks 12-ounce variety. It is tall with straight sides and used to make mixed drinks.

Martini Glasses – martini glasses make me so happy I break into song. The ultimate Cocktail glass, the martini glass can hold up to 8 ounces of lascivious liquid.

Collins glass – for making tall drinks like Juleps or the eponymous Tom Collins.

Old-fashioned glass - Shorter cousin to the High Ball, the old-fashioned is typically used for Scotch and other liquor that are imbibed neat.

Snifter - Ports, brandy, cognac, Sambuca and other cordials should be served in a small to medium sized bell shaped snifter glass.

The Flute - Tall and slim, the champagne flute holds just over 7 ounces. Besides champagne, the flute can be used for Sparkling wine, Bellinis, Kir Royale, and Prosecco.

Wine Glasses - Large, stemmed, bulbous holding around 10 fluid ounces? Maybe if you have the room, I like the stemless Riedel O collection glasses for easy storage and entertaining, this glass is for serving fine red wines as well as some fruit-based drinks.

Miscellaneous glassware – having a Tiki Party? Don’t forget to buy ceramic Tiki Mugs for Mai-Tai mayhem, Umbrellas, and punch bowls.

Once you obtain the essential bar ware and glassware you will be ready to serve drinks like a professional. Below are some helpful links to bar supply wholesalers. I also suggest Crate and Barrel if you need bar equipment that is reasonably priced and stylish.

Enjoy creating a bar at home and drink responsibly.

- Fredo

Friday, September 21, 2007

What We're Drinking: If Hemingway could drink it...The Side Car

by Fredo

Though cocktail etiquette says put the summer time drinks in storage with your straw hats, I like to extent summer until the Farmer’s Almanac says it’s over — September 21. So to better smooth the transition between the hot dogs days and the first chill of Autumn, I like to start out with a sweet yet sour Sidecar cocktail.

The Sidecar was invented in Paris (maybe in the famous Harry’s Bar) during the First World War. The inventor, an American captain, named the drink after a motorcycle sidecar in which he was chauffeured to and from the bar. According to cocktail mythology, the officer was under the weather and desired an aperitif before dinner. Brandy would be used to combat a cold in those days yet is traditionally an after-dinner drink, so the captain suggested that the bartender add lemon juice and Cointreau to lighten it up. Vitamin C is helpful when fighting colds too and the Brandy warms you up. Voila — this classic cocktail was born. In the 1920s, the Sidecar became a signature drink for the Hemingway/Miller ex-patriot crowd in post-war Paris.

In our opinion, the Sidecar might not be a panacea but it sure can lighten up your spirits. The combination of sweet (sugar on the rim) and sour (lemon juice & Triple Sec or Cointreau) plus smoothness of cognac make the Sidecar a pleasurable yet potent drink. However, I prescribe that you try not to drink more than two because they’ll knock you out faster than you can say general anesthesia!

The Side Car

2 oz. Brandy (I prefer Hennessey or Martell Cognac)
1 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. Fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 twist of lemon

I like to enjoy an excellent Side Car at Hudson Bar & Books in Greenwich Village.

Take a chilled martini glass and dip the brim lightly in a bowl of sugar as if you were preparing a Margarita with salt. Then combine the liquor and juice into a shaker. Shake it over ice and serve it up with a twist of lemon.

Be careful not to chintz out. Please DO NOT use lemon juice from concentrate or dreaded sweet and sour mix!!! Not only is this a cocktail foul, but it actually will detract from the true flavor and effect of the Sidecar.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lounge Essentials: The Home Bar

Are you sick of the bar scene but enjoy having drinks socially? Does an intimate get-together with friends equate to shouting over blaring music at some terrible bottle service only venue? Are you afraid to entertain in your home because it lacks the social aspect of a bar or lounge? Well, if you answered yes to any of those questions, then have no fear - the Home Bar is here to make your pad a destination.

Years ago people used to entertain in their homes and the cocktail party was the Rolls Royce of a social call. In the bustling suburbs, bars were set up on patios and theme parties like Tiki night were commonplace. In the city, Home Bars were a dime a dozen and ranged from a hidden away liquor cabinet with service utensils to a full-on bar built into someone’s basement. Amazingly enough to this Lounger, the concept of the Home Bar fell out of fashion. These days it seems like the art of entertainment has been lost. People are more interested in social outdoor activities, such as extreme sports, than they are in sipping cocktails at home. Hopefully we can change that.

Key factors to consider before setting up your own bar
  • The space
  • The theme
  • The price
How much space you allocate for your bar/entertainment area is very important and will determine: a) whether the bar is right for you; and b) the type of bar you can construct. If you have limited space, then a bar that can be easily hidden or doubles as a piece of furniture may be preferable.

Think about your living space and figure out how much of a commitment you want to make. If you have a rumpus room or other room you do not use much, you can convert this space into a bar. If you live in a cramped urban dwelling like a lot of people then a smaller closet-style bar or mini-bar is your best bet.

A lot of consideration went into deciding what kind of commitment I was going to put into my bar. Space was the primary factor. I wanted to convert my living room into the bar area and, luckily, I had an apartment with a decent sized living area. The bar became the centerpiece of the room. The couch and other furniture flank it and are in fact sitting areas for guests to sip cocktails or eat. However, I had to sacrifice other furniture, like a coffee table or love seat, and even mounted my flat screen and DVR up on the wall for the full bar effect.

Key spatial considerations
  1. Do you have enough room for guests? It is important that guests have room to mingle and moved around. A small entertainment space limits the number of guests one can invite to a cocktail party.
  2. Will you be serving food? If so, does the bar setup impede access to the kitchen?
  3. Will the bar be the centerpiece of the room?
  4. Will the bar compliment your current furniture arrangement or will you have to get rid of some pieces?
Now that you made it past the first hurdle, it’s time to consider whether a theme for the bar is the right fit.  I like to think that the bar is an extension of your personality. If you’re more conventional, you may not want a theme and might instead prefer to stick to the classic and subdued wine bar/wet bar arrangement. While it’s not necessary to have a theme for your bar, it does enhance the home bar experience for you and your guests. Some popular themes are:
Vintage/Retro Martini Bar: Back in 1998, I turned my entire living room area into a ’50s style New York lounge bar. I painted the walls Millionaire Red, brought in a red vinyl couch and a couple of palm trees, and put up red Christmas lights, shelves and Italian Cinema and Campari ad posters. Bingo - the Red Room Lounge was born. I have moved several times since then but always reserved a room or a space in my living room for the Red Room (just scaled down these days)!

When creating with a vintage/retro martini bar theme, I suggest the following for maximum functionality, durability and swank factor:
  1. A vintage 1950s or retro bar with legs and panels
  2. Stools, 2-4 depending on bar size, room size, and expected guests
  3. Shelves (2-3) for the booze
  4. Wide bar mirror (makes the place seem bigger)
  5. Mini-fridge for ice and frozen drinks
Tiki Bar: Finding a vintage Tiki Bar is the ideal situation. However, they are few and far between, especially on the East Coast. In order to build one, you will need plenty of wood, bamboo, straw mats for the panels, and you must be willing to get your hands dirty with a bit of carpentry.

If you are no Bob Villa, why not go to a furniture store specializing in wood (finished and unfinished) such as Gothic Cabinet Craft. Buy a wood bar and add the straw trim, bamboo panels, and other Tiki paraphernalia. Don’t forget that you will need a couple of bar stools to complete the look. Try flea markets or second-hand stores for wood or bamboo stools.

Then you’ll have to decorate the living room, den, or whatever room you choose to have the Tiki bar in with a Polynesian motif for the full Tiki effect. If draping an entire room in bamboo is too much of a commitment, then I suggest decorating the area directly behind and around the bar with Tiki décor: paper lantern, leopard skin panels, straw, bamboo, shelves showing off your Tiki cup collection, maybe some flowers, and pictures of Hawaii.

Pre-made Tiki bars can be purchased on ebay but it’ll cost you.

In New York City, go to the Pearl River Market Store on Broadway and Grand near Chinatown for cheap Tiki accouterments. They sell straw mats, bamboo, and paper lanterns.

Modern-style Home Bar: Crate & Barrel sells deluxe wine bars for upwards of $500.00. The other popular home furnishing stores like Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware sell pricey wine and personal bars but I suggest hitting the flea markets, Salvation Army, and vintage stores for the real deal. Naturally, if you are constructing a Cellar Saloon then be prepared for high costs unless your cousin is a carpenter.

Personal Bar: Can be purchased at any high-end home-furnishing store. Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn offer mini-bars that can be stowed away when not entertaining. Bars made from wood and Formica are also available at some furniture stores but can be expensive. Bar stools can be purchased at any restaurant supply store.

The Wine bar: A subtle piece of furniture that comes alive when guests have a craving for vino and cheese, the wine bar is perfect. This piece can be very expensive if purchased new, so scour the flea markets for deals on pre-owned wine bars.

The Cellar Saloon: A conversion of a portion of your basement into a rumpus room! When I was growing up, I had a friend whose father converted the entire basement into a bar/saloon with pool table, darts, and professional-looking bar fully stocked with liquor, working sink, hanging rack for martini glasses, and stools for a half dozen people. I was amazed! This type of bar would require a major personal and financial commitment, but you’ll never need to leave the house again.

True Home Bar Story: Angie Pontani of the World Famous Pontani Sisters told me that her father still has a Cellar Saloon in his basement. At clan gatherings, he makes the best gin martinis in Trenton, NJ and the familia just loves it! So dear readers, despite being hidden from public view, the Cellar Saloon is alive and well.

How much will you spend? It can be cheaper than remodeling but still a luxury expense. Creating a home bar will not break your bank like remodeling a kitchen, but the cost does rise depending on how big your project will be.

Believe it or not, setting up the theme bar is less expensive than a modern-style home bar. My bar arrangement cost about $500-$600 over a period of several months. The bar and stools were $250 and the rest of the gizmos and do-dads (posters, lights, paint, shelves, plants, etc.) cost another $300. I already owned a mini-fridge so that saved a bit as well.

Enjoy creating your bar at home and hey - drink responsibly!

- Fredo

Saturday, September 1, 2007

What We're Drinking: Cuba Libre

by Fredo

Havana, 1898. Cuban political activist, writer, journalist Jose Marti enters Havana with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders to cheering crowds as the last Spanish forces flee the island. To celebrate this victory and freeing of Cuba from Spain’s colonial yoke, Senor Marti mixes Bacardi™ rum, gin, and American soft drink Coca-Cola™ to symbolize the unity between Cuba and her northern big brother. Marti dubs the drink “Cuba Libre” and proceeds to tie one on with the future president of the Untied States!

If that sounded too good to be true, you are right. Unfortunately, Mr. Marti was killed in battle with Spanish forces on May 19, 1895 and Teddy Roosevelt was a Mint Julep man. Legend has it that circa 1900, an unknown officer of the U.S. Signal Corps mixed the first Cuba Libre in an Old Havana bar to alleviate the unbearable tropical heat. He toasted ‘por cuba libre’ and the drink was born.

La Storia: The original Cuba Libre differs from its modern equivalent. Apparently, it was made up of rum, gin, dash of bitters, Coca-Cola and a lime. The drink remained a local favorite well into the century and did not gain prominence outside of the Caribbean and southern United States until the 1940s when the Andrews Sisters recorded a song called “Rum and Coca-Cola” (1945) while in Trinidad. This catchy and steamy tune was a marketing coup for the rum producers. It was during the Trader Vic Rum/Tiki craze of the 1940s and ’50s that drinks such as the Cuba Libre and the bastardized Rum and Coke became popular. Rum was cheaper than whiskey or gin and Coke tasted better than club soda or tonic water. In no time, Cuba Libres were being mixed all across America from swank urban cocktail lounges to tiki torch-lit suburban patio parties.

The Drink: The ingredients that go into the modern Cuba Libre are rum (light or dark but not spiced) freshly squeezed lime juice, Coca-Cola™, and a slice of lime. Purists believe the Cuba Libre should only be served with Bacardi™ brand rum, however I disagree. First of all, the Bacardi™ available on the world market is in fact made in Puerto Rico. The original Bacardi™ factories in Cuba were commandeered by the revolution and the Bacardi Company fled the island and set up shop in the US commonwealth. Therefore, I drink my Cuba Libres with real Cuban rum - Havana Club light or dark.

Atlanta doctor John Pemberton created Coca-Cola™ in 1886. Originally used for medicinal purposes, it was offered as an alternative to bitters and it had a kick too: real cocaine that made the “exotic” Coke an instant crowd pleaser. Crucial in a proper Cuba Libre, Coke has since lost its cocaine edge and went on to become a pop culture symbol of American marketing. Some places use Pepsi in the drink, but the taste is very different to the connoisseur. Coke is it — or order a different drink.

Where to Get It:

* Bar Florida aka La Floridita - in Hemingway's old Havana haunt is probably the best place to get the real thing.
* Café Cabiria (Firenze, Italy) — when in Firenze (Florence) and wanting a hit of rum to break up the daily wine intake, I head across the Ponte Vecchio to Piazza Santo Spirito. There you will find a hopping little bar/café named Cabiria where your Cuba Libres are served with real Cuban rum - Havana Club. They are made to perfection and are a rum lovers delight.
* The Deco Lounge (at the National Hotel South Beach, FL) — getting served a properly made Cuba Libres while smoking a Cuban Cohiba in the Deco Lounge is as close to heaven as this Barfly can get. The place is Al Capone slick and they take their time making top shelf cocktails.

The Cuba Libre

1 1/2 oz. light rum (Bacardi™ Light Rum for the purists, Havana Club for me)
1 oz Coca-Cola™
¼ oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 twist of slice of lime

Squeeze juice of one slice of lime over 2-3 ice cubes into Collins glass, stir, and serve up with twist of lime.

Monday, August 27, 2007

We are 'Billy!

by Jack Ruby Murray

Even for Las Vegas standards “The Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender” (VLV) was wild. VLV is an international gathering of Rockabilly culture that now sees Punk, Psychobilly, and Burlesque mixing amongst Elvis loving Rockabilly purists. But as much as they come for the music they come to party. Las Vegas never closes and for four days a crowd of 18,000, carousing and drinking, leaves famous “Sin City” tired, deaf and exhausted.

Rockabilly music is the roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll. It’s a type of 50’s music that alongside Doo Wop and Rhythm and Blues and Country became the background for all Rock and pop music. It gave us Elvis, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. But most of all it gave us attitude. The Rockabilly lifestyle, certainly in American terms, has become an umbrella for people with an interest in Mid twentieth century music and culture. Sometimes it is called ‘Retro’. These days It has absorbed elements of Punk, Goth and Lounge or swing culture.

In fact Tom Ingram the organizer of VLV says:

“To call it a Rockabilly weekend is not technically correct. There so much more than Rockabilly music played there and there’s much more that goes on, a car show, the pool party, the Burlesque show these are things not connected to Rockabilly music but they are connected to the Rockabilly scene.”

The bands are from all over the world such as Big Sandy from LA and Ruby Ann from Portugal. The best of them are some of the best musicians you’ll see play on the scene.And it’s not just strict Rockabilly. Other associated genres play here too 60’s garage and surf band the Dynatones played a marathon set every afternoon and evening in the lounge at the Gold Coast. And one of the most well attended shows of the weekend is the the Stars of Rockabilly show that gave old timers like Billy Lee Riley and Sleepy LaBeef a chance to prop their Telecasters up on their walking frames for just one more song. This is the Rockabilly social event of the year and the crowd is a heady mix of men and women primped and preened to the highest standards.

Walking through the incessant chatter of the slot machines in Gold Coast Hotel and Casino it’s the women you notice first. They are influenced by 1940’s and 1950’s fashions. If you can squeeze through the crowd to the bar, you can rub shoulders with a heady perfumed mix of Rockabilly royalty. Vixens and vamps with Bettie Page pin-up style cool - in corsets, pencil skirts and heels – exchange MySpace addresses with innocent and charming looking Grace Kellys in full crinoline skirted ball gowns complete with beehive hairstyles. The ‘New Burlesque’ has been a big influence on the way women dress in the last few years. At VLV , in a pretty much a male dominated Music scene (Ruby Ann’s excellent performance on Sunday night was an exception) there’s now an event where Women perform. And it gets one of the biggest crowd of the weekend.

Ingram agrees:

“Its caught me off guard.’ Tom says, “We had a Burlesque competition as a bit of fun. But it’s now become one of the major events on the Burlesque calendar, and theres a lot of credibility goes with winning it. I didn’t realize it was such a popular event until this year.”

Burlesque is ironic nod to the pin-ups and sleazy side cabaret of the 50’s and 60’s.

“It’s stripping but not stripping!” says Ingram.

Done with a sense of humor and a panache that makes you laugh out loud it’s titillation for a hip crowd who know their ‘cool’. And the costumes and styles of that era have worked their way down into the crowd. There’s as many eye popping leopard print bra tops and tassels in the audience as there are on stage. That maybe because it’s easier to look cool these days without wading thorough Thrift stores and charity shops for vintage clothes.

Richard and Nanette McNamara are in their late forties they’ve been married for 20 years and they traveled 2,000 miles from New York City to attend VLV they say people on the fringes of Rockabilly or “entry level” can look pretty cool by shopping online. There are a lot more manufacturers ‘re-popping’ clothing - that is producing reproductions of vintage clothes – My Baby Jo is a good example.
Nanette says:

“There’s lots of people not happy about putting on a another person’s dress. They want new clothes.”

They live this life and have made nine of the ten VLV events. They come to VLV to meet up with friends and like-minded people. Collecting vintage clothing for over ten years, that dedication is also reflected in other aspects of their life.They have vintage furniture and collect original records. But not everyone lives like Rich and Nanette.

Rich continues:

“Most of our friends that we meet (at VLV) have period correct furniture. Art work etc., They date their purchase of a home - which is a significant purchase around here (in New York) – on something that’s mid-century.”

He goes on to say:

“It’s part of the thing that attracts us to Las Vegas (VLV) you start talking to someone you never met before and you find they collect the same things as you and understand what that’s all about. There’s never been an instruction manual, y’know? We all tend to gravitate to the same things, it’s remarkable. We’ve met people from Japan and they have the same kind of 1950’s Bakelite clock and they can’t believe it. We’re kindred spirits.”

And there seems to be no common denominator in these peoples’ outside lives:

“VLV is as diverse a group of people as I’ve ever met in my life: some are school teachers, some mechanics, someone’s in medical school.”

Rich says:

“The reason that Tom’s got VLV to the point that it is is there are a lot of people that say ‘I would much rather go to Vegas for a week in April than Rome or any place else because these are all people that are just like me.We live in the greatest city on the Planet (New York City) and there’s nothing that you can do here that touches on VLV ”.

The men look deadly too. Tattooed all over clutching beer cans and cocktails they maintain a ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ cool while talking music and cars with thrift store Sinatras. Blue jeans and T shirts is the prevailing styles or the men, with chains hanging from belts and clumpy biker boots or Converse All-Stars.

Other styles can be sourced to the lounge culture explosion Of the early 1990’s. Sharing roughly the same historical time period as Rock ‘n Roll they draw they’re influences from Rat Pack and from the hey day of Las Vegas itself. Loungers idolise The Rat Pack - a group of movie stars and singers and their hangers on that included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin Sammy Davis Jr. They immortalized the Jet Set lifestyle of the 1950’s and 60’s - they were cool. These gents forgo jeans for vintage ties and suits, sometimes custom made in either the big shouldered styles of the forties and 50’s or the slim lapeled suits with narrow ties that showed up in the sixties. They all have one thing in common though. Hair. Whether greased back or teased up, the quiffs pompadours are the crowning look of any self respecting weekender.

Carl Schreiber is attending VLV with his fiance Betsy. He bears an uncanny likeness to a young Liberace sporting a hair sprayed pompadour that rises 6 inches above his scalp. Betsy is demure with a simple orange blossom above her ear, long hair falls on her face in bangs, “It takes me 30 minutes to do my hair. Which is ten minutes longer than it takes Betsy!” He says.

‘E’ , 29, is from San Francisco and was the winner of Jive competition one year,

“I’d love to DJ too but it wouldn’t leave much time for Dancing!”

He meets up with friends this time of year every year for the past eight VLV’s:

“You get hooked on it and it has become a big deal. For me it’s as big as New year. Growing I loved the music particularly I listened to the music my parents did. I don’t exactly know when it took off for me but when I started buying my own clothes I looked for the clothes the musicians wore - and eventually I was combing my hair certain way and looking for anything related to the music and it sort evolved into this monster!”

Up the escalators from the Casino floor and turn right in the Arizona ballroom where some of the best music and dancing goes on turn right into the market where clothes new and old and records and CD’s are for sale.

Some travel from all over the country with pre-1960’s American cars stripped down and restored, modified and tuned so that their original owners wouldn’t recognize them. If Joe Q Public saw the family station wagon he bought brand new in 1954 and washed lovingly every Sunday as the kids played around him, he might drop down dead if he saw it now. Adorned with flames painted over the hood and huge silver pipes belching from under the undercarriage, it now sits only two inches from the hot Vegas asphalt, it’s definitely not your father’s Oldsmobile.

It is very much a West Coast scene perhaps because of the music business in LA. And more and more it has become a destination for other music fans. There are elements from Punk here too. In fact look carefully and you’ll see some of the older Punk crowd have gravitated to VLV as Punk splintered into elements that drifted away form their roots. Nic Alberico from San Francisco describes himself as an ‘Old Punker” he’s 44 and says,

“My first Punk show was Blondie in ’77, and I was amazed there were other people like me at the show. I suddenly felt part of something. VLV is a bit like that now. Punk as it was is gone but there’s a roots rock ‘n’ roll energy to that I identify with. VLV is celebration of real Rock ‘n’ Roll music.”

But why Las Vegas? Tom Ingram puts it simply:

“With all the entertainment in Vegas most of it sucks! VLV is known for being an event in Vegas that’s a break from the norm. All these people who want to go to the 24 hour Vegas environment to party but are put off because there’s nothing for them, realize that VLV is the only entertainment there is. I mean who wants to see Celine Dion over dinner?”

Rich McNamara agrees:

“We live in the greatest city on the planet (New York City) and there aren’t that many things that come even close to VLV. It’s 24/7! It’s non stop action!”

In the huge casino Chris Lopez sits at a slot machine with his girlfriend Celeste Torrez in the casino of the Gold Coast he is dragging a half finished 12 pack of beer around with him, he says:

“I love this place they let you drink beer on the street!”

If you’re twenty-one, in Las Vegas you can play all night. And you don’t need to leave the venue. Ingram block books 600 rooms of the 711 available. Susan Essex, director of sales at the Gold Coast says:

“It’s our biggest single event of the year. They’d take more rooms if we made them available. We love these guys!”

And there’s more to it than that even. though it’s billed as a “weekender” official events start on Thursday and end on Monday. People come to VLV come on vacation. And with a half days drive you can be at the Grand Canyon or downtown Los Angeles.

One couple from Croatia and Slovakia showed up in a wedding gown and tails,turns out they got married! at where else? The Graceland Wedding Chapel. Happy Easter - Elvis