An Anchorage bar-hopper's essential guide to the latest nightlife action and coolest hot-spots.
What the Guinness? - 9/2/2011 8:43 am
Weekend Update and Whiskey Tips - 8/25/2011 8:53 am
Cocktails for a Cause - 7/13/2011 10:26 am
It's Summer Time! - 6/1/2011 7:51 am
Happy Earth Day! - 4/21/2011 9:49 am
Best Cocktails of 2010 - 4/1/2011 12:22 pm
St. Patrick's Day = Hooray! - 3/17/2011 9:46 am
Kenai Brewing Co. Releases Canned Beer! - 3/9/2011 12:05 pm
Posted: August 7, 2009 - 2:49 pm
What do Oingo Boingo, Eva Gabor and David Letterman have in common? They all participated in the infamous '70s TV sensation, "The Gong Show." Airing intermittently from 1976 through 1989, the show set the stage for similarly-themed talent shows like "America's Got Talent" or Britain's "X Factor." Now you can see a reincarnation right here in Anchorage.
Woodshed Lounge (535 W. Third Ave., 276-5193) General Manager Rob Lecrone has brought the Gong Show to the nightlife scene, where local amateurs and wannabes can compete weekly for the judges' favor and to win a grand prize. Lecrone said Vito Ungaro, one of the Shed's owners, has been interested in doing the show for awhile. Lecrone, who has a background in event organization and entertainment, decided to pursue it instead of just another run-of-the-mill karaoke contest.
Posted: July 23, 2009 - 11:04 am
This summer has already surpassed last year in sunny days. It may take awhile, but soon we'll realize that we can make plans in advance to do things outdoors. Yes we can wear summer clothing and forego our umbrellas (or at least leave them in the car). One of the best activities for warm weather, when the evenings stretch out like a lingering happy hour, is to see a good, old fashioned baseball game. In Anchorage Mulcahy Stadium has one of the best nightlife setups in town.
First, you get to watch sports. This is especially appealing to guys who aren't always in the mood for going out. Plus the stadium is downtown if you feel like more nightlife after the game.
Posted: July 16, 2009 - 3:51 pm
Rumor has it that the gong show is going strong every Wednesday night, 9 p.m. at The Shed. I stopped by last week and saw some awesome (and some not-so-awesome) local performers, including “20th Century Man,” my pick for the best theater I’ve seen all year. Unfortunately the judges didn’t agree. But now there are new judges – Lola Pistola from VivaVoom Burrrlesque among others – and things are shaking up. Manager Rob Lecrone said this about last night’s fun festivities via Facebook:
The third week of the Shed Gong Show was a hoot… The judges' appreciation of local, original acts over someone simply singing a karaoke song was apparent with the scores, though the gong did ring out for karaoke and original acts equally, banishing two singers, a would-be comedian, and a performance artist. In the end, a guitar, a small amp, and two voices took home the $100 VISA gift card and advanced to the finals on Aug. 12. Additional microphones on desk stands were provided by my good friends at Procrastination Productions, allowing the judges to be more vocal throughout.
Posted: July 2, 2009 - 2:22 pm
Hi nightlifers – I’m sure everyone is gearing up for the weekend ahead, ready for beers, barbecue and bootleg fireworks (just kidding, officer). I found some great ideas for celebrating in style this Independence Day.
First, Natalie from The Liquid Muse blog offers a great recipe to celebrate with friends at home, while honoring one of the nation’s most famous ladies. It’s tasty and simple and looks pretty with blue or colored sugar rimming the glass.
The Betsy Ross
3 ounces Fre Chardonnay (or whatever you’ve got on hand)
Posted: June 17, 2009 - 2:56 pm
This just in -- Rob Lecrone from the Wood Shed just informed me via Facebook of a new, uber-cool event they're hoping to start up this summer. It's a recreation of the classic Gong Show, which for those of you who are too young to have seen it is sort of akin to "America's Got Talent," only more hilarious because instead of cranky judges the performers literally get gonged off stage. Lecrone writes that the Shed is looking for local talent to sign up to compete for over $2000 worth of cash prizes. Almost any act is welcome, including: "jugglers, magicians, jug bands, tap dancers, strongmen, yodelers, standup comics, contortionists, slam poets, mimes, bird callers, puppeteers, tuba players, hula-hoopers, comedy skits, chanteuses, ventriloquists, clog dancers, celebrity impersonators, vaudeville acts, burlesque dancers, accordionists, air bands" and, of course, karaoke. The more unique, methinks, the better your chances. A caveat to some of you -- no fire-oriented acts are welcome. Sorry, dragon slayers.
Posted: June 5, 2009 - 11:14 am
A friend of mine once said, "Nobody wins at karaoke." The people singing are either so nervous or liquored up they can hardly stay in tune. Or they're regulars and end up overdoing it, American-Idol style and forcing the audience to commend their reeking insecurity.
Or they're just really, really bad. My friend's theory was that and because of this neither the audience nor the performers get any joy from it in the end.
I beg to differ. The point of karaoke isn't skill, getting the words right or even winning a contest. The point of karaoke is that it's free, fun and a chance to face your fears or embarrass your friends.
Posted: June 3, 2009 - 10:52 am
This summer mixologists can compete to create their best concoction for a good cause. The Ultimate Cocktail for a Cure 2009 competition supports the Susan G. Komen for the Cure cause, a leading advocate for breast cancer awareness and research. Cocktail gurus compete in two classes (amateur and professional, so dust off that wet bar if you fancy trying your hand). They must also includ one of the competition's sponsor spirits and (and this is a must) SENCE Rose Nectar, a pinkish European spirit. The nectar spirit embodies the "pink" breast cancer awareness mentality and the bottle is pretty much the cutest thing I've ever seen.
Posted: May 29, 2009 - 1:57 pm
Slightly misleading title aside, it's true that Jim Beam has come out with a new brand of flavored whiskey. Cocktail gurus say that the flavor of Red Stag is akin to natural bourbon, but with dark black cherry undertones. Anything cherry-flavored may put off the straight whiskey sippers out there, but for those of us looking to spice up our Manhattans or other mixed drinks, this might be the ticket. Check out the new spirit at the Red Stag site (yes, it already has its own site).
Posted: May 22, 2009 - 11:25 am
It's sunny outside and warm enough that -- gasp -- we can actually wear open-toed shoes without becoming apoplectic. Each year I like to list the local watering holes best suited to the celebration of summer, sunshine and cool drinks, and this year is no different. Last time I summed up a few of the more familiar locations, this year I will expound on some you may not have visited and others that may be worth a second glance.
After several Facebook and Twitter suggestions, I collected a listing of good choices for your next "it's Wednesday" excuse for a sunny stop. Cocktail colleague Amy Mack (mixologist and manager at the Bear Tooth Grill) reminded me of a sunlit, social spot that's sort of off the radar, but has amazing fried mozzarella. Piper's Restaurant and Lounge (3450 Aviation Ave.) is a great choice for midtown nightlife fans. It's conveniently near the airport, has a lovely outdoor deck, great prices on beer and well drinks and a more than adequate grub menu. The food may not be comparable to downtown haute cuisine, but at Piper's you'll find faster service, fewer tourists and more room to relax and work on your Alaska tan.
Posted: May 18, 2009 - 11:26 am
Attention nightlifers, I've just found a very awesome Web site through a friend's twitter page and had to share it. I Like Beer is basically a TV video show with clips of beer tastings, facts, information and more. Add it to your list of tweet buddies at twitter.com/likebeer. Just in time for summer!
Posted: May 14, 2009 - 1:43 pm
Toast your favorite drink -- with your favorite drink! On this day to honor all things cocktail, check out video clips on the history of cocktails, interesting facts from the Museum of the American Cocktail Website, and classic cocktail recipes from cocktails.about.com. Cheers!
Posted: May 12, 2009 - 9:27 am
Usually when I see a bar in a strip mall that not only has no window to peek through, but also has no obvious entrance other than two large, thick steel doors -- the kind that might also be on the front of a serial killer's storage room -- I tend not to think about going inside, no matter how much I've heard about it.
But when my editor suggests I cover a bar I've never been to (the rarest of events), I steel myself, don my best heels and make my way to Muldoon.
Yes it was my first trip to the Last Frontier. I'd heard many a story about its famed nightlife status, and I have friends who live on the east side and refuse to go anywhere else on a weekend. Finally I understand.
Posted: May 11, 2009 - 11:03 am
I traveled to Thailand a few years ago and one of the best parts of the trip was the discovery of a spirit so fiery sweet, so subtly potent that it thrilled my burgeoning sense of spirit as almost no other liquor has done since. It was none other than the official spirit of Thailand, Mekhong. And now it’s getting big in the U.S.A. (finally, I might add). If you’ve never had it, you need to try it. It’s akin to a whiskey or bourbon, but it has a deceptively light edge like a vodka or rum. It surpasses simple comparison, really, and needs to be enjoyed on its own or in a cocktail.
Colleen Graham posted some recipe suggestions on her cocktail blog at about.com, which I’ve included for your reference below. My favorite way to enjoy the libation is in shot form with a squirt of lime juice on top. Mmmm, me likes Mekhong.
Posted: April 28, 2009 - 9:01 am
Howdy nightlife fans. This week I found a few updates in the nightlife world and wanted to share them with my loyal readers. First, for any of you that subscribe to (online or in print) Imbibe Magazine, get excited because the premier magazine about all things in liquid culture just launched a series of fun videos called "Imbibe Sips," that features bartenders and experts demonstrating techniques, sharing tricks and more. You can find the new episodes online at imbibemagazine.com or subscribe to the series via YouTube.
Posted: April 24, 2009 - 10:20 am
I craved sushi last weekend and, tired of my regular haunts, I decided to try a new venue. To date there have been several attempts at sushi-fication at International Airport Road and Arctic Boulevard, the latest version opened in June 2008 with the tres-hip moniker, the Dish. It immediately intrigued me with a classy, updated Web site, ultra-modern look and hip-hop jingle (by local R&B singer Chris "Kizzy" Fields). You know the song -- "Never had a spot like this, everybody just come to the Dish." Sure it's a trifle overplayed, but it's also catchy (or perhaps annoying) enough to rank up there with the Peanut Farm's "We must be nuts" ditty.
Posted: April 20, 2009 - 9:49 am
I just had some great Mediterranean food and am contemplating getting it again for dinner this weekend. Naturally I thought – what kind of drink complements Mediterranean food best? The closest food I could find on Natalie Maclean’s drink matcher was hummus, which apparently pairs well with Retsina (a unique Greek white wine) or Voignier (a French white wine).
Eatingwell.com lists some of the best wines for Mediterranean food: Marchesi di Barolo Barbera d’Alba Ruvei 2006 ($16), Marchesi di Barolo Barbera d’Alba Ruvei 2006 ($16), and 14 other brands based on the specific food item you’re eating.
Posted: April 10, 2009 - 9:26 am
This week, in honor of all things random, I've decided to dedicate my column to educating my readers. Education through completely trivial bits of information that may or may not be true, and that most people will probably go their entire lives ignorant of and remain completely happy -- but education, all the same.
I've also added some local tidbits to heighten the excitement for the warming weather and all things cool, delicious and perfect for springtime sipping.
The random fact for the week is this: Some say that "toast" originated in ancient Rome, where a piece of bread was literally dropped into the wine for good health.
Posted: April 8, 2009 - 11:50 am
Nightlife fans and fans of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" will be excited to hear that Danny DeVito will be attending Tales of the Cocktail 2009, the cocktail and culinary festival of festivals held in New Orleans July 8 to July 12. DeVito's inclusion may in part be due to his estate crafted lemon liqueur called Premium Limoncello. Find out more about the festival at the Tales of the Cocktail site, and more about DeVito's luscious lemon liqueur here.
Also, for any of you nightlifers out there who are also Twitter aficianados, check me out and follow my page (if you want, I'm not saying you have to).
Posted: April 1, 2009 - 12:04 pm
For all of you winos in town, there's a wine tasting this weekend to support the Alaska Museum of Natural History. It's called "The Chemistry of Wine" (how scientific!) and it takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. at the ConocoPhillips Atrium at 700 G Street. (Can you say free parking?) The event includes a silent auciton, prizes, a wine lab with wine chemists and tasting booths. Tickets run $50 per person and can be purchased at the museum or online here. Get your sip on!
Posted: March 27, 2009 - 8:55 am
I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I headed into the building that replaced the old Hogg Bros. restaurant. The establishment had been a Spenard icon that vehemently shouted "greasy spoon" and seemed to be ageless. But as I entered the casual interior of the new Spenard Roadhouse, I realized it's the icon for a new age for Spenard dining. The dark versus light paneling and sleek seating areas exude cool, in tune with funky, artistic effects with just enough -- and not too much -- kitsch.
My sister and I bypassed the hostess stand and headed straight for the bar, which was convivial but not overbearing on a Wednesday night. The bar is that pre-dinner, after-work spot you're always looking for. A place to meet friends, grab a drink, brave a blind date. The decor reminded me of '50s-era chic with a modern edge. The entire place was like a classy version of an old-time diner; complete with a full bar.