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: November 18, 2008 - 9:20 am
As we near the end of November, there's a celebration I cannot help but get all a-tingle about. And it's not Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving makes me all a-turkey, not all a-tingle. It's the uncorking ceremony for the world's youngest (and, to some, sweetest) wine. The night when the yearly harvest of Beaujolais Nouveau is available to the public.
Each year Jens' Restaurant (701 W 36th Ave., Suite 7, 561-5367) honors the tradition and receives a special delivery (by horse-drawn carriage, no less), hoists a wooden barrel onto the bar and uncorks the youthful vintage at the stroke of midnight for wine-some patrons. The Beaujolais of choice is the vintage from the Georges Duboeuf vineyard (Les Vins Georges Duboeuf), delivered by K&L Distributors Inc.
Posted: November 14, 2008 - 9:10 am
Anchorage nightlifers -- I take back everything I said about Thursday Night at the Fights being less than packed. I also take back whatever I said about trying to get a table seat on the sly with a general admission ticket. I circled the ring (on the outside, of course) at the Egan Center again last night, and the crowds were so large I had a hard time remembering where I was. Maybe it's the power of the press, maybe (and more likely) it's the normal upswing that occurs when something settles in for the winter. Either way, if you go this year, go early. And get your tickets online (www.ticketmaster.com).There's an additional $3 fee to get them at the door, and that'll buy you a bag of chips at the overpriced concession stand.
Posted: November 13, 2008 - 7:54 am
Happy Thursday, loyal blog readers. I wanted to add a note to help you with the upcoming holiday and party-hosting season. Check out the basics of bartending on Colleen Graham's blog at cocktails.about.com. She covers everything from basic mixology to bartending techniques to adding herbs and spices to cocktails for the season. Enjoy!
Also, I have a quick bone to pick. Did any other nightlifers attend the Roots concert on Nov. 7? Let me ask if anyone else took the option on Ticketmaster.com for the "wet side" yet, when they arrived, did not find any "wet side" at all -- in fact, nothing wet whatsoever.
Posted: November 7, 2008 - 9:05 am
Many partygoers dream of finding something new in that same old weekend humdrum of smaller cities. One of my unattained goals was the fact that I had never ridden a mechanical bull in a bar.
In fact, I had never been to a bar that even had one (and no, the Alaska State Fair does not count). That all changed when John Pattee, owner of the Gaslight Lounge, let my editor know that this would be my lucky year.
Pattee, an Anchorage nightlife fixture who's owned The Avenue bar for 25 years and the Gaslight for 18, says the reasoning behind the bull was copious travels in the Lower 48, where he consistently saw mechanical bulls. "In mainstream bars too," Pattee said. "Not just country bars. It's doing the full circle."
Posted: November 4, 2008 - 11:05 am
Get out and vote, nightlifers, then, depending on today's events, celebrate or commiserate with these spirited cocktails. They're not party-specific, so don't try to make a donkey or elephant of yourself by pegging someone on their choice of drink. These are suggestions to celebrate and simply enjoy the fact that we live in a nation where we can actively participate in our civic duty -- and even, for the first time I can recall, not mind waiting in long lines to do so.
American Flag shooter
Posted: October 30, 2008 - 3:40 pm
Happy Halloween, nightlifers! Post some comments to tell me what you're planning for your special spooky soirees! And as a bonus, here are some more kooky cocktail ideas for your pre-party to prep for a night of petrifying puissance!
First, an easy crowd pleaser that, if poured according to "specific gravity" (aka, in order), looks really cool and layered.
The Candy Corn
1/3 oounce Galliano
1/3 orange curacao
1/3 ounce cream
Pour the Galliano into a shot glass. Float the orange curacao on top. Float the cream on top.
Posted: October 24, 2008 - 8:10 am
It's almost Halloween, the time of year when little kids dressed up as monkeys and skunks are suddenly, inexplicably, the cutest things in the world. When it starts to look like something vomited orange-and-black festoonery all over your local grocery store.
Last year my column listed costume ideas for nightlifers with fun and spooky cocktail recommendations. But this year I've realized that for most Anchorage party people, Halloween is a no-brainer.
Get a costume. Check. Find a party or persuade your friend to host one and invite a ton of friends. Check. Have a ghoulish good time and prove once again to the nay-sayers that you are never too old to dress up. Check.
Posted: October 23, 2008 - 5:12 pm
Don't boo-re your party guests this holiday with the same lame, lime-green punch you've always whipped up in five minutes. Create some creepy concoctions and put the "weeeee" back in Halloween, baby.
First tip: Buy black vodka. The brand called Blavod makes any mixed drink dark, dank and midnight-esque and is a great conversation starter. I mean, black vodka? Who would have thought?
More cocktail suggestions from cocktails.about.com are listed below, as well as a few other spooky spirits for those of you who feel like partying in "pookah" style (read my column and you'll understand).
Posted: October 16, 2008 - 11:04 am
Get ready Anchorage, because there may be some new cocktails in town – specifically on the menu at the Whale's Tail in the Hotel Captain Cook (939 W. Fifth Ave.). Spirits Guru Keith Saunders hosted a tasting last night to demonstrate some concoctions that the cozy venue is considering.
There were several to taste, but my favorites are listed below, and I sincerely hope the Whale's Tail incorporates them this season. If they do, I'll see you there!
First, Saunders created a martini called Cold Comfort (equal parts honey vodka and citrus vodka) which, surprisingly, was the perfect cold weather drink. It's surprising because it's not a hot toddy because it's chilled, but it seems like a hot toddy: It has just the right amount of strength with a soothing, honey-scented smoothness. It reminded me of something I'd want on a blustery winter day while skiing -- except that after one or two of them, I wouldn't recommend that anyone attempt to get back on the hill.
Posted: October 10, 2008 - 9:42 am
* NOTE: I wanted to add a quick sentence about the final fight, which I didn't mention in the column -- that fight, of all the fights that night, was the money fight. The one we paid for. I found myself, inexplicably, jumping up and cheering and that, dear readers, is what I meant by the fights being darn good entertainment. When it's a match framed with skill, determination and finesse, it's fascinating to watch. Although, A friend of mine thought I was slightly negative regarding the difficulty of fighting and the skill required -- and, maybe I was. Tell me what you think, Anchorage. And share your night-at-the-fight stories below.
Posted: October 9, 2008 - 7:44 am
The Anchorage nightlife scene is gearing up with some sweet soirees in the coming weeks to celebrate the season by raising money and glasses at the same time. Here's a quick rundown:
First – Don't forget about Oktoberfest this weekend in Girdwood at the Alyeska Resort. The merrymaking runs 6 p.m. to midnight Friday and 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday. Tickets are $10 for adults (there will be a kid's tent for the little ones), and can be purchased by calling 754-2275. Whet your appetite for not only brews but brautwurst, weisswurst, spatzle and a whole passle of Bavarian treats galore. For more information, visit www.alyeskaresort.com.
Posted: October 2, 2008 - 2:08 pm
Since my previous blog on absinthe after the lifting of the ban last year, several brands have released their own versions into the drink market. Colleen Graham from cocktails.about.com highlighted Pernod Absinthe (the brand from the company that creates Pernod, which is often used as an absinthe substitute) and gave some fun information about absinthe cocktails.
Posted: September 26, 2008 - 11:12 am
It's fall. Termination dust tops the mountains, and even though you don't want to admit it, the morning air is redolent with the oh-so-familiar sting of encroaching winter.
What do you do? You make plans before the snow falls. Your social calendar is suddenly booked with activities that have one thing in common: drinking.
Whether you're a social butterfly, bowling team captain, house-party host or happy-hour aficionado, having a few spirited beverages on the weekends (long or otherwise) can be an easy routine to fall into. And there's nothing wrong with that. But indulgence can sometimes lead to overindulgence, and that can conjure one of the most dreaded words in a nightlifer's lexicon: hangovers.
Posted: September 24, 2008 - 8:11 am
Party peeps: Hold the phone, stop the text, put down the Red Bull. I have discovered the best drinking game ever. It's called Beer Darts, and it meets all four criteria for a drinking game: it's fun, challenging, dangerous and especially appropriate at a barbecue or house party.
First, you gather a group of people who aren't afraid to test their beery mettle. Second, you get a bunch of steel-tipped darts. The weenie ones won't puncture a beer can. Trust me. Third, you get a lot of beer – we went with Bud Light, but anything will work -- anything you don't mind drinking a lot of, that is.
Posted: September 18, 2008 - 12:43 pm
The history of bourbon is a little sketchy – just like most people after they've had a few snifters of it. But what's certain is that, for the second year in a row, this month has been chosen to celebrate all things bourbon-tastic about what some call "America's Native Spirit."
Bourbon has been around since 1783, when the Samuels family began a tradition involving a secret family recipe that turned into one of the most famous bourbons around even today: Maker's Mark. When you think about it, bourbon's intrinsically American as the brand names Jim Beam, Knob Creek or Wild Turkey.
Posted: September 12, 2008 - 10:43 am
It's tough to divert one's attention from arguably the most appetizing subject for most Alaskans these days -- governor-slash-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Yet in the noble quest for notable edibles, I must persevere. So I've set out to discover new starters for nightlifers, and I have two locations to highlight this week.
I may have yet to find the perfect pre-dinner treat, but I may have found the culmination of calamari at Cafe Croissant. The cafe, formerly Crazy Croissant and newly ensconced in a fancy building just off Benson Boulevard on Spenard, doesn't run daily specials but does have an impressive appetizer menu for early-evening enjoyment. The starters run from $9 to $15 and include savory selections such as escargot with French brie, king crab cocktail (to die for) and more. But the calamari -- with a soft, golden crust and a curry-flavored aioli sauce -- is worth the trip. It's worth several, in fact. Plus, wines run an affordable $5 to $9 a glass and beers cost $4 to $5.
Posted: September 9, 2008 - 12:39 pm
Today is National FASD Awareness Day, so let's take a moment to consider the negative aspects of drinking, especially while pregnant. The annual event aims at raising awareness of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy and the plight of individuals and families who struggle with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. The first FASDay was marked on 9/9/99, and the date was chosen so that, on the ninth day of the ninth month of the year, the world will remember that a woman should abstain from alcohol during the nine months of pregnancy. It also kicks off International FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) Awareness Week, which runs through Sept. 15.
Posted: September 2, 2008 - 10:34 am
A friend recently posed a theory about my birthday. Because it's in September, he pointed out that my parents -- and at this point I put my fingers in my ears and sang "la-la-la, I'm not listening" -- must have had a rockin' New Year's Eve. (Ick.) And judging by my fondness for all things fermented, he posited that they must have had a lot of champagne.
Annoyed as I was, I paused to wonder: Does a rockin' New Year's Eve -- or any other holiday -- always have to involve lots of drinking?
It's true that alcohol plays a large part in many holidays. New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day, Independence Day -- you get the idea. We tend to be extravagant when we have an occasion to celebrate. We sip hard eggnog at Christmas; beer on Memorial Day; smoking dry-ice green punch on Halloween; margaritas on Cinco de Mayo.
Posted: August 26, 2008 - 2:25 pm
Fairgoers, here's an update: If you haven't visited this year's new wine bar (in the building next to the main office by the Red Gate entry), do it now. Live acoustic music, wine flights, a soothing atmosphere and visual art. Sounds good, right? Trust me, it's even better as a respite from the pink-hair-sprayed, old-timey photo crowds you just walked through to get to the corn dog hut. The wines are tasty and adequately priced, and the bistro-style tables provide a nice rest between rides or trick-dog shows. Also, the bar offers a few snack options including bread and cheese -- some of them cheaper (and for less hassle) than a seafood pocket.
Posted: August 20, 2008 - 12:29 pm
Here's a new shot recipe for you this weekend. It's called a Crack Baby and involves an equal mix of champagne and vodka. Thank Madonna for this one, which she and others imbibed at her 50th birthday party at London's Volstead club. (It was a surprise. Isn't Guy Ritchie cute, and, no offense Madge, but ... kind of better than you?).
Try it and tell me what you think. Get more deets on the Material Girl's b-day bash on Page Six