Posts Tagged ‘Drink’

In honor of National Margarita day, I want to tell you about the most well-balanced, perfectly shaken, slightly smoky, not sweet, not sour, perfectly-citrus-with-a-tequila-tang margarita I’ve had all year. (And by “all year,” I’m going for a rolling 12 months and not the less than 2 months of 2015.)

That’s what this blog is about after all: The search for the perfect margarita.

The thing is, I don’t remember. I don’t remember the best margarita I had all year.

I remember my vacation in Colombia with my friends when my only concern was where I was getting my next great meal and what would be on my plate when that meal was set in front of me because my Spanish is sub-par at best. I sipped margaritas, looked at palm fronds waiving in the breeze, rolling ocean and cloudless blue sky. Every one of them was perfect.

There’s something about context that colors a whole experience.

I was in Costa Rica after a day of horseback riding through rain forest and eating with a local family when our guide offered us cashew wine. Cashew wine, you wonder with a raised brow and wrinkled forehead. Yes, it turns out a cashew is a nut and a fruit. A fruit that looks a little like a giant apricot or pepper with a claw.

And cashew wine, in that moment in the forest with macaws cawing in the trees was extraordinary. So extraordinary that we couldn’t wait to try some at home and sitting with friends in a New York City apartment, it was the worst thing ever.

In Portugal, we sailed the ocean blue and drank vino verde. I loved it. I loved its green tint and young, crisp taste. The sun set over the ocean and sails filled with wind and the wine was the best thing I’ve ever tasted. And then I got back home and you can guess what I think about vine verde now.

But I remember those moments and those drinks and always will. Those moments and those drinks were the best.

Last week, Moss Beach Distillery (Half Moon Bay, CA) was the scene of a perfect moment if not a perfect margarita. I was with people I love with a view anyone would have to love and got a margarita that would be hard to love if not for all the other lovely things that went along with it.

I realize this blog isn’t about the goal of finding the one, single perfect margarita but about the journey and all the fun and friends and family who keep my company on this path. “Perfect” is a subjective concept anyway, right?

So maybe I’ll never find that “perfect” drink. But, I’ll have lots of fun trying.

Read Full Post »

“Shit is about to happen”  –  an Ode to unstructured time. It’s not exactly a lyric poem but epic stuff can happen when you least expect.

Margagogo.com’s Marketing Director met his wife (the margagogo West Coast Correspondent) in a bar on a random night. Of all the saloons in all the world, they both walked into that one.

Years ago, just before a long weekend in Maine with my family, my then boyfriend and I broke up. So instead of entertaining him while my family looked him over, my mother and I went out looking at houses. I bought one.

Life isn’t a Jane Austin novel so every story can’t end with secured real estate and a wedding. Sometimes the prize is more subtle; it’s the adventure itself and the memories you tuck away with the experience.

A few weeks ago on a very raw and rainy Saturday, my friends (and margagogo correspondents) left the warmth of the wood stove and central heating to see what we could see. We braved the drippy sky and dropping temperatures and were rewarded with ocean views. That tends to happen when you’re on the coast but the view wasn’t just “ocean” – it was awesome, rocky cliff, churning ocean! And we found color. Bright red and green popping up to give the finger to the oppressive grey sky.

And then my Brooklyn Correspondent needed a bathroom. A great view can have that effect.

If you’re going to stop into a restaurant to use the facilities, you should probably get a drink. It’s only polite. And if we’re anything other than polite, we’re thirsty. So hitting Cook’s Lobster House was a win/win.

In all the years I’ve hung out in this part of Maine, I’ve never crossed the threshold of Cook’s. I decided it’s too touristy. My New York-living, Maine-visiting self is not a tourist unless there’s a festival, fair, parade, strong man contest, pancake breakfast, national landmark, museum or maybe leaf peeping involved. Cook’s has lobster and it has crowds. Big, giant bus loads of people looking for seafood and salt air. No pie eating contest, no biggest ball of twine, no reason for me to go. Until now.

Stepping into the bar is like taking a trip to 1958 on a WayBack Machine (without Peabody and his pet boy.) It’s the kind of place where hanging out is encouraged and I bet Cook’s has it’s share of friends who sit and stay a while. On this icky November Saturday the crowds were gone. It was just us and some locals who were probably wondering why we were there and wishing we’d go anyplace else. (Tourists!) The thing is, one of them was wearing a t-shirt that said “The drinking will continue until morale improves.” I think that makes us kindred spirits so like us or not, he’s our people.

Cook’s has a Bloody Mary with a lobster tail and bourbon with Maine blueberry and of course, they made me a margarita. As the bartender was mixing our drinks, a string of Christmas lights jumped off the wall (where it surely hangs year-round) and swung into his face. He looked at the lights and looked at us and said. “Shit is about to happen.”

Well, yes indeed it is.

Drinks at Cook's Lobster House. Check out the lobster tail hanging off the drink at the end!

Drinks at Cook’s Lobster House. Check out the lobster tail hanging off the drink at the end!













Read Full Post »

If it’s possible to miss the signs of Halloween – the chill in the air, red and yellow leaves crunching under your feet and the costume and fun-size candy ads that have clogged the airwaves since August, I’d still know the holiday’s upon us.

Yes, I have a calendar. I also have an official Halloween Correspondent for margagogo.com. As a former colleague, she was endlessly disappointed with the Halloween spirit in our office. We are always in for candy but our energy wanes well before the costume stage. So she left her job behind to build a Halloween empire. As you can see, she’s been hugely successful.

Her Halloween flock is ready to go – they were ready a week ago.

All the feathers are hand cut and stitched. The little boy bird is wearing knitted legs. Yes, yellow, hand-knit bird pants. I think there are real feathers involved with the hats – I mean beaks. Last week they marched in a parade and costume tweaks are being made based on that test run. The trick-or-treat route is mapped. Halloween 2014 is almost in the books for margagogo.com‘s Halloween expert.

When she asked how I’m celebrating the holiday, I told her I’m dressing up like a “Candy-scarfing Lady” and eating Butterfingers till the candy cakes in my teeth and I’m loopy on sugar. No costumes or Halloween parties for me.

There was a time when I put a lot of effort into Halloween. I turned my creativity dial to “genius” and poured all of it into my costumes.

The problem is that “genius” sits on a narrow, precarious point. Success and disaster are just a teeter apart.

I once dressed up as a band-aid box. To make the box shape, I put a head hole in a board and let it rest across my shoulders to make the frame of the box. I painted the logo and art from a band-aid box into a sheet and attached it. Genius! But the execution didn’t hold up to real world demands. The frame was too wide so trick-or-treating became an obstacle course. I couldn’t walk next to anyone on the sidewalk and had to turn to the side to let people pass. Worst of all, I was too wide to get through porch doors, thus putting my candy haul in jeopardy.

One year I marched in my hometown Halloween parade dressed as a garbage bag. It was so great that the local paper took my name down for consideration in the costume contest. I made my costume out of a round plastic laundry basket. I cut out the bottom so I could step through, covered it with a heavy green garbage bag and then attached carefully select (and clean) trash all around the opening. Clever, right? You can be sure there wasn’t another person at the parade in a garbage bag costume. I had it in the bag! (Get it?) But nothing says “fail” like people stuffing their actual trash – dirty coffee cups and soiled food wrappers into my costume as I walked home from the parade route. And I didn’t win the contest. Not even an honorable mention. Maybe if I’d been a sexy garbage bag ….

Then there was the toothpaste tube. Yes, I dressed up as Crest. I’m proud to say I learned from earlier years. The toothpaste tube frame fit exactly on the span of my shoulders. No way I was going to be in my own way on the candy hunt. The costume was roomy enough to hide a puffy coat so cold weather wasn’t a hinderance to getting massive amounts of candy. But my cap was. The bucket I used for the tube cap rattled and jumped when I walked. It turned with each bump so I had to hold it steady with my hand or I couldn’t see. And, it seems I forgot to taper the bottom of the tube which might explain the tripping. (I’m only now enjoying the irony of dressing up like a tool for cavity prevention so I could go out begging for tooth decay.)

Possibly my favorite childhood costume was the Tootsie Pop. My father got some local college students to make it for me. They made the Tootsie Pop top out of a beer ball and drained said ball at a party while guests colored the giant Tootsie wrapper. I was cherry flavored and I wore all white for the stick. It was amazing. The height of genius! But, I was on the older range of trick-or-treaters and fair game for trouble-makers … and the face cut out in the beer ball didn’t allow for any peripheral vision. I couldn’t see the shaving cream coming and had no chance for evasive maneuvers. Have you ever seen a giant Tootsie Pop careen down the street? It’s not pretty.

Nearly all photographic evidence is missing so I can’t show you the band-aid box, garbage bag or Tootsie Pop. Please use your imagination. The people who made margagogo possible promise the pictures aren’t lost and they’ll keep looking.

So no dressing up for me. I’ve spent the last several Halloween’s in Maine with food, a fire in the stove and friends. And of course, Butterfingers and trick-or-treaters.

The first year, I was super excited for kids to come. I waited and waited and waited and then waited some more. Finally, I backed off the door sort of following the “watched pot” theory. So my friends rang the bell just to watch me dash from the kitchen, grab the candy bowl and skid to a halt in front of a door with no kids on the other side. Later my friends made knocking sounds and I fell for it again … and again.

The kids finally showed and I lucked out with more candy than kids so I didn’t have to share my Butterfingers. My carved pumpkin was the best ever made in the entire world, my friends were funny, nobody chased me with shaving cream or stuffed garbage in my shirt. I didn’t trip, I could see and I fit through all my doors. It was pretty perfect.

New York City is of course, Halloween central. Nobody does it better if you like that sort of thing. I got into the spirit this week by heading to the West Village for dinner at Extra Virgin (West 4th St, NYC). Extra Virgin is a Village classic. The American, Comfort, Classic and Inspired food is always amazing. The bartender can mix a drink, the staff is friendly and Sunday night is Spaghetti and Meatballs night. Yum. So please go to Extra Virgin (or don’t so there will be more room for me).

And order a margarita. In honor of Halloween, I had them make mine extra spooky.


Happy Halloween to all and to all a good night!




Read Full Post »

UPDATE: August 27, 2014: Subway Inn wins another stay of eviction. Maybe they will find a stone big enough? More updates to follow!


The Subway Inn; dive bar, landmark, home of the $6 draft, is closing.

Maybe I’m too hasty. The last word isn’t out yet. But there are some David and Goliath fights where it’s impossible for David to find a stone big enough to bring Goliath down. And the fight between a New York City real estate developer and a tenant is one of those.


The Subway Inn brings people of all stripes together. Regulars mix with tourists who mix with 20-somethings looking for a bargain. Stepping across the threshold turns strangers into friends.

My friends gathered there. We showed up late night and early evening (though I never made it at 10:00 AM when the bar opens) and after a formal function or two. I remember my flouncy, blue velvet dress against a red upholstered booth, rhinestone earrings glittering in the bar light and waiters in white coats bringing bottled beer and stepping out-of-the-way when a good song got us up dancing.

And the story-telling was excellent. A regular, tucked into the bar was happy to make room for me and tell me about his days delivering beer. He once dropped a keg right through the floor of the Subway Inn. He meant to heave it on the bar but the keg skidded by the bar top, gained momentum and crashed through the bar floor to lodge its edge in the actual subway platform below. He said it took years for the city to make a repair so “6 Train” riders had to step over the dent as they got on and off the train.

The Subway Inn is a time capsule. It appears as if nothing has changed since the bar opened in 1937. Not a single speck of dust has been disturbed in 77 years and now a wrecking ball is going to take care of clean-up.

Change is inevitable and often hard. Even when we’ll be better off for it, change can throw us off. The thing is, there’s no part of me – not even a teensy part, which can see how this will make New York City a better, more vibrant or more interesting place to live. And what’s happening to the Subway Inn is happening to independent shops all over the city. Landlords can get higher rent from chain stores and earn more money if they raze the old and replace it with luxury living opportunities.

If big names like Bobby Flay can’t win the rent wars (Mesa Grill is closed) what chance do the little guys have? Pearl Paint, after 50 years, is gone. Bowlmor, the oldest alley in the city and where I celebrated my 30th birthday, is closed as are all the businesses in that building. Luxury condos are moving in.

Union Square Café, a Danny Meyer restaurant, is on its way out and Chat ‘N Chew, where my friends and I have done exactly as the name requests, is gone. (There are more, lots more. Don’t even get me started on the book stores and newsstands. If you’re interested, check out Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York, which chronicles the goings around town.)

The Subway Inn and independent places like it, make the fabric of New York City. They might not always contribute the finest thread to the tapestry but they’re the part of the pattern that makes you look twice. They’re the zing of interest, the beat of the street, the thing that makes you smile even if you don’t quite know why.

And they’re melting away as rent inflates and we march toward the sameness of big chain stores, banks, luxury buildings and super high-end restaurants with menus and prices that all look the same.

We are bleaching the tapestry of the city. We are turning New York beige.

I need a great drink and food to make myself feel better. Unfortunately, The Marrow (Bank St, NYC) didn’t sooth my nerves. Instead, my visit reinforced my worry that newer isn’t better.

A fair and balanced review requires several visits so let me admit straight off: My review will never be fair and balanced. My snarky tone could be the result of low blood sugar since the staff cleared and tossed my full plate before I could eat my fill and my request to wrap it fell on deaf ears. The Marrow might make the best pork chop in the entire world but I will never, ever know.

The margarita was “juicy” and out of balance. But it was a hot day so the citrus and ice was refreshing and Vitamin C is a good thing – keeps scurvy at bay.

Some advice if you decide to go: First, eat fast and don’t be afraid to slap any hand that makes a grab for your plate. And second, plan your outfit around the wallpaper. Yes, I said wallpaper. It’s so busy, it clashed with patron’s shirts. Between the fussy walls and beat up floors and booths, the vibe at The Marrow is confusing – something between eating at Versailles or in your Grandfather’s basement in Queens. 

Not beige but still a bummer.

Refreshing Scurvy Cure at The Marrow

Refreshing “Juicy” Scurvy Cure (Margarita) at The Marrow




Read Full Post »

Yes, it’s winter.

It happens every year but this winter is extra dreary because it’s actually cold and snowy and icy and grey … and did I mention it’s really, really cold? Since anyone who resides in the ever-widening snow belt has to slog through it every day, we also endlessly talk about the weather. There’s no escape, even in our conversation, and that’s making winter even drearier.

So while New York City is likely running out of road salt, budgeted overtime hours for plow drivers and possibly patience the good citizens are, thankfully, funny as ever.

Since the weather drove me inside for the little exercise I get, I can report on SoulCycle’s hilarious request that clients practice good hygiene (they call it doing laundry).  The bikes are close together and they worry that when your neighbor takes a deep, cleansing breath, they might choke on your odor.  Flywheel’s attempt to be hip and cool with everything down to the locker instructions is also worth a chuckle as they dare you to lock up your Blackberry.

NYC, you’re doing great! Let’s keep up the humor and keep our heads on!

Greensquare Tavern, 5 West 21st St, NYC, is holding up their end in the humor department.

You should go here, not only because the signage is funny but because the food is fresh, organic and good.

If you order a margarita, the joke is on you so please steer clear. This is more of a pull of beer, pour of wine kind of place.  We ordered meatballs and being New Yorker’s, expected a single meatball centered on a giant white plate to be set between us.  But instead of gingerly cutting tiny food in half and wondering what else we’d eat, we got a bowl – and not a single meatball in a giant, but an actual bowl of meatballs!

We left Greensquare tavern nourished by the food and connected to the restaurant through our mutual dislike of Jury Duty Justin Bieber.

And we are warmed by the promise of Spring!

Read Full Post »

At the end of each year, my friends pick a theme for the year to come.

Finding a few words to set a tone for the days ahead is tricky business.  Add in the wish to balance humor with momentum and the need to come up with a single idea that will gain mass acceptance and you get an idea of the care that goes into each theme choice.

Despite our best efforts, some have been more successful than others.

The Year of The Hard Body:  We gave ourselves latitude on this one. We could meet the goal by improving personal fitness or by dating a hot guy who already had a hard body.  This was a spectacular failure on both counts.

The Year of Amore:  I think this was the year I dated a guy with a cheese phobia. Amore? Not quite.

The Year of Giving:  What I gave must have been brain cells because I really don’t remember how we followed through on the theme’s intention.  I do recall an attempt to be giving of spirit.  I gave a second, third and fourth chance to the guy I was dating and as a result, I have the distinction of being broken up with four times in four months.

The Year of the Bitch:  This might have been an over-correction after The Year of Giving.

The Year of No Fear:  Awesome because it rhymes, this theme was about going after dreams.  I wrote a novel.  I didn’t get it published before the theme expired so fear set in. Maybe this theme should be renewed.

The Year of Fun:  It had been a while since we had a contagious giggle. You know, when it’s hard to say the exact funny thing that sets the laughter in motion but it starts to roll and if you stop, you can’t look your friends in the eye without starting again. We had so much fun in this year that I decided to replay it because the next year was …

The Year of Yes:  I’ve come to believe all those childhood promises:  Ask and ye shall receive; You reap what you sow; I’m rubber and you’re glue ….  So it felt reckless for “yes” to be the standard for the year.  There are a lot of things that nobody should say yes to and there’s no need to invite them around.  So I went rogue and repeated our most successful theme, The Year of Fun.

The Year of Adventure:  We defined “Adventure” as anything new.  Anytime we were on the fence about a plan and wondered if we should bother with the first date or the museum exhibition or the out of the blue plans with new friends, we said, “Well, it is the year of adventure!” And we went. We also went to Turkey and Greece (and for the record, I was able to get excellent margaritas in both countries.)

This year is The Year of Well and Good.  This suggests balance and every past theme rolls into this one.  We need to be giving and bitchy, have fun and adventure, be fit in body and mind and be all around good citizens. I think we’re off to a good start. I’m mentoring a 14-year old through IMentor and if all goes well, I will mentor her straight into college. We are lending our effort to Cycle for Survival to raise money for research into cures for “rare” cancers.  Because Cycle for Survival requires getting on a bike, I’ve finally started to exercise.  And, we’ve booked a trip to Iceland with hopes of seeing the Aurora Borealis.

And the year has only begun!

My adventure to find the perfect margarita continues.

I checked out Park Kitchen. It’s brand new in the lobby of newly renovated Park Central Hotel (NYC).  The space is graciously designed though it’s impossible to forget, even for a moment, that you’re in the middle of a hotel lobby.

I didn’t have much hope for the margarita since lobby bars, even in New York City, often disappoint.  When my drink appeared, the bright yellow hue made me think I was looking at high-end mix abuse.

Park Kitchen Marg - Well & Good!

Park Kitchen Marg – Well & Good!

But it was good and strong.  The flavors well-balanced and the tequila was the clear star.

I left feeling both well and good.

Read Full Post »

I worried that our endlessly hard-working congress might grasp the import of issues before them, end the stalemate and open the government before I could write this blog post.

Silly me.

Would sober-minded people act to jeopardize our economy?  I think not.  So there must be a little something extra in the Congressional Water Cooler.

Is the 3 Martini Lunch back in vogue?  Is a drink hat, fitted with a donkey or elephant logo, one drink holder over each ear with straws part of the congressional orientation kit?  Do members who bother to show up for sessions have round robin tournaments of beer pong during filibusters?

So with Big Bird still safely locked behind the closed gates of the National Zoo, I have time to wonder: “What was Congress drinking when they decided it was a good idea to bring government functions to a screeching halt and what are they drinking now?”

I threw the question out to my trusty Twitter friends who, despite the multiple policy decisions they tackle in the course of a day, are reliable and responsive.

  • @Create_Daily says, “They were sipping a little too much Fishhouse Punch when they pulled the plug.”  Now he’s sure they’re “…drinking Pepto by the bottle.”
  • @mscharlies suggests, “Then: Mescal Now: Rye”
  • @margaretomara believes congress enjoyed, “Long Island Iced Tea (Parties): easy to overindulge, with potentially disastrous consequences.”
I’m so glad I asked because this is all starting to make sense to me! Picture all 535 members of congress with Long Island Iced Tea or Fishhouse Punch or Mescal in their drink hats (their choice, free country) on big decision days and then alternating between Pepto and Rye to treat the hangover.
  • ‏@WarrenBobrow1 throws his hands up and calls for “mint juleps for all!!!!”  (I think the julep might be more for us than congress though.)

There is one person who doesn’t think congressional decisions are flavored by alcohol. He doesn’t believe our elected officials are drinking at all. And while I don’t agree, I’m including his response because I believe in the integrity of Twitter Polls.  @MacCocktail says, “They’re smoking the crack rock! That’s what they’re doing!”

So come on, be truthful, how many of you have said the very same thing? Of course you say it in jest. Of course, nobody really thinks our elected officials use crack. (Marion Barry is old news and Toronto’s Mayor is obviously a Canadian.)  But it would be nice to come up with an explanation for continuous under-achieving.

Maybe our Congressmen and Senators should come hang out at Gran Electrica (5 Front Street, DUMBO, NYC).

Gran Electrica continues to over-achieve in margarita mixing and taco making. I’ve written about them before and along with members of the Independent Panel of Judges, keep going back for more. They have a back garden and on a recent fall day, I sat outside with The Panel and made friends with the people next to us. Even though we were years apart in age, miles apart in home geography and culturally mixed, we figured out how to bridge the divide between tables.

Gran Electrica - Decisions made, bridges build, margaritas drank

Gran Electrica – Decisions made, bridges built, margaritas drank

Thank you to all who took the time to respond to this Twitter Poll. I appreciate it!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: