...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Of Bars and Trains

Miss me?

I missed you.

These past three days away were very eventful.  My career struggles' volume has been turned up to 11.  But to combat that, my brother (who was in town on business) and I got to hang out and visit some bars.

But first, public transportation.

I rode the Long Beach Municipal buses, to and from the nearest Metro stop.  Very impressive system.  Mostly on time.  Very clean buses with nice drivers.  Possibly better than the DC Metro Bus system.  Possibly.

The LA Metro itself is a curious thing.  If one takes the Blue Line to and from LBC and LA, one gets a box seat view of the worst elements of this county.  Entire villages of the homeless, tents and tarps and garbage piles.  Abandoned industry.  Vast empty commercial districts.  Garbage swamped sections of the LA River.

But the train price is fantastic.  $1.50.  This price due to LA's subsidies because there's no way the system can run on a rate like that and...

There's no payment enforcement.  None.  I could have walked right onto the train in LBC and then walked off in LA and never paid.  I bought a TAP card, but the entry turnstiles turn without the card having to be tapped.  My brother bought a paper ticket, but there was no place to put the ticket.  He just walked right onto the train.  No one was checking tickets.

So, the system largely relies on the honor system.  That's mind boggling.  Between the economic despair running through most of this county and the ethical vacuum running through the rest of it, I can't imagine that anyone's paying for the train aside from tourists.

Los Angeles needs subsidies in order to function at all, but all of those tax dollars going to the Metro could be better spent on the rest of this broken county.  Enforcing payment of the meager Metro rate would probably double or triple ticket revenue (and possibly more, I'm just guessing here), thus freeing up some of the public $$$.

Okay, you didn't come here for that rant.  So let me climb down off my soapbox...

...and up onto the barstool.

The Edison

The Edison's a trip, not entirely figuratively.  Semi-hidden in an alley off 2nd Street downtown, it looks like it's going to be a cute little speakeasy.  But instead it's a massive multi-roomed entertainment parlor.  Two bars serve up all sorts of high quality spirits (including some decent American-style absinthes).  A live jazz band roars out period tunes, sometimes accompanied by a burlesque dancer.  At least three sets of silent films are projected on the massive walls.  Winged pixies cart around colorful bottled cocktails.

It's a fun scene.  I like the dress code -- no sneakers, or T-shirts -- though I'd thought everyone was going to be in a suit.  Luckily I didn't overdress, but I did wear pants.

The whisky prices were about half that of Seven Grand's.  We started out with Clynelish 14 (a reliable malty malt).  Then Jason had Redbreast 12 for the first time (success!) and I had a very well priced Lagavulin 16 (magnificent: smoldering peat cigar, milk chocolate, cinnamon, Sweet Jeebus I can't wait to do a proper report on this one).

[One note to the bartender:  I know that calling every female customer "Baby" is keeping with the '30s theme (and is The Bee's Knees, in theory), but when you're twenty-five with a head full of hair product and a licentious leer, it ain't classy; it's harassment.  I don't care how cool your vest looks.]

In any case, I'm definitely going back with Kristen.  She would love this place.  Plus I really want to try out some Kübler since no one else was touching the stuff.  I recommend this place to folks looking for a unique bar in Downtown LA.

The Bowery

The Edison was on Friday night.  The Bowery began our Saturday night.

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The Bowery is quite small and a bit dark inside at night, but I've never had a problem getting a seat (or seeing my whisky).  Their food is fantastic.  I've had great sandwiches, sides, and soups there.  The people I've gone with have praised the burgers.

Their liquor selection is excellent.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  they provide excellent whisky pours.  Just ask for it neat and in a brandy snifter.  I enjoyed a Benriach 12yr (thanks Jason!) and its report will follow this week.

The food prices are reasonable for that part of town.  The whisky prices are comparable with The Edison, some being more, some less.  They have a nice selection of international ales and beers too, if you're looking for something cheaper than a single malt.  Another recommended establishment.

The Piano Bar

This one is going to need its own post someday.  I love this place.

Good drinks, nice design, non-scene crowd, and GREAT music.  All the bands are good, but seriously find out if Brother Sal is playing before you go.  He and his band are F-----g Awesome!  I have nothing but hyperbole for them.  I have repeatedly sat through hours of traffic to see their enormous Blues/Rock/Jazz/Saloon/Thunder.

Jason and I stopped by on Saturday.  He had a Balvenie Doublewood and I had a Macallan Cask Strength (report also to follow soon).  It wasn't a Brother Sal night, but were able to grab a table and chill and enjoy the evening.

But now all that has past and a week begins anew.

Welcome back, Sir Monday.  May your stay be brief.  Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.