“The attention of the Middlesex magistrates has been called to the demoralizing consequences likely to ensue in the middling and lower classes from the alarming increase of gin-shops in every direction, in and around the metropolis, by the conversion of what used to be quiet respectable public houses, where the laboring population could find the accommodation of a tap room or parlor in which to take the meals or refreshment they might require, into flaming dram shops, having no accommodation for persons to sit down, and where the only allurement held out was the promise of ‘Cheap Gin’.” — Victorian Pubs, by Mark Girouard
“Ten-year-old Jazimen Warr had nestled on her sister’s shoulder, the two children sleeping in the back of the family’s Cherokee on the drive to a relative’s home in Bowie. She was killed and the rest of her family sustained injuries in the crash.
That was Aug. 21, 2008.
Now, that crash on Interstate 270 could upend Maryland law and allow victims of drunken-driving crashes and their families to sue bars and restaurants if their inebriated patrons cause deaths and injuries.
Moves in the past two years by lawmakers from Montgomery County to create in Maryland what’s known as a “dram shop liability” law — the term essentially relates to a bar or tavern selling alcohol, with “dram” being a small unit of measure — didn’t make it out of the House Judiciary Committee.” — Baltimore Sun, “Maryland court considers liability of bars in drunken-driving crashes”
Cause célèbre: Best of friends. Good tidings. Youthful energy. All the makings of a red cup night.
But all that can turn bad quickly. Quicker than the growth spurt they had over last summer.
To ask what it is that makes underage youth drink is to ask why the sky is blue, why lions eat antelope, and if I’ve ever tasted pumpkin pie before — it just is, they just do, don’t ask me no crazy question like that! But I digress…while I was doing research into the English pub in London, one colleague told me that youths there “aspire to the pub…” It’s the same with youth on this side of the pond — there’s something about looking at that big number “21” that makes you lunge closer and closer to the finish line, until you notice that you’ve started the race before your time. That’s when trouble sets in.
There is something about underage drinking that has gotten more troubling in years past, and I hope I am not taking a nostalgic stance to this issue. Between me, you, and my laptop, I participated in a bit of underage drinking…(egads!! Not the good people at ThCgnlHr!!!)…a few sips with a couple friends, from a shared cup of Bacardi Limon & Sprite. It was the emollient to, wait for it….watching television — quite the daredevil I was in my younger days. Were we participating in illegal activity? Absolutely. What was the obvious consequence of our crime? Probably changing the channel. Not to cast shade on the youngbloods of today, but there seems to exist the wont to get things “turnt up” a notch, to the point where things become increasingly unsafe, to the point where things may not return to the way they were. It becomes less about youths doing something mischievous and strays into a space where no one should be doing these things regardless of their age.
This post isn’t a condemnation of all things young and spontaneous. I didn’t take my first drink after your granddaddy’s war, nor did I walk 18 miles to school every day, both ways, through the snow in July. While I have never been in the position of recent youths in Steubenville, OH or Loudoun County, VA, we’re all one bad choice away from the same predicament. This an overture to young people everywhere that as my London colleague said, we must aspire to something. The greatest thing about drinking is that, Lord willin’, we will get to enjoy the next one. Let’s ALL aspire to that next drink, while enjoying the current one in a congenial manner.
Many architects have been up in arms recently over the news that MoMA is going to demolish the former building that housed the American Folk Art Museum. However, some in the arts world say don’t cry over a spilled cocktail — unless it’s a finely stirred Negroni, I say. Anyways, what does this signal? Hypocrisy on MoMA’s part? A lack of understanding for suiting the true function of a museum? Self-absorption by architects? Idol worship? Developer/owner as king? Maybe all of the above, but I think it signals the opportunity for discourse regarding the subject. No better place to join diverse crowds than at the always-worthy hub of conversation — the drinking place. Maybe the one where Mr. Taniguchi drowned his misplaced sorrows that started all this hubbub:
“When Taniguchi was chosen to design the new, vastly expanded Museum of Modern Art seven years ago, a lot of people in the art world scratched their heads. Out of 10 architects invited to compete for this prize commission (all were under 60—MoMA had ruled out the generation of Frank Gehry), Taniguchi was virtually unknown in America, and his scheme for MoMA’s midtown Manhattan site seemed so smooth and corporate—so unfashionably tame—it looked like a long shot next to the provocative concepts of such hotshots as Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron. Even Taniguchi didn’t think he’d win. Convinced he’d fatally fumbled his key presentation to MoMA’s trustees, he headed straight to a neighborhood bar to mourn.” — “New York’s great modern museum is reborn, thanks to $425 million and an unlikely architect named Taniguchi” by Cathleen McGuigan, Newsweek
“Seems almost un-American to me for a bachelor not to go around having a drink with a lady now and then….” — Joe Willie Namath
What gets you in the mood for sharing some congenial time with a young lady? Maybe the low-key jazz stylings of “The Girl From Ipanema”? How about finishing a deadline?? The sound of silence, the essence of calm…Nothing better to open your mind, body, and soul than to get something hot off your plate, allowing you to focus on nothing but the person on the other side of that glass. Broadway Joe knew it best, and we should heed his advice. Cheers to all the Tax Day Warriors out there — enjoy this evening!
Two of Queens’ finest getting congenial. Good to see a classic group taking classic takes to their personal drinking styles & cocktails…although I can see them ordering them with a brown bag around the glass, just to keep it all the way gully. Why not? They’ve come many years since the days of sitting on project benches…pour by your own measure, CNN!
“Me and shorty, from the Mecca, having a session/Play the Shark Bar, sippin’ on French Connection/On the rocks…” — Capone, “Stick You”, The War Report
“Jose Cuervo, no Grand Marnier, drink hard liquor, hard liquor all day/I’m a certified-holic, kid, you know I don’t play, cause…” — Noreaga, “I’m a G”
Not yet the “dog days of summer”, and still a bit chilly to fully say “spring is here”, but it’s still Opening Day. In Baltimore, that might mean getting up to a bar for 6am soak-up-the-day pancakes, signifying that it’s a great day for day-drinking. So whether you’re knocking down Natty Boh’s at a furious clip, or letting some traditional Punch ease you through the day, enjoy the official first day of Spring. One of the greatest to ever play said, “Let’s play two!” — why not have another after you finish that one? Don’t wait until the seventh-inning stretch to #getcongenial….
What happens when the Punch bowl is empty?
Do you cry tears into the vessel until it’s once again overflowing? Do you wait until friends come over and bring you more Punch? Do you stomp down to the Fish House and demand that the City of Brotherly Love replenish your bowl?
Sometimes you have to grab your trusty swivel peeler, the shiniest lemon within arm’s reach, and set out to make another batch of Punch. It’s that easy….right?
Life is not as easy as making Punch. While there are plentiful stores from which you can purchase spirits, recipes to use as a guide, and mixological authorities to consult for nuance, there is no such option for going through Life. You can study all the life guides in the library, consult all the life coaches on LinkedIn, follow curricula from universities across the globe, but nothing quite prepares you for the rigors of Life.
At the end of the day, no one said this would be easy. Sometimes you’ve got to put your head down and continue pushing forward. When life throws you lemons, compound the second batch of Philadelphia Fish House Punch! Now THAT’S how to live congenially.
“What we dranking? No, we drankin’ it ALL! We gon’ do it ‘til we can’t or we fall, last call…” — Outkast (Big Boi) ft. Various Artists, “Last Call”
It’s all fun and games when you sit down for a long day of talking mess and chest-pounding.
Even more fun when you make a cocktail to get you through the middle rounds of tight end and defense/special teams selections.
You’re all ready for the fun and games to start after looking over your lineup, seeing where you have strengths & weaknesses, who you might trade, etc.
You can’t have anything but fun when you start the year off unbeaten through the first six games.
Remembering that it’s just fun and games, you don’t panic when you go on a two-game losing streak — nothing you can do but coach well and keep an eye on the waiver wire.
You have a little fun during the games by posting photos of various “football cocktails” that fuel your viewing activities.
You finish the year strong, and look forward to the fun and games to be had during the playoffs.
Then you lose. Your season is over. The Commish comes calling — literally, the last call. No more fun and games.
Until next season…
Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Repeal the Bush-era tax cuts. Repeal the Civil Rights Act. Repeal the Tuck Rule.
There are more than enough rules, acts, laws, codes, & mantras to worry about repealing. Can’t we just be happy one BIG one got repealed on this date, that allows us to take all the rest of the repeal-worry in stride? The only repeal you should worry about today is the lemon peel spraying oils into your cocktail, which you’ll replenish again, and again, then again again — possibly at one of these 25 wondrous drinking places to celebrate the achievement of this informal holiday. Cheers to legal imbibing. *clink, clink*
We had problems but it’s all in the past/
Everybody got problems baby, algebra class.
Remember I used to do things that’d make you laugh/
Like orderin’ a girl drink in a masculine glass?
You like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain/
Or rocking flannels all summer like Kurt Cobain,
Or that Dolce Gabbana with a few gold chains/
And you the type of girl that probably deserve a new last name….
Rented the whole bottom floor for a candlelight dinner/
Turned the lights out and put my candle right in her,
And told her, “Even though I met you in a club in a tight dress,
At first sight I could picture you in a white dress.” — “White Dress”, Kanye West
The Congenial Hour will soon give way to The Closing Hour — polls in such battleground states as Virginia, and other early-closing polls such as Vermont, Indiana, Georgia, and a few others. This is about to be a long night.
The Congenial Hour holds no partisan feelings. We hold the rights of ALL people to choose whatever spirit you like, patronize whatever drinking place you fancy, and imbibe in a style all unto yourself.
But The Congenial Hour would like to applaud President Barack Obama for showing how to bring compromise and understanding, through his Beer Summit. And how many other Presidents released a recipe for their homebrew made in the bowels of the White House itself?
Let’s toast the man that has continually chosen to raise the bar. Let’s move FORWARD.
This way or that-a-way?
Yesterday was Halloween, a holiday observed by many, through custom and costume. Last year, The Congenial Hour fell right into place, with a pre-post and day-of-post commemorating the occasion. This year — not so much. While Andre 3000 has rhymed about Valentine’s Day, there aren’t too many rhymes in his catalog referencing The Great Pumpkin. And wine, though enjoyed on many, if not all, 365 days of the calendar, isn’t directly related to Halloween. And you know what I say to that?
I used to look towards holidays/occasions as a “gimme” in blogging, as it afforded me a day where I didn’t have to conjure up a drinking culture connection for a post. But there’s only so many times you can do that, and at the very least, I like to keep people on their toes. There’s one thing I’ve always said about ThCgnlHr: “I don’t care if there’s one person or one million people reading, the one thing you cannot say about the blog is that it’s boring.” One way to stave off boredom is to keep things fresh and unexpected.
I’m often asked what my favorite cocktail or spirit is, and I usually have no answer, just a lot of explanation. But it’s the truth: it totally depends on how I’m feeling at the time, and can often be without rhyme or reason. It’s truly about personal style, one of the tags you can follow on ThCgnlHr. The same goes for the blog — let the feeling carry the content.
This way or that-a-way?
Neither. MY way.
ps This post means there won’t be an El Dia de Los Muertos blog today either. My apologies…
Though quite the refined gentleman, the man most commonly known as Andre Benjamin (as well as 3000, Ice Cold, Possum Aloysius Jenkins, Cupid Valentino, and Benjamin Andre, among others) knows how to get down with a cocktail or two. But to share one with him, you’d best be on your p’s & q’s — that stands for Pinots and Qualitatswein, by the way, not pints and quarts….
“Then go grab the finest wine and drink it like we know which grape and which region it came from, as if we can name ‘em/
Hint hint, it ain’t, um, Welch’s.
Hell, just fell three thousand more degrees cooler/
Ya’ll can’t measure my worth, but when you try, you’ll need a ruler made by all the Greek gods…” — “Sixteen”, by Rick Ross feat. Andre 3000
It’s October, and that signals more than the onslaught of carved pumpkins — it’s playoff baseball. Several series have ended, as fans in Cincinnati & Oakland join Atlanta & Texas in lamenting, “There’s always next year.” But, for Detroit & San Francisco, their players are exclaiming, “It’s a celebration!” And you know what that celebration brings with it — bottles and bottles of bubbles.
Champagne celebrations in the locker room have followed wins in the division series, the pennant, and World Series for seemingly as long as people have been watching baseball. Joe & Jane Q. Public often pop a bottle to celebrate many occasions in their lives, from their children’s christenings to getting a promotion at the job to a landmark birthday. I’ve also previously written about using champagne to mark the maiden voyage of a ship. While many occasions use champagne, where the shark is jumped is that baseball takes the usage to the extreme — champagne sprayed everywhere, on heads, down shirts, on walls, on cameramen. Attire often includes ponchos, goggles, and towels. A bog of excitement and glee.
Baseball has taken attempts to curb the enthusiasm of players recently, by instituting limits on the amount of bubbles spewed about, and also requiring non-alcoholic options like sparkling juice and ginger ale. Maybe that can be seen as raining on the players’ parade, but they’ve got to realize that the flaunting doesn’t convey the best image to their families and all their fans. But hey, at least for one day, let’s just bathe in the joy of accomplishment. We might lose tomorrow, but we’ll deal with that then. For today, we’re on a natural high — on grapes that have been naturally harvested and fermented! Prost to your bubbles!
Drinks are served on tables, hand-to-hand, on kitchen counters, carts, among many other surfaces. But in modern times, if you’re going to sling, craft, shake, mix, or pour a drink, it’s probably going to be across a bar. However, that doesn’t limit your options.
There is no limit to the layout, material, and size of bars; no standard appearance for any of them, actually. Save for corporate franchises, you have probably never been to the same bar twice, and that’s not just when you walk into the drinking place. You may have carved your initials into the wood while sharing a couple tall boys with your friend, admired your Manhattan almost hovering above the marble, and spun your two fingers of single malt around the backlit glass without noticing the unique nature of taking up space at a drinking place. Every experience is one unto itself, never to be replicated again, and that big hunk of material is one reason why — it has seen all and never forgets.
A fine Tennessee whisky company decided to take up the mantle and bring in some weekend warriors for a good ol’ bar-building competition. Got a free eight hours? Come on down and see if you can design and build the best bar to taste that sugar maple charcoal-filtered goodness. Sawdust for garnish…Why not? Makes my mouth water just thinking about it….