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2016 Grateful 2

From posh cocktails on the Southside to garlic chips in an inner-city chipper – a night out in Dublin has it all. Especially if it’s with de wimmen – all frocked up.

20161215_175248_resizedAmbling up Dawson Street to meet the rest of de Wimmen at Peruke and Periwig, we stopped in at the Mansion House to see the live crib. Every morning, a farmer from north Dublin brings in a couple of sheep, a goat, and a donkey. He can’t believe that some kids in Dublin have never seen real animals up close and in person. The mind boggles. The grounds of the Mansion House, home to Dublin’s Lord Mayor, have been transformed into a winter wonderland. Perfect to set the mood.

In then to Peruke and Periwig, a rather posh stop-off on Dawson Street with three floors carefully kitted out to look like your great-grandmother’s living room, had your great-grandmother been part of the landed gentry of the day. They boast a very extensive cocktail menu with their original take on a lot of old classics. And they know their stuff. Last time we came to drink. This time we came to eat, too. And it was all rather lovely. We had three hours before our table was needed for the next shift so we couldn’t get too comfortable but a 6pm start meant we could still get mileage out of the sparkly tops.

As we paid the bill we talked about where to next. I mentioned an older old friend of ours whom we hadn’t seen since my birthday and said it would be good to catch up with him. A septuagenarian of regular habits, we knew he’d be in one of two pubs  – one in town, another in the ‘burbs – so we hopped it a taxi and went off in pursuit. The taxi driver was highly amused at the the thoughts of us moving from Dawson Street to Dorset Street but was happy enough to drive us around. He listened as we ran through various plays we’d seen and actors we liked and theatres we’d visited (which just happened to be the subject we landed on as he drove off) and told us we should do a vlog. YouTube, he said, would love us. We might even get more people going to the theatre and get ourselves free tickets.  He’d been highly entertained.

20161215_214917_resizedWe found our mate in what we all knew as Joxers but it’d been a while and it had now reverted to its original name – The Long Island. Another living room came to mind when I saw the altar-like effect in the back corner underneath the TV showing the darts. All a little mad. And while the boys in P&P had been full of information about their menu, the lads here were just full of chat. Service was great. And the banter was everything.

We stayed still those working the next day called a halt and when we ambled out on to the street to get a taxi, I was overcome by a craving for chips. And I wasn’t wanting for company. We descended on the local chippie – a Turkish place with one customer (from Transylvania) and a chap from Pakistan  behind the counter. The changing face of Ireland.

20161216_002739_resizedWe ordered two kebabs and garlic chips, which we devoured with far more gusto that we had the posh meal earlier at P&P, an irony that wasn’t lost on us. You can dress us up and take us out and we can do the posh restaurants and the fancy cocktails, but we get just as much pleasure from a few jars in the local followed by a bag of chips.

This week, I’m grateful that my world isn’t segmented, that I’m not boxed in. I’m grateful that I have the wherewithal to ratchet up or down depending on what the occasion requires. And I’m grateful, too, that I have the type of friends willing to ratchet with me.

 

 

2014 Grateful 30

I used to collect stamps. Then I moved on to frogs. Now I collect experiences. And chief amongst them is my quest for the perfect cosmopolitan. It doesn’t take much by way of enticement to lure me inside a cocktail bar. As long as cosmos are on the menu, I’ll happily try it out. But when the invite is prefaced with ‘this is where John Malkovich and Quentin Tarrantino drink when they’re in town’, I was sitting on the high stool before the first shake had shook. (Trivia: Tarrantino named one of the characters in Kill Bill II after one of the barmaids.)

The ‘town’ in question is Vienna and the bar is L00s. Designed by Adolf Loos, one of the pioneers of modern architecture in Vienna, it’s tiny but looks spacious. The 290 sq ft is made bigger by the ingenious use of mirrors. The onyx-tiled walls are backlit and the counter and ceiling are cloaked in mahogany.

It’s a haven for true cocktail aficionados, offering six variations of Martinis and five variations of Manhattans. The Cosmopolitan was one of the best I’ve had in years. There’s barely room to swing a handbag and those lucky enough to get a seat are reluctant to give it up. Considering the average drink will set you back €10, it would be easy enough to sip your way through a small fortune over a few hours in the afternoon.

IMG_2377 (800x600)It started off life as a private gentleman’s club but is now open to the public. And, so far has its fame stretched, a tribute bar has opened in Manhattan. Photos are not allowed. (I missed the sign as I came in, but the rather officious manager soon took me to task. It’s a long time since I’ve felt like I’d been hauled into the principal’s office.) The bartender was a dream though – and certainly knew his stuff.

The origin of the word itself, cocktail, has many plausible explanations from sailors stirring mixed drinks with a rooster’s tail, to a derivation of the name of a Mexican goddess Xochitl. But the one I like most featured in George Bishop’s The Booze Reader: A Soggy Saga of Man in His Cups (1965). He says: ‘The word itself stems from the English cock-tail which, in the middle 1800’s, referred to a woman of easy virtue who was desirable but impure…and applied to the newly acquired American habit of bastardizing good British Gin with foreign matter, including ice.’

No matter its origin, the cocktail is indeed one of life’s pleasures. And as to who invented the cosmo? The war of attribution still rages. And spending a few hours in Loos with good friends on what was otherwise quite a chilly summer’s day in Vienna, was something to be grateful for indeed. Thank you, ladies. You know who you are.

 

Kärntnerdurchgang 10, Vienna