Monthly Archives: May 2010

Chop Style: Socks Are Not Optional

This image came from The Sartorialist, and it’s the perfect illustration of some of the shite that flies in NYC and Boston (and hell, maybe Atlanta, we don’t know) but will never, ever, ever be acceptable in Baltimore. It’s also one of the many reasons why we stopped paying attention to the Sartorialist a long time ago.

If you're wondering whether you can pull this off in Baltimore, you can't.

To reiterate: this look is dumb, Baltimore. Don’t do it. Don’t do it this summer or any summer. It doesn’t matter how nice the shoes are. It doesn’t matter how nice your feet are. It doesn’t even matter if you’re only running out to Whole Foods for a minute for whole grain donuts and the Sunday Sun. You must wear socks!

This doesn’t work on the Canton Square. It doesn’t work in Mount Washington Village. It doesn’t work in Locust Point, and it doesn’t even work on Light Street.

But if for some strange reason you simply must go around without socks, you’d do well to do it in something like these.

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The Chop’s Chatreuse Gimlet Cocktail Recipe

So we find ourselves in the thick of Memorial Day Weekend, and those of you that aren’t at the beach are probably spending today at some sort of cookout, potluck, garden party or other social event. In the spirit of the season, we’d like to humbly suggest you forgo the cheapie bottle of Australian Sauvignon Blanc and instead swing by Hopkins Deli for a more potent and memorable hostess gift; a bottle of Chartreuse.

As you already know, the Chop loves a classic cocktail. Unfortunately, we’re not big on gin, and very picky about rum (and not snobby picky… we like Bacardi). So when spring and summer roll around and it’s time to lighten up with the brown liquor, we find ourselves drinking too many things that taste like lemons and limes.

How can we add a little more flavor and still keep the vodka gimlet a crisp, refreshing, warm weather drink? The answer was simpler than we thought.

The Chartreuse gimlet will look similar to a traditional gimlet or daquiri.

This one’s another Baltimore Chop original as near as we can tell, and it took us a lot more tweaking than we thought it would. We’ve got a sweet tooth, so we started out by adding simple syrup, which was a mistake. The Chartreuse and citrus are sweet enough as-is, and you may even want to add a dash of bitters if it suits your taste.

Matters were also complicated by the fact that not all bars carry Chartreuse, although they probably should. A special hat tip is in order to Bad Decisions who not only carries green and yellow Chartreuse, but has a citrus press juicer behind the bar.

The Charteuse Gimlet

1 part Stolichnaya vodka

1 part Yellow Chartreuse

Juice of half a lime

It’s as simple as that. Shake, strain, and enjoy. Its got all the complexity of flavor you’d want in a gin gimlet, without the bitter, medicinal juniper taste of gin. As we said, you might like to add bitters, and if you do, we recommend Fee Brothers’ Grapefruit Bitters which will add a new note of complexity to the drink, without altering the flavor drastically. You can also try the green variety of Chartreuse, although in our experience the yellow is much more enjoyable in this cocktail.

A new twist to an old classic, a pitcher of these at today’s function will insure that everyone has a great weekend, and that no one actually remembers it.

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Gilded Lily Burlesque @ Windup Space Tonight

“I hate my girlfriend, she she she
Lies on the beach like a barrier reef.
Soaking up the stupid sun,
While the radio is blasting; fun, fun fun!

I don’t wanna be on the beach, no fun!”

The Dead Milkmen said it best (ahem) 25 years ago in Beach Song, and their words still ring true today. The Chop has seen enough oceans that they’re not really a draw anymore, and price-wise OC is comprable to the Bahamas, Mexico, or any number of more exotic resorts. Somehow crappy paintings, sexist t-shirts and sand sculptures of Jesus just aren’t as exciting as they used to be.

Ocean City does have one big redeeming quality in its favor though… namely beautiful women wearing next-to-nothing and acting scandalously.

Gilded Lily Burlesque makes you say 'What beach?' at the Windup Space Tonight. 8 pm doors.

What’s that you say? We don’t have to sit through Bay Bridge traffic, suffer sunburns and get sand in our shorts? We can see the ravishingly raunchy vixens of Gilded Lily Burlesque at the Windup Space instead? Sold. Done. Front row, suckers!

And just like yesterday, we’re in prime position to sneak over to Load of Fun and hit up day one of the Wild Style Reunion.

But we hope you all have fun with your Buffett cover bands and jellyfish stings.

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The Windup Space is at 10 W. North Ave.

Load of Fun is at 120 W. North Ave.

And yes, we are a little bitter we’re not at the beach, Ok?

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LandSpeedRecord!, Free Electric State @ Windup Space Tonight

LandSpeedRecord! is a cool band. Don’t argue with us. Of course they’re a cool band. Why would we write about them if they weren’t? Do you think we made this blog just to tell you about bands that are not cool? That would be dumb. You know what’s not dumb? LandSpeedRecord!, that’s what. Which is why you should go see them at the Windup Space tonight.

LandSpeedRecord ruins your good hair day at the Windup Space tonight. 9 pm doors.

How do we know LandSpeedRecord! is cool, and does not suck? Because we’ve seen them before, duh, and frankly it’s been too long. We also know that they’re cool because they put out 7 records. Has your band put out 7 records? No, of course you haven’t. But LandSpeedRecord! did and they all sound good, up to and including their new release Unfailurelessness.

We could take this opportunity to engage in a fun game of “try to describe their sound by naming a slew of other bands who sound vaguely sort-of like them but not really”, but instead we will just make an analogy, which you can copy down and remember for your SAT’s…

LandSpeedRecord! : Baltimore :: The Dismemberment Plan : DC

Simple enough? The real reason we like LSR! though is because you can dance to them. Not only can you dance, you can also cook dinner to them, or drive down a road or cut your grass or drink or go to the golf ball driving range. This band is so versatile that whatever you happen to be doing, they’ll provide the perfect soundtrack to it.

They’re playing tonight with Free Electric State, who in another time and place were members of Liquor Bike, but now sound nothing like Liquor Bike at all. Apparently between this show, the Puddle/Penny Regime/Pulaski reunion and Maryland Death Fest, it’s actually the summer of ’96 this weekend.

Or maybe it’s the Summer of 1982. It is entirely possible that the best thing about this show is that it’s a block away from Load of Fun Studios, which will easily allow us to be in two places at once since we’re also excited for the Wild Style Reunion this weekend.

This is so cool, we’re not even going to write about it. Just click the link, cancel your beach plans, and go to it.

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The Windup Space is at 10 W. North Ave.

Load of Fun is at 120 W. North Ave.

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House Rules: Baltimore Bar Trivia Nights Part 2

On Tuesday, the Baltimore Chop took a look at the burgeoning pub quiz industry in Maryland. Being fun and free for bar patrons, and profitable for tavern owners and trivia producers alike, the popularity of bar trivia shows no signs of abating any time soon.

The Chop had only played live trivia once before now, so we hit the streets early in the week to see how a few of Central Maryland’s more than 85 (!) trivia nights stack up next to each other pound for pound. There are currently five companies actively producing live trivia events locally, and we made an effort to check out 3 games on Monday and Tuesday evening.

Photo Question: Name the actor who played know-it-all barfly Cliff Clavin on Cheers?

Brainstormer

Our first stop this week was the James Joyce Pub on Monday for Brainstormer trivia. Brainstormer is a large, slick franchising operation based out of the San Francisco Bay area. With several dozen game locations nationwide, it seems the James Joyce is the only place to play in MD. We didn’t get too many details though, since the MC still hadn’t shown up at 7:30 for the 7 pm game. When we asked the bartender about it, she pretty much said ‘Yeah, he just shows up whenever he feels like it; 8 or 8:30.’ Far from an isolated incident, the Washington Post also reported a tardy Brainstormer host a few years ago at a DC Irish pub. With no bar specials to entice us to stay, we thought it best to move on.

Charm City Trivia

It was only a short walk to the next game, when we checked out Charm City Trivia at the Green Turtle’s Fell’s Point location. CCT is active in 4 states with 18 games in MD, and hosts 10 games in the City, including the Wednesday night game at Mad River, which is reputed to be Baltimore’s most competitive trivia night. The game at the Green Turtle was much more relaxed though. In fact, it seemed most of the players had just signed up for the hell of it, because they were there already. The pair of Fell’s townies who’d been drinking since noon certainly fell into that category, and they quickly recruited the Chop to their team. Questions were easy enough, and at the end of 3 rounds (when we all pretty much lost interest) we were good for 4th place, not quite good enough to win the buckets of bar swag and a fistful of bar dollars. The drink special was a none-too-special $2 Miller Lite bottle, but the odds of winning shots at the end of each round were pretty good. Since the PA also connects to the speakers out front, you can sit outside while you play too. We’d recommend it for cheap Monday entertainment.

Showtime Trivia

The next night we were right back at it for Showtime Trivia at Frazier’s on the Avenue. Showtime is currently running 23 area games, five of which are in the city. We found the Frazier’s game to be a nice intermediate/ middle of the road game. It took up most of the larger bar, and was a good mix of regular teams trying to get into the $1000 playoff tournament of all area Showtime teams, and casual players looking to win a $30 bar tab. But with $5 pizzas and $2 domestics as a Tuesday night special, aren’t we all winners at the end of the night?

One thing that was noticeable of the crowd at Frazier’s that seems to be true of trivia players across the board is their decidedly un-hipsterish nature. There’s not a lot of crowd crossover at these things with DJ nights or obscure indie film screenings.

Quiz-a-ma-jig

Quiz-a-ma-jig is the little engine that could of Baltimore Trivia. With only two games in Fell’s Point (Max’s and Alexander’s) it seems to do more with less. We played the Thursday night game at Max’s last winter, and our experience was somewhat similar to that of two Citypaper staffers in 2005. Although the night we went was crowded, like standing room only for more than 2 hours crowded, and very, very loud and shout-y. Factor in a pretty competitive crew of regulars and no effing drink specials and we aren’t in a rush to go back any time soon.

Trivia Maryland

Trivia Maryland runs 13 games in the Baltimore suburbs, but unfortunately none inside the City itself. The closest they get are two games in Towson. If you’re downtown and want to see what they’re about though, you can play all of the “Trivia Maryland World Series” games on their website.

Final Score Trivia

Final Score operates in 3 states, and is the largest player in the local trivia market. With 25 separate events in the area they reach all points of the compass, but have only 3 games in the City. We’ve never been to the Camden Pub, Hazelwood Inn, or Field House for a game, but the Baltimore Sun recently profiled the company’s owner, who turned a pub quiz hobby into a full time job. From what we can tell, most people who host, score-keep, or are otherwise involved in trivia production started out as avid players at their own local bars.

In-House Games

A few local bars even go their own way for trivia nights, some doing it quite successfully. Federal Hill’s No Idea runs its own game, as does Fell’s Point’s Waterfront Hotel with their popular ‘WTF Do You Know?’ trivia nights. Around the corner from them the Wharf Rat has a few ‘best trivia night’ awards under its belt, although local blogger Zombie Girl prefers the atmosphere at Baltimore Taphouse, speaking highly of their regulars and staff.

The original purpose of these posts was to let you know what your options are for pub quizzes and bar trivia in Baltimore, and maybe even pick out a few of the best. At this point, we’ve come to realize that there are so many from which to choose, that we still haven’t fit them all into these two posts, and as far as choosing a favorite, you’re on your own, Choppers.

Next week, we’ll attempt to come up with something more comprehensive to help you sort out all the dates and locations where trivia is happening regularly. It might be a regular post sorted by night of the week. It might be a geographical chart, and it might even be a fancy Google map. We’re also interested to hear your experiences with trivia nights in the comments, and if you’ve played as a regular in multiple trivia games/tournaments or have been a trivia MC in the Baltimore area we’d like to know your thoughts via email to thebaltimorechop@gmail.com.

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Bi-Weekly Political Roundup: Problems That Won’t Go Away Edition

When we last spoke about politics, we told you that Arlen Specter was in deep electoral doo-doo. We were right, and fortunately for Pennsylvanians and good Democrats everywhere Old Man Arlen is a problem that is finally going to go away.

Tonight is the fourth Wednesday in May, and it’s once again time to head down to Joe Squared for the regular meeting of the Baltimore Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

Baltimore Drinking Liberally meets at Joe Squared tonight. 7 pm.

Unfortunately, there are too many problems in this country that aren’t going to just go away any time soon. Rand Paul will probably be going away in November, but that’s not nearly soon enough to suit the Chop. He’s been in the news all week for admitting on NPR that he loves FREEDOM! (Except when black people have it. He doesn’t love it so much then.) and subsequently appearing on Maddow and digging a hole deep enough to plant a burning cross in. Long story short? Rand Paul and the rest of the tea party are racist fucking assholes who do not understand how America works and belong in an Ayn Rand book club and NOT in elected office. It’s the perfect place for them, since their version of reality is entirely fictional anyway.

Another racist fucking asshole who’s not going away any time soon is Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who might literally be the worst person in American public life. When actual, no-shit real-life Nazis show up to support your events the problem isn’t whether or not you invited them, it’s that you’ve garnered a Nazi endorsement in the first place! We’ll see if that endorsement comes in handy in a possible run for governor.

If Arpaio had his way, he’d probably just round up all the brown people and throw them into the giant tarpit which is now where the Gulf of Mexico used to be. That’s another problem that’s not going away any time soon. (If that link doesn’t work today, here’s why.)

Finally, a hysterically funny problem that doesn’t seem to be going away is Republicans getting sued for stealing campaign songs. This time it’s Charlie Crist (who probably also will be going away in November) stealing from, and getting sued by MICA grad, Talking Head, and really good blogger David Byrne.

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Joe Squared is at 133 W. North Ave at the corner of Howard Street in Station North. Drinking Liberally meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month and begins at 7 pm, but attendees are free to arrive whenever is convenient.

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House Rules: Baltimore Bar Trivia Nights

Here’s a question for you: When did trivia nights completely take over Maryland’s bars and restaurants?

When it comes to weeknight recreation, it seems to us that our fathers’ generation used to take part in all manner of pub-related activities; everything from league bowling to tournament pool to darts, softball or shuffleboard. When you look around Baltimore’s bar scene today though, one pastime sticks out like a giant green afro: Trivia.

Much like Lost, the lounge was a mental creation of Wayne the Main Brain the whole time.

It’s beginning to feel as though trivia is becoming to Baltimore what poker is to Las Vegas. The intrepid intellect could almost quit his day job and become a professional on the trivia circuit seven nights a week (although it can be tough to pay the rent with restaurant gift certificates and the promotional swag from liquor distributors which passes for jackpots in some contests).

Much more than a passing fad (when was the last time you sang karaoke, anyway?) local pub quizzes have become a burgeoning and fairly competitive industry here in Charm City, with several outfits employing full time staffers, as well as several part time trivia MC’s. It’s not hard to see why. Not only is bar trivia a pleasant diversion, it’s also a highly sustainable business model. Bar owners get to fill what might be otherwise empty bar stools on slower weeknights, trivia game producers can trade not only on their own brand, but on the reputation of the host location, and players get to participate in a free, fun social activity with a chance at winning a (ahem) wide range of prizes.

Locally there’s something for everyone, trivia-wise. From the Hopkins PhD candidate to the local Cliff Clavin to the garden variety barfly; from the once-a-year dinner party that stumbles in by accident to the twice-a-week tournament players competing for prizes in the thousands, there are local games to suit all levels of skill and interest. In Chicago they’ve even identified and profiled the 7 People You Don’t Want to See at Your Trivia Night, all of whom can also be found in taverns from Hunt Valley to Annapolis and beyond.

Coming up on Thursday, we’re going to attempt to offer a closer look at the five main promoters producing trivia nights in Central Maryland, as well as your best bets for pub quizzes in Baltimore City.

Stay Tuned.

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