Monthly Archives: December 2010

New Year’s Eve 2011 in Baltimore

Here we are, Baltimore, at the end of the year. You might expect your Mobbies winner for best nightlife blog to give you some kind of nice little round up about all the fun things that are going on around town tonight. Nope. We say balls. We already went on record last year as coming out against the amateur hours that are drinking holidays, and New Years’ is the worst of the lot.

Our approach to New Years’ has always been that we’ll go out if and only if we can do it cheaply and easily and if we have a reasonable expectation of actually enjoying the evening. This year, there’s not one thing that came to our attention so we’re staying the hell inside. Gonna get some Chinese food, or maybe roll some sushi, crack open some of that good Christmas booze, watch a couple movies and probably fall asleep at 11:30, just in time to be awakened by one of Baltimore’s favorite NYE traditions… random gunfire.

Montreal. Maybe next year.

So instead you get a post about what we’re not doing. We’re not having anyone over for a late-night sit down dinner. That would have been a pretty decent idea if we’d thought of it a month ago. With New Year’s day being on a Saturday, that would have been another good day for entertaining. Meh. We’re still not fully in the habit of entertaining at home. Next time we’re around for the holidays, we’re going to make sure to host dinner.

We’re also not going to hop on a jet. We’ve been mostly pretty bored all month, and we’re anticipating a pretty dull weekend, so we thought why not throw a few shirts in a bag and go some place? Some place not close but not too far, that we’re not sick of yet; maybe Chicago, New Orleans or Toronto. How cool would it be to say bonne année from Montreal?

At a time when most people are expecting big credit card bills in the mail, we’re anticipating a lot of back rent and BGE money due from roommate. We also took most of our Christmas gifts in cash, so what the hell? Turns out New Year’s weekend is not the ideal time to jump on a last-minute-super-saver-William-Shatner type deal. If we wanted to go on Wednesday, it would be feasible, but then again, it would be Wednesday.

One of 2011’s resolutions will definitely be to get better at planning things more than a week in advance. Happy New Year.

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House Rules: Last Call- Part 1

New Year’s Eve is a sacrosanct holiday in Baltimore. It’s the one night of the year when bars are allowed to stay open as long as they damn well please. It’s like every drunk’s birthday at once, where midnight is the starting point and every barstool Baudelaire is bound and determined to drink until they see the windows lighting, stagger out into some epic new dawn of a new year of a new metaphor of a new day of being the Champion, the undisputed Champion of drinking.

When the bar looks that empty and blurry, it's time to go the fuck home anyway.

The Chop, for one, just doesn’t get it. You can go into any bar in this city on any night of the year and every single patron in there will have an opinion about closing time. We don’t suggest you test this theory, because if you do, you’re going to have nitwits falling all over themselves to tell you their own personal stories and opinions on the matter.

“I used to live in New York and up there…”

“Well down in New Orleans…”

“I don’t even get off work until after midnight…”

“I’m a libertarian and blah blah blah…”

Personally, we’re past the point where we even like staying out late. You know the Chop, and we’ll go out five, six nights a week but we’re happiest when we’re getting back home around 12:30 or 1 am. It’s nice to have some time to put your feet up, watch the Daily Show, and decompress a little before the stroke of 3 am. Even on the nights when we want to make it late, we’ve got no problem grabbing a table at the diner or taking it back home for a nightcap. We’ve managed to see the sun come up plenty of times with the liquor laws just the way they are.

We’d also like to humbly suggest to those who would whine about a 2 am closing that it is legal to show up before 11pm. If the place is that great, if drinking is so much fun, if you want to be there longer and drink more, just come earlier. Show up at 9… five hours of bar drinking should be enough for anyone.

Later this week we’ll discuss the actual etiquette of last call. As for today, the comments on this entry are closed. We know you’ve got an opinion on it, but you can go harangue some other drunk about it. We’re too deep into our home bar to listen.

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Chop Style: Messenger Bags

It recently occurred to us than since we now own a laptop, we’re going to be in need of a bag in which to carry it if we want to take it with us next time we go a-traveling. After all, the TSA is good for more than just groping your grandma and stealing your souvenirs… they also excel at breaking electronics.

We didn’t want to end up with something that looks more like a big, ridiculous piece of luggage, and we’re not too keen on briefcases either, since no one is mistaking us for a businessman anytime soon. So a messenger bag makes for a natural choice.

Besides, we’re also seriously considering buying a bicycle when we come back in May, so a decent messenger bag may end up serving double duty by toting a computer, as well as keeping hands free on a bike. With that in mind, and since we’ve already gone on record as saying fuck leather, we’re probably going to end up with one of the following options. Fendi and Ferragamo they ain’t, but they’re all solid choices for getting around Charm City.

Ben Sherman canvas messenger: $89.

Ben Sherman

We like this Ben Sherman bag, but probably not enough to buy it. We’re mostly including it here because we like the brand and it’s a solid choice for anyone on a tighter budget. It’s probably not worth its price tag, but is likely better than anything else you’ll find at that price. On the plus side it’s well designed and neutral, appearing both modern and classic at once. The downside is that you’re looking at cheaper construction and material than is ideal. The lower grade cotton canvas may fray or open up, and we’d bet the faux-leather lining won’t last long at all. $89.

Fossil 'Ranger' messenger bag: $168.

Fossil ‘Ranger’

A lot of people give Fossil no love, deriding their stuff as cheap, trendy, what-have-you. We’ll grant you that the watches and clothing leave a lot to be desired, but compare this bag to the Ben Sherman above and you’ll see immediately what an extra $79 buys you.

The leather here is genuine, and covers the whole bottom of the bag. The strap is made of the same canvas as the body, as opposed to woven nylon. The closure is mechanical, and not the magnets found on the Sherman or the velcro on even cheaper bags. The interior comes with a dedicated laptop pocket (which is the whole point of this post, eh?) as well as standard zip and slip pockets and is lined with canvas. The Sherman bag has ‘multi-function’ pockets and is lined with…??? Again, maybe not Louis Vuitton caliber, but a very solid bag for the money. $168.

Jack Spade wool felt snap messenger bag: orig. $335.



Jack Spade

Update: The website is now showing this bag as ‘unavailable’

Wool marks a big step up from canvas, and this 80% wool blend, leather lined number from Jack Spade is (ahem) almost worth its ridiculously high price tag. Lucky for us, it’s been marked down significantly, and Jack Spade is offering an extra 25% off even on sale items with the online code 25off until 1/17/11. That’s enough to make it very competitive price-wise with the brands above. We’re kind of torn between this and the also-on-sale soft waxwear folded messenger which is made of waxed canvas and is actually cheaper than the Fossil with both discounts. Wool: $335 $175.88 Canvas: $255 $133.88.

Commuter Bag by Sketchbook.

Sketchbook ‘Commuter’ Bag

Finally, we come to our only option that’s not made in China. A Twitter follower turned us onto the shop of Etsy seller Sketchbook yesterday, and we’re suitably impressed. The design suits us both aesthetically and practically, and you’ve got to love anything that’s 100% natural. Nothing in here but wool, cotton, leather and steel. You’ve got to cut out a hell of a lot of middlemen to get something of that kind of quality for this price, but that’s the great thing about an Etsy find. We imagine there are few things more satisfying than having someone ask ‘Who made your bag?’ and answering ‘Amber Jensen from Minneapolis.’ Plus with a current availability of one item in each color, you can’t get much more exclusive. $140

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Predictions for Baltimore in 2011

Chopstradamus has seen the FUTURE, and we predict the following things will happen in Baltimore in the year of Our Lord two thousand eleven…

The Baltimore Charm of the Lingerie Football League will play their final game and no one will care. It might be because they can’t sell tickets, might be because the Arena is on the way out, or maybe the whole league will fold. Who knows?

Get ready to hear a lot about this junkpile in 2011.

Plans to tear down and replace the Civic Center will be the dominant issue in city politics. It will end to the satisfaction of no one. Meanwhile that ugly old Mechanic Theater building will continue to rot for another year.

Gregg Bernstein will start to clean up Pat Jessamy’s mess. Some old dirty laundry will be aired. No one will care much. Crime will drop slightly.

Michael Steele will come back to Maryland unemployed. Maybe Bob Ehrlich Wigs will hire that dumb, bald motherfucker to model their new line of “Urban” “Street” wigs.

Buck will wave bye-bye to BRob this Summer.

The Orioles will win 71 games. Brian Matusz will be the only pitcher, rotation or bullpen, to fully pull his weight. Brian Roberts will be traded near the deadline. Attendance will improve slightly. Showalter will continue to be an old hoss.

Downtown traffic will be for shit because of Baltimore Grand Prix preparations. Charm City Circulator service will expand, but will still not be worth riding.

Honfest will scale down to two days. Not as a direct result of the recent controversy, but possibly as an indirect result. Beehives can only go so goddamn high before they collapse, and 3 days was a bit much before most of the city went up in arms.

Outsiders will get bored of Beach House and catch on to something equally dull.

J Roddy Walston and the Business will supplant Beach House as the most popular Baltimore band outside Baltimore. This blog will probably continue to ignore both those bands.

Painfully slow progress will continue in Downtown’s Westside. Everyman Theater will be a success in the new location. Alewife will survive and accumulate some new regulars during baseball season.

Something will finally happen to the Chesapeake Restaurant building. This prediction is cloudy, but some kind of thing will definitely happen. Something. Around the corner, the new version of Liam’s Pint Size Pub will be very successful.

U2 will play, and it will be way more trouble than it’s worth for everyone involved. It will also be more trouble than it’s worth for those not involved. We predict a bigger crowd than the pope drew last time he was in town. (50k)

What we'll be eating this Summer.

The food trend for 2011 will be sandwiches. Primarily cold sandwiches. People will go nuts about different possible combinations of bread, meat, cheese, veggies. You’ll also see foodies praising the simple, quick, mobile, utilitarian nature of sandwiches and meals like the Ploughman’s Lunch, pushing these things to extremes the same way they did with cupcakes and small plates. Also, by the end of the year you will have an uncontrollable urge to punch anyone who says “sammich” if you don’t already.

Thus spake Chopstradamus. Go forth, ye Choppers, and prosper in yon new year.

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The Chop’s Père Noël Cocktail Recipe

We would have liked to get this up before Christmas, when we were talking last week about ’tis the season for amaretto, but Christmas will sneak up on you quickly… like the Krampus. Anyway, this is the time of year when you seem to see bottles of amaretto floating around everywhere. Since taking that stuff straight is about as enjoyable as drinking maple syrup, you’ve got to know how to mix it if you don’t want that bottle to collect dust and become something of an annual holiday joke.

An obvious choice in dealing with amaretto is cranberry juice, which is very seasonal this time of year and which has the tartness to offset the overly sweet taste of amaretto. Although the folks at DiSaronno and their vaguely ethnic, very homosexual spokesman would have you think differently, cranberry alone is not a suitable mixer for amaretto. Mixing two things that are gross will never make something that is good. It’s going to take a little more mixing to come up with something drinkable. We did a little more mixing, and the result was the Père Noël cocktail.

If it comes out red, it's got too much cranberry in it.

The Chop’s Père Noël Recipe

  • 3 parts bourbon
  • 2 parts amaretto
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 parts cranberry juice

Pour ingredients in that order into a double old-fashioned or highball glass full of ice. Stir once or twice and sip.

It’s important not to use too much juice in this. It’s a cocktail and not a highball or juice mixer. When you get it right, it should taste surprisingly similar to the inside part of a chocolate-covered cherry. (Cherry cordials are one of the Chop’s favorite things about Christmas, by the way.) That said, this drink goes really, really well with dark chocolate, so if you’ve got some lying around after the holidays, mixing up one of these is a great way to complement it after dinner, or if you’re in a diet, instead of dinner.

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Photo and more on amaretto at Liquor Snob.

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Today is Boxing Day

More on Boxing day fox hunts at Mister Crew.

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Today is Christmas

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