Tag Archives: Spring

House Rules: Doggie Dining

Let us say this emphatically, because we want you to know it and believe it right off the bat: The Chop is not, repeat not a mean old dog-hater. We like dogs. We like them a lot, actually; more than we like most people. Dogs are almost always nice and friendly. People are often inconsiderate assholes.

As the Sun’s Julie Bykowicz reported last month a new state law will officially legalize bringing dogs into the outdoor seating sections of restaurants. The way we see it, when the law takes effect July 1, it will merely serve to double down on an already prevalent practice among dog-owning Baltimoreans.

A visual approximation of the Chop enjoying some peaceful, quiet, uninterrupted, dog-free al fresco dining.

The main reason we started a “House Rules” section on this blog is that a lot of people simply don’t know how to act when they’re out in public. This is never more true than where dogs are concerned. Where dogs cause problems, it’s never the dog’s fault. People are the real problem.

Let’s assume for a moment that your dog is perfect. It’s not true, but let’s imagine that your dog was the valedictorian of obedience school and that he’ll lie motionless under your chair for the duration of a meal. You’re still bringing it into an environment with several other dogs, and one of them is going to bark at your dog. We’re at the next table over, and we were just about to make a point before a whole patio of barking erupted because someone else not you, gentle reader doesn’t know how to keep their dog quiet.

It’s not even always the dogs that annoy. Even if you’re dog is lying still and sweetly under your table, somebody is going to come outside to smoke. That person is then going to fawn all over your dog whether you want them to or not. Although you’re probably used to that by now, we’re not, and we’re at the next table over. This asshole is now bumping into our chair and getting smoke all over us while we’re eating.

It’s not your fault either, that you let the waiter pet your dog when he brought the little bowl of water for it. He asked, after all, and it would have been rude to say no. But we just watched the waiter pet your dog and we’re not too happy about it. Especially since our salad hasn’t arrived yet.

These are just a few ways that even your perfect little pooch can cause a lot of chaos in a restaurant setting. If you’re eating outside this Spring and Summer, please keep in mind that you are in a restaurant and not at a kennel club or dog show. You don’t have to pet every dog you see just because it’s cute. We love eating outdoors, but come July we’ll be enjoying the air-conditioning in the dog-free, smoke-free indoor part of the restaurant. We’re not the only local blog who feels this way, either.

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The Ten Best Unpopular Highballs

It’s officially Spring in Baltimore. The good news is that Flowermart and Preakness are right around the corner. The bad news is that Spring also means household chores and Spring cleaning. There is a silver lining though, and it is that Spring cleaning also means cleaning out your home bar.

If you’re like us, you’ve been hoarding bottles the way squirrels hoard nuts during your winter hibernation. There’s no time like the present for streamlining your bar, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by mixing highballs.

Drinks in the back yard are often different from drinks at the bar.

First a clarification: Wikipedia tells us that the term highball originally referred to scotch and soda, but has grown to encompass almost any combination of liquor and soft drinks, mostly but not exclusively of the carbonated variety. A highball is usually what people refer to with the term “mixed drinks” as opposed to “cocktails” which are typically comprised mostly of liquor.

In bars and taverns, some particular highball combinations enjoy a longstanding popularity; Jack and Coke, Gin and tonic, Bourbon and ginger ale, Seven and Seven, etc. Those are all solid choices, but at home having too much, or not enough of one ingredient can lead to some unexpected choices. After all, the best part of home bartending is experimentation…

  • 10: Vodka and Flavored Seltzer. Take a trip up the soda/water aisle in the grocery store and you’ll find plenty of lightly flavored seltzers which aren’t stocked in bars and which are much cheaper than regular sodas. these are a perfect choice for Spring and Summer drinking.
  • 9: Jameson and Lemonade. This doesn’t sound so good on paper, but something about it just works. The combo of malt and citrus makes for a slightly organic taste, and of course, there’s a ton of sugar in there too. We once brought home a bottle Wasmund’s malt whisky, and the only way we could power through it was by adding lemonade.
  • 8: Vodka and Sweet Tea. Sometimes known as an Icepick, this is a drink that is best drunk at home, because no bar or restaurant we know of locally makes tea the right way: Sweet.
  • 7: Gin and Sprite. Most gin drinkers will reach for tonic every time, but we’ve got a sweet tooth. Sprite is the only thing we’ve found so far that makes us like gin enough to drink it throughout the evening.
  • 6: Vodka and Cran-Raspberry. This is actually our father’s drink of choice. Any bar can pour you a Cape Cod, but you’ve got to be at home to make it with cran-raspberry. And trust us, it’s much better that way.
  • 5: Dark Rum and Lemon Water. It’s hard to say what we mean by lemon water. It’s much more tart and lightly flavored than lemonade, and only slightly carbonated. Not quite water, not quite soda, you’ll know it when you see it. Whatever it is, the lightness and crispness of it is a perfect complement to the syrupy quality of a rum like Myers’s or our own favorite, the Kraken.
  • 4: Light Rum and Fruit Punch. Check your fridge, you might have a bottle of fruit punch hanging around back there. You know the kind we mean, mostly grape juice, some pear juice, a small fraction of other juices, and a palm tree on the label. make sure to use rum and not vodka to avoid unpleasant memories of “jungle juice.”
  • 3: Tequila and Snowballs. Most people who are from here don’t realize that snowballs are native regional fare for Baltimore. They also often don’t realize that they’re best enjoyed with liquor dumped all over them. There are a ton of winning flavor and liquor combinations, but you can’t go wrong with tequila and a key lime pie flavored snowball. Just be sure to skip the marshmallow topping.
  • 2: Bourbon and Apple Cider. Granted, this is more of a seasonal drink for the Fall, but it is good enough to drink year round. Plain old apple cider is such a great mixer, it’s surprising that more hoity-toity bartenders haven’t caught on to its use as a cocktail ingredient.
  • 1: Anything and Limeade. Limeade is pretty gross on its own, but it’s one of the most versatile mixers you can buy. Most of the types you find at the store are of pretty good quality too, since they’re not all artificial sweeteners and citric acid like most lemonades. Works with rums, tequila, gin, and just about every one of the 10,000 flavored vodkas out there. Best bet: Cherry vodka limeade.

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Chop Style: Straw Hats

Please understand: we are very wary about endorsing hats as a point of style. Very few people can pull them off in the modern era without affectation, and where you see a fedora or trilby anywhere in the media, you can bet one of America’s biggest douchebags is under it.

However, as Hunter S. Thompson shows us here, sometimes a man in a hat is a bad mother fucker.

An ideal example of form following function.

Thompson was a very bald man who spent a great amount of time chasing assholes around the desert. He knew a thing or two about keeping the sun off his head. In fact, everything Thompson wore was extremely functional; sunglasses to shade the eyes and hide bloodshots. Boots for pounding pavement or kicking the way out of a jam, lots of pockets for cigarettes and drugs and guns and whatnot… you get the idea.

So with the weather turning warm now and the sun shining longer and longer by the day, we’re in the market for a new straw hat. We’re thinking we might head down to Hippodrome Hatters and try on a homburg or a snap-brim for the Summer. This endorsement is not unconditional though. There are a few rules to keep in mind with hats to make sure they look natural and effortless, and not like this.

    1. Strictly Summer. We’re talking about natural fiber hats here. You wouldn’t wear shorts or sandals after baseball season, and the same goes for straw.

    2. Be sure it fits the rest of your outfit. It’ll look fine worn over a linen or seersucker shirt, but downright clownish worn with jeans and tennis shoes. A summer hat should complement an already cohesive style.

    3. Be over 30. Or at least damn near 30. This is just not a young man’s look. Youth has plenty of advantages, but the ability to pull off things like elbow patches, loafers, beards and hats is not one of them.

    4. Stay in the sun. No man should ever be wearing a hat indoors, and likewise they’re equally out of place after the sun sets. Straw is subject to the same rules as sunglasses. Anyone wearing them inside or at night or both is a douchebag.

Perhaps no other accessory is so fraught with the possibility for disaster. Wear it wrong once, and tagged photos could be following you around the internet forever. Wear it right though, and it’ll fit so naturally it would be hard to picture you without it.

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Chop Style: Guide to Polo Shirts

If there’s one thing the Chop can not endorse, it’s preppy style. We give thanks every day that we were lucky enough to be born in Baltimore and not in New England or Long Island or some equally pretentious, WASP-y place. We wouldn’t be caught dead in madras, ribbon belts, boat shoes or anything with a J. on the label.

That said, the older we get, the more we appreciate the role that a few good polo shirts play in balancing out a wardrobe. With Spring already arrived and Summer right around the corner, We’re going to be seeing a lot more polos on the streets of Baltimore, and most of them are going to be boring and far too ivy-style to suit our tastes. Like this:

If you held a mirror up to your asshole, this is what it would look like. Ralph Lauren charges $98 to make you look like a total shart.

The polo shirt was originally pioneered by French tennis star Rene Lacoste in the 1930’s for use on the tennis court. Since then his design has been adapted to a wide range of sports and become a cornerstone of preppy culture.

But it’s not just the adoption by preppies which leads to our natural distaste for polos. Golf shirts, which are really just polos by a different name, have become the standard weekend wear for old white upper-middle class suburban Dad types. Nothing says “I’m spending my 2 weeks’ vacation in Myrtle Beach” quite like a shirt with Arnold Palmer’s name on it.

The real killer of the polo shirt though has been the rise of the service and high-tech industries. A knit polo and pair of khakis no longer makes you look as much like an up-and-comer as like an $8.00 an hour drone in a big box store.

Still and all, it is possible to pull on a polo in high style if you choose carefully. Here are five choices which are high on style and low(ish) on prep factor. They’re more Baltimore than Boston, and more downtown than country club. They look about a thousand percent better than Lauren, Izod, Hilfiger, Lacoste, Nautica, etc. Plus you won’t be looking like your dad.

Perry Ellis luxury cotton open polo. $19.99 (from $49.)

We can definitely recommend this shirt by Perry Ellis because we’re wearing one right now. With 100% pima cotton it might just be the most comfortable shirt we own. If we could get away with sleeping in it and never washing it we certainly would. We also give it high marks for a perfectly cut placket with no buttons. Going buttonless is still a bit fashion-forward and eliminates any confusion about whether or not to button or unbutton.

Fred Perry penny collar oxford pique shirt. 55 GBP.

There’s a lot to like about this one from Fred Perry. The Fred Perry heritage might be the most likable of all, but coming in close behind it is the informal collar which is a definite deviation from the norm, as well as the oxford weave as opposed to a more common knit. We prefer woven to knit any day of the week. The only thing not to like might be the 55 pound price tag (about $80.) These bastards almost never go on sale either.

Original Penguin: The Earl. $59.

We’d be much obliged if any of you Choppers wants to go down to South Moon Under and buy us one of these to wear down to Camden Yards this summer. This definitely beats freebie T-shirts and jerseys for style in the bleachers. The Original Penguin Earl is that rarest of rarities, a classic that hasn’t been worn into the ground. A 100% cotton knit, a slim fit and a broad piping around the placket all add up to an orange polo that will take you beyond the ballpark.

Alternative Apparel's Noonan Polo. $38.

We stumbled on to this one by accident, but it looks like a winner. Alternative Apparel makes the Noonan out of 100% pima cotton in three subdued colors and adds a pocket to the left side. The rest of their offerings look almost as good.

American Apparel's Organic Fine Jersey Short Sleeve Leisure Shirt. $32.

You should probably head down to Light Street and pick one of these up like today. American Apparel is one of those stores where you can get one great piece here or there, but don’t want to outfit yourself there from head to toe. This is one of those great pieces. Its got a casual cool look, and close fitting organic cotton is bound to make you want to lay around your apartment striking sexy poses for no apparent reason. Plus $32 is a really unbelievable price for a shirt that’s made in the USA from organic cotton.

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The Chop’s Lemon Stick Cocktail Recipe

The Chop had a good idea once. It was the kind of idea that’s so good it can wake you up out of a sound sleep and demand your entire attention. It was the kind of idea that was so simple it was brilliant. But it was the dead of Winter, and eventually, the idea allowed itself to lie dormant until spring.

But Spring is here, Baltimore! Our idea is back, and after much mixing and measuring and tasting and tippling, The Baltimore Chop is proud to debut the Lemon Stick Cocktail.

The lemon stick should have an opaque white appearance, like this.

The lemon stick is one of our favorite things… an exclusively Baltimore tradition which hasn’t been cheapened by overexposure and continuous gratuitous references. It claims it’s origin at Flowermart, and can be found at spring and summer festivals throughout the Baltimore area. In honor of Flowermart, which begins today at Mount Vernon Place, we give you the Lemon Stick cocktail. It’s every bit as refreshing as the eponymous treat, delicious enough to serve to Grandma while she wears her fancy hat, and strong enough to make you stop and smell the roses (and maybe lie down in them for a while).

The Lemon Stick

2 parts Stolichnaya Vodka

1 part Rumple Minze

1 part simple syrup

2 large lemon wedges

Technique: Mix vodka, Rumple Minze, syrup, and the juice of one lemon wedge in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain over new ice in an old-fashioned glass and add second lemon wedge as garnish. Or, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add a twist of lemon.

Comment: You may wish to use just a bit less than one part of RM or Syrup. Use any brand of vodka as long as it is of acceptable quality. Do not attempt to substitute generic peppermint schnapps for Rumple Minze. RM is 100 proof. The cheap stuff is typically 30 proof. This drink depends entirely on quality ingredients. Do not use commercial sour mix for any reason. If you really want to get fancy, serve over crushed ice with a peppermint stick as garnish.

It’s also worth noting that this is an original recipe. We couldn’t find anything very similar anywhere we looked. We hope it will catch on and spread throughout the land of pleasant living. Make it a new summer tradition.

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