Subtitled: A Rather British Evening
So Wednesday was my 32nd birthday and that evening turned out to be one of the best birthdays I have had in a long time. I shared the evening with some friends, had good conversation, did some drinking, learned a few lessons, and was not too hungover or in jail Thursday morning. All in all the evening was a resounding success.
The evening began at The Black Lab, one of the few places in Houston that serves British food. I have slowly come to the realization that one of the most important things for a successful night of drinking is the foundation upon which you pile the booze. A mistake I often make is that I will start drinking without having stable food in my stomach. This leads to a host of problems both in the morning and later in the evening (or day depending on how early you start.) In turn I have deduced that British food in general, and pub food in particular is designed to provide this foundation.
I decided Shepherd’s Pie and a couple of pints of Guinness would be a good way to start the evening. Rob, my MC and driver for the evening, and I were joined by Scott, Don and Mike for dinner. It was a lot of fun. I got to make jokes that made people groan, some of them vaguely offensive, but some of them rather milquetoast considering the circumstances. Rob tried to get me to go fight a girl at the bar to no avail. Honestly Rob can do a pretty poor job of being a bad influence. He knows if he wants me to fight someone there has to be a pay phone involved or I had better be drinking tequila.
After the Black Lab, Scott, Rob, and I headed over to the Kelvin Arms in the Rice Village area. They claim to be Houston’s only authentic Scottish pub. Having never been to a Scottish pub I cannot debate the veracity of this claim, however I can attest to the fact that they have an impressive selection of scotch.
The Kelvin Arms is where I learned the two most important lessons of the evening. First I learned that “Your mom” is a funny answer to nine out of ten trivia questions. For example, “Who invented the first steam boat?” The correct answer is Robert Fulton (for some reason I was convinced it was Robert Smith) but just say “Your mom.” Comedy. “What member of the Little Rascals, who went on to be an STP spokesperson, was born Mickey Gubitossi?” “Your mother.” Funny, funny stuff.
I also learned, or rather confirmed a long-held suspicion of mine, that drinking with a former bartender is a bad idea. They know all sorts of remarkably inventive and stupid ways to get you drunk. Fast. It moves into the realm of historically bad ideas when this former bartender also happens to be Scottish, a people who are genetically superior to any other when it comes to putting away the hooch with no ill effects. As someone pointed out to me they have a whole class of liquor named after them. When Rob and I arrived at the bar Scott was lying in wait with what he calls a “proper” Car Bomb. The most familiar version of the Car Bomb or Irish Car Bomb is a shot that is half whiskey and half Bailey’s which is then dropped into a half-pint of Guinness. The entire drink is then drunk very quickly. According to Scott the addition of the Bailey’s is something of a pansy American thing and that a proper Car Bomb is just a shot of whiskey dropped into the half-pint of Guinness. Brutal. After that I had a glass of Laphroaig and then started in with the Whiskey Sours. (I had to have a girly drink but didn’t want to unman myself in front of Rob and Scott by ordering something really fruity like a Midori or Amaretto Sour.) Sometime later in the evening Scott then had the bartender whip up something he calls an Absolut Shambles. This is something you can only give to two kinds of people: those you don’t like and those you know you do not have to deal with in the morning. The recipe for a single serving is: Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in a shot of vodka. Fill to within 1 inch of the top with Red Bull. Top off with champagne or sparkling wine. This is a dangerous drink because it combines the energy burst of Red Bull with the 100% guarantee of a hangover that accompanies champagne. Scott is a really good guy and I like hanging out with him, but damn he can be dangerous when you let him order drinks.
I went on to have some more whiskey sours and a Snakebite. Again Scott had to muck about with the Snakebite. The Snakebite I am used to is a half-pint of Guinness atop a half-pint of cider, usually Ace Pear cider. The Snakebite Scott had them prepare was a half-pint of some lager atop a half-pint of Strongbow cider with a short of Absolut Kurrant thrown in for good measure. I think I will stick with my Guinness and Ace Snakebites.
Some time between the whiskey sours and the Absolut Shambles, Annie and Paulina show up and join the festivities. Paulina had threatened to show up via email, but sometimes those threats end up being empty threats, so we were not sure if anyone else was going to join us. I was really happy to see them both. I have considered Paulina a good friend almost from when I first met her, and I was glad to have the opportunity to get to know Annie better. We had met a couple of times at parties and whatnot and I had always wanted to get to know her better, however I am intimidated by attractive women and therefore I was not going to go up to her and talk to her. By showing up these two raised the level of the conversation and prevented the evening from being a total sausage fest.
Around midnight we decided to head over to 10 Downing Street and moon Tony Blair. By moon Tony Blair I mean finish the evening with a few more drinks and a round of cigars from Scott’s locker. Sadly they did not know how to make a Richslide (a half-pint of Maret-sous 8 layered on a half-pint of Ace Pear Cider) so I had to settle for another Guinness. We sat outside and drank our last drinks of the evening and shared some quiet conversation as Two in the AM slowly stole upon us. Cigars were smoked, ensuring that I would wake up and feel like someone had taken a crap in my mouth, and then as the bar closed, we headed home for the evening, which for me was Rob’s couch. Before I crashed Rob forced me to drink a glass of Emergen-C, thus preventing the next morning from being a complete disaster.
All in all a very excellent and subdued evening with the proper mix of friends, jackassery, and talk. Thanks guys and girls!
The image is from one of the birthday cards my friend Nikki sent me! Thanks Nikki!