I had a fantastic night on Friday!
It started out as just a BS get together with a friend or two from the office and some former co-workers. We met in Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver at the Samba Room. This is a fantastic place for those that enjoy authentic Cuban food. They have the best Mojitos around. As a side note, they have the strangest cigar smoking policy there in the bar. There is a mural painting on the wall behind the bar and the policy is that if you sit to the right of the big eye on the mural, you can smoke cigars, but if you sit on the left side of the eye, you can’t smoke at all. The mojito is a fantastic drink that can certainly smack you around because it is very refreshing and doesn’t have a big alcoholic bite to it. You can drink a pitcher as fast as lemonade, but you may have trouble walking afterwards.
Anyways, we were well into our third round of mojitos and deep into our first cigars when we met a third year resident medical student named Eric. It turns out that he is a regular in the Samba Room, and, according to the waitress, he is also a regular in most of the downtown bars. Eric is a fun guy.
We introduced Eric to everyone and enjoyed another round of drinks when Eric mentioned that he was really getting into Vodka lately. Now, I have been recently reading up on Vodka, so I had several questions. At one point, Eric said that we all needed to try the Garlic Vodka at a close by bar. So, we tabbed out and stumbled to the nearby Vodka bar called the Red Square.
The Red Square was packed, but we managed to get a table and get a carafe of Garlic Vodka and a plate of Dill Pickes to go with them. The pickles are the key to drinking this vodka. A shot of the Garlic Vodka followed by a bit of pickle… mmmm…. good stuff! We later also had the Dill Vodka will the pickles and it was also really good, but not near as good as the Garlic Vodka. If you ever go, get a carafe of vodka as it is much cheaper per shot that way than buying shots. A carafe holds about 12-16 shots depending on who is pouring (some people spill as they get more and more drunk) and is about 25 dollars there.
Several rounds later we stumbled about and went to another bar to get a beer or two. Normally, I order a Guinness and Cider (which is often called a snake bite). The bar that we went into, though, was out of cider. Damn the whole thing I say. There are other bars, but my friends convinced me to stay there for a bit. So, I decided to order a Black and Tan. "Wait!" I was told. Don’t order that. "It is just wrong to mix those two beers," I was also told. I was confused and asked why not. This led to a lecture on the differences between a Black and Tan and a Half and Half.
It appears that I was very ignorant of the difference, so I will share with all of you. A Half and Half is significantly different from a Black and Tan. A Black and Tan is a mix of Guinness (ah, the elixer of life… brilliant!) and Bass ale. When you think about it, it is kind of a metaphor for the relationships of the Irish and the English. A Half and Half, though, according to the bar tender and several drunken beer drinkers at the bar is Guinness and Harp’s lager (which is also brewed by the same company). The Half and Half is all Irish in that sense. Personally, I like Harp’s much more than I like Bass, so this is pretty important information to me. I also learned that the Black and Tan as well as the Half and Half are layered (the Guinness sits on top as it is lighter in weight) as an American "thing" and that in most brew pubs in Ireland just pour them together and they end up mixed. The layered version requires a little practice and some additional work as the bar tender has to pour the Bass or Harps first, spoon off the head, and then pour the Guinness over the back of a spoon so it doesn’t mix.
One more note, Guinness is high in Vitamin G. You should have two-three pints daily to get your proper recommended daily amount of Vitamin G.
So, Friday was a good night for my Alcohol Education. I think I earned several credits. Saturday morning… well, that is another story.