If you happen to find yourself out in the country in Wisconsin, do yourself a favor and stop by the Pleasant Ridge Store for a burger and a beer. That’s exactly what I did not too long ago and I’m a happier man for it. Situated seemingly in the middle of nowhere (and I mean that in the best possible way) the Pleasant Ridge Store used to be exactly that, a country store, but these days they serve the farmers and dairy folk with cold Wisconsin brews and bar food.
Keep Aspen weird, that has been my battle cry. Maybe it is the fact that I am missing out on that thing (that I love) that is happening in Austin this week. At any rate, I have spent the better part of a week out in Aspen, the fanciest corner of the Colorado Rockies. We did some skiing and we did some snowmobiling, and afterward we went to longtime Aspen resident Hunter S. Thompson’s old watering hole the Woody Creek Tavern for shots of Jameson and cans of Tecate. Nestled neatly alongside a ramshackle stretch of Aspen’s finest mobile homes, the Woody Creek Tavern is quite possibly America’s ultimate dive bar. The regulars each sport their own brand of crazy — upon entering the Woody Creek one particularly welcoming regular inquired as to what spaceship my friends and I had just come from. Spaceship Reality sir.
It all started in 1985 when — in an effort to save money — Coca-Cola stopped using real cane sugar and reformulated the iconic drink to be made with high-fructose corn syrup. The U.S. government subsidizes corn growers so much (some $40 billion since the mid 90s) that HFCS is cheaper than sugar, and when you are producing on the scale that Coke is material costs are crucial to the bottom line. What does this have to do with Mexican Coke you ask? Well, the bottlers south of the border never made the switch to HFCS, so people (like myself) feel that Mexican Coke has a better taste than American Coke. I think the Coca-Cola made with real sugar is less sweet tasting and has a smoother finish than HFCS Coke and thus is superior. There is also some Coors beer action going on (ever see Smokey & the Bandit? They’re thirsty in Atlanta and there’s beer in Texarkana) because Mexican Coke is harder to get.
Bourdain’s No Reservations: Disappearing Manhattan was broadcast a while back, but it is still worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. Fuck, it’s worth a watch even if you have seen it ten times. Eisenberg’s, Manganaro Foods, Keens, Le Veau d’Or (which I leaned about when The Trad took me for lunch), this show is like my NYC gastro-playbook. Watch it, love it, live it.
Part 1/5: “Keens is meat and liquor, plain and simple.” -Anthony Bourdain
In 1925 there were an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasies in New York City alone. Near the end of the ban on alcohol in 1933 Life photographer Margaret Bourke-White captured some of the city’s elite speakeasies. What an amazing time, to be forced to enjoy to your after work libations underground. It is crazy to think that for 13 years (1920-1933) religious nuts took away America’s booze. I would be scared to see what New York would be like if the liquor was gone.
You see that? That’s “a man’s world” there. Guys out on the town drinking suds and smoking butts in a wood paneled room. Never mind the fact that a few years later our pal Bob (on the left there), probably had a run-in with the old heart disease. At least he has all of those memories of after-work drinking with his good buddy Jack, who seems to be busy chugging that frosty mug. Eventually I bet the fellas loaded into Bob’s 1986 Chrysler station wagon and headed home before their wives got angry.
There is a lot of talk about gentlemen shoppers drinking fine bourbon at Billy Reid. Well, last night at Ned Martel and Jay Carroll’s geniusly merchandised vintage shop / Americana explosion One Trip Pass, the drinking was taken to the next level when a group of grown men decided to shotgun a beer in the store. Video proof below. Do try this at home.