Author Archives: iamthebird

A Heavenly Deal at Hop Devil Grill (NYC)

“We love our craft beer and we love our boozy brunches, so this is a marriage made in heaven. This E Village beer bar recently launched what it’s calling a “BEER-unch!”.  Every Saturday and Sunday $20 gets you unlimited craft beers (24 different taps) plus an entree. And if someone in your party would prefer more traditional brunch cocktails like mimosas, bloody marys and sangria, well they can have those, too, unlimited. Choose from craft beers like Lagunitas Lil’ Sumpin Sumpin, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Troegs Nugget Nectar with no limitation on the number or type of beer.”

The 24 drafts in all their glory

Sounds good, right? It is. Recently, my sister-Bird, a friend and I headed over to this East Village bar/gastropub/beer café to check out this amazing deal. After sitting down in a cosy but mostly empty bar, we immediately poured over the list of twenty plus craft beers and placed an order. Food? Oh, we’ll figure that out later. Beers first, please! Our first round included a pair of Olde Saratoga Lagers and a Magic Hat Howl. Upon receiving said beers, we sent our waitress back with an order for a triumvirate of huevos rancheros, which had been recommended to us by my sister-Bird’s coworker.

Olde Saratoga Lager: Crisp, refreshing golden lager. Not outstanding or memorable in any particular way but was a solid beer that I could drink a few of in one session.
Magic Hat Howl: Advertised at Hop Devil as a black lager, but upon further investigation is actually more properly called a “schwarzbier” meaning black beer in German. Tasty roasted malt, nut and cocoa flavors were unfortunately offset by slightly overwhelming bitterness and a bit too much carbonation in my opinion for a dark beer.

Magic Hat Howl

Next round brought a Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter, North Coast PranQster and Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA as well as the orders of huevos rancheros. These met with far more mixed reviews…

Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter: By far my favorite of the beers we tried. It is this kind of beer that is making beer tasting as complex an art as is wine tasting. The beer was dark brown with a bit of light brown and tan in the fluffy head. As the name indicates, this porter has a strong smoky flavor with your typical hints of roasted malt, coffee and chocolate.I feel like it would have paired extremely well with a burger or BBQ.
North Coast PranQster: Fruity Belgian-style golden ale that had an in-your-face banana bread flavor with suggestions of lemon and citrus as well as a bubbly carbonated finish. Definitely a tasty beer, but not something that I would drink more than one of in a session. The sister-Bird absolutely loved this one.
Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA: Black American-style (and by this I do not mean that this beer was made by a black man from America) Indian Pale Ale. This was the first dark IPA that I’ve ever had, and I had actually never seen a black IPA before. I am definitely used to seeing pale to dark golden IPAs, so it was pretty cool to see this take on the traditional IPA. I am admittedly no IPA fan as the hoppiness and resultant “cotton-mouth” taste is not to my liking, but this beer’s hoppiness was not at all overwhelming. Unfortunately, however, Otter Creek was way wayyy too bitter for me. It was almost lambic-like in its acidity and red wine-like in its sharp bitterness. All in all, not for the Bird (or his sister-Bird for that matter).

North Coast PranQster

Huevos Rancheros: Meh. I expected more after the glowing recommendation that we had initially heard, but they weren’t good. Nor were they awful, but after a few bites it became apparent that this meal was going to serve more as something to sop up the beer in my belly than as any sort of gastronomical experience. The salsa, rice and beans were generally bland but the eggs were delicious and ultimately the meal’s saving grace. I wouldn’t recommend it nor would I order it again, though.

Since, as I mentioned earlier, the bar was mostly empty on this rainy Sunday, service was fast and the wait staff was extremely personable (let’s just say they put Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark on the TVs for us). They were also nice enough to extend what is normally a 1.5-2 hour open bar to about 3 hours. The other spattering of patrons at the Hop Devil Grill were sociable if not a bit eccentric (But what do you expect? It’s right on the border of Alphabet City). I don’t think I will ever forget the one-legged (yes, one-legged) NYU student who came to our table and explained, in detail, the plot of her work-in-progress film script which centers on a bullrider who sounded like a cross between Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler and Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart. Sounds interesting, but you know what? I think I should write a script about a bar-hopping (too soon?) one-legged NYU student who is struggling with writing a film script about a bullrider. Now that’s a movie.

Final Verdict? I would 100% come back to Hop Devil Grill for Sunday beer-unch or even as part of a night out. It has a very cool and laid back atmosphere and coupled with the great beer selection and warm wood and copper decor, is just my kind of bar.

Interior of Hop Devil Grill

Hop Devil Grill
129 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10009
(212) 533-4468

P.S. I consider myself a man’s man and you will never find me ordering anything at a bar but beer and whiskey. That being said, I am certainly not opposed to tasting different varieties of spirits if someone else orders them.
Queue sister-Bird with Hop Devil Grill’s Cinnamon Apple Pie Martini and Spiced Pumpkin Pie Martini. I tried both of them; they both tasted just like they were named and they were both absolutely delicious. Highly recommended.

“Buzz”-word of the Day
[beet-nik] –noun
A person who rejects or avoids conventional behavior, dress, etc. Originated as a slang term for members of the 1950’s countercultural Beat Generation.
“The NYU student who joined our table was just one of the many beatniks that inhabit the East Village.”


Alan Glynn – The Dark Fields/Limitless (2001)


What the hell does this book have to do with Bradley Cooper? Well, I’m glad you asked that question. Alan Glynn’s novel, The Dark Fields, was initially released in 2001  but has been more recently re-released in book stores [as well as in movie theaters] under the title, Limitless. The film version, as you are probably aware, stars Bradley Cooper in the leading role. This review, however, is going to focus on the printed version which, in many many ways, is different from the film adaptation. [For the record, I would without hesitation recommend the book over the film.]

The Dark Fields‘ plot centers on Eddie Spinola, a self-loathing, struggling writer living in New York City (he has a whole Holden Caulfield vibe going for him at first) who comes across his ex-brother-in-law, Vernon, on the streets of the Lower East Side. Vernon, who is a drug dealer, hooks Eddie up with a designer drug called MDT-48, promising that it will change his life. Despite some initial skepticism, Eddie pops the pill, and voila!, his intelligence, productivity and concentration improve one-hundredfold. Following this surreal experience where he is able to finish the book he was working on as well as reorganize his entire apartment, Eddie is hooked. After procuring a large supply of MDT-48, he embarks on a journey of unbelievably successful writing, textbook devouring, stock trading and womanizing. Soon, though, he finds himself suffering from a few side effects such as memory loss, withdrawal symptoms and entanglement with, shall we say, people of an unsavory repute. Through these juxtaposed exploits, the novel takes an interesting look at addiction, super-intelligence and the effects that one, the other, and both have on the human psyche.

This book was an extremely fun read. The concept of science making people smart is simple but Glynn makes it very compelling – as Eddie takes advantage of his newfound power, the reader enjoys the ensuing perks along with him: decadent food, chic fashion, beautiful people and wild nights among New York’s socialites, to name a few. Scientifically manipulated intelligence is an idea also explored in one of my favorite novels of all time, Flowers for Algernon, which, interestingly enough, was also adapted into a film, Charly.

The Dark Fields wasn’t always a breeze to get through, however. Some parts of the book seemed forced; Eddie’s relationship with the Russian gangster, Gennady, felt unnatural. To me, it was lazy writing. Gennady primarily served as a plot catalyst, popping up sporadically to push certain events into motion that the author wanted to happen. On the flip side, a character like Ginny Van Loon served absolutely no purpose except as a page-filler and occasional object of lust for Eddie. Lastly, the ending came about a bit suddenly and may leave many readers dissatisfied and wanting more (I actually liked it).

Despite these complaints, however, The Dark Fields was not only a real page turner, but as I said,  it was an interesting take on addiction and a fun glimpse into the lives of business magnates and public figures. I would recommend this book to a pretty wide swathe of readers: it’s psycho-fiction for your “techies”, a casual beach book for the summer, a mystery novel, a techno-thriller, New York City poplit but most of all, it’s just plain fun.

Beer/Drink Suggestion:
A lifestyle including light to moderate alcohol consumption
Okay, so that’s not exactly a drink suggestion per se, but it is a drinking habit suggestion. As many news articles and laboratory studies have documented, there is a scientifically-proven correlation between light to moderate drinking and intelligence (as measured by IQ). So, if you want improve your cognitive abilities, skip the MDT-48 and head straight for the liquor cabinet. Your brain will thank you for it.

If You Liked This You Might Also Like
Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon, Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity, Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Adjustment Team”, Isaac Asimov’s short story “Lest We Remember”, Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City, Ted Chiang’s Understand


4 out of 5 stars

Gooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllll!!!!!!! (I’ve Always Wanted To Do That…)

(This is a wee bit late… my bad.)
On Saturday, March 26th, some of the greatest footballers (read: soccer players) in the world including Messi, Di Maria, Howard and Donovan gathered in New York City (read: East Rutherford, New Jersey) for an international friendly match (read: scrimmage) between the United States of America and Argentina. Howeverrrr, this post isn’t going to be about what went on the field so much as what went on in the stands…

My trip out to the New Meadowlands Stadium was far from smooth: the line for the bus from Port Authority took more than an hour and was filled with Argentinians. As a minority in our own country, my fellow American patriots and I banded together on line to drain our domestic light beers and talk shit about Messi’s haircut. And though Argentina may have more talent when it comes to soccer, they sure as hell can’t touch Americans in getting drunk and shit-talking.

Maybe you can pull that off in Argentina but not here, buddy.

Anyways, after finally getting on a bus and encouraging the driver to initiate a semi-successful USA chant, we set off from Manhattan and in no time, the bus pulled into the New Meadowlands parking lot. Already being a bit late, my friends and I headed directly to the stadium where the first half was already under way. Upon getting to our seats, I was delighted to discover that my initial perception of an Argentina fan majority was, in fact, just a result of a small sample size – I would say that the crowd was about 65-35 in favor of the Yanks. Fantastic. Even more fantastic? Our seats were behind the northern goal on the lower level and right beside the USMNT’s out-of-control supporter section aptly named, The American Outlaws.

As you can tell from that awesome video, it got a little crazy on Saturday night. For me, personally, it was exciting to see Americans showing the kind of passion for soccer that was far less visible as recently as 5 years ago. I can confidently say after Saturday night that the same kind of excitement and obsession that swept our nation during the World Cup last summer still lingers on in the hearts of many Americans, myself included.

On a side note, it was unfortunate to see that this excitement for soccer in my fellow Americans was often directed in favor of the Argentinian national team. This phenomenon where Italian-Americans root for Italy and Latino-Americans root for the Latin teams and Americans in general root against the country in which they were born is a source of frustration for myself and many other US fans (Oh, you studied abroad in Argentina for 5 months? OK, that’s cool. The 20 years you were raised in the US gets canceled out.), but in the end, it is more important that there simply are fans in America than it is that they root for America. And despite recent setbacks such as the early-ish exit in South Africa last summer and losing out on the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding, the sort of turnout and enthusiasm that I witnessed on Saturday (as well as strong international results like the 1-1 draw in Saturday’s game) bodes well for the future of soccer in this country, and I simply cannot wait to watch our boys to play down in Brazil in 2014.

Kevin Rath: Rock and Roll Prodigy or Black Jean-Wearing Poser? (Hint: It’s the first one.)

Heading back into the city after the USA-Argentina match in the Meadowlands (post coming soon), I was lucky enough to catch a live show by musician Kevin Rath at Kenny’s Castaways in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Castaways is a really fun little venue with bars on the first and second floor, a small stage with tables and seating for 30-40 spectators as well as standing viewing room on both floors for around 100-120 others. I arrived around 10:30 and, after telling the bouncer I was there for the show, made it into the venue without having to pay cover… score! Though I had already missed the first song, I felt the need to first grab a quick beer to quench my thirst before heading toward the stage to check out the music. Concert drinking advice: Though the beer menu is typically more limited for bottles than for draughts, I recommend bottles at concerts/shows as they are far less likely to spill as you are inevitable bumped or pushed by the enthusiastic (read: drunk) crowd. By the time I had gathered my beer and knocked back a round of shots with a few friends I had spotted, Rath and his band had begun their third song of the night, “Running Around Me”.

Listen to Great Music and Drink PBRs Until You Can't Feel Feelings

Before I get into the set list, let’s take a look at who’s who on stage:
Kevin Rath – Guitar, Lead vocals
Ben Vail – Drums
Kyle Saulnier – Bass
Rath and Vail are former classmates and friends at Ohio State who, in their sophomore year, formed the band Fourth & Fifth (an homage to the corner of 4th & 5th in Columbus, Ohio as well as the musical chords, fourth and fifth). Ben lives in Columbus while Kevin lives in Brooklyn, NY, so since graduation in 2009, the duo has largely been unable to play together. Kyle Saulnier on the bass was a guest performer for the night but you might see him again at more of Rath’s New York shows.

Rath, Vail and Saulnier

Kevin Rath’s music is a rock/blues fusion that combines the mellow vocal style of an artist like John Mayer [though a bit raspier and “bluesier”] with a catchy rock sound that varies from Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” to Ben Harper’s “She’s Only Happy in the Sun”. Overall, however, his music can be best compared to a band like The Black Keys or a male version of Mr. Airplane Man. (For the record, his influences are listed as Jimi Hendrix, John Mayer, The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ray LaMontagne.)

"Oh, Am I Melting Your Face? My Mistake."

On to the show! I managed to slip towards the front of the crowd and had a great view of Rath and company from the side of the stage. Whilst drinking a steady flow of domestic beers and shots of whiskey among friends, I didn’t miss a single song and was rewarded with a long set list showcasing Rath’s range. Kevin played some of my personal favorites such as “London” and the aforementioned “Running Around Me” as well as some brand new tracks titled “Love, Ohio” and “You’re With Me”. He ended on a high note with “Blues Jam”, a fan favorite that showcased some of Rath’s guitar-shredding abilities. If the crowd stuck around for David Kolker’s show (who you can see every other Saturday at Kenny’s), they were also treated to a guest appearance by Rath who, again, had an amazing guitar solo, this time during one of Kolker’s songs.

Kevin Rath performs Untitled (Blues Jam) at Kenny’s Castaways, 3/26/11 from The Bird Superior on Vimeo.

In all, a great New York debut for Kevin Rath, who I personally hope to catch again soon in Greenwich Village and beyond. To hear his music and find out about upcoming shows (I don’t know why you wouldn’t after reading this review), check out the links below!

Kevin Rath Website
Kevin Rath Music

Set List
Arabian -> Your Mistake
All Over Me Now
Running Around Me
Love, Ohio*
I Got Mine (Black Keys cover)
Anything You Want
You’re With Me*
One in a Million
The Rain
Use Somebody (Kings of Leon cover)
Encore: The Blues Jam
*New Songs

Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist (1988)

Looking to make a change in your life? Tap into your spiritual side? Be inspired? Enjoy a fun adventure tale? I think I can help you out…

Paulo Coelho - The Alchemist

Translated from Brazilian author Paulo Coelho’s native Portuguese, The Alchemist follows the adventures of a young Andalusian shepherd who leaves behind the comforts of his Spanish homeland in pursuit of his “Personal Legend”, a hidden treasure buried among the legendary Egyptian Pyramids. Along the way, he meets many characters-a king, a gypsy, an Englishman, a young desert girl and, most importantly, the eponymous alchemist-all of whom assist him in one way or another on his journey toward achieving his Personal Legend.

If, like me, you had never heard of The Alchemist until recently, then you might be surprised to learn that, according to Wikipedia, The Alchemist is the 12th best selling novel in history. It has sold more than 65 million copies and stands as one of only two books released over the past 60 years (along with Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code) to sell more than 35 million copies. Translated into 67 languages, The Alchemist has developed a fanatical following and has been praised by such public figures as Russell Crowe, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey and President Bill Clinton. With a list of supporters such as this the big question then becomes, “Why?”.

Well, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, The Alchemist is the kind of book that makes you step back and take a look at your own life and think about the decisions that have led you to where you are. More importantly, this book forces you to look at where your life is going. Coelho’s concept of the “Personal Legend” is a fairly straightforward idea meaning “that which an individual most desires”. Whether it be to sail around the world, become an astronaut or own a golf course, Coelho (through The Alchemist) implores the reader to devote their life’s energies to following their heart and making their Personal Legend a reality.

For the most part, Coelho achieves this aim with resounding success. Consistently throughout the novel, I found myself questioning where I’m headed with my current spiritual, career and general life choices. Especially as someone who is on the cusp of making an essentially life-changing career decision, reading The Alchemist was a unique experience because it made me justify this decision  to myself and myself alone. Pursuit of your Personal Legend can’t be swayed by family or friends nor can it be influenced by societal norms. It is something deeply personal that only an individual can discover and achieve. [Thankfully, upon further contemplation I am happy with my choice.]

The Alchemist, though intrinsically challenging to the reader, is an extremely easy book to get through; I finished it in only a matter of hours. It reads very much like a children’s fairytale and contains the innocence of a fairytale, as well: there is no sex, no drugs and minimal (essentially peripheral) alcohol and violence. This simplicity is not only part of its charm but it is crucial to its effectiveness as a tool of inspiration. Fables and parables such as The Alchemist thrive on simplicity but their receptivity is also largely dependent upon the story. In finding this balance, Coelho is quite successful as he weaves an engaging bildungsroman adventure with his underlying lessons and messages without neglecting nor over-emphasizing one over the other. There have been countless other allegories, fables and self-help books written throughout history, and the immense international success of The Alchemist is testament to Coelho’s ability to put a profound message behind a simple story better than nearly anyone else before him.

Many people have called The Alchemist a “life-changing” book. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that. It is easy to poke holes in books such as this one: economic disadvantage, inherited family responsibility and unavoidable events (e.g. disease, disaster) are just some of the obstacles that would keep one from going after their Personal Legend. However, ignoring my internal pessimist (although some would say realist), The Alchemist is one of a handful of novels, particularly of the fiction persuasion, that has ever moved me to self-examination or consideration of some of life’s deeper questions: Why are we here? What is my Personal Legend? What is stopping me from achieving that dream? The Alchemist asks all of these questions of the reader and, in the end, of mankind as a whole. It is a book that sets out to inspire people and, in my case, achieves exactly that. To put it in the simplest terms, I will quote my good friend, Doug: “After you read The Alchemist you just want to make plays on life.” Well said, Doug, well said.

Accompanying Drink Suggestion
Rioja wine
This smooth, flavorful wine hailing, like our protagonist, from Spain is generally defined by a combination of fruitiness and acidity with “notes of dusty earth, dry herbs and leather”. These contrasting flavors compare to the changing surroundings of the young shepherd who leaves the rich lands of Spain for the course sands of North Africa. Furthermore, the Rioja’s main grape is tempranillo whose name is derived from the Spanish “temprano”, meaning early, because it ripens weeks before most other Spanish wines. Again, this trait can be compared to The Alchemist’s coming-of-age story which comes at a younger age than for most others yet results in a beautiful and enjoyable finish.

If You Liked This, You Might Also Like…
Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, The Bible, Any of Coelho’s other works


4.5 out of 5 stars

China Miéville – The Iron Council (2004)

China Miéville’s The Iron Council falls into a somewhat enigmatic group of literary genres. Though part of the larger “speculative fiction” genre, The Iron Council is a decidedly unique book and difficult to definitively label. It might be classified as one or all of the following: new weird, cyberpunk, dystopian fiction, steampunk, horror fantasy, weird fiction, fantasy noir, modern pulp fiction or future noir. If The Iron Council were a movie, think Bladerunner meets A Clockwork Orange, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, written by Neil Gaiman and produced by Tim Burton.

Now that I have thoroughly confused you with that comparison, I will try my best to keep the premise of the book short and sweet. The book’s plot centers on two interrelated storylines following the lives and struggles of New Crobuzoners striving to overthrow the ruling totalitarian government. New Crobuzon is a sprawling urban city-state governed by an authoritarian oligarchy (masquerading as a democracy) headed by a nefarious and faceless “Mayor”. One plot arc follows two men, Cutter and Judah, whose purpose is to seek out the aid of “The Iron Council”, a legendary congregation of New Crobuzon insurrectionists living in hidden exile. The other storyline deals with Ori, a passionate young man living in New Crobuzon’s slums. Ori begins as a romantic revolutionary reading about and discussing the dream of a free and transformed New Crobuzon but quickly becoming an active and often violent underground rebel.
To put it simply, I enjoyed this novel tremendously. Miéville is a masterful storyteller and in The Iron Council he has created a stunning and distinct universe to which his readers are transported. Not overly verbose or reliant on flowery descriptions (though his expansive vocabulary may inspire you to keep a dictionary handy), Miéville paints a dark yet beautiful portrait of the city of New Crobuzon and its inhabitants that is both strange and familiar. Readers will conjure images of their own cities and histories and overlay this with bizarre imagined creatures, improbable architecture and other supernatural elements to create a visual patchwork that is Miéville’s world. Beyond the aesthetic quality of Miéville’s writing, the novel’s dialogue is succinct and emotive and, as a result, extremely real. This simplicity and authenticity comes as a relief when compared to what is found in most other speculative fiction books: tedious, grandiose and simply unconvincing dialogue.
The general tone of the book, like the dialogue, is defined by its gritty realism. Let me make this clear, The Iron Council is not a children’s book. Scenes depicting gratuitous violence, offensive language and polygamous sex are commonplace. The ubiquity of this grimness is not, however, overwhelming. It is simply the reality of life as the oppressed, of life in the slums, of life as society’s forgotten. Miéville adeptly harnesses the bleakness that is the protagonists’ existence and is able to create a number emotionally rousing, unforgettable scenes of both despair and of joy. This rare ability to effectively channel and produce a diversity of emotions in his readers makes Miéville a truly outstanding author and has made him one of my personal favorite young talents.
Yet despite these many successes, Miéville and this novel are not without its flaws. Most notably, The Iron Council suffers from a complete absence of non-human or non-male points of view. Characters such as Ann Hari and Thick Shanks are certainly figures that fit these criteria and who play a central role in the events of the novel, but their points of view are a missed opportunity by the author. The use of these character’s points of view and the subsequent broadening of the reader’s understanding of the insurrection and New Crobuzon’s gender and racial divisions would have created a great deal more depth in Miéville’s exploration of the diverse yet unified psyches of a revolution and the transcendant spirit of all peoples. The omission of a map is also particularly grating as any sense of distance, topography and borders among the various lands is often lost. Lastly, the narrative lacks any sort of historical foundation. Events in New Crobzuon’s past are mentioned occasionally throughout and the long-term character development of Judah Low is partially explored, but readers are left asking a few basic and essential questions: How did New Crobuzon society come to this point? Have the people of this city-state ever been “free”? What are the origins of our protagonists? What are the Mayor’s motivations?
In the end, though, the answers to these questions are not what is important. These questions are not what this novel is about. Nor is The Iron Council just about a fantastical world filled with creatures like the vodyanoi, cactacae and khepri people, and people who perform hex magic, somaturgy and elementalism. This novel is about racism and class struggle. It’s about environmentalism, human selfishness and greed. It’s about faith, sacrifice, courage and most importantly, it’s about absolute and unconditional love. The Iron Council is the type of book that is best described as an emotional symphony. Expertly orchestrated by Miéville, The Iron Council left me breathless throughout, and I would recommend it to all fantasy and non-fantasy fans alike.
Accompanying Drink Suggestion:
Yuengling Black & Tan
As The Iron Council’s future noir genre suggests, a darker, heavier beer accompanies this novel quite well. The flavorful roasted taste of Yuengling’s Porter is combined with and complimented by the lighter hints of caramel from the lager, just as The Iron Council’s oftimes nightmarish and grisly scenes are complimented by the novel’s underlying themes of love, redemption and the triumphant spirit.
If You Liked This, You Might Also Like…
Works by:
H.P. Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Iain Sinclair

4 out of 5 stars

Erin’s Express Bus to Lala-Land

Each month possesses it’s own defining and unmistakable scents. November tantalizes the taste buds with the memory of thick wafts of roasting turkey and crumbly bread stuffing floating through the air only to be joined by the sweet scents of cranberry sauce and candied sweet potatoes. July reminds us of the acrid smoke of cheap bottle rockets contrasted with the mouth-watering smell of sizzling grilled hot dogs topped with ketchup, mustard and relish. To many, March brings to mind the thawing of winter snows and the nascent perfumes of flora and fauna. And to me? March smells like three things: powdered eggs, cheap beer and Irish whiskey.

That’s right! National All-Day Drinking Month continues! For three consecutive Saturdays, the bright future of America dims but a little as 20-somethings across the country take to the bars and to the streets and channel their inner Irishmen. In Philadelphia, Saturday, March 5th brings the annual Erin Express bar crawl throughout Center and University City which attracts thousands of revelers from throughout the region. Villanova drama majors and 58 year-old retired cops alike will be in attendance. “But why not just have it on the second Saturday? March 12th is still before St. Paddy’s Day.” Oh, did I forget to mention? March 5th is just the warmup Erin Express. The REAL Erin Express is tomorrow, March 12th. That’s right, for the Erin Express, March 5th is to March 12th as the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Final is to the World Cup.

Expect a lot of this.

Needless to say, this type of event is designed for a specific type of person. If you are not a fan of crowded bars and buses, loud music and louder people, omnipotent dirt and trash, the smell of beer and mud or the color green, this is not for you. However, if you are a fun-loving, beer and whiskey-swilling merrymaker such as myself, you will not be disappointed.

March 5th, as you know, was the date of my adventure in Hoboken, New Jersey. Recovery from that day is ongoing, and though my liver tells me not to board the Erin Express, my brain also tells me not to step onto that bus. Thankfully, I have persuasive friends and a weakness for Irish omelettes. See you on the 12th, Erin!


Buses from bar to bar are free between 12:00 – 5:30 and run every 15-20 minutes. There are 13 bars on the route, and if you find yourself lost, just follow the sounds of singing and clinking shot glasses and all will be well.

The Bus should begin to look like this around 3 o'clock.

Smokey Joe’s
40th & Locust
The Blarney Stone
39th & Sansom
39th & Sansom
Drinker’s West
39th & Chestnut
Millcreek Tavern
42nd & Chester
Mace’s Crossing
17th & Cherry
Green Room
19th & Green
Gallagher’s on the Parkway
22nd & Spring Garden
T.A. Flannery’s
21st & Ludlowe
Bonner’s Irish Pub
23rd & Sansom
Callahan’s Grille
26th & South
14th & Callowhill
Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse
18th & Sansom

Link to the event site:
Recommended Drinks


  • Irish Whiskey
    • Jameson
    • Tullamore Dew
    • Powers
    • Bushmills


  • Guinness
  • Harp
  • Black & Tan (Guinness + Harp)
  • Smithwick’s (pronounced Smitticks)

For a true rake of mallow:

  • Irish Omelette
    • Shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey with a raw egg

Don't knock it till you've tried it...

  • Irish “Car-bomb” (note: considered offensive by some native Irish for obvious reasons: the IRA, the Troubles, etc.)
    • Shot of Bailey’s topped off with Jameson Irish Whiskey dropped into a half-pint of Guinness and then chugged
From glen to glen and down the mountainside,
“Buzz”-word of the Day
[heb-i-tood, -tyood] –noun
The state of being dull; lethargy; the absence of mental alertness
“Half of Philadelphia is going to be experiencing some serious hebetube this Sunday morning.”