Category Archives: Libations

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
http://www.hopdevil.com/

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.

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“Buzz”-word of the Day
beatnik
[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.”

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!

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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
Cavanaugh’s
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
Westy’s
14th & Callowhill
Cavanaugh’s Rittenhouse
18th & Sansom

Link to the event site: http://www.cavanaughsrestaurant.com/eventErinExp.asp
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Recommended Drinks

Shots:

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

Beers:

  • 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,
Bird/Éan
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“Buzz”-word of the Day
Hebetude
[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.”

Now I am Become Death, the Imbiber of Whiskey


Ahhh, March 5th. I wake to the striped pattern of sunshine slanting through my window shades and the smell of eggs, bacon and Jameson in the lazy morning air. That’s right, folks. It’s St. Pa-… What’s that? St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until March 17th? Ah, fuck it. Let’s make some memories.

For those previously unaware, St. Paddy’s Day [NOT St. Patty’s Day, you heathens] has essentially become a monthlong celebration in many cities across the U.S., especially in Irish-American epicentres such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. This year, the first weekend in March brought a massive Irish pub crawl to Philadelphia (The Erin Express will be discussed in further detail later this week) and a Harpoon Brewery Irish festival to Boston. These events were undoubtedly loud, the Jameson flowed freely and fields of Kelly green t-shirts stretched as far as the eye could see, but at least in my opinion, the biggest and best choice for this weekend is the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

"Oh, excuse me. Can I get by? I'm trying to get into the bar." "Yeah, this is the line to get into the bar."

Each year, tens of thousands of visitors flock to this New York City neighbor with the intention of getting an early jump on a day where it’s not only okay to be drunk and merry by noon, it’s expected. For me, as was the case for most of my fellow party-goers, the main event in Hoboken was not the parade but rather the innumerable house parties. Whether it be randomly or planned, Hoboken is a great opportunity to reunite with old college and high school friends over a glass of room temperature green beer. Each house you visit and each side street you traverse represents another chance for an unexpected encounter with an elementary school crush or a microeconomics group project partner (I saw both). In this way, Hoboken St. Paddy’s Day is a sort of Mardi Gras/Class Reunion hybrid that I have really looked forward to each of the past three years.

There is, however, a darker side to this day. Though it has certainly grown as a place of residence for many young professionals working in and around Manhattan, Hoboken has traditionally been a typical town full of families and elderly inhabitants. Increasingly over the past five to ten years, however, the parade has transformed from a family-friendly celebration of the area’s Irish heritage into the college festival I described above. Many older attendees now watch the parade with an underlying sense of apprehension instead of the carefree excitement that had defined the event until recently. Just yesterday, Hoboken’s Mayor, Dawn Zimmer, announced her hopes of moving the two-and-a-half decade-old parade from it’s traditional Saturday date to a weekday such as Wednesday because of the out-of-control antics that now dominate the day.

 

"Can you pass the tap? The keg is right behind you..."

This is not to say that the two parties can not share in the fun and revelry of St. Patrick’s Day. The burden of compromise, however, lies mainly on the shoulders of the young out-of-towners and their equally culpable Hoboken party hosts. Though young Americans, myself included, have proven on countless occasions that semi-responsible drinking and respect for property are outside of their comprehension, Hoboken represents a different situation than other popular drinking events as it is, at heart, a beloved family tradition and not simply an excuse to drop all morals and consideration for others. Remember: we are guests at their parade.

In the end, this is my advice: Tap a keg. Be merry. Dance to Dropkick Murphys. Hug or high-five a stranger. Raise a shot of whiskey to Ireland. But 34 arrests and 166 hospital visits? Come on… cut that shit out.

Can’t we all just get along?,
Bird 

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“Buzz”-word of the Day
Panther piss
[pan-ther pis] –noun
Homemade whiskey; illicit distilled liquor (Jazz-Age slang circa 1925)
“That first shot of Jameson at 10 AM always tastes like panther piss.”