Jul
21
2011

The Drunkest I’ve Ever Been: Lost in Portland

—Haley

So, this one time when two of my favorite folks were in town…I got LOST.

There’s getting lost, being lost, and getting LOST. Getting lost can happen to most anyone, at any time. Being lost and getting LOST, I feel, are reserved for the habitually enthusiastic. Like the time I was shooting for 12th and Ladd and wound up at 28th and Stark with a skid mark all the way down my right arm (from connecting with a van while trying to slow my bike down enough to read a god forsaken street sign). I’d say this counts as being lost. Once I figured out what street I was on I knew where I was. Entirely different from getting LOST.
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Nov
30
2010

Music for Enthusiasts: Tending bar at the saloon

—Haley

No one is ever surprised to hear I work in a bar. What usually causes a few confused stares and a snicker or three is that I work in a country western bar—a saloon, actually. If the 8-foot sign reading “SALOON” by the front door does not alert you to the fact that you have atmospherically left Southeast Portland and been transported to somewhere in the middle of Montana or Wyoming, the saddle atop an old wooden barrel in front of the bar, the sepia-inspired lighting and extensive bourbon selection ought to do the trick.

If, however, your senses are too bewildered and booze-hazy for all of this to make an impression, the sounds of Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams (yes, Sr. and Jr.), or Johnny Cash will eventually tip even the most overly-enthusiastic of you off.
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Oct
05
2010

Food for Drunks: Pork belly donuts and Pine State biscuits

—Josey

You know when you’re halfway through a bottle of Kirkland Signature vodka and you get an empty, gnawing feeling in your gut? Occasionally, that’s not just last weekend’s regrettable (and documented) intercourse acts eating away at you, nor the bulk bottle of vodka getting 86’d from your system. Sometimes, that gnawing means you’re hungry. For food.

But while an oily slice of pepperoni swiped off your bar neighbor’s table while they’re getting another round, or a stale handful of Movie Theater Butter popcorn out of a yellow-stained bag perched atop your friend’s kitchen garbage will satisfy in a pinch, there are certain edibles that will really tickle your booze-drenched belly until in screams in joy.

With this new series, Food for Drunks, we aim to hunt down the world’s most Enthusiast-friendly provisions—and, enjoy the shit of out them.
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Sep
22
2010

When we drink

—Josey

I embarked on my first week-long bender because I got dumped. Even when you know it’s coming, when you’re young—or maybe, also, when you’re not—it sucks. Really bad. After pleading and crying and many empty threats, I called some friends, went to the Greyhound station, got hit-on by some dude on his way to a Job Corps forestry program, and tearfully rode the bus to Santa Cruz, where I wallowed in cheap vodka, puked up cheap vodka, and might have eaten a burrito at some point. I stumbled through five misty, hazy days of drunk before catching a ride home. Splitting headache and trembling hands aside, I felt much better than I had before I left. I felt cleansed.
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Jul
14
2010

Quarters

Alcohol related games, by nature, require a certain amount of binge drinking. I mean, that’s the point, right? But no game that I have encountered necessitates the rapid consumption of liquor faster or in greater quantities than Quarters.

While I am sure there are many iterations, the rules we played by are fairly simple. You can play with as few as two or as many as you have room for/who are willing. The object of the game is to bounce a quarter off the table and into a shot glass. You go around in a circle, each taking turns. If you manage to get the quarter into the glass, then the person to your left must do the same or else they have to drink. If they make the shot, the onus falls on the person to their left, and so on.

We used to play with a handful of quarters, so there was very little downtime between shooters and the quarters would start to pile up in the glass when everyone made their shot. The unlucky bastard that missed after a run of 4-5 hits had a lot of drinking to do. Not to mention that a full circuit of the players could take as little as thirty seconds. One way or the other, without a keen eye and a steady hand, you were going to end up rather tight (and possibly queasy) in very short order.

Of my friends, I was definitely the weakest link. Mercifully, they did not require full 1.5-2oz shots to be taken with every miss—a simple swig off the bottle would suffice—but it went quickly and we were liable to run through a fifth in no time. I think our record was eleven minutes for a bottle of Knob between six people. Yours truly took the brunt of that blow and definitely paid the price about halfway through. But never fear, Enthusiasts, boot though I may—I did not hesitate to rally.

 
—Christian

 


Jul
06
2010

Enthusiastic entrepreneur

 
Sometimes you can take a good thing too far. In college I decided to man the helm of a weekly Wednesday on-campus celebration known as 40s Night. Typically this tradition started during orientation week and served as a way for the freshmen to meet the upper classes in a jovial and quite enthusiastic environment. It would continue throughout the first month of school before petering out as the Portland weather turned sour and everyone became entrenched in classwork. This particular year however, I was taking a semester off. And, through circumstance to be discussed at a later date, was not gainfully employed. Needless to say, I had a fair amount of free time on my hands.

Through the Enthusiast network at our school, I found out that one could obtain 40s of PBR at a very reasonable rate from a liquor distributor on the other side of town. Each week we would scrape together $100 or so, secure a vehicle, and make our pilgrimage.

The first week we were busted by campus security hiding the bottles in a freshman’s first floor room. So for the following week I devised a method of not only keeping the beer hidden, but keeping it cold and mobile at the same time. Every Wednesday we’d secure a large, rolling recycling bin, empty the contents, and line it with a garbage bag. Then we would load in the bottles, surrounding each successive layer with ice. At about 10 pm, after a couple of hours of chilling, we’d roll the thing over to our designated location and open up shop. The cut-rate supplier combined with fair, but inflated pricing allowed for over 100% profit—in no time I would make back the initial investment and then some, drinking for free all the while.

These were some of my happiest times in college. I quickly became know as The-Fucking-Man on campus and made some lifelong friendships with the entering class of that year. Weeks went by and campus authorities started to get annoyed by the Wednesday night complaints from people “trying to study” and who were “getting distracted” by the baudy noise that came from our revelry. Eventually I was told by the class president that the noise was a real problem and we had to do something about it. Rather than take this as a sign that it was time to shut it down, I just moved us to the Student Union where we could close the doors and minimize noise.

A handful more weeks went by and campus emptied out for Fall break. By this time, the administration had really started to put the heat on 40s night and  I was squarely at the center of the issue. I was determined that we should have one last, good run and intended to call the whole thing off when everyone got back. But the damage had been done. One thing led to another and, non-student that I was, I got banned from campus for the remainder of the semester.

Our school had a notoriously forgiving policy towards that type of thing, but I had clearly crossed a line. Naturally, as an Enthusiast, this is a line that I crossed on a handful of other, unrelated occasions in the future, but I did learn a valuable lesson from that first time. No matter how awesome an idea, and how well executed, you can’t fly too close to the sun without getting burned. That said, I was fortunate that even at that high altitude, I managed to only singe my wings, rather than go down in a ball of flame. In the end, I will forever look back on those nights of 40s fondly—as my most successful (drunken) venture to-date.

 
—Christian

Case of PBR photo courtesy of 40ozmaltliquor.com.
Recycling bins photo courtesy of Dano, flickr.
No Trespassing photo courtesy of Daquella Manera, flickr.

 


Jun
25
2010

Strip club luncheon

Every Enthusiast should go to a strip club at least once in their life. I recommend you avoid the no-booze-having clubs that you find in some states, as there is something inherently creepy about a room full of clothed people sitting there for the sole purpose of staring at (and otherwise interacting with) naked chicks. That said, bar-having strip clubs can be an extremely fun atmosphere to imbibe in.

They can also be a great place to eat. A long standing co-worker of mine recently decided to try out funemployment for a while and see some of the world. Of course we needed to send her off in a big way. After all, as our general manager pointed out, she had spent nearly a quarter of her life with the company. Someone came up with the idea of going to the Gold Club here in San Francisco for their famous $5 cover-charge, free lunch buffet and we set off.
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May
06
2010

Beer garden frames

I’ve never fully understood beer gardens. Now, I get the concept of an area or establishment dedicated to drinking: bars, taverns, saloons, etc.—totally on board. But there’s always been something about the beer garden that seemed off to me. Is it because they are open air? Because your beverage options are so limited? I don’t know. The beer garden I attended this weekend did have the added advantage of being private and the type you pay once for to drink as much as you can. Yet I still had my reservations.

It must be my restless nature. While I love beer as much as the next Enthusiast, the idea of a temple dedicated to a singular libation (and often single brand)—without the addition of interactivity to some extent—just doesn’t hold my attention. I need to be challenged by more than the fight against sobriety.

We spent the weekend in Portland at a private event that housed said-beer garden last weekend. I made an appearance all three days with varied success. By Sunday everyone was a bit over-enthused when the garden officially closed at 6:00pm. We wandered around for a while listening to the world’s coolest marching band, and I couldn’t help but notice a strange clanging sound, accompanied by shouts of encouragement, coming from the shuttered area behind the tarp-covered, chain-link fence. I spotted someone I knew and, being an Enthusiast of some notoriety in the community, managed to get us through the hidden back entrance, past fairly stringent security to see what all the commotion was.

I had heard of what I was about to see. I had been told stories that involved blood, sweat, tears and triumph. And I had been told that the tradition was outlawed. What we had been invited into was an annual celebration of post-beer garden keg bowling. An exclusive, non-competitive sport in which nothing but hubris and perhaps a little timé is on the line.

Kegs crashed into each other amidst excited cheers from enthusiastic bystanders. There is nothing like the sound of hollow metal against hollow metal against pavement. It’s fantastic and exciting—and I was trembling, despite the free-flowing IPA.

After surveying an assorted line of people take their shot, I gulped down the remaining ounces in my cup and took hold of the “ball.”  With a heave, I sent steel plowing through the wall of kegs.

It was exhilarating in a way I haven’t felt often since reaching that birthdate after which you must have been born to purchase alcohol. And with the addition of such a unique activity, I finally got it. The beer garden is the ultimate backyard bbq, and keg bowling is the everclear of horseshoes. While I know this experience is rare, I sincerely hope that every Enthusiast gets a chance to step up to the line to take a throw. There is nothing like it—and you’ll never look at a beer garden the same way again.
—Christian

Photos courtesy of Josey and Rosie

 


May
04
2010

Drinks on the plane

Drinking and airplanes go together like discount gin and regrettable sex partners. But even the seemingly-happiest of marriages ends in divorce sometimes—just as once in a while, those adorable little bottles of booze will turn on you. Not on me, personally—quite the contrary. Airplanes and airports are definitely in my top ten list of favorite places to get wasted. I mean, as someone who’s spent the majority of her post-21/fake ID having years in major metropolitan areas only, the airport is the only location in my life where Chilli’s TOO is considered a totally awesome bar (I cannot vouch for rural/super suburban and/or Midwest living, so if the TOO is your fav local haunt, my bad, man—and no disrespect). By the way: Shout out to the Chilli’s TOOs at OAK and SEA and wherever else you’re plying away pre-plane jitters with your gateside full bar. Your extremely gigantic margaritas really enhance my flying experience.

But even though it’s never happened to me, I have seen the plane drunken-ness rear it’s hideous head.
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Mar
30
2010

Young love

What was the first bar you ever fell in love with? Every Enthusiast has their first—for me, that place is now-renamed-and-under-new-ownership SE Portland dive bar, Grandma’s.

With walls adorned with Last Supper-esque, moderately religious wood reliefs and elderly woman-style purses, the decoration alone was reason enough to spend hours here every afternoon and evening and night. Add Turkey Hunter, three video poker machines, pool, a working fireplace, cheap-ass drinks and—I’m getting giddy just reminiscing about it—KARAOKE THREE NIGHTS A WEEK! WHERE YOUR PERFORMANCE WAS ACCOMPANIED BY A MAN PLAYING A BLUE BLOW-UP GUITAR! And suddenly we are catapulted into the awesome-dive-bar-stratosphere’s-stratosphere. Times infinity. Infinity times.
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