Shenanigans in Amsterdam

I tweeted this because this will never be forgotten by those involved, a night of Shenanigans

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Simon suggests burgers for dinner at Burger Zaken, Amsterdam. The Wagu burger wasn’t too bad at all.

I was hunting for cocktails and google maps suggests going to a place called Prik. Where we finally connect the dots realising its actually a gay bar (seems so obvious now, but alas I didn’t connect undressed with undressing so go figure). Just at the point when we seen a heavily pregnant cat order drinks at the bar (I kid you not) and join it with a cocktail of our own.

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Moving onwards we tried Tales & Spirits, but it was fully booked and they suggest a new place which just opened that evening. Blue Boy. It use to be a gay cinema, we were told but from that night its a trendy restaurant with very good cocktails. So we went with the recommendation. The night seemed to be full of animals from pregnant cats in Prik to the massive stone dog watching over us while we drank.

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It was Jasmine who first went to the toilet and came back to the table saying it was a little weird having unisex toilets. I said that’s just Amsterdam. Then when I went to the toilet, I followed the corridor to the toilets.

Then I made the mistake of using the wrong sexes toilets as the place was so new they forgot to add signs to the doors. For me it wasn’t till the woman also washing her hands asked if she was wrong? I looked confused and she repeated it; getting what she was talking about. I said I think its communal toilets no biggie. But it wasn’t till I left and had the shock from another woman entering, that I realised I was actually wrong. Her partner walked out another door (also with no sign) and I saw the urinals. Embarrassing yes but everybody laughed it off – thankfully!

Back to Niewmarkt and Cafe Cuba for one more before realising the last metro was only 10mins time. Once back at the hotel, I decided to make the most of that super warm night in mid September by doing a mix on the pacemaker outside the hotel entrance.

Manchester’s first Cocktail Festival

cocktail hour

For seven days in August, Manchester is throwing its first ever cocktail festival.

Now, we’re a city who enjoys a good slurp on a classic concoction, but even we didn’t see a dedicated festival committed to this refined drinking trend coming.

From August 8-14, Manchester Loves Cocktails (yes, yes it does) will bring together more than 20 fine drinking establishments from right across the city for a full week of unique cocktails and more than 40 special booze-themed events.

Why? Because as the founder of Manchester Loves Cocktails Nick Fox says: “The standard of cocktails in Manchester are now on par with top bars of London and New York.” That’s why.

Best of all is the cocktail price tag – each one setting you back a handsome £4.50 with your festival wristband.

Some questions…

Whats taken so long, where do I sign up and whos with me?

I’ll have a Martini. Shaken, not bagged…

Following my last blog post and one originally. Michelle, wrote a quote which had me laughing out loud, and pretty much sums up the debate over premixed cocktails.

“I’ll have a martini. Shaken, not bagged.”

Cocktails from a bag isn’t acceptable at that price

Which cosmo came out of a packet?
Guess which one is a fresh cosmo and premixed?

A few friends and followers pointed me towards tricks of the restaurant trade on Channel4. (s1ep4)

So I watched it and saw the part which people were referring to.

They show two cocktails being made, one fresh and the other using premixed stuff. They then blind taste it and determine which one is the premix and which one was fresh.

As you can imagine, it was clear the difference but more interestingly for me, was the price point. The person from Funkin, even suggests a price point of 4-5 pounds not the average price of about 7-9 pounds (currently for cocktails).

I get it… premix cocktails speeds things up and  allows for some consistency. Except I’m not buying this at all.

…Recent interest in all things small-batch and locally sourced has led mixologists to reconsider premixed cocktails, with even the high priests of The New York Times food section lavishing praise on the nascent trend. Don’t laugh. After all, if boxed wine can be made cool, then why not a manhattan in a bottle?

Having been a barman at a  swanky bar in Leicester Square (ok only for 3 weeks before I walked) they can really help speed up the service at a busy bar; but on the other side of the bar, don’t you dare charge me 8 pounds for the privilege. This feels like a  kick in the teeth to me, and I would always complain if this happens. Fresh is what you are paying for, not to save the bar some money and time… This is pretty much what I did at the Novotel Hotel in Greenwich, London in 2012.

Decent cocktails or nothing please

Sure Mark Boas, Michelle Thorne and Cyberdees will confirm this story to be ever-so true.

My crisis masculinity and how feminism set me free

Cosmopolitan, The Kitchen

Through the women I have met and dated, I have met other people who have slightly shaped my world view or even brought things into focus.

One of the most noticeable recently was Valeska who I met through Architect Jane one day at a party she held. I don’t even know how we got on to the subject but she recommended a post which I didn’t know but had been thinking about in many different ways since. “My crisis masculinity and how feminism set me free.

I have always been deeply moved by injustice of women face in this world, and have tried to do my part where ever possible. I hadn’t really thought of myself as a feminist but only because I always tied being a feminist with being a woman. The notion of being a feminist was like the guys who claim to be black inside.

Which always reminds me of that scene from Go when Marcus and the guys are travelling to Las Vegas

TINY: Yo, I told you, my mother’s mother’s mother was black!
MARCUS: Your mother’s mother’s mother, f*** – this ain’t “Roots”, mutha… Man, I wanna see a picture of this Nubian princess. If you were any less black, you would be clear.
MARCUS: Look at your skin.
TINY: I see black because I know I am. Color is a state of mind.
MARCUS: Thank you Rhythm Nation.

How can I as a man truly understand what its like to be a woman? I might be able to identify with some of the problems, injustices, wrongs being a black man but really?

I’m lucky; I’ve been surrounded by remarkable women from an early age. My grandmother, who successfully ran two shops despite the bricks thrown through the window and “Pakis Out” graffiti common on the south London council estate where she lived, or my mother who, having been kicked out of Uganda by Idi Amin in the early Seventies, learned English from scratch while running a household at the age of 11 and is now managing director of a major healthcare consultancy. The women in my family are truly something to behold. There’s a financial analyst, a management consultant, an actuary, a New York ad exec and, in laughably stereotypical fashion, a multitude of doctors. They’re not perfect, but they’re as close to super women as I’ve ever seen.

Just like the author, I was surrounded by very strong woman. My mother is amazing, she works so hard and came to the UK with one of her sisters alone. They lived through a very bitterly racist Britain and laid the founding ground for the rest of the family to come from Jamaica. My Anties are all strongly opinionated women, my mum was the peace keeper in comparison. It wasn’t just my mums side either, my dads side also has some insanely opinionated women.

We men are still letting ourselves be bound by arbitrary and utterly ridiculous ideas about what a man is supposed to be, and I don’t just mean that which manifests itself as violence or systemic oppression. It’s also in the silly, day-to-day stuff: I have very close friends whose commitment to equal rights and representation amongst the genders I could hardly fault, and yet they still would be resistant, due mostly to the hot pink font on the DVD cover, to watching Bridesmaids. NB chaps: you’re sorely missing out. Similarly, I’m met with howls of derision if I order so-called “girly” drinks in pubs, even though everyone knows how unequivocally delicious they are. As far as I’m concerned, if we’re still gendering drinks, feminism isn’t finished.

It is a total joke that a man wouldn’t watch Bridesmaids because its pink (by the way Bridesmaids is funny but also quite toiletry in parts), but I’ve met guys who are so constrained by the notion of masculinity that they won’t have anything to do with Pink.

Girly drinks is a massive a problem I have. I like good cocktails and cosmopolitans are good solid cocktails. I must have told the story (which is in my book) when I was on a date in somewhere I should have known better. She wanted a pint of something, and so I go her it and I thought I’d give the cocktails a try. Ordering a cosmopolitan gives me a idea if they are good or crap at their cocktails. So I got a Cosmo. Slowly walking back with the pint and cosmo. I gently put the pint in front of my date and the put the cosmo in front of where I was sitting opposite her. Within a few minutes a guy walks up and says.

“Hey I think you got the drinks mixed up…?”

Oh how we laughed, not!

Many times I have to deal with the idea that a highly potent cocktail is a girly drink because its pink and it appeared on sex in the city a few times. How crap is that…!?

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I’m actually convinced this is the reason why there is a metropolitan cocktail.

Seriously, if having a pink drink makes you less masculine, then I might as well check out now.

We do need to talk about masculinity, or indeed the myth of it. There is a generation of young men out there who are sick of being told to “man up”, who tire of the patronising way that they are treated by the advertising industry and who hate the fear of being ostracised from many of their peers if they don’t participate in “banter” or acquiesce to social pressures to objectify women. Those for whom “being a man” is a daily burden – there’s more of them than you think. We can show these men that there is a community of people out there who will accept them for who they are. To me, this is as powerful an example of the life-changing potential of feminism as you could think of.

I can totally understand this. No one likes to be left out, the same way no one wants to be the last picked at Basketball. Social pressure is massive but group think is also very real and very scary. I have witnessed banter get out of hand, it takes a very strong willed person to stand up and say, “thats out of order”. Very few are willing to rub there hand against the social pressure like the thick sandpaper on a grinder. Heck even myself sometimes think “this isn’t the time to bring it up.” But if you pull each person aside and say “hey I think that was wrong” most would agree with you.

I declare I am a feminist and actually this is the new norm, if most modern men looked at their values deep down. I love to think most would side with a feminist view point. The same way the new norm changed to stand in favour of equality for all many decades ago. It doesn’t make you less sexually a man, you still love woman but your views are enlightened. It was hard to bring myself to say it but its so strikingly obvious to me now. Its this simple…

the radical idea that women are, in fact, people too…

My belief structure is that people should be treated equally, women are people too!

Saying and thinking so, is so liberating – crisis over… thank you Valeska

Don’t worry let it soak in, you will all be saying it in years to come.

Cocktails and Rollercoasters, how else to celebrate?

Google Cocktails

Its that time of year again when I celebrate surviving one extra year on earth, and for me its got to be rollercoasters and cocktails with friends.

So here is the schedule (which is weather dependant of course)

  • Sunday 7th April – I’m Gatecrashing Kate Reader’s Rollercoaster party at Thorpe Park, London. Something tells me we’re going to need to make use of this weatherproofing offer.
  • Wednesday 10th April – I’m consider I should do something simple like going out for a meal and bowling (yes they now have bowling in central Manchester), as I’m going to be out the rest of the weekend.
  • Friday 12th April – Its time for a Cocktail Masterclass at The all new Kahlua coffee house, can’t wait to make those Espresso Martinis (heck coffee and cocktails, it doesn’t get much better!). The guys behind the Kahlua coffee house seem to read my blog which is a little spooky and seem to have something special in store for me? What it is I have no idea but I’m sure its fun!
  • Saturday 13th April – I will be at the ORG North event but afterwards, its back to the fine cocktails all night, starting at the Alchemists and moving into Lola Cocktails later in the night.
  • Sunday 14th April – Its get up with a slight hangover, get on a train and head to Blackpool Pleasure Beach for even more Rollercoasters.
  • Monday 15th April – Sleep off most of the weekend… (smile, Zzzzz)

If your interested in joining the party at any of the points, you should know how to contact me already. Twitter might be the best way, as I will be using my extended life battery when ever possible.

To note at some point in May, we’ll be going to Alton Towers to finally experience the smiler! The plans was always to go but Alton Towers delayed the launch of the ride till May.

Decent cocktails or nothing please

Which cosmo came out of a packet?

The one on the left is out of a packet (just look at the nasty cloudy bog colour). The one on the right is fresh (see the pink and consistent transparency) plus note the froth on top and finally the lack of straws because cosmos are meant to be drunk from the glass not through the straw. Ideally if the orange peel is burned, there is a thin oily skin which is lovely to drink, just in-case you were in any doubt

This was going back a while ago… last year while I was down in South East London.

The Novotel Hotel Bar in Greenwich served me a Cosmopolitan while I was at the bar one night with mark boas, thornet, cyberdees and others… I was so shocked at how bad it was, I complained and got the manager to make me a fresh one. They said it comes out of a packet and that most customers don’t have a problem with it!

Me on the other hand, well I was bloody horrified and couldn’t believe they would serve up that much as a cosmopolitan. Worst still they were charging £6 for it! I was truly outraged…!

Once the manager made me a new one fresh, we talked about lighting the orange peel but he refused, so I did it myself. Anyway to prove the point about the packet cocktails, we lined them up on the side of the bar and took sips of each one.

They did give me the packet one for free but I still refused to drink it instead giving it to other Mozilla fest friends to taste and get there feelings about.

As you imagine the fresh one peed all over the one out of the packet, not a single person said the packet version was nicer or better, even the manager and the bar staff agreed.

The amount of times I’ve referred to this true story is the last few months is untrue. Its also the reason why I won’t put up with crappy drinks I don’t actually want to drink. I’d rather go thirsty or drink water…