“a woman walks into a bar…” at the Langham Hotel

on 19/03/11 at 11:58 am

a woman walks into a bar..., BoozeBlog

Think green. It’s St. Paddy’s Day. Dare I wade into the shark’s pool of drunken leprechauns at my local bar? Put myself at the epicenter of crazy faux-Irish hoopla? Why not. You only live once, apparently, and if I don’t go today, I’ll have to wait another whole empty year without green beer. I waver, indecision plagues, stay or go. I go. Jump in the car and decisively drive to the intimidatingly named, Big Foot Lodge, a popular local watering hole. Luck o’ the Irish, here’s a parking spot right in front so I can scope out the place before taking the plunge. It’s still pretty early but there are a couple of green Millenials inhaling a last gasp before entering the den.

Sitting in the car, doubt overcomes me. A woman alone in this bar on St. Patrick’s Day…what does it prove? That I can fit in? I’m rethinking my strategy. Forget the obvious. I’m going to see what this day is like at an upscale hotel bar. Yes, that’s the ticket. See how the elite greet this feast day with “wearing of the green”. Are they already under the table with a few single malts?  Start the car, give up the paid parking meter, head to San Marino, California to The Tap Room at the Langham Hotel, far from the madding crowd.

No parking meters here, sister. Valet. And a cheery one. No pretension. Enter the Langham, muted tones, sparkling floors, a serene courtyard on the other side of the glass wall as you enter the lobby. It’s down the hall to The Tap Room. 7pm. This is no dive bar. The bar exudes easy luxury, inviting couches, a blazing fireplace and an outdoor seating area that borders a spectacular view, looking almost art-directed, with a perfectly tended lawn, towering, up-lit palms and the distant twinkling lights of downtown. You’re in a world far from earthquakes, tsunamis, bickering partisanship, the homeless, stray dogs, feral cats, poverty, famine, annoying relatives, paper or plastic, your last unemployment cheque, drive by shootings, drug cartels, traffic. This place is an oasis in an overwrought world and only 15 minutes from the house. Ahhhh.

The bar is small, seats taken by three guys shootin’ the breeze, then empty seat, empty seat, guy sitting alone nursing a beer, empty seat, last empty. I can’t just sit next to the single guy so I take the empty at the end of the bar where a tiny space is available beside the out-of-place bowls of cut-up fruit wrapped in plastic, here at this posh bar. Surprised to see three tv’s above the bar, three different sports stations, soundless, eyes drawn like magnets to bright bits of color. Again, seems a bit unusual for this bar. No matter. I order a Manhattan. Makers Mark, sweet vermouth, Luxardo cherry, stirred appropriately, augers well. It is indeed very good.

The guy beside me constantly checks his phone, legs shaking nervously a mile a minute. Who’s he waiting for? Pardon me, you talking to me? Tentatively, he engages in sporadic conversation. The pace picks up. Turns out Sidhup’s just chillin’ with a couple of beers after a long day. A technical architect, designs data systems, here from Hoboken via Mumbai. We chatter on about life in India and the crushing amount of people squeezed into the city. The need to push out to rural areas and more space. I ask the bartender about the St. Pat’s special whisky martini and he gives us a sample. Shake Bushmills, Bailey’s, Godiva white chocolate. Martini is kind of a misnomer and tastes like a Starbuck’s frappe, whisky masked by all that sweetness. No stars for this drink. But the bar staff is super friendly and tells us about old clients. People coming to the bar for 50, 60 years. One doyenne having her daily bottle of pinot grigio, when finally wheelchair bound, was picked up at home by the staff so she never missed a beat.

The bar plays itself out, others arrive but they’re at the other end and no chance for chitchat. Aside from the ‘special martini’, people seem oblivious to the idea that St. Patrick’s Day is a day to let loose. No one even wears green. Hey now, the bar folks bring out these little weird green hats made of flour? Why? Wasn’t quite sure. Sidhup graciously buys my drink and bids goodnight. I look around, it’s quiet. Time to I leave. Wait, friends arrive as I had texted them I was here. We move outside to the cushy sofas and order a round. Why Sidhup comes back and joins us. The evening marches on.

Bar Hours:
Monday through Thursday – 2:00pm to 1:00am
Friday & Saturday – Noon to 2:00am
Sunday – Noon to Midnight

The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa, Pasadena

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