“a woman walks into a bar…” at Harvard & Stone
on 02/07/11 at 9:23 ama woman walks into a bar..., BoozeBlog
Oh lordy. What a night. Walk into Harvard & Stone and you may think that you’ve walked onto the set for Boardwalk Empire. The place veritably oozes atmosphere, Prohibition-style and not the cheesy kind. It’s fabulous. A gigantic bar greets you and takes up most of the enormous room but I walk past, to the back, where there’s a perfect little bar called the R&D bar – for research and development of experimental cocktails – and where you can get into a mighty passel of trouble.
It’s a small bar, cut off from the large room, and true to Prohibition style, you can smoke in there. Yeah, awful but stick it out. The stools are tractor seats, perfect for you farm folk and perfect, too, if you like a little somethin’ somethin’ between your legs while you’re cocktailin’. Just makes everything taste better. Beautiful Mia conducts behind the bar on Sundays and she is top drawer. That girl can make 5 or 6 gorgeous cocktails, all different, at one time. She makes me a kickass Negroni with Death’s Door Gin, from Washington Island, Wisconsin, super good, and she also poured a little amount of No. 209 Gin – from a small distillery in San Francisco – Beefeater and Bols genever, in separate glasses, to taste against. Each gin was so distinct, smooth and didn’t remind me of men’s hair tonic which is what I remembered gin to smell like. They were wonderful. But wait, I’m jumping ahead.
So, I’m at the bar just about when it opens and it’s just Mia and me. She’s finishing up the special cocktail list for that night as we chat about about booze and bartending…you know, bar chatter. In walks an older guy and, well a young girl/woman … daughter? girlfriend? wife? It looks like she’s wearing a wedding ring. Can it be? Yeah, it’s L.A. Mia makes the guy one of the special drinks, something with ginger beer and just one sip sends him to the moon. He can’t stop talking about how delicious the drink is, like nothing he’s ever tasted. Why, he’s having a cocktail orgasm! Ah, he’s done, smacks his lips and says he’ll give Mia a nice big tip if she tells him how to make it. Sir! Sir! The drink is completely written out on the menu. But it’s nice to let us know you’re rolling in dough.
Next up, to my right, hey there’s a guy sitting there wearing a black wool cap pulled low. What’s with you people? It’s summer! Dan pulls out a small card that says Pick A Number 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. The 3 seems obvious so I pick 1, of course. Aargh, he says, as he flips the card: all sex maniacs pick 3. Hahaha! I tell him my thought process and he says he did the exact same thing. So, you’re not a sex maniac? I ask. I am. The card lies. Dan’s knickers are in a twist, though, cause he just came from Jumbo’s Clown Room, famous for hot pole dancers. “Naw, it’s not a strip joint. Boy, I got duped into a lap dance…not that it was bad…but I spent an hour and a half with this really hot chick and I was going to get her number, and, man, turns out she was just working there, working to get me to get a lap dance. I’m so bummed. I really liked her.” He’s crestfallen. A con can make you feel very stoopid.
More people come in including his friend, Ben, who’s wearing a mantle of sadness. We try and cheer him up. “Here, pick a number.” The card trick didn’t work cause the poor guy’s mourning the end of his marriage, divorced after 8 years, no kids. He claims, unconvincingly, he’s over the divorce but not over the girl who just dumped him. Okay. He’s trying really hard to have a good time. Maybe he should head over to Jumbo’s.
Meanwhile, more people are piling in. I look around and, as luck would have it, there are nothing but gorgeous hunks all over the place. It looks like an audition for, well, gorgeous hunks. Joe and his buddy Chris take up a lot of space. Hunk space. Joseph’s here without his wife and he doesn’t look too happy about it. Ah, she didn’t wanna go out, he’s not sure why, he shows me her picture, very pretty, he really loves her, we talk monogamy, he’s cool with that, ah marriage…it’s just tough. He’s not even 30. Here, pick a number!
What? Someone recognizes me. I’m not incognito, it’s just a surprise. I can’t believe this guy recognized me. He’s a bartender from a cool bar down the street. “Yeah, sure I recognize you…you were in the other night.” It’s true. I was. The gentleman buys me a drink. I’ve already had two, my usual limit, but it wouldn’t be polite to turn such an offer down, so I finish up with ‘my drink’, a Manhattan. Mia makes it with Buffalo Trace and an orange peel instead of a cherry. The flickering candlelight glows through the bourbon lovingly cradled in the coupe, the translucence a shimmering amber. Beautiful. The room is tight with people, the music rocks, there’s a vibrancy in the air. The smoky haze is atmospheric. Conversations play out, my-friend-the-bartender’s date shows up, people shift like that once-popular sliding-squares game where you tried to move the colored plastic tiles around.
OMG, it’s suddenly way past midnight. Have I been schmoozing and drinking that long? Time to pack it in. I walk through the jam-packed main bar, still going strong. Ack, my clothes reek of cigs. But what great cocktails, great conversations, great fun. Say g’night to terrific guy (and fabulous musician), Josh, guarding the front door. Find car. Go home. Oh lordy, what a night.
HARVARD & STONE
5221 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027