How To Spend A Holiday Weekend Like A Regular Working Stiff
This time last year I never would have dreamed of having a four-day weekend. In fact, this time last year I worked the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that I would have paid holiday time off on Friday in addition to paid time off on Monday’s holiday. Truly I am living like a normal adult now.
“What will I do with my four-day weekend?” I wondered. “Maybe I’ll ring up Fawn and Brian to see if I can fly up to Portland for a few days!” When they informed me that they would be visiting with family I turned my attention to Ken, Katie, Steven and Katie. “Maybe I’ll fly to the Denver area for the weekend!” Before I could book my flight I received a call from my sister. Surprise! She was coming to visit for Labor Day Weekend. Again. Wasn’t she just here, like…last month?
Oh well, I guess I could withstand a few days of non-stop eating and drinking. And I’d been doing so well at keeping things in moderation of late.
It was very thoughtful of my sister to book a flight that arrived in Los Angeles at 6:30pm on the Friday leading into a holiday weekend. She probably chuckled as she booked the ticket. What’s funnier than the thought of me sitting in horrible weekend rush hour traffic for nine hours while I try to navigate the ten or fifteen miles between my place and the airport? Nothing. Nothing would be funnier than that.
I decided to spend the day in Culver City. This left me with a five-mile drive to the airport along city streets that were practically empty when the time came to retrieve her. Once she was unpacked it was down the street to the local watering hole to drink with friends. A good time was had by all. I had planned to extensively document our time together to pair with my written account of the weekend. Unfortunately all I have stored on my camera from Friday night was this photo, which I captioned at the time “So much bleach.”
I don’t think I’ll ever be fully accustomed to the 1 a.m.-ish “Last Call” in Los Angeles. Any major metropolitan area with a hard-working and hard-partying populace should give the people a couple more hours to cut loose. Especially in a city where people are prone to show up fashionably late everywhere they go. Oh well. The bottom line is that we were in fine fettle come Saturday morning. This turned out to be a good thing. I had a very long day of alcohol consumption planned for my weekend guest.
We awoke Saturday morning, one of us (her) more hungover than the other (me). I treated her to her first Stumptown Coffee and the two of us began another one of our epic Brother-Sister SoCal Brewery Tour adventures. The last time we tried this feat we managed to hit Stone, Lost Abbey, Ballast Point, Green Flash, AleSmith, and The Bruery. We wanted to take things up a notch this year, and we did not disappoint ourselves.
Our trip this time started at Lost Abbey again. It was a quick in-and-out visit. This being the final weekend of Duck Duck Gooze bottle pickups, we thought it might be too busy to be comfortable. We also know Lost Abbey might have some interesting bottles for consumption on-site to mark the occasion. We grabbed tasters of Framboise De Amorosa and Red Poppy and continued on our way.
Our next stop was Belching Beaver. This brewery to me has always been more style than substance to me. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love their Peanut Butter Milk Stout. Everything else I’ve consumed has been okay, but it feels more gimmicky than serious. I helped my sister with her with her tasters of Viva La Beaver and Mac Deez Nuts (the Peanut Butter Milk Stout with macadamia and vanilla added). I left the Great Lei, Cucumber Melon Berliner weisse, All You Need Is Love (Berliner weisse) and Dammed! to her to enjoy. We picked up a bottle of the brewery’s first sour beer Batch 1, which the bartender told me to let sit for a few months because it’s still tasting very young. Maybe next sister visit we’ll get to try it.
Third on our list of breweries to visit was Toolbox. The only bottle I’ve ever had of theirs came from a cellar I purchased from a retiring collector at the end of last year. Don’t read too much into that statement. I’ve bought two craft beer cellars in my life and will probably never do it again, because I don’t drink fast enough to keep my place from becoming overrun with bottles. In any event, that bottle (The Virgin Cherry) did not leave much of an impression. I had low expectations for Toolbox but they turned out to be the surprise hit of the trip for both my sister and myself. We sampled Saison Chêne Rustique d’Abricot, Brooks Was Here (a barrel-aged wild ale with three types of California cherries and a great Shawshank Redemption reference), Bramble On Rose (oak barrel aged wild ale with blueberries), and a huge portion of carne asada fries from the food truck parked in front of the breweries. If you’re into SoCal brewery tours and enjoy sours, I highly recommend a visit to Toolbox.
My sister mentioned at this point she was starting to feel a little drunk, so I suggested Abnormal as our next visit. My hope was that they would shock us and have M2 on draught, but they did not. Instead I forced her to enjoy (while tasting varying degrees of each) Masumoto Pale (I was a bit underwhelmed), Belter Bez (scotch ale with cacao nibs, almonds and coconut), Mostra Mocha Stout (a great tasting, low-ABV stout), New Money IPA (yet another not-so-good example of a SoCal brewery attempting a Northeast-style hoppy Pale Ale) and my personal favorite of the bunch, Tummy Cuddles (the base beer used to make M2 with tons of cacao nibs added). As we watched delicious-looking plates of food pass us by, we longed to order something off the Happy Hour menu. Somehow we resisted and continued on our journey.
Our last brewery stop was at AleSmith. I’ve wanted to try out their new barrel-aged experience called Anvil & Stave since its opening. Getting to sample everything while making someone else consume the bulk of the booze made this the perfect opportunity for me. After securing the password to enter the “Speakeasy” we found ourselves pretty much alone in the room save for two bartenders. We conversed with one of them, Lauren, for most of our visit. She confused my sister for my girlfriend, which almost made me puke even though I’d hardly consumed any alcohol. Meanwhile, my increasingly drunk sister got to throw back tasters of Port Barrel-Aged Wee Heavy, this year’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout, Brandy Barrel-Aged Old Numbskull, and 2014 Bourbon Barrel-Aged Olde Ale. Of course I told her we needed the middle-size tasters in lieu of the smaller option. I loved the Anvil & Stave experience, and will be returning again soon. Also I think I promised the bartender gifts from Highland Park Brewery so I’d be an asshole not to deliver on that promise.
Dinner and more drinks were consumed at Toronado. We had assumed (wrongly, very wrongly) that we’d be in and out relatively quickly. Then we befriended a guy who was seated next to us at the bar. He was in town visiting from Arizona and equally nerdy when it came to beer. Then we befriended the bartender. Then this happened:
For the uninformed, that’s Lost Abbey Cable Car. It’s…not easy to track down. And not cheap, either. But we’d had a long day and were in the company of new friends so we figured, why not? Other bottles soon joined (not as rare) like Russian River Consecration and Barrel-Aged Old Rasputin XIV. Several draught selections were also consumed, like J. Wakefield Tony Bag O’ Donuts and Let’s Kick It. I’m surprised my sister was standing when we eventually left the bar. There were hugs, kisses, business cards exchanged, and promises of more bottles on our next visit. A lot of people say a lot of things when inebriated, but damn that was a fun night.
The drive home was terrifying if only because I was expecting my sister to awaken from her drunken slumber and vomit all over the place. Thankfully she did not.
On Sunday morning I awoke and went for a run. My sister decided to hike up to the Hollywood sign with a friend who apparently lives in my neighborhood. Supposedly she vomited during the hike. It serves her right for drinking so much the day before.
Not content to let her relax we decided to hit up Smorgasburg with Mark for lunch. If you can’t hike away your hangover, you should try to eat until it goes away. That’s always been my experience, at least. Mark found us right away as we entered the market with a big plate of BBQ in his hands. We tried the tri-tip from a joint that appeared to be new to Smorgasburg. I can’t remember the name, but it was good! Then we hit up Goa Taco, which rumor has it is so good it made Jonathan Gold of the LA Times openly weep with joy. I grabbed a delicious Lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound. When the vendor saw my Mets hat she asked where I was from. I responded “New Jersey.” When she asked where, I said “Livingston.” She commented, “Oh. You mean Living-STEIN?” I guess my hometown’s reputation precedes it, even three-thousand miles away. What else did we eat? The utterly Instagram-able Raindrop Cake, and Mama Musubi. There was cold brew coffee from Venice purveyors to wash it all down.
From Smorgasburg we went to Button Mash to meet up with Nate for a beer and some video games. We made my sister order a bowl of the spicy tofu balls even though we’d just eaten a veritable shit-ton. Then it was home for an hour or two so she could attempt some of her law school reading for class on Tuesday. I cracked a Fundamental Observation to help her out.
Eventually we took an Uber to EMC Seafood for dinner with Adam, Gabby, Drew and Reinita. There were oysters, bottles of sake, uni with pasta, whole lobsters, and an endless parade of Snapchats. With such a diversely creative crowd, it was only natural for us to try and one-up each other with our snaps.
The night continued a couple blocks away at R Bar. Many more drinks were consumed and threats of karaoke were made. Sadly no one followed through. There was a rum-soaked brownie, an adorable and attentive server, and a few rounds of shots. At some point my sister ran to the bathroom and unrolled a gigantic wad of toilet paper to stuff under her dress because she knew someone would see her and offer her a seat at the bar. Much, much later we used the same toilet paper baby belly to secure our Uber from a sloppy girl who was attempting to steal it. Once again we closed down the bar. I think the server got in trouble for hanging out with us while they were trying to close up shop for the night. We got home and I cracked the 10.7% variant of Not Your Father’s Root Beer. I don’t remember going to bed, but it happened eventually.
On Monday, Labor Day, we didn’t have solid plans. I went for a run while sister read more for school. Then we met Adam and Gabby at HPB for lunch. My sister wanted to taste everything on the menu so I grabbed a pint of Made Possible while she sampled 1Up, Vacation, Wake Up (Nitro), and Timbo Pils. We shared orders of brussels sprouts, bahn mi sliders, and pork belly tacos. I also ate some of Adam’s polenta bites because I’m a glutton.
After lunch we decided to go to the Americana for, um…second lunch? The original plan was to go to Pinkberry and then watch a movie. We ended up at Din Tai Fung sharing sautéed string beans with garlic, pork xiaolongbao, vegetarian dumplings, shrimp and pork shao mai, spicy shrimp and pork wontons, and something else I can’t recall. Seriously, I’m starting to think I turn into a hobbit when I’m not at work. Without the structure of a day job all I do is eat and drink. I’d be the most unhealthy unemployed person ever.
After lunch #2 we wandered around the Americana for a few minutes, then came back home so she could pack for the airport. Did we eat dinner? I don’t recall. I was totally exhausted by the time I’d completed the trip to LAX. It’s now Thursday evening and I still feel like I could sleep for an entire day if it weren’t for the fact I have to work tomorrow. This weekend cannot possibly come soon enough.
So, how’d you spend your Labor Day Weekend?
The Body – Two Snakes [MP3]
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