Thursday, November 23, 2000

Club Zendra, Chicago

923 W. Weed Street,
Off North Avenue.

In Chicago nite life begins on Friday at the mystical hour of 12 midnite, when all manner of creatures looking for revelry creep out of their holes where they have been lurking for the week. In anticipation of these predator groups that emerge at 12, lesser mortals are allowed free entry until the hour of 11. After that, ladies entry is a $10 and gents is $15 at the club Zendra.

Club Zendra is located in the downtown area. Actually this particular block where it's located has at least 8 pubs on its circumference. Here jeans is not normally acceptable dress code at most pubs and bars. More (less in case of women) smart outfits r the norm. Wearing jeans makes u feel totally like the "Out" crowd. 1 rum and 1 coke (for my non drinking jr whom i bumped into at Chicago downtown station.... thats another story, another time) cost us $9 if u feel like converting that was approximately Rs 405 for which I could have got a whole 750 ml bottle of my fav Xian bros back home.

This place had 3 atmospheres. Lower floor, upper floor and pseudo open air. There is a bar counter on the lower floor and the upper level. Both have the sexiest bartenders I have ever seen. Yes they are female. The music downstairs is listenable and dancable altho i couldn't recognise any of the artists (MTV out here has chat shows, serials, movies but hardly any music) The music (if u can call it that) upstairs can tear your eardrums apart and drive u insane or back to your whole for another whole week of recuperation.

Party nites r Friday and Saturday. Oh !!!! how could i forget the dancing styles they have out here ? They have so many varieties and basically they all look like the couples (male-female, male-male, female-female, menage-e-trois or group dancing) are fornicating with their clothes on. Seriously it's an interesting display of the pre-mating rituals of the homo-sapiens. Crowd is basically yuppy, You have to show id proving u r above 21 years of age before you may enter. They are very strict about this.

The bouncers here would give king kong a complex. No food, no snacks served (at least at Zendra) a drink is a drink. altho they garnish even a plain old R&C with a cherry, wedge or lemon or orange or an olive. After all those candied cherries i have been having with my Pina Coladas back home it was a real pleasure to see a fresh (ok ok maybe pre frozen) cherry with its stalk intact. Had fun, and survived the trip to see another day.

Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Lady Victoria, Ohio River, Cincinnati

Lady Victoria, Ohio River.

In most US states except Las Vegas, gambling is illegal and casinos cannot be built on US state land. Ingenious entrepreneurs, opened casino boats which would float on water so technically were not on US land (I am not too sure abt the water bottom tho) I have heard that there is even a place in Indiana where they constructed a man-made lake to have a boat on it for gambling. Anyway, Lady Victoria is a casino boat. It touches the shore every hour. Its open from 9:00 Am to 4:00 AM. They need the 5 hours to settle the days accounts else they would be open 24 hours.

It isn't the only casino boat around. There are a couple of others too, but they require you to pay an entry fee. Lady Victoria has free entry. It is located kind of in the Tri-state area of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana on the Ohio River.

If you go there regularly, you can apply for a member card and use this card whenever you play the machines. This gives you credits for all the dollars you are throwing away which can then be redeemed against food and drink.

Water and soft drinks aboard are free. They also have a wide variety of drinks. AS usual I stuck to rum and coke and declined from throwing away good money. The friends I was with just about managed to walk away even. Ambience is great. You have all these great and aspiring gamblers around you. Dress up could be jeans, tights or even a suit if u r a high roller. Waitresses (or hostesses as they prefer to be called) walk around in stockings and skirted leotards. They bring drinks to your table if you are among the big spenders. Otherwise you need to go to the bar yourself.

It was an experience to see people throwing away their money in the hope of netting the big one. There were people around us winning a $1000 or more. But they were definitely spending around that amount in the 2 days it took them to get that money back. Recklessness abounds !!!!!

Friday, September 15, 2000

Drinking out in San Antonio : Durty Nellie's reviewed

Texas, the second largest state in the United states (next to alaska) is 1/4 the size of India. Home of the original texan rangers, it evocates images of handsome cowboys. Well thats what i thought I was in for when I planned my trip to San Antonio. Well San Antonio is just 3 hours from the Mexican border and was originally part of Mexico. So majority of its poulation is hispanic and not nomadic cowboys.

The San Antonio river winds itself forabout 5 miles around the city, passing below the Hilton and a few other such famous buildings. But the main attraction on the river bank is the pub hopping. The river bank (other than the places where it is actually flowing under public roads and buildings) is covered with pubs and eateries.

We went into Durty Nellies to begin with. Now this is basically an Irish ambience pub but any indian would feel totally in place out here. Snacks are on the house whther u drink or not. And snacks are unshelled monkeynuts or timepass. The funda is that u eat as many nuts as u want and u can drop the shells wherever u please. The floors the tables the chairs are all covered with moongphali ke chilke.

They claim that they have 490 tons of peanuts shelled so far. and the floor seems to give testimony to that fact. They have live entertainment personified by an irish gentle man ??? who plays the keyboards and belts out the raunchiest numbers possible with all the "meaningful" blanks filled in by the inebriated crowd.

As usual in the US, action hots up after 11. And too many drinks could land you in the drink literally since theres hardly 1/2 a metre of distance between the pubs entrance/exit and the river with no barricades between the 2 other than the crowd. 5 varied beers and a nutty irishman (kahlua, irish baileys and cream on ice or on coffee) brought our bill up to about $25 which is a reasonable amount given the prices in Chicago.

Action songs, ballroom waltzing or dirty dancing... anything goes. Dress is casual jeans, ties and suspenders or even business suits. You will see all kinds, and no one is uncomfortable no matter how much or how little they have on. Visited a couple more places along the river walk but didnt feel inclined to have anything more than an ice cream after the ambience of Durty Nellies.

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Lafayette Brewing House, Purdue

Well as soon as I set foot in the University town of Purdue, Indiana, my friend took me straight to the Lafayette Brewing House popular to all students as the "Brew Club". Now this place serves beer beer and only Beer. Never being much of a beer drinker myself, I let my friend order, because I couldn't even pronounce the names of the varieties they had, forget figuring out which one would taste better.

The beer is each of a varying percentage of alcohol, a different color, a different taste. Anyway I was happy to let my friend do the ordering. We tasted around 3 varieties of beer, they were ok, but for me nothing can beat a chilled UB Lager. All the beer here is supposedly freshly brewed but since we were sitting in corner, I couldn't really tell.

The nice thing about bars here is that they have a smoking and a non-smoking area. Of course the student crowd is in the smoking zone, so there's more "happenning" out there.

This place is called the beer club becos of a cute funda that they have. A student can pay $3 and have his name engraved on a mug. You aren't allowed to take the mug home, but each time you come back here you can drink from your "own" mug. Gives a kind of elitist feeling to the regulars. They have a very informal atmosphere out here to cater to the student crowd. With singing and dancing whenever they feel like it. Music is whatever is requested, if they have the CD. You can play your own CDs too. A cool place where you can really do your own thing.

Monday, February 21, 2000

Toms, Bangalore

opp. Johnson Market,
ΓΏ Richmond Town,
1/5 Hosur Road, Ashok Nagar.
Ph: 5361175

Tom's is a favourite haunt of the Anglo-Indian ladies who come in here for early lunch and gossip almost everyday. But the only reason I would go back to Tom's is because it is the only place in Bangalore that I know of that has Christian Brothers on its menu. How the rest of the pubs can keep this king of rums off their menu list while pushing Old Monk and Bacardi is beyond me.

Other than this and its prices, Tom's doesn't have much to recommend it. Bob index is around 0.6 Drinks are all reasonable - between rs30 and 60. This is a place you can go to if you want to drink, drink, drink.

It's an ordinary restaurant. No cocktails. No Mocktails. Just hard liquor. No music either. So if you are inclined to drink in silence or listen to long winded friends when drinking, you would like this place.

Tom's has no ambience to speak of at all. Seating is reminiscent of a typical hostel mess. Stiff chairs and tables arranged in not so straight lines. No music. Not much crowd while I was there. To describe it in a word: Tom's is colorless.

Some of the food is decent. The fish fry, (45/-) if it is fresh, is worth a try. They managed to ruin the sannas (a manglorean type of idli prepared with rice instead of rava) which is like ruining rice or boiled water. The chicken dishes were passable. I've heard their steaks are good. But steaks aren't what you want to eat after a good drink. The tastes aren't complementary. Maybe I'll go back to taste the steaks some day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Ten Downing Street, Pune

Gheera Plaza
Bob : 1

TDS is one of the older pubs in Pune and among the hapenning crowd, a visit to TDS is mandatory on an evening out (which is almost daily) even if it just for 15 minutes. They have some kind of an entry fee on weekends which was waived because of the excellent company I was with.

BOB is a little more than 1. They have some excellent cocktails out here. The bartender will also oblige with special requests for regulars. A couple of items are not mentioned on the menu but are prepared specially on request, like the vaquilas (vodka+tequila shot.)

The B52 that is priced around Rs220/- is excellent here. Don’t leave without trying this one. It is a layer of Irish Baileys, a layer of Kahlua, and a layer of Cointreau. This shot is then set afire and a straw is provided. The trick is to drink it before your straw melts. The sensations that it sets off in your throat as it goes down continues till it reaches the stomach and the after effect believe me is extremely pleasant. Cocktails are priced between Rs150/- and Rs.220/- Snacks are decent.

I heard they had some kind of dance floor one floor above, but someone who had already checked it out told us they were playing hindi numbers which we weren’t in the mood for on this day, so decided to skip it. The music was by Public Demand. The DJ woud play whatever numbers were requested of him, if he had it and he seemed to have a more than decent collection.

Oh, this piece wouldn’t be complete without me mentioning the ladies loo. I was quite taken aback when I saw that ladies had to ascend a couple of steps inside the loo to reach the WC, kind of gives you perspective on why its sometimes called the throne.

Most Puneites prefer to have at least one drink at TDS before proceeding to the newer and more happenning places in town. Since the d‚cor is warm and comfy, lighting not too dim and music at an almost conversable volume, I can see why.


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