Jeremy Malanka sets out to sample five cocktails and ends up with a whole lot more
Embarking on a bar crawl the weekend after Thanksgiving may seem like overkill. On the other hand with a week of pure gluttony already behind me, finding room for delicious cocktails should be easy. With two feet forward and my liver quivering in the corner I bravely took the challenge of five bars and five craft cocktails in one afternoon.[Editor’s Note: This is the point where we should say something about, “Don’t try this at home,” or more likely, “Don’t attempt to recreate the acts you are about to read here.” The WC does not encourage binge drinking, and writer Jeremy Malanka was under sober supervision throughout the course of his endeavor. Okay, now you can enjoy reading about him making a fool of himself.]
2:14pm – Doc Magrogan’s
I met editor Dan Mathers and photographer Adam Jones as they unloaded camera equipment on Gay Street. My excitement to start with the first sip was slightly stifled by just how early it was – I have not started drinking before 5pm since I was 21. So, I guess it was fitting that we started with fishbowls, since they too were something I enjoyed thoroughly back when I was 21. The bartender, Jenna, quickly built an Orange Crush, Sex on the Beach and a Blue Hawaiian. I enjoyed all three, but the beverage that stood out was the Sex on the Beach, or SOB. It’s loaded with vodka and then cloaked with pineapple, cranberry, and fresh OJ to disguise the booze. It is vital that the drink be as sweet as it is, because it’s hiding a whole lot of booze inside. We joked and laughed about stories of first time bar experiences, and Dan insisted I finish all 28 ounces before we could complete the pregame and move on. I had a slight buzz, and a giant smile.
2:45pm – Pietro’s Prime
My spirits were high as we left for Pietro’s. Walking down Gay Street, I laughed at the condition I was already in from that one massive drink – it was effective. The brick wall beside me as well as the sidewalk beneath my feet were leaning just a bit as we arrived at the West Market martini bar. After meeting Dan’s wife Tanya and The WC’s assistant editor Jon Roth, I watched as Mike the mixologist shook up a drink I wouldn’t normally order: an Appletini. However, this beverage had a cinnamon and sugar-coated rim added to the equation. It’s named The Marissa after owner Marissa Powell and her renowned love of the drink. The cinnamon and sugar cut any taste of alcohol, and this delicious drink went down smooth. However, as would quickly become a theme, Mike wasn’t willing to let me get out the door after having only tried one of his drinks. Marissa’s father Frank is a fixture in Pietro’s, and Frank has trouble remembering names so he simply calls everyone Howard. The Howard was the next drink on my tour, and this beer and shot combo (the Crown Royal is non-negotiable) is aptly named because after one or two you’ll likely start forgetting names, too.
4:02pm – Mas Mexicali Cantina
When I caught back up with the rest of the crew after a quick trip to the powder room, bartender Josh had a Pepino ready for me. Giro tequila with fresh lime, triple sec and housemade simple syrup with muddled cucumber – yes, cucumber. It’s refreshing and tantalizing, and the fresh cucumber and lime make it the best margarita I have ever had. For good measure Josh served up a Low Rider Candy Skull with Jack Daniels, sweet tea vodka, Goldschlager, coke and sour making for what he called a Fireball Long Island, an amalgamation of spicy, sweet liquor that is probably responsible for putting me over the edge. I was also powerless to say no to a $25 shot of Don Julio 1945, tequila that tastes more like Scotch than a typical Anejo.
4:47pm – Kooma
My ability to walk was rapidly diminishing as Dan guided me to Kooma, my eyelids relaxed and setting with the sun. Entering the bar, I saw a friend behind the bar and, as obnoxious as possible, I shouted his name across the crowd. Dan immediately tried to find a way to calm the tequila fireball that was burning inside of me. [Editor’s Note: “Pilo” is not the only thing Jeremy was shouting, and the bar was filling up with dinner patrons.] At this point I was just a passenger on the journey. I settled in as Al the alchemist encrusted the rim of a martini glass with crushed pretzel and salt. A Chocolate covered pretzel? I’ve only ever had that as a shot. Al lovingly decorated the glass with chocolate syrup then shook chocolate whipped cream vodka, Frangelico and Godiva white chocolate liqueur. It looked like a work of art, and I made quick work of this delicious martini that took longer to make it did to drink. The martini is sweet and savory and tastes as its name suggests. Frankly, I don’t remember leaving and have to thank Dan for safely escorted me down the treacherously crooked sidewalk.
5:32pm – The Social Lounge
The smell coming from the kitchen of The Social Lounge jarred me into drunken hunger. My condition was soliciting smiles from people around me as I was fed my final drink, the Vojito. Muddled basil, mint, lime and lemon shaken up with Citron and simple syrup finished with a splash of club. By this point I knew I was not going to remember much, so I made sure to scribble down my thoughts in my note pad – consulting them the next day, they turned out to be mostly gibberish. After deciphering what I can of the notes, I have concluded that basil and simple syrup together is a match made in heaven, and that grain alcohol could be added to this mix and it would still taste amazing.
Everything’s still fuzzy in hindsight; by that point I was embarrassing myself (and possibly my family) by remaining in public. My thoughts rushed to Dan – can he be trusted? Why did he do this to me? Did Thanksgiving happen? Did I order food? Cigarette? Where am I? I was shaken back to reality by the bartender’s inquiry about the drink, and I confirmed it was fantastic. Still, I wanted my burger to go. I took my burger, stepped out the door then suddenly woke up the next day safe and sound in my bed with a headache, notebook full of illegible chicken scratch, and a spent Social Lounge to-go container.
Most towns can’t facilitate a proper bar crawl. You need a good variety of quality bars, all within walking distance. Downtown West Chester offers a car-free journey across the brick sidewalks, from swanky martini bars to college favorites. There’s something memorable for everyone… even if you don’t always remember all of it… or most of it.