There’s that old saying about which is thicker, and therefore deserves the ultimate loyalty. (One is decidedly more drinkable; please don’t test it.)
But I learned from a Cracked article [where I learn most of my baller/ meaningless trivia] that the proverb’s been twisted. It doesn’t refer to your biological family like we think these days– it means the one you picked. Blood, as in blood-oaths and war; water, as in of-the-womb relatives. In short: your buddies are better than genetics, because you actually CHOSE them. You love family because you have to; you love your friends because you want to. And life is a fucking battle, so choose wisely who has your back.
I’ve always said something similar: one of the greatest things about growing up is this ability to choose your family. Because that’s who your friends become. The further away from the biological you move and grow, the more you turn to the surrogates in your life. The girlfriends who build a new sisterhood. The guy who steps in as an older brother, to roughhouse and/or protect you. A boss with those mystical parental powers of approval and judgement. On a very basic level, the majority of us will always have some makeshift family dynamic in our day-to-day lives. Whether you find them in the workplace or social circles (or both), the family dynamic is inescapable and omnipotent. It shapes your life.
As kids, friendships are forged mostly by default. You’re the same age, in the same class, seated next to each other alphabetically, or managed to have the same Ninja Turtles backpack. In high school, you shared the same athletic/academic/artistic talent (or mutual lackthereof), and were in the same clique. And college isn’t much different. Majors stick together, and dorm-mates bond. But out here in the real world? It can be harder as adults to find your family.
Freshly pushed from the collegiate nest, we wander like hatchlings [read: idiots] around our new adult lives for a while crying “Are you my mother?” Think about it. For those of you who moved to DC without a support system– and knowing this city, it’s a large majority of us– there was a deep part of you starving for that close-as-blood connection. Some of us turn to classes or clubs to find it within similar interests (fuck bocce ball; but hashing is a “Jules Approved Activity”). Others simply go to a bar to meet people (arguably a similar interest, to those of us alcoholically-minded). Nearly everyone throws themselves into work until life figures itself out.
I don’t know what it’s like to move here without a single friend. Two of my best, Otoño and Sally, were already here. And that was hard enough! But between work and play, I found a few family trees to graft on to. My Restaurant the first year adopted me into a polyglot family spanning over a dozen global cultures. I had a fierce bunch of aunts and uncles, big brothers and sisters, all making sure I ate enough food and had the hugs needed to keep spirits up. Team United Nations pulled me into the wild world of clubs, DJs, and partying the sun to rise. Josef and the Roomies fill in as older brothers keeping me in touch with the art world.
And now, My Bar serves as home base. With a majority of the staff fighting in the DC job market, yet taking pride in Industry life, we understand each other on a very real level. In addition to our “Sunday is Coming” tradition, which kicked off to an awesome start on Easter, we typically meet on Mondays. The Pinch, our friendly neighborhood dive, has made Mondays their Industry Night– meaning certain astronomical specials for those in the know. The rest of the week, we knock off work and set up camp at the corner table at Wonderland Ballroom, where similar benefits are ensured. We take full advantage of industry connections, and have established strong familial ties between our bars.
With that said, sometimes there’s nothing like your literal family. Junior visited with Abigail only once since Inauguration, and it almost felt like a tease because I had to work all weekend. Last week was Fabala’s spring break from high school, and it nearly broke my heart that a visit fell through. On top of it all, my dad was in the hospital for a fair bit (he’ll be alright, but a reoccurring worry). I had to work so much that I still haven’t gotten to pop home and see him. I’m currently the only veteran server at My Bar, and responsibility lays heavy.
The one thing keeping me going: I did get to visit Big Bro up in Philly a month ago; it was ridiculously awesome. He toured me around his favorite bars and restaurants, hopping from one bangin brewery to another craft cocktail bar. He works at one of Starr’s places, the Dandelion, where even their TOAST will make your mouth orgasm. I now have both a new favorite beer and drink– Triumph Brewery‘s Scotch Ale and Continental Midtown‘s ‘Blood and Sand’, a blood orange and scotch drink. I love DC and everything in it, but Philly’s mind-blowing food and drink culture reminded me why I almost moved there or NYC. [No worries, I don’t regret my decision.] One of the greatest things I left my visit with, though, was a strong calm with being an industry worker. Philly is such a great blue-collar-creative environment, and seeing everyone’s pride in their restaurants gave me a sense of peace I hadn’t felt in DC. So thanks to Big Bro, his lady, and all those goobers for the heaps of Brotherly Love.
Which I soon have the chance to return. Junior and Abigail are talking about visiting next weekend. The week after is Big Bro’s and my group of friends’ huge family reunion concert in Philly with our boys, The Heavy Pets (definitely check them out). A month later, the Phillies come down to play the Nats, which ensures a whole bundle of crazy along with it. Then Jules Junior, my pride and joy, graduates from university and officially begins the permanent move back to Our Nation’s Capital! In between all the Clan Jules activities, you can be sure there will be a pile of trouble with my District Family. Because life is best when you have a bunch of love from all corners. Stay tuned.
And because I can’t let the opportunity go to introduce you, this is from last year’s show:
Overwhelmed with scheduling holiday parties, making sure you don’t miss out on cultural events, or tracking down those seasonal activities you always seem to miss? Or the worst: not taking advantage of those favorite seasonal beers/drinks finally back for winter? [Speaking of which, where did my whiskey-nog run off to….]
Yea, I have trouble with that, too. Not just the leaking-glass issue, but keeping the season straight. Nothing is more traumatic than finding out you RSVP’ed to five different parties on Saturday, but Friday is empty. OH, THE HORROR.
So I’ve added a new page to help. All my favorites are there: family favorites like the Zoo’s lights and the Nat’l Christmas tree at the W.H… to non-family-friendly classics like bartender competitions and late-night holiday shenanigans. My personal mission: as many beer/liquor sponsored holiday parties as possible. I have two this week alone. The page is constantly under construction as the days tick by, so keep in touch!
My next week:
Wednesday, Dec 12:
Wednesday is my only full night off this week– so I’m spending it with my favorites. Sally, Theon, and any other of the crew interested in throwing back serious holiday cheer will be gathering at one of our local spots. I’m campaigning hard for the first one:
DC Brau’s Holiday Party, via Meridian Pint. As the Pint says, “the Brau boys will be in-house spreading holiday cheer as only they can”, with 19 Brau drafts at happy hour prices all night. I’ve sent out the alerts, folks– I’ll be there in full force. Those barrel-aged beers are MINE. And I adore the bartenders; you know my weakness. The younger ones are cute and flirty, the older ones are badass, and they all know their shit. Sit and ask for a pull of their favorite, and you’ll never be disappointed.
Head to the Churchkey for the unveiling of L’Interimaire, the new Bluejacket/ Dogfish Head collaboration. No cover, pours start at 6pm, and individually priced. As Dogfish Head holds a special place in my heart, this event might bring me unique seasonal cheer. We’ll see where I decide.
Thursday, Dec 13:
Though I will likely go to Madam’s Organ for drunkeoke and my favorite salsa band, I’m insanely tempted to check out the Secret Stash Party at Scion. With over 50 beers not usually offered in DC, this is a brewnerd’s winter acid trip. Regardless of venue, I will likely be seeing a gentleman caller for our second date Thursday night. Mildly nervous. Details to follow.
Friday, Dec 14:
I’m stoked to finally check out an After Hours event at the Crime and Punishment Museum. This month, they celebrate the end of Prohibition with an all-out Roaring 20’s party, hosted by Canadian Club whisky. Throw on your pinstripes and flapper dresses, get to the speakeasy bar, and run free in the shut-down museum from 7-11pm. I’m so flustered, I don’t know which of my gangster getups to wear! Tickets may be purchased on the Museum site, or for half-off for one more day on Groupon— doesn’t matter for me, I’m on the guest list!
Team United Nations will merge again for a night of combined alliance for seasonal shenanigans.
Saturday, Dec 15th:
This coming weekend, my newest favorite neighborhood dive, The Pinch, is hosting a four-day Holiday Apocalypse Party. I’ve been a few times for food and late-night fun. The owner is a great guy, and passionate about quick, fantastic service, and the staff definitely deliver it. Plus, the downstairs stage throws me back to my years as a college live-band-party coordinator, and I mean that in the best way possible! Drinks are strong, beers are quite choice, and it’s all served with the neighborhood dive vibe we all love.
Friday the 14th is a JAILBREAK party, with four DJs bringing 70’s punk, glam, garage, and power pop on vinyl. Saturday night is an album release party for PRIESTS, with three additional performances. Sunday is Hangover Brunch Day, highly recommend the french toast and donuts; bottomless screwdrivers rock my world. The Apocalypse ends with a final show Monday, with DC’s the Sniff and a hometown throwback with Philly’s Cousin Brian. No Cover, any night. Killer atmosphere guaranteed. Wish Big Bro and Jules Junior were here to enjoy a joint DiscoCity-Philly bash.
ALCOHOLIC GOAL OF THE WEEK:
If I don’t track down and consumer the new Crown Royal Maple whisky, I will die. This is not a joke. I don’t joke about whisk[e]y/bourbon. Unless I tell you your drink doesn’t have any, because that’s a funny lie. If I made the drink, it’s in there. And the joke is, you’ll enjoy it.
So if you help me find this, I will buy you a drink (of your choice), on a night (possibly of your choice). I have been searching like a heartbroken, lost puppy every since my stepdad told me about this over Turkey Day. Message me here, or please tweet me, so I’ll receive news even faster. Thanks for keeping my holidaze cheery!
It’s Friday the 13th, and the day before France’s and my birthday– oh lordy, Washington, you’re in for a whole mess of trouble!
As I rattled off a list of increasingly elaborate specialty cocktails and hot-weather treats the other night that I’ve planned for Saturday, my friend Theon’s expression grew more and more amused. With a mildly sardonic grin, he sassed back, “So, you really like birthdays, huh?”
Well, sort of. I really like celebrations. Commemorating anything from anniversaries and birthdays to a promotion or new house: they all deserve parties. I see them as a way to show karma that I’m grateful for not being beaten up for once. Everyone should be thankful for the sweet things in life. I enjoy throwing parties just because it’s Thursday and I’m bored– but something legitimate, like a birthday? Oh, it’s going down.
Anyone from my pre-DC life is well acquainted with the legendary parties. Theme parties were a huge thing (Sally can attest to this; her Sexual Fetish Party was my favorite), but our celebrations were just as killer. But I haven’t actually thrown a party here yet. Potlucks, yes. Little 25-people soirees, sure. but parties? Not as I understand the definition. My own birthday has fallen through the cracks many-a-year. Last year, I’d just moved to DC and didn’t know many folks. My good friends on Team United Nations definitely made it a wonderful night, but it made it clear that I was no longer in my home of two decades, where I’d be instantly surrounded by 50+ friends and funnies the second I set foot outside my door.
This year, I plan to change that. And since I’m one of the best party planners I know, I’m taking the reigns for my own parade! So we’re going to have all sorts of fun yummies. There will be firecrackers/works. There may be a water balloon fight in the back alley. I also just bought a punch container from Target, which I plan to keep full all night.
If you know/meet me in real life, there is one thing you should know: I love whiskey. No, not in a “yay, whiskey sours are yummy, let’s make it sugar-rimmed!” way. I mean in a drink-neat-because-ice-dilutes-it way. [Though I do drink certain ones on the rocks.] I’ll hold back before I write a full post on whiskey instead of parties, like I planned, but that’s the bottom line: it isn’t a party without whiskey. And I’m not a happy birthday girl without my favorite, the ultimate whiskey drink:
the Old Fashioned:
Melt sugar in dash of water and bitters. Drop in cherry and orange; muddle [i.e. smash together with blunt object]. Pour in bourbon, fill with ice, and stir. Enjoy that you are now classy as fuck, and more likely to be friends with me. I just might have one for breakfast, to start my birthday off perfectly. Hey! There’s fruit in, so it’s healthy… right?
[Some add a splash of club soda; I am not one of those people. If I see you pour soda, grenadine, cherry juice, or any other contaminates into my Old Fashioned, I will smack you into next Tuesday. Don’t argue.]
Anyway, on to the really exciting treats prepared for tomorrow:
Orange Slice Jello Shots
Hands-down the coolest idea I’ve heard since home-brewed beer. Alright, maybe not that baller, but still pretty nifty.
STEP 1: make your vodka jello [or non-adult jello]. For two packets of jello, I did four cups boiling water, two cups cold, and two cups vodka.
STEP 2: You take large oranges and cut them in half. [I’m talking softball-sized.]
STEP 3: Scoop out the yummy parts– I used a thin spoon– and consume. Or save for later to make a rum bucket. [I swear I’m not an alcoholic.]
STEP 4: Now, don’t make the mistake I did and think that your jello-filled orange halves will stand up and not spill; you will be covered in jello. So fill a pyrex or cookie sheet with something to prop them up [I used uncooked lentils], fill the halves, nestle them into the dish, and pop into the fridge.
STEP 5: 4-5 hours later, take out, cut like a cantaloupe, and marvel at the brilliance of orange peel jello shots.
Strawberry Rum Popsicles
That’s right, kids: we can take every childhood memory and turn it into a fun, drunk party throwback!
STEP 1: Mix together your juice of choice, rum: two parts juice, one part rum.
STEP 2: Pour into freezable containers. I used these Dixie-type little plastic shot glasses. Rule of thumb: when debating which to get, remember it has to fit in your mouth. No showing off– make it enjoyable for everyone.
STEP 3: Put into freezer and forget about them; set alarm for 4+ hours later.
STEP 4: Check the freezing process. When there’s a substantial 1.4 inch slushy frost along the top, take out and shove sticks in. I found colorful drink stirrers at Target, instead of the wooden classics, but there are loads of options.
STEP 5: Return to freezer and actually forget about them until the next day, when you can bring guests melting from the heat to the fridge and surprise with icey goodness.
Use your head: it’s exactly what you think it is. That’s right! Vodka watermelon, everyone’s favorite! Not everyone? Well, more for me!
I’m not always a serious vodka-lover, but this is a case where it is absolutely called for. I keep passing the fruit vendors around Columbia Heights with naturally-impossible, gargantuan melons piled high in the back of their trucks. Every time I do, I imagine what a bitch they must be to carry home, or have the strong urge to insist on the massive one right at the bottom of the pile. Either way, the sight fills me with mischief, and I’m inspired to purchase and fill one with alcoholic glory.
It’s an easy process.
STEP 1: Purchase a plain-old-watermelon [preferably from one of those sketchy fruit-pushers on the street corner.]
STEP 2: Carve a hole in the top like a Jack-o-lantern. Make sure it cuts a few inches down into the red fruity bits. Keep plug for later.
STEP 3: This is where the time-consuming aspect comes in. Prop a funnel into the hole, and fill with vodka. Leave for awhile. Come back, and repeat.
STEP 4: Continue process until your melon is suitably intoxicated. For the giant one I’m going to buy today, I will likely use a good 2/3+ of a handle. And I chose a flavored vodka– you have to guess which one.
STEP 5: After a full night fermenting in inebriated wonder, bust it out mid-party and share the wealth.
Controversy: The marinating-process is a debated affair. Some people, like I was taught, use the “Funnel Method” [i.e. gradually returning to pour more into the funnel over a series of hours]. Others will cut the hole deep enough and upturn the entire bottle over the melon. This concept makes me nervous; I don’t want to return to a kitchen covered in vodka. I understand the physics of it, but still don’t trust it. I welcome feedback on the debate, though.
Jungle Juice: ginger ale, vodka, V8 Splash, possibly fruit and/or sorbet.
Skippy: beer, vodka, lemonade. As I like to keep regular drinks about for non-alcoholic friends, lemonade is always in the house. But with all the vodka around for a party, that also means one of my favorite summer beer-tails! And with a full keg [Yuengling, I think?], there will be plenty of beer.
In short: tomorrow will be a very long, spectacular show of intoxication, love, and magnificence. How will YOU be celebrating my birthday?