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photos by Dakota Fine
brief intro by Svetlana

Patrick Owens is what I like to call a true DC bartending MVP. I first met him when I was 23 and he was in charge of keeping everyone in order at Local 16. Somehow, he decided we were nice enough to skip lines and as a result we developed this solid, head-nodding friendship (that he actually may not remember, because in 2003, lots of people tried to go on that rooftop ALL THE TIME). Later on, he manned the bar @ Bourbon, one of my favorite local bars and can now be found taking care of you (and the business) at both MARVIN and AMERICAN ICE COMPANY. He is a great cocktail maker, a great person to hand you a cocktail and a great person to talk to while you drink your cocktail. Below, he’ll take you on a particularly prolific week of drinking and music in some of his favorite places in town. ENJOY, you’re in good hands.

aka Drunk Diary

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Wednesday-

  • 9am Boring, weak coffee that does not live up to its expectations.
  • 4pm Heading into American Ice Company (aka Amico, aka The Icehouse), I grab a redeye (coffee w/ a shot of espresso) and some bubbles (sparkling water, that is. I gave up soda many years ago but still crave the carbonation. Judge me as you will). Most days I sip on both throughout the evening. And yes, the coffee grows colder and more bitter as the night wears away, but so does my soul, so it’s fitting.
  • 5:30pm Begin tasting for an upcoming event, Spirits in Black, featuring heavy metal-influenced cocktails. Before we go on, when I refer to “tweaking” or “tasting” I really mean making the cocktail, tasting it, making it again, changing one ingredient slightly, tasting that version, trying the first one again, then making ANOTHER one with a slightly more varied recipe, tasting that one, going back to the others, etc etc, and you get the idea. If you’re lucky, you strike gold quickly. If you’re not, you end up getting REALLY buzzed (read: hammered). Today I’m “tweaking” the Sweet Leaf, which has Milagro tequila, Campari, Liquor 43 (a Spanish vanilla heavy liquor), lime and mint honey. Tastes spot on, so I can check that off the list. Now just eight more to go.  In less than a week. Crap. Move on to the Rye on Fire (Rye, Cardamaro, Grapefruit, Yellow Chartreuse). The drink so far is tasty, but  like most things in life, it NEEDS MORE METAL. I will attempt this by adding hellfire bitters (a mega-spicy tincture that’s made with Habanero chiles). I made two versions earlier in the month to compare; the first an old, classic formula, and the second an adjusted recipe with Thai Bird’s Eye chiles, molasses, lime, gentian root, and high-proof whiskey. Very stupidly (kinda how I roll)  I decide to taste the bitters on it’s own, without dilution, placing a couple drops directly on my tongue. Oh dear god. Chaos! Hell ON EARTH! Instant stomach cramps, nausea, and a splitting headache (go figure). But worst of all it sears my tongue, along with my taste buds. I throw in the towel on cocktails for the day.

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  • 830 pm-1am Wednesdays have turned into an informal beer-tasting between Ashley May(co-worker/ all-around-badass/ co-conspirator of our Metal Night), our friend Jason Mader (a beer, spirits and cocktail nerd), and myself. We bring in random, interesting, or weird beers to try as the bar starts to die down. First is Mikkeller’s coffee IPA. The coffee notes are very subdued and only present on the bitter finish, but the beer is tasty. Stone Vertical Epic from 2007.  Definitely improved with age. Creamy, rich, bubbly, with a subtle sour finish. Two duds, the Yoho Tokyo Black Porter (boring and flat) and the Otter Creek Otter San, an ale brewed w/Saki yeast (Big Saki, but not much else).  Another hit with Dark Horse Perkulator, a coffee dopplebock. Crazy roasted stout flavors but a deceptively mild body. And despite the beer’s name, it has one of the most metal-looking labels I’ve seen: a two-headed, winged goat demon (reminiscent of Slayer’s Reign in Blood cover), holding a coffee mug on a throne.  Slow clap. Next Allagash’s Odyssey, a malty oak-aged wheat beer. We finish with Brewer’s Art (straight outta B-more!) Le Canard, a Belgian strong Pale. Mega carbonation, but that’s all I can taste at this point. My palate is officially blown; too many beers and the bitters fiasco didn’t help.  Time to clean the bar and count the bills.
  • 330am:  Home. Crack a Caldera pale ale. Deliciously crisp, slightly floral Oregon beer. These guys are good. But I fall asleep before I can finish it.

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-Thursday-

  • Boring, responsible stuff all day mainly involving parenting. Some coffee in there at the beginning. I have a rare night off tonight to witness some shredding; Holy Grail is playing at the Red Palace on H street (and no, it’s not a strip club).
  • 2pm Laura (my much better half) makes a killer stew with pork, hominy, corn, celery, and other wondrous ingredients but my ‘buds are still fried from the night before and I can barely taste the glorious concoction. SAD FACE EMOTICON.
  • 5pm 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die IPA. Dumb name, decent beer. XBOX Kinnect with my son Elliott. Exercise and some quality father-son time; two birds, one stone.
  • 7pm H street. Toki Underground has a wait, so we pop into the Pug conveniently located below the restaurant. Great Lakes Dortmunder Lager and Jameson.

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  • 8pm Toki Underground. Woah. Like, WOAH. Mind-blowingly good on all fronts. Seafood dumplings and curry chicken ramen with pork cheek add-on (I would add pork cheek to my cereal if I had my druthers). Two (tasty) cocktails with dinner. First the Toki Monster, boozy and sweet with Bulleitt bourbon, a honey pepper liquor and spritz of Peat Monster Scotch. Oh, and a skewer of pork belly on top.  I’m skeptical, but the salty, rich flavors of the pork are a nice compliment to the drink. It was a challenge not to finish the pork before the drink (I narrowly succeeded).  Next the Satsuma Yum! with Mt. Gay rum, tea-infused Beefeater gin, Aperol, Cointreau and Dubonnet Rouge (a sweet vermouth). Delicious and balanced, with a nice tart finish from the Aperol.
  • 930pm Red Palace to witness Holy Grail SHRED my face off. Killer show. During the show I down two Dale’s Pale Ales, another Jameson, and a couple Iron City Lights. I rarely drink light beers, but they were going down so smooth, you guys.
  • 12am Dodge City for more booze I don’t need. A sipper of Bulleitt Rye (if you haven’t tried it you’re missing out on LIFE), and Pilsner Ace on the side. I like my boilermakers.
  • 1am Forced at hug point by Abdul (part-owner of Dodge) into another Jameson shot. *shudder*
  • 2am-ish Home.  Water, water, water.

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-Friday-

  • 3:30pm Redeye and bubbles for the evening.
  • 4pm Work (Icehouse). Nursing a “mild” hangover, I work on another metal cocktail, the DIO-Saronno (Neisson Rhum, Bonal, Diasaronno and Gran Classico). I try adding scorched bitters on top (it works). As with most things, just add flames. Satisfied and only mildly buzzed, I tackle another drink, the Napalm Death In The Afternoon (a very loose interpretation of an old cocktail that Hemmingway used to drink called Death in the Afternoon). This one also has flames, but with the help of Absinthe. I’m lucky and nail the recipe quickly. Check, check.
  • 7pm It’s a slow night and we’re bored, so we start early. Milagro Reposado tequila.
  • 7:30pm Old Overholt Rye whiskey with a pickle-back.  (We make our own pickles at the Icehouse, so pickle juice is a-plenty and a-tasty)
  • 8:15pm Mas Milagro Reposado por favor.
  • 8:30pm More rye (So much for taking it easy)
  • 8:45pm Wash down dinner w/ a local favorite, Port City Porter.
  • 8:48 Bitters and soda (for the belly)

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  • 10pm Dude Eraser, aka “The Post-Op”. Similar to the Mind Eraser, but won’t give you Adult Onset Diabetes quite so fast. It’s Three Olives Dude (Mountain Dew-flavored vodka), Aperol, and soda water (You chug it). Sounds gross, but works somehow. Sweet up front and bitter on the end. Just how I like my booze.
  • 10:45pm Rye. That “mild” hangover is now rearing it’s ugly, disfigured head .
  • 11:15pm Tequila. (Hey, I said it was a slow night)
  • 1145pm Rye
  • 1245am Dude Eraser
  • 2:30am For last call I make myself “As Wine Stands Time”, an insanely good cocktail that’s from Cure in New Orleans. The drink is Rittenhouse Rye, Bonal (a red wine aperitif with quinine), Cynar (the famed artichoke amaro) and grapefruit juice.  Equal parts, it’s simple, balanced and DELICIOUS.  (Since learning of this cocktail, I make it for myself at the end of almost every shift.)
  • 3:45am Anderson Valley IPA while I finish up the night’s paperwork.
  • 5:30am Homezzzzzzzz.

-Saturday-

  • 3:30pm Redeye, sparkles
  • 4pm Work (Marvin Bistro)
  • 7:30 Fernet Branca.  For whenever you have that not-so-fresh feeling in your mouth.
  • 7:31pm Try the new beer on tap, Goose Island Fleur, a Belgian pale ale brewed with Hibiscus and Kombucha tea. Not my style. The night is slow so I try some new reds. Domaine Montpertuis Cotes du Rhone, and Masi Campofiorin Rossi del Veronese 2007 (don’t ask me what any of that means). Yum, but it needs food, of which my belly is seriously lacking. Despite being so slow, I’m kept busy (far too busy) with a plethora of dirty vodka martinis. So. Many. Fucking. Martinis.
  • 11:15pm Scarf down dinner with DC Brau’s Public ale. This local gem is big and bold, floral and piney.
  • 11:30pm I join a co-worker for a shot of Green Chartreuse and Tabasco. Say whaaaat?!??! This is a first for me, and I must admit, damn tasty. It’s like Christmas with your rich step-father; a little weird at first, but you could get used to it.
  • 12:00 I’m out of work early for a Saturday night, so I head over to the Black Cat to meet my friend Murph (aka DJ Treebeard) and discuss plans for the upcoming Metal Cocktail night. It’s early enough that I’m able to run upstairs and catch the last of Les Savvy Fav’s set. Al Budd, who will ALWAYS be the best bartender in DC (despite his narrow loss in On Tap’s recent bogus vote) is behind the bar so I join him for a nip of Jameson and a Budweiser. During the last song, the lead singer of Les Savvy Fav walks through the crowd to the back of the club, dances with some unsuspecting ladies, pretends to do an ATM transaction, and goes to the bar where he ushers Al Budd over to give him a giant bear hug across the bar. It was kind of amazing.
  • 1:00am Head downstairs after the show to catch up with Matt Brown, who’s also behind the bar. I waited tables with this dude over 12 years ago in a Tex-Mex restaurant (located in a strip-mall). He also turned me onto tequila. But the last time I ordered a cocktail from him, he handed me a Blue Motorcycle, so I stick to Bud and some rye.
  • 2:00 am Home

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-Sunday-

  • 8:30 am Normally this is my day to sleep in but it’s Mother’s Day, so I’m up early with Elliott.
  • Long day of travel to moms’ houses and not much drinking.
  • 6pm Evolution’s Lot No. 3 IPA (like) with dinner.
  • 9pm Home, tuck in the little man (my son that is) and crack Stillwater’s 25 to 1 Anniversary Ale.
  • YES PLEASE! A thick, roasty brown ale. Not only is it delicious, the name reminds me of one of the greatest rock songs featuring two trombones and a saxaphone, Chicago’s ‘25 or 6 to 4’.
  • 10pm Caldera Pale Ale.  The lady and I settle in to watch Game of Thrones (easily the best, not to mention most metal, show on TV right now).  Inspired by one of the characters, I pour an imp’s finger of Fighting Cock bourbon (crisp, sweet and 103 proof). I’m a little tipsy and decide its a good idea to trim my beard (it’s not).
  • 2am BED.

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-Monday-

  • 4pm Work (Marvin Bistro). Redeye, sparkles.
  • 530pm Try another new red on the list, a  Rivola Tempranillo/Cabernet from Spain. Work on another cocktail for the Metal night. The drink is spot on, but the crushed walnut and salt garnish  fails miserably. Fair enough, no garnish it is. I honestly don’t know how the pros do their cocktail testings; I always get hammered halfway through and have to give up. Oh, that’s right. They have GOOD palettes.
  • 7pm Manage to slice my finger open cutting a lime during service. That’s gonna be fun for the next week of work.
  • 1130pm Home. Brewdog Punk IPA. My taste buds are still a little whacked out from the bitters incident earlier in the week. It feels like I’ve been licking a cheese grater in the desert.
  • 1am Noah’s Mill, a big, bold, caramel-sweet bourbon that’s barrel-strength, meaning they don’t water the whiskey down after it comes out of the barrel. It’s 114 proof and will sneak up on you if you’re not careful. A Bell’s Oberon completes this boiler maker.
  • 2am Bed. (lame, I know)

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-Tuesday-

  • I’m gonna call this a cheat day, cause I’m celebrating my birthday a day early (since I’m working tomorrow). Also because I’m about to do some dirty, dirty things to my liver and stomach.
  • 5pm: PBR (shower beer).
  • 630pm: Head back to Dodge City for my birthday tradition: getting pimp-slapped (with the aid of babypowder) by Patrick Mucklow, a long-time friend and part-owner of Dodge. To ease the sting, I drink a Founder’s Porter and a baby DC Brau.
  • 8pm:  Off to Proof for another tradition, gluttony. I order the Root cocktail (Silver tequila, Green Chartreuse and White Port) and the lady orders the Devil’s Grin (High West Oat Whiskey, Campari, Amaretto, lime and cane sugar).  Adam Bernbach (the bar manager) is kind of a genius, but whenever he sees me he offers to buy my child. It can get weird. Luckily he’s out of town. Sweet breads and crispy pork to start, and for dinner a Flintstones-sized pork chop bathed in a negroni vinaigrette (badass). A funky red with dinner, but NO recollection what it was. Santa Maria Al Monte Amaro (a super dry aromatized spirit) with dessert, a maple-butterscotch pudding. A friend at the bar overhears it’s my birthday, so a round of Jameson shots is passed out.
  • 10:45pm I linger too long and am suckered into some Old Overholt rye. Jerks.
  • 11pm-1:59am Pharmacy Bar to meet some peeps…DC Brau, Anderson Valley Summer Solstice, Overholt rye, a chilled shot of Berentzen Apfelkorn (like boozy, lethal apple juice) and a mind-eraser. There MAY have been more shots, as well as more bad decisions (much like that mind-eraser)….
  • 2am Home? I think?

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-Wednesday-

  • 10am What happened. Coffee. Not enough.
  • 1pm Work, Ice Company. Today is cocktail D-day. The event Ashley and I have been putting together, Spirits in Black, is tonight and I head in early for a massive prep for the evening’s festivities. There’s about 600 ounces of grapefruit, plum, blood orange, lime and lemon juice to be made. It takes awhile.

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  • 8pm We’re busy. Not much time to drink, but I sneak a bottle of Brewdog Paradox that Ashley May got me for my birthday (I told you she was a badass). The beer is an imperial stout aged in a 1987 Macallan Sherry cask. Peaty, roasty, and luscious (yes, I did use the word ‘luscious’ to describe a beer). Just what I need to calm the nerves. For the most of the night though I stay extremely, shockingly sober.
  • 10pm Spirits in Black commences. There is metal, fire, (lots of) air-drumming, thrashing, and I make a crap-ton of drinks for the masses. I taste the cocktails as I prepare them, but it’s really just a tease.
  • 1am Things start to die down, so we continue our Wednesday beer tasting. Included are B.F.M.’s Abbaye De Sait Bon Chien, Ballast PointPorter, and a Tall Grass Buffalo Sweat Stout that Anne Marisic, (GM of Red Palace/ beer goddess) brought me for my birthday (I have good friends).
  • 5am Cleanup and money-counting/shuffling/tossing is finally, mercifully done. It’s been a long day; my neck is throbbing from a well-aimed egg (don’t ask), I have egg yolk in my hair from another loose egg, and there’s squid ink all over my jeans (also, don’t ask). But it was a damn fine birthday, and an even better week


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