Category Archives: bars

Beer Brand Beer

I want to go out drinking at the Generic Movie Bar. I’m not sure where it is, but it must be out there somewhere because it seems like every time characters in a movie go to a bar its the same place. Sure, the decor and ambiance may differ from romantic comedies to weepy drams, but the bars all have the same quirks that I have yet to see in any real-world ale house.

The lights aren’t up full blast, but it’s still bright enough to see from the door to the bar. It’s a kind of tasteful half-glow and there’s no stupid black lights or rotating neon disco balls, just some unobtrusive ambient illumination. The air is clear but I instinctively blink a few times to compensate for the cloud of smoke that isn’t there. I sweep my gaze across the crowd, ample enough make the joint look busy but thin enough to easily move across the dance floor, which isn’t crowded with blinged-out guidos grinding on unsuspecting co-eds from behind and splattering hair product and tanning oil around as they pump their hips in time to the music.

The music is something else… It fills the background with a steady supply of rock, the perfect volume to create an ambient background but just quiet enough to carry on your conversation without having to lean in close to your companion and scream at the top of your lungs so that they can hear you over the 5th rendition of a remixed Usher song that the DJ has played that night. Or maybe its the local live band that usually keeps you from conversing over a quiet pint, erroneously convinced that every one in the bar has come to witness their private concert and obligingly cranked their speakers to 11 as they unveil their thrash-punk version of “Margaritaville.” (Every live band must play Margaritaville. It’s a universal law.)

But not in the Generic Movie Bar. It’s a place where you can belly up to the bar and the guy behind it will be absentmindedly polishing a glass, regardless of how busy or quiet the bar is.  He’ll (it’s always a He) immediately come up to you and ask what you want. You can just order a beer, or a scotch. You don’t need to specify a brand of either, because apparently they proudly serve Beer brand beer and Scotch brand scotch. Don’t worry about telling the bartender how you want it (on the rocks, etc). It doesn’t matter unless you’re ordering a Martini and you work for British Intelligence in which case you know how to order.

You also don’t have to worry about starting a tab with your credit card, or otherwise paying for your drink. I guess they’re not too worried about that sort of thing in the movies. You can see why places like that would appeal to me. Someday I’ll just have to open my own.

S.F.-ari: Pubcrawling San Francisco – Giordano Bros.

This Friday night, instead of taking refuge in the blue light of the cinema I actually went out into the City. (I still went to the movies on Saturday, though). Somewhere along the way, and I’m not sure exactly when it happened, I became kind of lame. I used to be a bar person. I wouldn’t necessarily say a drunk, but certainly someone who felt at home keeping a shine on the bar with the sleeves of my coat. It’s been too long since the epic days of my youth and I no longer have a television to keep me occupied at home, so I’m making a concerted effort to go out more and reacquaint myself with the places where people in San Francisco gather to consume.

My first stop was a place called Giordano Bros., a bar and grill in North Beach with a decidedly Pittsburgh-ian theme. From the giant inflatable Steeler in the corner to the black and yellow decor, this place really sticks to its roots. A sandwich shop by day, there is a full menu of meaty sandwiches, all of which are served with fries and coleslaw served on the sandwich. It’s a little wacky, but evidently it’s a tradition and a tasty one at that.

But when I went, the lights had been turned down low, and a band was setting up for an evening of live music. There was definitely more of a bar atmosphere in the space. But a generous happy hour and low starting prices make it a good place to knock back a few. There were no beers on tap, which I found troubling. But they make up for the deficiency by having some good bottled beers and offering them in bucket form. I ordered one and sat back on the long bench that dominates one side of the room.

Live music can be iffy for me. There are too many shitty cover bands mangling Jimmy Buffet and Dave Mathews before disinterested crowds. Even good bands can approach the gig like they are having a concert that we bar patrons are attending. This is not the case. While there is a always a sampling of the band’s mothers, girlfriends, and groupies, the majority of people tend to be bar customers who want some background music. At least for me, the level of annoyance rises proportionately with every notch of the volume dial the bassist cranks past and every time I have to repeat what I just screamed into the ear of my friend who is sitting six inches away. The band at Giordano Bros. was a delightful exception to this trend and they filled the bar with mellow rock that I didn’t have to tear my lungs out to have a conversation during.

There was a server and he was efficient, if a little sweaty. He took a liking to a young lady in my party and he paid a great deal of clammy attention to her, hugging and kissing her cheek a great deal. It was all very friendly, and not in a totally creepy or unwelcome way but I can’t imagine he gives the same kind of service to every customer that goes through those doors.

I’d spend another night drinking at Giordano Bros., but I can’t help but think the bar is aimed squarely at displaced Pittsburgh-ers and I’m sure the place hits a certain frenzy during Steelers games. In fact, there was a definite feeling of a sports bar waiting for a game. But for a laid-back bucket of beer, a choleste-riffic (but delicious) sandwich, and friendly atmosphere, you could do a lot worse.

Tower of Joy

Somewhere in Dublin there works a barman who possesses the dexterity and sheer nerve to balance 3 full pints of Guinness on top of each other. It’s a testament to the great things men can achieve when they reach for the heavens, though much like the builders of the Tower of Babel this alcohol architect tried to take his malted monument higher than it was meant to go. It ended in sadness but for one shining, glorious moment the tower of Guinness stood in mocking defiance of purely horizontal pints. God bless you, Mr. Barman.

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Link (via Boing Boing)