Thursday, September 29, 2011

Primanti Brothers, Pittsburgh

Jocelyn enjoys and Iron City
Seconds after tweeting, "I'm in Pittsburgh," the dining recommendations came flowing in. Normally I would have looked into each suggestion carefully, reviewing the menu online, the customer comments, the cocktail menu, the decor, and the location. But for the first time, the meal that everyone told me I HAD to experience was the same: Primanti Brothers.

@DrncPno said, "Primanti Bros. is a place 2 go to discover the authentic 'burgh. Sandwiches are a meal on a bun."

@cliffordbrown3 said, "Primanti's is a tradition you must experience when in da 'burgh."

@Cat_Pylant said, "So, so jealous- as everyone has advised Primanti's is a MUST!"

My family and I took a brisk walk from downtown into The Strip to find this place. We wanted to eat at the original joint to immerse ourselves in an authentic experience. I knew absolutely nothing about the eatery but based on the referrals, I wanted to do it the right way.

Due to jet-lag we were hungry for lunch at 11:30 a.m., which meant that the line was only 10 deep and fast moving, thanks to a friendly but no nonsense host. We were seated in the second room, right next to the bar (they must have heard I was coming), and just below a flat screen TV broadcasting the Pittsburgh Panthers in the process of winning.

Pastrami Sandwich
When you're hungry, every single item on the menu looks a-mazing, so choosing was not easy. I finally settled on a pastrami sandwich, a side of fries, a large pickle, and an Iron City beer.

The meal was sensational. A perfect balance of meat, coleslaw, fries, and sauce served on a sheet of paper. And even though I was stuffed after the first half of the sandwich, there was no chance I was leaving any of it behind.

Primanti Brothers has zero reason to ever change a single thing about this place. Just promise me you'll never expand to California. It just wouldn't be the same.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

7 Ways to RUIN a Cocktail Party
Nervous about throwing a cocktail party? Don't be. As the author of This Girl Walks Into a BarI've detected several party pitfalls that are sure to wreck your event. Take note, steer clear, and learn from someone else's trial and error.

Click here to read my article for and learn how to avoid ruining a party this holiday season.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Drink Photo Shoot

It was really fun to have our drinks photographed for an upcoming article about my sister and I and our book, This Girl Walks Into a Bar. After looking for the perfect location  for the shoot in Northern San Diego, we settled on our parent's home in La Mesa, California.

Brevin, the director of photography for Pacific San Diego Magazine, showed up with a mini studio set. In about 5 minutes one bag was opened up and the kitchen was transformed into a camera-ready set. I of course had to take a picture of the action. A drink of mine was getting its 15 minutes of fame and the moment needed to be recorded.

Stay tuned for the magazine issue later this week! And if you become a fan of Pacific San Diego Magazine on Facebook, you'll have a chance to win a copy of our book!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Restaurant and Bar Review? (I'm up in the air)

I have never been this entertained and at the same time educated while in a bar before. Okay, it wasn't exactly a bar. It was United Airlines flight 943 from Chicago to LA.

Shortly after ordering my glass of Hayes Ranch Chardonnay and gourmet cheese, cracker, and dried fruit plate, Captain Ed Contrerra invited us to tune into his "Talk Show in the Air" on channel 9.

Lively and endearing with a good sense of humor, the Captain amused us with airplane trivia and some aviation history. This is what I learned:

  • the air up at 32,000 feet is 3 times thinner than what we're used to down on the ground.
  • at take-off, the weight of the plane was 215,000 pounds and the heaviest it can be to take off is 240,000.
  • we'd burn 28,000 pounds of fuel, or 4,000 gallons. And if anyone was worried about their carbon footprint, that's only 23 gallons a person for the whole trip. Not bad!!
  • the temp outside the window was -62, and according to Captain Contrerra, "why we ask you to kindly keep your windows rolled up."
  • the plane cost about 80 million dollars (gulp)
  • the captain and his co-pilot, Ken Kennedy, were at the end of their 4-day leg. 
  • because "no self-respecting pilot lands a plane on autopilot, feel free to applaud when we land."
When I was a kid, airplane travel meant mid-air visits to the cockpit sporting plastic "wings" pinned on by bubbly flight attendants whose jobs had yet to include "unofficial homeland security office" in the descriptions.

The friendliness and warmth of this United crew, couple with the delicious wine and cheese, made this mobile bar one I'll come back to.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Manners Rule #7: Give Special Thanks for Special Tips

Most of your customers are probably tipping you a lovely 15-20%. You always say thank you and acknowledge their gesture. Then there's that 30, 40, or 50% tip that comes unexpectedly and without apparent reason (other than your stellar service).

When this happens, it's appropriate to acknowledge the tip. Not with a big song and dance but something like...

"I just want to thank you for your generosity" or "I've just settled your bill and you were very kind. Thank you."

Don't linger or think that the customer wants to be your best friend. Smile, keep working, and hope that he or she comes back again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: The Hostess

Be the hostess with the mostess with this thirst and hunger quenching martini that allows your guests to enjoy their appetizer and cocktail at the same time. These bite size garnishes compliment the drink perfectly and will satisfy the company without allowing anyone to ruin their dinner.

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce pear liqueur
Splash organic pear juice
Garnish with goat cheese and pear

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dude Approved: Beef Sticks

I was hesitant, I'll admit. In fact, I even said no to the offer to try Benny's Bloody Mary Beef Straws the first time a sample was offered. A beef straw. Hmmm. Is that something that This Girl can get behind?

Because we have a really strong male following on Facebook and Twitter, I decided that it was time to get some input from a dude.

I marched myself and my beefstraws over to my brother-in-law's house and found a guy who could give the yay or nay. This man is a hunting, hiking, fishing, camping warrior who has sampled enough dried beef to offer an educated opinion. His verdict would be my verdict.

But before he opened the package, he did have a few questions for me.

"Is it 100% beef?  Yes. 10% USDA.
"Does it need refrigeration?" Only once opened.
"Is it really meant to be a straw for Bloody Marys?" Straw, stirrer, functional garnish, decoration.

He pulled off the seal, savored the aroma, and tried some. "It's good!" he said. His tweenage daughter asked if she could try one. "Yummy," she said expressively. "I like it," said his little niece.

And there you have it. If it's good all by its lonesome, it's good enough for a tomato cocktail.

It has our stamp of approval. To see for yourself, click here and order some for yourself.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tell It Tuesdays: State

Today's Bar Review is written by guest blogger and author Noriko Nakada.

My mission when I set off for Chicago over Labor Day weekend, aside from attending a wedding, was to pick a bar to write about for This Girl Walks Into a Bar. Really? One bar in all of Chicago? This girl walked into at least twenty and past hundreds more over the holiday weekend.

I toyed with reviewing Sky Box where your ticket not only buys you access to two full open bars, but also a right field view of Wrigley Field. I considered writing about one of the two sports venues I visited: Soldier or Wrigley Fields where the service is tough to match with such a strong ratio of beer guys to fans. For this California girl who is forced to leave her seat and stand in line for a drink at Dodger Stadium, the constant presence of beer guys with their trays of Bud, Bud Light and Old Style could have gotten me in trouble.

But STATE, where I posted up to watch my Oregon Ducks get thumped by LSU on Saturday night, won out. This Lincoln Park bar has computers with huge flat screen monitors set up along the bar during the afternoon and evening hours so if you can't find your team on one of the 100 HD TV screens you can watch them on the web. As the night crowd starts packing the place, the to computers disappear clearing the long U-shaped bar.

I was there with a bunch of guys and our bartender, Crystal, took great care of us. She kept the beer and shots flowing and helped us order half-price food items: an enormous bowl of guacamole, an appetizer sampler, a chicken quesadilla and sliders.

As the night wore on, coeds from nearby college campuses started to pack the place. Crystal explained the STATE plastic cup system. Hosts pay a fee for these color-coded cups so guests can keep reloading their cups with well drinks all night long.

The place was teeming by ten and if I'd been a little younger and if Oregon had won I would have stuck around longer, but I caught a cab back to my hotel. The guys hung out a while longer since Crystal was taking such good care of them. They enjoyed a late night at STATE with minimal tab damage.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Katherine & Flannery's Fabulous Book Giveaway!

Posted from


"This Girl Walks Into A Bar" Giveaway!

We just gave away two gorgeous Lilly Pulitzer outfits (see that post here!)  
And now we're giving away a fabulously fun book called 
This Girl Walks Into A Bar by sisters Jordan Catapano & 
Jocelyn Dunn Muhlbach. This book is not only high-larious, but it's also 
a great guide for anyone who wants to become a professional bartender!  
Our favorite part is the chapter called, "Dealing With Drunks" where they
talk about their own experiences dealing with 
UN-Fashionably Bombed patrons...

To enter, simply follow us and the authors on Twitter and tweet this:
"The @FBombedGirls are giving away a fabulous bartending book called 
This Girl Walks Into A Bar (@GirlWalksIn2Bar) and I MUST win it!"

Entries must be posted by Monday, September 19th at 9am PST*.  
One winner will be chosen at random.

{*Winners will be contacted once comments close and announced 
on September 19th. Good luck!}

PS: You can buy the book here if you just can't wait!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Non-Fiction Friday: Beginner Waitress

I had a week of waitressing under my belt. Hannah, the woman who hired me, took me on because of my "enthusiasm." She wasn't concerned that as a senior in college I knew nothing about beer and wine. Heck, I didn't even know the difference between a cabernet and a chardonnay and it took writing Char=W and Cab=R on my wrist for about a month before I got it. Yes, I've come a long way.

One weeknight was insanely busy. I was the only waitress scheduled in the small family owned restaurant. With one busboy and an unreachable owner, it was observable  craziness. The bell on the door rang incessantly. We ran out of the fabric beige napkins and had to use the faded salmon colored ones with the sun-bleached line down the middle. People sat down at uncleared tables. The kitchen had to 86 the apple cobbler. 

For the most part, I held it together pretty damn well. I didn't drop any plates or forget any orders or mix up anyone's food. I kept a smile on my face and managed not to perspire through my shirt. The people were incredibly forgiving too, though probably because of the hot bun. Hannah baked the most enormous and delicious hot buns you've ever seen or tasted. They were delivered to the table as soon as a guest's tush hit the seat. So it's kinda hard to complain about service when you've got melted butter dripping off your chin.

But things didn't go so swimmingly forever. There was this one couple that came in with some fancy bottle of white.  I can't tell you what varietal it was, or the year, or the vineyard it came from. I can tell you that it was a white, and that they were really really excited to try it. I particularly remember them saying that it was expensive.

I held the neck of the bottle with one hand and used my other hand to drive in the corkscrew. It twisted in at a steep angle and then stopped. I tried again. Crooked again. Incredibly embarrassed, and feeling the burn of half the restaurant's eyes on the back of my neck, I positioned the bottle between my. I was determined to make this work.

This time I drove the corkscrew into the cork with such force that the bottle jetted out from between my legs and crashed to the floor five feet behind me.

It was the second bottle of wine I'd opened in my life. I was twenty. I didn't drink. And those are the best excuses I can come up with for my colossal ineptitude.

My tears rapidly contributed to the wine puddle making it difficult to focus on the multitude of glass. Luckily the busboy came to my rescue so I could excuse myself and clean up my face.

I returned to the table with our most expensive bottle of wine, not caring if it took me took weeks to pay off.

With weak eye contact and trembling hands, I slowly and successfully opened the couple's new bottle. The one thing I felt immensely confident about? Opening a wine bottle would never be a challenge again.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Pomegranate Blueberry Gin

Now that fall is approaching (despite some wicked temps around the country), my drinks are starting to get a little bit darker. Less pastels, more rich blues, purples, and reds. This drink was made with a premixed blueberry-pomegranate low calorie juice. If you'd like a fuller flavor, select an organic blueberry and pomegranate juice with a little texture to it.

2 ounces gin
2 ounces blueberry-pomegranate juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 lemon juice

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Product Spotlight: MOONSHINE "The Original Clear Corn Whiskey"

I'm just as guilty as the next person to stay within my comfort zone when it comes to cocktails. But if you don't take a few risks every now and then, you may never discover something new and spectacular. The spectacular I'm talking about is Moonshine, otherwise known as "The Original Clear Corn Whiskey."

The bottle may look like something out of an old western but don't let that deter you. Moonshine is sophisticated enough to sit on the most respectable of bars and could easily replace the spirit in your favorite drink without you even knowing it.

Recently I had the opportunity to uncork one of these jugs, and mix up some of the ol' hand-crafted whiskey with my favorite juices and liqueurs. Let me just tell you that this is something special. Then again, what else would you expect from a company that uses a Prohibition era copper pot to distill the whiskey four times with a charcoal filter. Moonshine has produced a shockingly smooth whiskey with wonderful flavor.

Created by renowned chef and restaurateur, Adam Perry Lang, and third generation master distiller, Chuck Miller, this new corn whiskey has all the right ingredients for success. Order online here or find out where it's carried near you.

This Girl Walks Into a Bar does not receive paid compensation for any products featured or reviewed in the blog or on the website. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tell It Tuesdays: Craft and Commerce

675 W. Beech Street
We got there early enough to grab a bar stool which felt extremely lucky, as this spot got crowded quickly. Sitting at the bar and being up close and personal with the bar crew, outfitted in suspenders and caps from the Prohibition era, was part of the fun. Those guys take mixology seriously, pouring a multitude of liquids into one drink and shaking the baJesus out of it. 

My friend dined on the muscles and fries, and opted for a drink called the Wimbledon with egg whites and Pernod. I started with a jalpeno tequila cocktail and ended with a more traditional Margarita, the latter more impressive in terms of taste.

The open air aspect of the bar makes it the perfect place for an end of summer drink, and the lively, young atmosphere will keep this place hopping for months. Good thing Prohibition is over for this ex-speakeasy. It's hard to keep a good thing a secret.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Non-Fiction Friday: The Bartender's Bar

It's been a while since I've been to a bar. I've been so caught up in sampling the latest and greatest in terms of mixology and bar decor that it was unbelievably refreshing to sit down to simplicity. It made me realize that all these other places I've been seeking out are more "drinking experiences" than bars.

We drank at the Speak Easy in Santa Monica the other night. I'm hoping you don't share this blog post with too many people. If the Speak Easy gets busy, or trendy, and it leads to a design renovation and a customized cocktail menu, it will be tragic.

Noriko Nakada cleaning up at pool
At 8:00 on a Wednesday night we almost had the place to ourselves. There was an older man at the bar drinking beer (who later showed me the right way to hold a cue stick), a college kid whose bike leaned against the nearest bar stool, and Ruth, the bartender. The latter two were playing pool together and neither thought anything of it when Ruth slipped away to make my friends and I drinks.

Of course, when you don't have a complicated cocktail menu to live up to, or tables to turn, or social media followers to recruit, you can make drinks and play pool with the regulars. If customers stay and have a few, great. If they leave after one sip, whatever.

The juke box is 25 cents and a game of pool is 75. A Whiskey Sour is 6 bucks and stronger than the glass it's served in. There's no sink in the women's bathroom so be prepared for that one and if you want to speak to the owner about it he's there at 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays like clockwork.

This is not the place to see and be seen. If you're looking for a cucumber honey saffron infused martini, you made a wrong turn. But if you want a good ol' fashioned bar, and a place to have conversation about your lives instead of the menu or the servers' costumes, this is your spot.

In the spirit and support of all the dive bars across America, frequent one this lovely Friday night in your neck of the woods. Let them know what you love about it and then beg them never to change.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Blueberry Whiskey

 Lordy Lord but moonshine whiskey ain't what it used'ta be.

My new favorite whiskey is Moonshine, "The Original Clear Corn Whiskey." Hand-crafted with estate-grown corn, this 80 proof whiskey is unbelievably smooth and flavorful. I'm trying it out in a few untraditional ways and this recipe is my first favorite.

The Ingredients
2 ounces Moonshine Whiskey
2 ounces soda water (optional)
1/2 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon organic sugar
2 lemon wedges

The Mixing
Add the Moonshine Whiskey, blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice into a shaker. Muddle the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved and every blueberry is crushed. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice. Add soda water or drink as is. Garnish with a lemon.