Casanova Lounge Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

527 Valencia ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 863-9328

4:15 pm Sunday 24 June 2007

Prologue: I’ve been here before, too. Paladin and I ducked in here after the Official Visit to Bar Tartine, so he could get a real drink (i.e. scotch). But I just noticed that Casanova Lounge is the third Bar in a row That Is Also A Cocktail Lounge. That is somewhat stunning, no? Well, I think it is. And I’ll be bringing my fresh perspective to this typically Mission-y dark (but red!), dive-ish (yet vaguely hipster-leaning) Bar this Saturday (or Sunday, as was the case)! So you know: cash only and no ATM on the premises, which means bring money.

To clarify: you will find me at Casanova Lounge at or around 4:15 pm Sunday 24 June. This way I can take advantage of their happy hour ($1.00 off all drinks) from 4 – 7, and maybe some of my new bartender friends can make it (what do you say, y’all?) While the recent cyber-chaos on this ridiculous blog has left me needing the kind of night on the town that will most definitely require the better part, if not all, of at least an entire Sunday during which to recuperate, I remember what a nice Sunday afternoon some of us whiled away at Ace’s at the beginning of this adventure, and I think that sort of mellow merriment is more what I should aim for. Sorry for the persistent uncertainty, but as Chica Cherry suggested, perhaps choosing a graduate school wiped out my decision-making abilities for the forseeable future.

Afterword: Well, it turns out that Casanova Lounge is more orange than red, which you can tell if you are there on a sunny afternoon like I was. Also, despite their website stating that they do not have an ATM on the premises, there is, in fact, an ATM inside the Bar itself, right next to the door. There’s even a window, where you can enjoy the sunny vista (unless a large biker is already perched at the high table there, waiting for his boyfriend). Casanova Lounge does have the jukebox they tout-muchly on their website (more about that in a bit) and they also have not one — but four — comfy leather sofas past the bar in the back, plus another one on a small stage, so it would be a good place to arrange to meet someone you wanted to cuddle up next to for some alcohol-feuled public displays of affection. Believe you me, as the minutes ticked past and Marquise Marie did not appear, ringing up Jonny-Georgia occurred to me more than once.

Yes, I was there to meet my long-lost friend the Marquise. I was so looking forward to our happy reunion, that I didn’t even mind when my initial survey of Casanova Lounge revealed the somewhat distressing fact that the place has no back exit. By which I mean, if one were there enjoying a Long Island Iced Tea and a police officer or two were to come in looking for someone to wrongly arrest and falsely imprison, one would have to hope that they would choose another patron to harass, because there would be no way to make a run for it, so to speak, without accomplishing the highly unlikely feat of getting past the cops and then out the front door. This purely hypothetical musing has prompted a new category: “The Bars Where One Can Hightail It Out the Back”. This category does not appear at present, because a category must have an applicable post before it shows up, but I will continue to seek such an important feature in subsequent establishments and let you know where I find it. (After all, this is the sort of thing some people might find very useful to know when deciding on a Bar.)

Anyway, I got to Casanova Lounge just after they opened, so the place was pretty empty (aforementioned biker notwithstanding). I sat at the bar, confirmed hooks (and an unpleasant amount of gum), and ordered a Long Island Iced Tea (entirely co-incidental to the previous mention of this drink, I assure you). The bartender mixed me something that was tasty enough, but bore little resemblance to a glass of several different alcohols mixed with just enough Coke to pass as a glass of iced tea — which is the pretty much the point of this particular cocktail — but it was a sunny day, I was meeting Marquise Marie, and I was at a Bar, so I didn’t let this bother me.

What did start to bother me was the funky way the bar area smelled. Now I know Casanova Lounge is basically a dive bar in the Mission, and it was Sunday so the place was bound to be showing some wear and tear from the wild weekend, but an unpleasant odor is not what I want to experience from any barstool. So I was kicking it on one of the couches when Marquise Marie finally arrived.

Truth be told, we were so giddy about catching up with each other, really, we could have been anywhere. Even when a pretty below-average dj unplugged the allegedly legendary jukebox and started playing his uninspired set, we didn’t care too much. Friendship trumps sloppy drinks and crappy music every time. We barely noticed the funky lights and painting of mostly naked women on the walls. I must say, though, Casanova Lounge is really not the best Bar in which to while away an afternoon — Sunday, sunny, or otherwise. Much better spots for that would be Ace’s, Bloom’s Saloon, or of course The Black Horse London Pub. But if you are in the Mission at night, with a thirst for something liquor-ish, the Casanova Lounge will suffice. Especially if you have in tow someone you’d like to canoodle and there’s couch space available when you pop your head in. Unless, of course, you are — or have reason to suspect you might potentially be caused to be — on the lam, given the lack of an exit via which you can hightail it out the back, should this be necessary.

Bathroom Biography:
The bars on the windows pretty much preclude them as emergency exits. Other than that, the adjective that is most fitting is “desultory”. While there are worse bathrooms in other Bars, these just don’t match the aesthetic of the front of the house. An effort at some sort of decoration really should be made.

Chieftain Irish Pub, The Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

198 5th ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 615-0916

2:00pm Sunday 12 August 2007

Prologue: OK, it’s an Irish pub. Got it. Now, for something really thought-provoking, did you know that ladies’ nights at bars are technically illegal in California?!?!?! It is apparently true. Which does not, by any stretch of the imagination, make it proper. We need to get this ruling overturned and pronto! Thank goodness Bars By The Book has the brilliant legal cousel on retainer (Dewars, rocks) that we do. We’re taking this one to the Supreme Court, if necessary! Women couldn’t vote for centuries in this country, and now we can’t get cheap drinks purely on account of being female? That’s just plain wrong.

Come out and sip away this Sunday afternoon with me, won’t you? This Bars By The Book outing is going to be a celebration of being unmarried, as a couple of Barflies recently became legally un-hitched, so I am in even better company in my singleness than ever before. I further propose that any married people there buy the drinks for those who aren’t!  An unwedded bliss-fest — I like it!

Afterword:  The Official Visit to The Chieftan Irish Pub certainly called into question the wisdom of that “sipping away a Sunday afternoon” business.  Don’t get me wrong — I still consider that a pleasant enough prospect, and have actually pulled it off in practice more than once elsewhere.  The Chieftan Irish Pub experience, however, left a lot to be remembered…

The bargain-priced $3.00 Bloody Mary’s have something to do with this.  But really, The Hostess might as well  “blame it on Rio”  for all the good it would do to obscure the fact that any particular one of the various combinations of assorted alcohols she consumed that day was any more responsible than the others for the drunken state she wound up in.  The bottom line is that afternoon drinking should be structured around a little thing known as lunch.

The funny thing is, The Chieftan Irish Pub serves food.  Delicious food, from the look and smell of it.  They make something called “Cottage Pie” that is more or less the Irish spin on Shepard’s Pie which I do believe I shall go back to The Chieftan Irish Pub specifically to sample someday.  Nora Charles had a hamburger (how she stays so svelte is beyond me).  I can’t say for sure that other dishes weren’t ordered and shared by the Barflies.   I can say for sure that by the time any ‘Flies buzzed in, it was probably too late for The Hostess to be saved by a meal, no matter how tasty.

This is not to imply that I minded sitting at the bar by myself, waiting for familar faces to walk in the door.  Even though the afternoon was ridiculously gloriously sunny and downright hot and The Chieftan Irish Pub is noticeably devoid of windows, I was perfectly happy to sit and drink $3.00 Bloody Mary’s.  There were about as many customers as employees, for a grand total of either six or seven of us not enjoying the sunshine.  So at least I had company.  When I commented on the wonderful aroma of the Cottage Pie the guy on my right was served, the bartender (hi, Leslie!) explained to me what it was and offered me a menu.  Instead, I had another of her Bloody Mary’s and the guy on my left, who was also having a liquid lunch from the looks of things, introduced himself (hi, Jim!).   In other words, The Chieftan Irish Pub is a friendly sort of place.

At least, The Chieftan Irish Pub is a friendly sort of place when the owners have to go out of town for an emergency and a couple of the Pub’s regulars step up and volunteer to tend bar and keep the doors open.  Which is what turned out to be the case that afternoon.  And if Leslie and Dave (hi, Dave!) are typical of The Chieftan Irish Pub’s regulars, then it ought to be a friendly festival when it’s busy. 

I originally mistook Dave for the owner.  Or at least the manager.  It was probably his accent.  It turns out that he does electrical work for the owner, and is Leslie’s boyfriend, and the two of them spend lots of quality time at The Chieftan Irish Pub.  They introduced me to Tina — who is an actual employee (hi, Tina!) — and I decided it was time to tell my new acquaintences why I was there that day.  A round on the house (the first of many, I might add) ensued.

As did a long conversation about everything from the uinque merits of prior Bars to golf and how old The Hostess’ favorite professional golfer, John “The Lion” Daly,  is (Dave was right, I was wrong; more about the greatness of Mr. Daly later…).   I believe shots of Fernet were done.   One of the lovely female Barflies arrived, but I can’t even remember which one got there first.  Things were already devolving into a sun-drenched (the doors were wide open), strong-drink-soaked blur…

A word to the wise about the two doors at The Chieftan Irish Pub: if you think you might need to hightail it out of one of them, you better be sitting right next to it and the subject of your potential avoidance better come in the other one, have bad eyesight, and be very slow to realize you are there.  Granted, one door opens onto the corner and the other one leads to the street, but they are very close to each other and if you make it out of one, you’re not going to have much of a head start if your pursuer(s) sees you flee.  Also, if you take the precaution of carefully remembering how to get back to your car based one of these particular doors, you should probably make sure, if you storm out of the Bar blindly drunk, that you exit via the same particular door, or else you will most likely not find your car, even if you are, in fact, walking the correct number of blocks up and over, etc. 

To be clear: any storming out of The Chieftan Irish Pub, blindly drunk or otherwise, was not on account of anyone connected to the Bar.  It’s a great place, even without windows.  Leslie and Dave and Tina are fine folks, and I’m sure the other regular clientele are just as friendly.  They serve good food and the drinks are priced properly.   In fact, The Chieftan Irish Pub experience had me in such a fine mood that I beleived inviting Paladin to join our merry party was a good idea.  And let’s face it: Paladin is pretty lousy company in August.  Let’s just say his mind is elsewhere, and it is really probably better to avoid him altogether for the duration of the month.  It is definitely a bad idea to attempt to enjoy his company along with that of anyone else who has been similarly brainwashed to think that sleeping in a tent in a desert during dust storms and using Port-a-Potties for a week is “fun”. 

This all goes to show how alcohol does cloud one’s judgement, in addition to sometimes contributing to one’s wandering around quite lost in search of one’s car.  Of course, in the tradition of the “Happy Ending”, The Hostess was rescued from the streets of SOMA and did not drive herself anywhere that day.  In fact, records show she actually made it to work the following day, which is nothing short of amazing.   The photographic record suggests that I made it behind the Bar (which I always love, even if I sustain a toe injury) for a great shot with Leslie and Dave and Tina, and Dave took some pretty adorable Offical Photos before any storming happened, so ultimately the Offical Visit was a success and one more “C” was crossed off The List.

Bathroom Biography:
I don’t recall anything egregious about it, so it’s probably fine.  If I am mis-remembering something, please let me know and I’ll duly note it here.

 

The Barfly Forum Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

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