My Hip Cocktails: Presidential Election Edition

One of the many debaucheries of 2020 included the presidential election. The first debate could be equated to a playground spat. I haven’t seen two seniors engage in such nonsense since the infamous spat between CFL legends Joe Kapp and Angelo Mosca in 2011. If you recall, that epic fight featured flowers and cane swinging and a sombre reminder us that Canadians are in fact not as polite and we’d like to think.

As a result, I would be remiss if I didn’t celebrate election night with a couple of hip cocktails which reflected my thoughts on the battle to be the leader of the free world (sic). My thoughts went to trying to capture the essence of the many factors that made this such a shit show. I figure I’d use a couple of swing states as my basis.

Let’s start with Ohio. Although I’m writing this after the fact, the Joe King in me suspected that Ohio would go red and I thought that Chagrin Falls would be an ideal hip song to capture the feelings that many have about the Trump administration. Chagrin Falls is a suburb of Cleveland which is where Donald Trump captured the Republican nomination in 2016. I also thought about their volatile NFL team and wanted a drink which reflected the brown and orange. As a result, my mind naturally went to ‘merican whisky for the brown (not to mention that a good bourbon brings up memoires of Mabel’s…Michael Symon’s Cleveland BBQ and bourbon bar) which I mixed with orange flavoured triple sec (which also paid homage to Trump’s Hallowe’en hue) and finished with DSB bitters to reflect the feelings of many over the past 4 years.

Chagrin Falls

1.5-2 oz of bourbon (I used the aptly named Larceny)

0.75-1 oz triple sec

0.5 oz simple syrup

A few dashes of orange of cherry bitters (I used Dillon’s DSB).

Stir all ingredients together and serve with ice and/or orange and cherry bitters. Serve in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with orange and/or cherry.

Chagrin Falls

Chagrin falls (in Chagrin Falls, Ohio)
Chagrin Falls (where the unknown don’t even go)
Chagrin falls (in Chagrin Falls, Ohio)
So falls Chagrin Falls (where the unknown don’t even go)
So falls Chagrin Falls
So falls Chagrin Falls

Chagrin Falls- Phantom Power, The Tragically Hip

As for my democratic nominee, I headed a bit east to eventually blue Pennsylvania which was fitting given it’s Biden’s birth state and more specifically his hometown of Scranton. Naturally, that brought me to what the city is best known for (other than the Houdini museum of course)….The Office. Among many of Michael Scott’s antics was the Moroccan Chirstmas party and specifically his drink…the one of everything which he described as “equal parts scotch, absinthe, rum, gin, vermouth, triple sec, and two packs of Splenda“. I did my best to make it a little less fictional to avoid inducing my gag reflex. Since it sounded somewhat like a Long Island Iced tea so I went that route (not to mention the irony that Trump was born in NYC and doesn’t drink). In keeping with the Hip theme, I called this “Fully Completely” given the fact it contains a whole shelf on any bar rail. So, I mixed whisky, vermouth, absinthe, rum, gin and triple sec and topped with coke and added the signature two packages of Splenda. I’ll be honest..it was awful mainly because the absinthe (which you normally use in small quantities like a rinse) took over everything. It was like drinking a coke through a piece of black licorice and the addition of the Splenda added a “diet” flavour that made it worse. Nonetheless, it nicely reflected the mess that was and would continue to be the 2020 US election.

Fully Completely

0.5 ounces of each whisky, vermouth, absinthe, rum, gin and triple sec.

Coke

2 packages of Splenda

Mix the spirits together in a highball glass and top with a generous amount of coke. Sprinkle with 2 package of Splenda. Try to enjoy.

Fully Completely

Exonerate me
Then forget about me
Wait and you’ll see
Just wait and you’ll see

Fully Completely- Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip

Despite early jitters, my clairvoyant cocktails came through..Ohio went red and Pennsylvania eventually went blue. I was also reminded in drink form of how asinine Michael Scott and his antics on “The Office” were. Regardless, a six booze drink was a nice way to take the edge of an otherwise stress filled evening. If and when I travel to the US again, I think I’ll try and invent a Joe King narrated GPS that only directs me through blue counties..it may add a few hours to the trip but it least it means there’s a lesser chance I will have to sip coffee with somebody who’s still sporting a MAGA hat they picked up in a big box discount bin.

Ghost Hunters: Five Doors North and why Chris De Burgh Might be Wrong

Ghost hunters has been a show that has been on the air since 2004. Hosted by paranormal experts Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson who are two plumbers who set out to find things more ghastly than clogged sewer pipes.  They have filmed over 200 episodes of the show and have had a number of guest hosts with a calibre that rivals that of Dancing with the Stars including professional wrestlers Kofi Kingston (of New Day Fame), the Miz and CM punk, sci-fi idols and Canadians Colin Ferguson and Amanda Tapping and music umm…superstar Meatloaf.

I don’t claim to be an expert in area of ghosts but I’ve wondered why, with the technology available to us today, we can’t get a better picture or recording of some of our friends from beyond the grave.  I mean, google earth can take a picture of my licence plate from space so would think we could snap a clear picture of at least one ghost.  Beats headphones can pick up Kenny G breathing on a quarter rest during Silhouette but we can’t get an audible account of Father Gus and his unfortunate demise in a church fire.

Anybody with kids know they like to jump on various things to the point of obsession.  Both my youngest son and daughter got a little ghost crazy over the summer.  For my son, it was youtube ghost stories whereas my daughter was keen to explore haunted relics in the hopes of getting spooked by something more than a Tuesday night horror movie with her friends at the theatre.  So on the way down to Allentown to see some family over the summer, I decided to make a pit stop at Andy Gavin’s pub  in Scranton, PA.  According to stories, a resident ghost named George periodically reeks some fun havoc on the place by flipping the lights off and flushing the toilets.

I had some nachos, wings and a few cheap pints of Miller Lite.  The latter was probably the most ghastly thing I experienced that afternoon but for $2.50, I couldn’t complain.  My kids swore they may have heard some high pitched screaming upstairs so I’ll let them believe what they want.

 

From there we proceeded down the road to the Houdini museum which is also rumoured to be haunted. It was quite enjoyable;a makeshift shrine complete with a live show by Dorothy Dietrich who, often called the female Houdini, did the Jinxed Bullet Catch Stunt which was the act that Houdini backed away from.  It is also filled with paraphernalia including posters and pictures honouring the famed escape artist.

Recently, I needed a location to meet a customer outside the downtown core  with good Italian food and ample parking. Based on the reviews,  Five Doors North seemed a good choice.  It is a well established Italian eatery located on Yonge street between Davisville and Eglington.  Although the website is quite primitive, they do take online reservations so I promptly booked a table.

In keeping with the ghost hunter theme, I’m not sure if the true origin of the restaurant’s name. I mean, it could be the fact that it is north of the city and there are five coloured doors on the restaurant’s facade but I think it may actually be a code for a  map to a ghastly burial ground five doors south.

Both the interior and exterior decor is quirky but casual.  There are tiled floors, wooden tables with glass tops protecting random pictures and foodie magazine covers (very reminiscent of the Houdini museum and the first clue that something was amiss) and brick walls showing blackboards containing the day’s specials.  It has a cozy aura and comes without the automatic pretension of some of the downtown enotecas such as  Terroni and Pizza Libretto.

Both the wine and food menus are handwritten on a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of white paper.  The wine choice was not extensive but offered some off the cuff choices that seemed to fit the casual, quirky theme of the restaurant. We opted for a I Muri Primitivo for a respectable $45 which I thought was a fun  and rather preternatural wine to drink.

The menu is a bit all over the place, offering traditional  Italian dishes as well as a few less orthodox choices like ribs with matchstick potatoes.  Every night they feature a long and short pasta as well.  On this evening, I went with the former which was a pasta primavera which was a perfect al dente, heavy on the garlic and not overly greasy.   For the main, I ordered the branzino special which was served with a hodgepodge of vegetables including a paranormal corn, asparagus, lima beans and a red pepper puree. Although  I found the combination a bit aberrant, the fish was nicely prepared and it worked.  I also ordered the green salad which was very green and even a little purple.

five salad
Green Salad $5

five pasta
Pasta Primavera $9.95

five fish
Branzino $28.95

Despite the pleasant service, funky wine and good food, I had  a vibe that something was amiss beyond the funkiness of the place .  I brushed it off until I went to the washroom.  I did my business and went to wash my hands in the small sink.  I looked in the mirror and an apparition appeared.  At first I was shocked. She was blond and wore red so I immediately dubbed her the “lady in red”. When I got my wits back, I reached for my phone in the hopes I could snap a picture, worried that the quality of my camera was too good to snap a picture of a ghost since the only pictures ever captured have been grainy pictures in bad light. That said,  as demonstrated by my blog posts,  I’m often criticized that I have no understanding of basics of photography such as focusing,  lighting or positioning  so I thought it would be ok.  Although my hands were trembling, I managed to secure the shot.  I tried asking her what she wanted but all she did was smile.  She was holding something white.  At first I thought it was a cloud or a ghost baby but a closer inspection showed me it was Cottonelle toilet paper.   Between her smile and the silent promise of soft hygienic products I was almost lured into the cottony abyss but I managed to break the spell and quickly escape the chasm of temptation which was the men’s washroom.  I returned to my seat likely as red in the face as her shirt and asked for the bill.

five ghost
The Lady in Red

My Take

Ghost hunters has been on the air since 2004 and has hundreds if not thousands of followers.  I have a science background and have always been taught to adhere to an evidence based model which means there should be sufficient and  irrefutable proof that a concept is true before I believe it.  I’ll be honest, despite my children’s insistence that they heard screaming at Andy Gavin’s, I was reluctant to believe.  My experience at Five Doors North may have changed that.  I think I will email the show and maybe they can ask  Bear Grylls to co-host and demonstrate some urban paranormal survival skills.

Until then, if you are looking for an Italian eatery outside of the downtown core with a funky environment, decent menu and friendly family service you should consider  Five Doors North.  If you’re walking, however, hit the audio record button on your cell as you approach (let’s say around 5 doors away)  in the event you can detect some electronic voice phenomenon.  One last word of advice, despite the words of Chris Issak, beware the lady in red.

 

Disclaimer:  I do not believe that the woman in the mirror was an apparition. Although odd, I’m quite sure it was advertisement in which a young, happy woman watched me urinate and then offered me some soft toilet paper. The author of this blog does not accept responsibility for consequences of eating at this restaurant including but not limited to hauntings, garlic breath or leaving really full.  

Five Doors North Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato