Ballpark beer scams and other hifalutin liquor
It should come as no shock that buying beer at a ballpark is a rip-off. We know that by paying $8 or more for a large beer, we are grossly overpaying for the privilege of sipping suds at the ballpark. We accept this in the same way we accept paying $8 for fifty cents worth of popcorn at a movie theater. That said, there is a difference between agreeing to pay a little extra and being played for a fool. You see, ballparks know that it is a pain in the ass to get up and go to the concession stand. Who wants to miss an inning of the game while standing in a slow-moving line? So, ballparks know that we are apt to order the large-sized item to save us a second trip. Thus, the ballpark beer scam…
Jazz and Booze
And speaking of high-priced liquor, one of our new favorite things to do in Pittsburgh is hitting Andy’s Wine Bar in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel for some free jazz and some real expensive drinks. Andy’s is named for Pittsburgh’s two most famous Andy’s… Carnegie and Warhol. Local burgh jazz vocalist Tania Grubbs and her friends have brought live music back to downtown Pittsburgh by arranging for free jazz, four nights a week–Wednesday thru Saturday. And this isn’t a cheesy jazz trio fresh from the Akron Holiday Inn. These are some of Pittsburgh’s best musicians.
On our last excursion to Andy’s, four bassists from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra were playing. Okay, it was more classical than jazz but when do you get to hear four world-class musicians playing around ten feet from you for free? Tonight, it’s jazz. Whatever. It’s free. No cover.
Be prepared. You can order up an IC Light if you want but Andy’s specializes in gourmet cocktails. Just as you need to splurge every now and then for a really good and expensive meal, you also need to shell out some samolians (I’m ignoring spell check’s suggestion of “Somalians”) every now and then for some top-shelf booze. I’m talking drinks with mint and cilantro and basil and chocolate sauce and primo liquor. My favorite is the Dawa. It’s supposed to be some kind of African drink. At Andy’s, it features Finlandia Vodka (I’m a big fan), brown sugar, a quartered lime, and crushed ice. Then, you add a honey dipped sizzle stick. Get out the credit card, though, because it’s $12, for one! But it’s darn near a religious experience. True confessions: my first visit, I had two. I really think that I left that bar a better person.
Gotta say, though, the bar was skimping a bit on my second visit. The glass was smaller and there was no honeyed swizzle. Come on, Andy’s. Let’s not cut corners on the high-priced drinks.
On Sunday nights, Tania brings the music to Hambone’s, a long-time dive bar in Lawrenceville, for a jazz open mic night. Anyone who wants to sing can do so with the house band. The members of the band change each week but they are always stellar. They have to be. They can play any tune you pick in any key and in any style, with no rehearsal. It’s unbelievable. Because anyone who walks in the door can sign up to sing, the vocalists are hit and miss. Some are neighborhood wanna-bes but others are some pretty hot vocalists from around town or from Carnegie Mellon who want to sing with a hot band. Even in the case of the amateurs, they have such a passion for this music and they are getting a precious opportunity to sing with the greatest musicians they will ever sing with. I find that to be sort of cool and inspiring. Again, it’s free except for your food and booze–and good luck finding a $12 drink there. It all goes down at dirty ol’ Hambone’s on Sundays from 7-10 pm.