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Bad Ass Beer at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge

Exploring the historic Tootsie's Orchid Lounge in Nashville with my daugher


View The Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes Tour - Nashville on littlesam1's travel map.

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My daughter Katie had to travel to Nashville in October 2017 for a work conference. As part of my 65th birthday celebration year she invited me to travel with her to Nashville for the week. I had never been to Nashville before so I was glad to be invited. She would be busy all day at her conference which allowed me lots of time to explore the Music City and see what kind of trouble I could get into.

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Most of what I knew about Nashville I learned watching Ralph Emery on Nashville Now which was on the CMT channel in the 1980's. I worked night work back in those days. When I would get home at midnight I would turn on Nashville Now and my daughters Katie and Danielle would crawl out of their beds and come out to join me watching the show. So it was very appropriate that Katie and I got to share this trip now that she is an adult. When we arrived I knew I wanted to go find Tootsie's Orchid Lounge on Broadway in Nashville. All of the stars on Nashville Now used to talk to Ralph Emery about sneaking out of the back door of The Ryman Auditorium and go into the back door of Tootsie's for a quick drink between shows of The Grand Ole Opry. So after my tour of The Ryman Auditorium I knew I would want to go out that back door and head over to the back door of Tootsie's. You can see the brick wall of the back of the Ryman on the left in the photo and the back door of Tootsie's on the left.

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Tootsie's is a tourist trap. No question about that. It opens at 10:00 in the morning and the crowds are waiting for the doors to open. There are bars with music on all three levels of the building including a roof top deck with music also. I arrived at 10:30 that morning. The bar was already crowded. When I went in the back door I followed the sound of the music and found the front bar on the first floor. There was a band playing and everyone in the bar was singing along with the band. The woman who was lead singer of the band was standing on top of the bar singing Patsy Cline songs. She was singing Walking After Midnight at 10:30 in the morning. It was all that I could have hoped for.

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It was early morning but after all I was in Nashville so I had to have a beer. I stood at the end of the bar and asked for a beer menu. It did not take me long to decide. I saw the name Badass Beer. What could be more perfect than to have a Badass Beer at Tootsie's my first day in Nashville. And it gives a good travel story to share. I can tell everyone I had a Badass beer in Nashville.

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I finished my beer, walked to the front door, left a tip in the bucket for the band, and then found my way back out to Broadway. As I left there was still a small line of people waiting to get inside Tootsie's. They should have watched Ralph Emery in the 1980's or at least read a guide book. Use the back door folks. There is no line!

Katie's conference ended two days later. I took her into downtown Nashville to show her all that I had discovered while she was working. So I course I had to show her Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. We walked down Broadway and when we arrived the lines were twice as long at Tootsie's as they were in the morning of my visit. She looked at the line and said "Dad we will never get in there tonight but it looks like a fun place." I told her follow me. I know a secret. I took her to the alley behind the Ryman Auditorium and showed her the back entrance to Tootsie's. There was no line. We were able to get inside, fight the crowds and get up to the rooftop deck. It was too crowded to bother trying to get a beer at the bar. But she was able to experience Tootsie's the way the stars did back in the day. Through the back door in the alley.

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Posted by littlesam1 22:05 Archived in USA Tagged beer tennessee bars nashville tootsie's_orchid_lounge tourist_traps bad_ass_beer nashville_now ralph_emery Comments (3)

Traveling with the perfect cocktail

Drinking Around The World

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I love a Manhattan. To me it's the perfect cocktail. It has three ingredients. It's has a history. And it tastes delicious. If I am out for a special evening a Manhattan is the perfect way to compliment my night. It's not for the light weight drinker. It's boozy. But if you sip it slowly it will not harm you so don't be afraid of it.

Basically I would describe it as a whiskey martini. But that is not giving it justice. It is made with three ingredients. Whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. It is garnished with a Maraschino cheery at most bars. If you are at a higher class bar you will get a brandied cherry instead of the waxy chemically colored Maraschino. Some bartenders use a lemon peel for the garnish but I honestly think the classic brandied cherry is the best. However I will not turn up my nose or judge the bartender for the lemon peel. And I usually have to accept the Maraschino cherry from most bars and I don't complain.

Now the question is what kind of whiskey. Most recipes call for a Kentucky bourbon or Canadian Whiskey. And these days Rye whiskey is making a big come back in Manhattans. This is the classic choice and the one I prefer. Please don't offer me Crown Royale in my Manhattan. I am a bit of snob that way.

When I travel I like to sample a Manhattan in the area I am visiting. And it's fun to see how the different bartenders treat the three simple ingredients. One of my favorite Manhattans came from a bar in Charleston, South Carolina named High Cotton. If you have a Manhattan at High Cotton you will be transported back to the 1920's and think you are in a speakeasy. Their recipe is simple and classic. They don't experiment or try to wow you with new age additions. The High Cotton Manhattan is made with bourbon , Carpano Antica vermouth, a splash of bitters and brandy soaked cherries. I would travel back to Charleston tomorrow just to have one of their Manhattans. We frequently travel with out friend Gillian Hobson from Manchester, England. We took her to Charleston four years ago and one of our first stops was to introduce her to the High Cotton Manhattan. She left High Cotton with a very big smile on her face and a bounce to her step.

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Mark and I love New York. And I love cocktails in New York. Years ago when Sex and the City was popular I wanted to go to New York for a Cosmo just like Carrie Bradshaw. It was fun. But a few years later in New York I wanted the classic experience. I wanted a Manhattan in Manhattan. And I have to admit there is no comparison. If your in New York you really owe yourself a Manhattan in Manhattan. Historically it is suggested that the Manhattan originated at the Manhattan Club in New York. The story goes it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall in the early 1870's for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome. She is better known as Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Wintson Churchill. The event was in honor of the Presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The event was such a success the drink became highly fashionable. But don't let anyone fool you with this story. Lady Randolph Churchill was in France during this time and was very pregnant. So the story is likely false. Another story tell us it was invented in the 1860's at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street by a bartender named Black. So no one really knows the origin of the cocktail but it does have a long history.

Mark and I were once again in New York City with our friend Gillian. She does tend to end up in our travel stories frequently. We spent the day sight seeing. This was Gillian's first trip to New York so we wanted to show her all of the sights. At the end of a busy day we ended up in a bar not far from Wall Street where once again I had a Manhattan in Manhattan. I must have had a couple of drinks because here I am afterwords grabbing the Wall Street bull by the balls. No explanations no apologies. Go to New York. Have a Manhattan in Manhattan and then share your story with me.

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My next rule for Manhattans. Watch your bartender. A Manhattan is a simple drink. Any good bartender can make one. But if you have doubts about your bartender I suggest skipping the Manhattan and just order a glass of wine. Why waste the experience on a bad drink. My daughter Katie and I were in Nashville earlier this year. We had spent the day walking and exploring the city. At the end of our evening we wanted to relax and have a cocktail before returning to our hotel. We found a beautiful cocktail bar called The Henley at the Aertson Hotel in Nashville. The bar was decorated with photos of Bette Davis's eyes. So this made me happy. I noticed the bartender was young. She was probably in her early 20's. So I asked her politely if she knew how to make a Manhattan. She looked at me and smiled and said "Oh, of course." So I ordered a Manhattan. Then I watched her closely. She did not go to pick up the bourbon, or the vermouth or the bitters. She went to pick up her cocktail bible. She had no idea how to make a Manhattan. I knew then it was not going to be a good experience. And she did make it wrong. And she did forget the cherry until I reminded her.

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My main rule about Manhattans is to not mess with it. Don't experiment with it. Don't try to update the recipe or put your own personal touch on it. It's a classic. It does not need embellishments. However for every rule there is an exception. And if some one offers to make you a Smoked Manhattan go for it. Placing your cocktail glass over some smoked hickory chips before filling it with the Manhattan is a surprising delight.

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I was in Waikiki November 2017. Once again I had been walking all day and ready for a relaxing evening with a cocktail. I had many Maitai's in Waikiki during my stay. But this day I was ready to just relax and enjoy a Manhattan. And what do I see on the menu but a smoked Manhattan. I was ready to break my rule and try this new idea. Something about the smoke and the rye whiskey just sounded perfect to me. I was in the bar at the Outrigger Hotel. I could see Diamond Head in the distance from the beach hotel's windows. It was the perfect location for this perfect drink. Now much like Charleston, South Carolina, I would return here to Waikiki tomorrow just to have another one of these drinks.

One of my favorite movies is Honky Tonk Freeway. You've probably never heard of it. It is considered one of the biggest box office flops of all time. But I saw it and loved it. In the movie Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy play a senior couple who are traveling to Florida. Hume thinks his wife has a drinking problem. She tends to order five old fashions with her lunch each day. Finally he tells her that he thinks she has a drinking problem.

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Jessica responds that she is not an alcoholic. She says your sister always sucks her fruit when she is finished with her drinks. Now she is an alcoholic. I never suck my fruit.

Here I am after a very good Manhattan. I was not traveling, but here at home in Baltimore at Jerry D's, one of my local favorite restaurants.

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Yes Jessica Tandy. I sucked the fruit. And it was good!

Posted by littlesam1 21:48 Tagged new york bars hawaii drinks honolulu waikiki baltimore nashville manhattans bette_davis _eyes Comments (0)

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