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Booze Thieves Strike Bohemian Beer Hall

Booze Thieves Strike Bohemian Beer Hall


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Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden burgled by booze thieves

Three men allegedly broke into the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden and made off with 16 bottles of liquor.

Astoria’s historic and much-loved Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden was the victim of a crime this week when three unknown young men managed to break in and make off with 16 bottles of liquor.

According to CBS, the three men burgled the beer garden on Tuesday night. They accessed the restaurant from outside the beer garden, where two men scaled the security fence and a third waited as lookout.

Wearing their shirts pulled up over their heads, the two suspects made their selection and stole bottles of vodka, tequila, bourbon, scotch, rum, and gin. Police say they got 16 bottles altogether, which is an impressive amount for two guys to carry, even if they did not have to scale a tall fence to get out again. When they met up with their lookout, all three took off with the loot and have not been apprehended.

Police have security camera footage of all three men during the alleged crime, and people with any information have been encouraged to tell the authorities.


Brewery workers vote to end strike at G. Heileman Teamsters unhappy with union leaders

Brewery workers represented by Teamsters Local 1010 voted 142-79 yesterday to end their monthlong strike against the G. Heileman Brewing Co., but only after loud objections to their union's warning that strike pay would probably not continue.

The vote at an Eastern Avenue hall to accept Heileman's latest proposal followed several rounds of attacks on union leadership. The members are scheduled to go back to work at 11:30 tonight.

"We're glad to be resuming normal operations," said a spokesman for the La Crosse, Wis.-based company, the nation's fifth-largest brewery. The local plant has used substitute labor since the strike began on July 1.

The striking employees, who make and bottle National Bohemian beer and Colt 45 malt liquor, among other brews, at Heileman's Halethorpe plant, had been receiving $200-a-week strike pay from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters since voting 186-19 to strike.

Told by local President Ray Machlinski yesterday morning that the international would probably end the strike pay if yesterday's proposal were rejected, the members responded with catcalls and obscenities.

"How the hell can they take away what they're giving us to fight the company and expect us to get what we want?" shouted one man in the union hall at 6910 Eastern Ave.

"I guess we have to live by what the international dictates, not what the local wants."

"I'm just telling you the facts," replied Mr. Machlinski. "We're recommending this contract. We believe that there is no more to get" from Heileman.

The company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in January with billion in debts.

The contract accepted yesterday gives the workers an immediate 30-cent-an-hour raise with an additional 20 cents an hour in July 1992 and a 20-cent jump again in 1993.

They currently earn a little more than $13.30 an hour.

The membership rejected the same wage package on July 14.

Contract improvements include the establishment of a 401(k) savings plan to begin in 1992, with the company contributing a maximum of $2 a week, and free generic prescription drugs under the current health plan.

"We didn't get anything in our pension plan," said a 38-year veteran of the brewery, which began in Baltimore as the National Brewing Co. in the late 1880s.

"It's a frustrating thing. You're really taking a chance when you go on strike against a bankrupt company. The company says there's nothing more to get and the men don't feel that way."

Still, they voted to go back to work.

"I believe there was no more to get," said Ernest Mack, a 37-year-old Pimlico resident who works as a brewer. "You can't believe everything the [dissidents] say in a meeting. They say one thing and vote another."

"It's time to go back," said Thomas L. Thompson, a warehouseman. "There's bills to be paid."

Industry analysts have predicted that even if the company is able to stabilize its manifold money problems and avoid a possible strike by two dozen machinists currently working under a contract extension, National Bohemian beer could be a victim of Heileman's woes.

In the 1960s, the one-eyed Mr. Boh was the brew king in the Land of Pleasant Living, with a 60 percent local market share and a huge plant in Highlandtown.

"That was our heyday," said a brewery veteran.

Today, with a case of National Boh selling for $7.49 at a liquor store right next to the union hall, the one-time local favorite of crab feasts and Orioles games is in big trouble.

"The future is pretty clear," Doug Mohler, vice president of sales and marketing for Metropolitan Distributing, a Heileman distributor in Jessup, predicted last week. "National Bohemian is going to be part of our history."


World's top 10 party hotels

Letting loose and getting a little wild on vacation is a given in our book. An exotic locale, sexy strangers, zero obligations. Let’s face it — sometimes it’s just more fun to party out of town. Anything goes in the world’s top party cities (we're talking Vegas, Rio, London) and, these days, the coolest carousing goes down at the hottest hotel in town. Bump-and-grind mega clubs, the ever-popular rooftop bar, sexy pool lounges, trendy restaurants, and venues for concerts, movie-screenings, and even sports events — our top 10 party hotels have all the necessities for an all-night rager or two. Best of all, checking into one of these hotel hot spots means you’re guaranteed VIP access to the city’s most coveted nighttime hangouts (a few on our list also have venues reserved for hotel guests only). Plus, no taxis or town cars are necessary your room is just an elevator ride up (or down, in some cases). So pack your dancing shoes, some aspirin (for some not-so-happening mornings), and get ready to get your groove on at these top party hotels across the globe.

1. ARIA Resort & Casino
Few cities demand as much unadulterated partying as Las Vegas, and the towering, 4,004-room ARIA Resort and Casino in the 68-acre City Center (both opened in December 2009), has quickly become one of the Strip’s hottest party hosts. Partnered with The Light Group, the name behind Sin City clubs like JET and The Bank, ARIA executes its onsite nightlife scene with die-hard carousing in mind: Three of the party hotel’s eight bars and lounges mix cocktails 24/7 (the rest close at the early-bird hour of 4 a.m.), so it’s all too easy to keep the party rolling until the wee hours without even stepping foot outside the resort. Head to Haze, the resort’s onsite nightclub, for a chance celebrity sighting (Mariah Carey, Usher, and Katy Perry have all held events at the 25,000-square-foot space) or look for notable gourmands at one of the 17 restaurants, which have celebrity chefs like Jean-Georges, Masayoshi Takayama, and Michael Mina at their helms. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city grace all the guest rooms as do automated curtains (so you can catch some shut-eye after the sun comes up), one-touch lighting and temperature controls, and gadgets that automatically notify the front desk when batteries are running low. Rates start at $129 on weekdays, $199 on weekends.

2. Buddha Bar Hotel
The happening Buddha Bar restaurant and lounge chain dominates the world’s top party cities (London, Paris, and Sao Paolo all claim Buddha Bar outposts) with a reputation for attracting scenesters prepped for all-night revelry, so it’s no wonder that the hot-spot brand now offers hotel rooms in equally groovy environs. The chain opened its first Buddha Bar Hotel in January 2009 in the old town of Prague, a city known for boisterous beer-swilling, but the scene here is far more hip luxury than bohemian beer hall. Decked out in statement-making reds, golds, and exotic prints, each of the 39 rooms also comes outfitted with rain showers, in-bathroom televisions, and high-def TVs that can play the music mixed by the DJs in the mezzanine-level bar. The swinging party hotel vibe continues downstairs where DJs spin nightly at the property’s namesake lounge, while the Buddha Bar restaurant dishes inventive Asian-Pacific Rim fusion cuisine and the more casual Siddharta Café offers international eats in what is dubbed a “Pop Art Eatmosphere” environment (think an Andy Warhol-inspired color palette with funky, semi-psychedelic décor). Rates start at approximately $494/night.

3. Distrito Capital
While some may not associate Mexico City with jet-setting soirees, the country’s capital is in fact home to a handful of cutting-edge design hotels with Diddy-worthy party scenes. Opened in February 2009, Distrito Capital, the latest from high-design Habita hotel group, is the city’s hot-spot party hotel du jour. Located in the Santa Fe quarter (a growing business hub and shopping district), the svelte 30-room newbie towers above the city in a 28-story high-rise (the mixed-use building is also home to restaurants and residential condos) and features interiors by French designer Joseph Dirand (think tailored minimalism in a palette of muted grays, vintage furnishings and artwork, modern touches like mounted flat-screen TVs and retro accents like old-school rotary phones) — but the hotel’s forte is its public spaces, located on the fifth floor, which encourage social interaction and, consequently, partying. The open-air pool lounge, home to a sexy 65-foot pool, comes with killer mojitos, starry-night skies and city views, and DJ-driven weekend pool parties that commence at noon and wind down at dusk, with the unofficial after party at the 31st-floor Suite Royal, which wows with knockout city views, its own bar and gym. Next to the pool lounge, separated by a sliding glass wall, is the hotel’s fab restaurant serving artful Mexican fare courtesy of celebrity chef Enrique Olvera. Weekend rates start from $170/night for a double room.

4. Fasano
Not since the girl from Ipanema went walking have more heads turned towards the fashionable Ipanema beachfront in Rio de Janeiro. The 3-year-old Fasano — a from-scratch concept of celebrated hotel design maven and architect Philippe Starck — of course provides the requisite decadent digs, exuding a sleek design scheme centered on four basic elements (wood, glass, marble, and steel) and a motif inspired by Rio’s '50s and '60s celebrated bossa nova heyday. But the Fasano’s real charisma stems from its storied public spaces — lounge/bar Baretto-Londra (an edgy yet elegant homage to London, owner Rogério Fasano’s favorite city) see-and-be-seen Mediterranean-inspired seafood restaurant Fasano Al Mare (helmed by the former chef of a three-star Michelin Florentine eatery) and a rooftop swimming pool, steam room, and January 2010-debuted spa. Together, they serve as a superlative microcosm of the Brazilian party capital’s legendary and seductive revelry. Party hotel den Baretto-Londra’s leather-clad aesthetic and exposed red-brick walls provide a glam-packed haven for chic Cariocas (Rio residents) and jet-setters, where classic rock tunes, weekend DJs, and the occasional live show supply the beats. It’s the exclusive, guests-only rooftop scene that is Fasano’s coup de grace, though, where free-flowing bar service and a sexy infinity pool overlooking Rio’s iconic beachfront landscape define the city’s most coveted perch for sunsets and stargazing — of both ilks (P. Diddy, Madonna, and Beyoncé count among past patrons).

5. Fontainebleau
The Fontainebleau has been a part of the Miami Beach scene since 1954 (now that’s what we call staying power), yet this old darling is new again, thanks to a $1 billion renovation completed in 2008. Its celebrity pedigree can’t be beat (old-school icons like Elvis and the Rat Pack used to prowl the halls) and now the Fontainebleau’s hot-spot LIV nightclub, considered one of the world’s best clubs by many, attracts A-listers like Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James (his switch over to Miami Heat a coincidence? We think not!), and Lady Gaga who performed at LIV’s New Year’s Eve party last year. The 30,000-square-foot DJ-catered venue features eclectic entertainment and a voyeuristic design (you can see the entire venue from nearly every corner of the space) and is reason alone for the Fontainebleau’s major “party hotel” status. And for those who crave a more mellow night (sans the velvet rope and VIP list), the Fontainebleau offers the more subdued, but no less glam, Bleau Bar in the hotel lobby and Glow Bar, a sophisticated pool lounge, open to hotel guests only, daily until sunset (with the pool in signature bowtie design courtesy of hotel architect Morris Lapidus). The guest rooms and suites, 1,504 in total, come with ocean views, blue accents, and personal 20-inch iMacs. After a long night out, hotel guests can nurse their hangovers with food from one of Fontainebleau’s 11 restaurants and lounges, including three haute eateries: Hakkasan, Scarpetta, and Gotham Steak. Room rates start from $189/night.

6. Metropolitan London
Checking out your room at the Metropolitan London — with its minimalist sophistication, COMO Shambhala bath products, Egyptian cotton sheets, yoga mat, and sweeping views of Hyde Park from some — you may not feel like you’ve just checked into the biggest party hotel in London, but that you have (and your room key is as good as a VIP ticket). After lunch or dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred Nobu outpost, head over to the Met Bar. The party starts during Afternoon De-Light (Monday–Saturday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.), a (potentially) boozy take on English teatime where alcohol-optional mar-tea-nis are served alongside healthier versions of traditional scones and sandwiches. Things really heat up at night when the bar hosts the latest London DJs, music acts, and entertainers past performers include bands Oasis and Kings of Leon as well as then-unknown comedian Russell Brand. The regular monthly schedule features themed events like “Rockaoke” (karaoke with a live band) and an electronica club night. The oh-so exclusive Met Bar is open to hotel guests and Met members only (aside from a small, impossible to penetrate, guest list) which makes booking a room here all the more appealing. True revelers will want to book the hotel’s Party Like a Rock Star – Sleep Like a Baby package (from £309/night subject to availability), which includes such essential amenities as Purple Haze shots (champagne-topped passionfruit vodka concoctions) on arrival, VIP access to several London nightclubs, and a "Party Box" with an inflatable guitar and hangover-hiding eye mask. Published rates start at £390/night, but check the website as daily rates fluctuate.

7. Murano Resort
If you want to party in Paris with the in crowd, the Murano Resort is the place. Situated on the border of the trendy Marais neighborhood, the Murano’s 43 rooms and nine suites (two with private outdoor heated pools) feature cutting-edge technology each opens using fingerprint ID and can essentially transform into a personal disco, thanks to in-room stereos and a high-tech system for playing with the room lights’ colors and levels. Down in the bar lounge — actually two party venues separated by a glass wall with a DJ booth in the middle — you’ll find 180 types of vodka on offer. Paris’s young and fabulous gather here for nightly DJ sessions with special guests hitting the turntables on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Take a breather from the techno-fueled bedlam at the ground-floor Martini Terrace lounge (open air in summer, covered in winter), serving up Italian fare with smooth martinis until 2 a.m. Even Murano’s dining options cater to the party set: The Murano restaurant has its own DJ and serves breakfast until noon (perfect for the hangover-prone). Plus, all rooms have an espresso machine for an immediate caffeine fix. Stay over on a Saturday and indulge in all-day Sunday brunch, available from 11.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For a weekend romp, the party hotel offers the Rock n’Luxe package (from €600/night) for two nights in an M room, champagne upon arrival, round-trip airport transfers, unlimited mini-bar access, breakfast daily, and late checkout. Rates start at €350/night.

8. Ritz-Carlton at L.A. LIVE
A renaissance continues to rock LA’s formerly business-only Downtown neighborhood. The past decade has brought slick residential condos, a concert hall, plenty of art galleries, and stylish bars, restaurants, and party hotels (the rooftop at The Standard Downtown remains a trendy drink spot) and, now, the transformation – from a no-fly zone to a stylish city enclave – is nearly complete with the unveiling of the enormous, 2.5-billion-dollar L.A. LIVE, a sports, entertainment, and hotel complex next to the STAPLES Center and Nokia Theatre. Considered the cornerstone of Downtown’s new entertainment endeavor, the Ritz-Carlton at L.A. LIVE, opened in April 2010, is stacked on top of the also new JW Marriot and the Ritz-Carlton Residences on the upper floors of a 54-story, LEED-certified tower, and features a sleek, contemporary aesthetic (a fresh look for a Ritz) and a swank full-service spa. Just steps away from the hotel, guests can take advantage of L.A. LIVE's offerings — bowl at Lucky Strike Lanes, dine at restaurants like Katsuya or Rosa Mexicana, catch a Lakers game, rage at a Lady Gaga concert (she has shows scheduled at the STAPLES Center in August 2010 and March 2011), perhaps even attend the Grammys next year — then head for some pre- or post-event partying to the Ritz’s Club Lounge on the 23rd floor for cocktails and sweeping city views the rooftop pool lounge, Ion, on the 26th floor or WP24, Wolfgang Puck’s onsite Asian restaurant. Coordinate your Los Angeles city stay with one of these upcoming, hot-ticket events: Rihanna, the X Games, Lady Gaga, American Idols Live Tour 2010, and Roger Waters. The hotel’s I Love L.A. LIVE package, priced from $309/night, includes a guest room, 10 percent off dining, valet parking, and any two L.A. LIVE add-ons like Bowling with shoe rental at Lucky Strike Bowling, movie tickets at Regal Cinemas, ESPN Zone Game Cards, and Grammy Museum tickets. Standard rack rates go for $309/night.

9. The Standard New York
New York's 18th-floor Top of the Standard (formerly “The Boom Boom Room”) alone could earn hotelier Andre Balazs’ Meatpacking District property a spot on this list. The uber-exclusive rooftop club at The Standard has already hosted the likes of Madonna, Jude Law, and Courtney Love, but expect the VIP cachet to spike even more when the space reopens its clubbing hours in late 2010 as a “private social club” (so say our insider sources the space currently shuts down at 10 p.m. but is open for daily sunset service). Thankfully, The Standard’s four other bars still draw crowds. Biergarten and The Standard Grill cater to more casual types, with hearty brews, outdoor seating, and a more relaxed atmosphere than many of the nabe’s velvet-rope spots, while DJs spin Friday and Saturday nights at The Living Room. For sky-high panoramas of the Hudson and High Line Park, guests can flock to Le Bain, a new rooftop space outfitted with Astroturf carpeting, metal-framed plastic lawn chairs, and an indoor pool bar one floor below (complete with sparkly disco ball). The party hotel’s 337 guest rooms seem to be an afterthought here, but the amenities certainly won’t disappoint: Floor-to-ceiling glass walls with city and river views, mood lighting, and Kiss My Face organic bath products. Rates start at $295.

10. theWit
The lightning bolt motif that traverses this party hotel’s sleek 27-story glass facade is just the first indication that theWit is positively sizzling. The ROOF lounge, its year-round indoor/outdoor crowning glory, has been Chicago’s reigning “it” spot since its May 2009 debut, granting skyline and starry views roaring fire pits a menu of signature cocktails and small plates and danceable beats doled out by weekend DJs or via the live rock and pop bands showcased in the June 2010-debuted concert series, ROOFLIVE (held twice monthly in summer/early fall). Add to that theWit’s bustling Loop location (just a stone’s throw from top theaters and eateries) duo of popular on-site restaurants tricked-out movie theater available for private party screenings and, oh yeah, some 300 stylish guest rooms to harbor your hangover in and you have just the energy-infused, merry-making recipe to whip up a regular roster of party-minded patrons. And theWit isn’t about to gather any moss on its primo party-circuit status: Though they say lightning doesn’t strike twice, its newly debuted second-floor Phoenix Lounge is already creating some sparks, with a menu of classic cocktails, a reader-friendly wine-list (“Lush Red”, “Buttery White”), and Mediterranean-inspired small plates rounded out by chic décor (black velvet chairs, silver leather banquets, modern sculpture) and live evening acoustic sets from local artists (Thursdays through Saturdays). Summer rates go for $229/night.

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Our Story

Infusion Brewery now occupies the former home of Olson’s Meat Market in Downtown Benson. When the building became available, Bill Baburek, owner of Omaha’s Crescent Moon, decided to turn his dream of opening a craft brewery into reality.

The History

Infusion Brewing is located in the heart of Downtown Benson, Nebraska – a historic neighborhood nine miles northwest of Omaha’s Central Business District. The building is situated on the south side of Maple Street (historically known as Mayne or Main Street) at the Military Avenue intersection.

The north half of the Olson’s Market building was built in 1917, and in 1934 an addition was constructed to the south that doubled the size of the building. The interior has been redeveloped, but the building functions much as it did when Charlie Olson operated his butcher shop. The first floor of the building has been renovated into the tap room, where patrons will enjoy handcrafted Infusion beer in the same room Charlie Olson greeted his customers. The brewing equipment is located in the rear of the building, and the basement is used for grain storage, keg washing and filling.

We have embraced the history of our building and our community. All historic finishes in the building have been restored, including the mosaic floor tile, wood floors, decorative wall tiles, plaster walls, ornamental tin ceiling, concrete floors and exposed masonry.

▴ Vintage image of the area now used as the brewery.

Benson Beer District

Finding the right location is one of the most challenging aspects of opening a new brew pub. When a friend decided to sell his building in the Benson area of Omaha, Bill knew the time was right. Benson was already developing a reputation as a craft beer lover’s destination – so what better way to solidify that then to open a brewery there?

Exit 442

As Infusion grew, the Benson location was not large enough to handle the brewing and bottling needs of growing brewery. So the decision was made to expand to SW Omaha. Infusion took part in forming the Exit 442 business community, which was founded in 2017 to promote the craft beverage companies located off of I-80 Exit 442 in Southwest Omaha. Participating Craft Beverage Producers include: Infusion Brewing, Kros Strain Brewing, Nebraska Brewing Company, Pint Nine Brewing Company Lucky Bucket Brewing and Patriarch Distillery.

Infusion Little Bohemian Beer Hall

Located in Omaha’s iconic Bohemia Cafe building, Infusion’s Little Bohemia Beer Hall pays tribute to the former restaurant and its neighborhood. Exclusively featuring Infusion’s Czech pilsner on tap and a stage featuring a variety of musical acts.


Top 10 Party Hotels

Letting loose and getting a little wild on vacation is a given in our book. An exotic locale, sexy strangers, zero obligations. Let’s face it – sometimes it’s just more fun to party out of town. Anything goes in the world’s top party cities (we're talking Vegas, Rio, London) and, these days, the coolest carousing goes down at the hottest hotel in town. Bump-and-grind mega clubs, the ever-popular rooftop bar, sexy pool lounges, trendy restaurants, and venues for concerts, movie-screenings, and even sports events – our top 10 party hotels have all the necessities for an all-night rager or two. Best of all, checking into one of these hotel hot spots means you’re guaranteed VIP access to the city’s most coveted nighttime hangouts (a few on our list also have venues reserved for hotel guests only). Plus, no taxis or town cars are necessary your room is just an elevator ride up (or down, in some cases). So pack your dancing shoes, some aspirin (for some not-so-happening mornings), and get ready to get your groove on at these top party hotels across the globe.

ARIA Resort & Casino

Few cities demand as much unadulterated partying as Las Vegas, and the towering, 4,004-room ARIA Resort and Casino (www.arialasvegas.com) in the 68-acre City Center (both opened in December 2009), has quickly become one of the Strip’s hottest party hosts. Partnered with The Light Group, the name behind Sin City clubs like JET and The Bank, ARIA executes its onsite nightlife scene with die-hard carousing in mind: Three of the party hotel’s eight bars and lounges mix cocktails 24/7 (the rest close at the early-bird hour of 4am), so it’s all too easy to keep the party rolling until the wee hours without even stepping foot outside the resort. Head to Haze, the resort’s onsite nightclub, for a chance celebrity sighting (Mariah Carey, Usher, and Katy Perry have all held events at the 25,000-square-foot space) or look for notable gourmands at one of the 17 restaurants, which have celebrity chefs like Jean-Georges, Masayoshi Takayama, and Michael Mina at their helms. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city grace all the guest rooms as do automated curtains (so you can catch some shut-eye after the sun comes up), one-touch lighting and temperature controls, and gadgets that automatically notify the front desk when batteries are running low. Rates start at $129 on weekdays, $199 on weekends. www.arialasvegas.com

For more trip-planning info, see our Las Vegas Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

Buddha Bar Hotel

The happening Buddha Bar restaurant and lounge chain dominates the world’s top party cities (London, Paris, and Sao Paolo all claim Buddha Bar outposts) with a reputation for attracting scenesters prepped for all-night revelry, so it’s no wonder that the hot-spot brand now offers hotel rooms in equally groovy environs. The chain opened its first Buddha Bar Hotel (www.buddha-bar-hotel.cz) in January 2009 in the old town of Prague, a city known for boisterous beer-swilling, but the scene here is far more hip luxury than bohemian beer hall. Decked out in statement-making reds, golds, and exotic prints, each of the 39 rooms also comes outfitted with rain showers, in-bathroom televisions, and high-def TVs that can play the music mixed by the DJs in the mezzanine-level bar. The swinging party hotel vibe continues downstairs where DJs spin nightly at the property’s namesake lounge, while the Buddha Bar restaurant dishes inventive Asian-Pacific Rim fusion cuisine and the more casual Siddharta Café offers international eats in what is dubbed a “Pop Art Eatmosphere” environment (think an Andy Warhol-inspired color palette with funky, semi-psychedelic décor). Rates start at approximately $494/night (€388) www.buddha-bar-hotel.cz.

For more trip-planning info, see our Prague Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

Distrito Capital

While some may not associate Mexico City with jet-setting soirees, the country’s capital is in fact home to a handful of cutting-edge design hotels with Diddy-worthy party scenes. Opened in February 2009, Distrito Capital (www.hoteldistritocapital.com), the latest from high-design Habita hotel group, is the city’s hot-spot party hotel du jour. Located in the Santa Fe quarter (a growing business hub and shopping district), the svelte 30-room newbie towers above the city in a 28-story high-rise (the mixed-use building is also home to restaurants and residential condos) and features interiors by French designer Joseph Dirand (think tailored minimalism in a palette of muted grays, vintage furnishings and artwork, modern touches like mounted flat-screen TVs and retro accents like old-school rotary phones) – but the hotel’s forte is its public spaces, located on the fifth floor, which encourage social interaction and, consequently, partying. The open-air pool lounge, home to a sexy 65-foot pool, comes with killer mojitos, starry-night skies and city views, and DJ-driven weekend pool parties that commence at noon and wind down at dusk, with the unofficial after party at the 31st-floor Suite Royal, which wows with knockout city views, its own bar and gym. Next to the pool lounge, separated by a sliding glass wall, is the hotel’s fab restaurant serving artful Mexican fare courtesy of celebrity chef Enrique Olvera. Weekend rates start from $170/night for a double room www.hoteldistritocapital.com.

For more trip-planning info, see our Mexico City Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

Fasano

Not since the girl from Ipanema went walking have more heads turned towards the fashionable Ipanema beachfront in Rio de Janeiro. The 3-year-old Fasano (www.fasano.com.br) – a from-scratch concept of celebrated hotel design maven and architect Philippe Starck – of course provides the requisite decadent digs, exuding a sleek design scheme centered on four basic elements (wood, glass, marble, and steel) and a motif inspired by Rio’s '50s and '60s celebrated bossa nova heyday. But the Fasano’s real charisma stems from its storied public spaces – lounge/bar Baretto-Londra (an edgy yet elegant homage to London, owner Rogério Fasano’s favorite city) see-and-be-seen Mediterranean-inspired seafood restaurant Fasano Al Mare (helmed by the former chef of a three-star Michelin Florentine eatery) and a rooftop swimming pool, steam room, and January 2010-debuted spa. Together, they serve as a superlative microcosm of the Brazilian party capital’s legendary and seductive revelry. Party hotel den Baretto-Londra’s leather-clad aesthetic and exposed red-brick walls provide a glam-packed haven for chic Cariocas (Rio residents) and jet-setters, where classic rock tunes, weekend DJs, and the occasional live show supply the beats. It’s the exclusive, guests-only rooftop scene that is Fasano’s coup de grace, though, where free-flowing bar service and a sexy infinity pool overlooking Rio’s iconic beachfront landscape define the city’s most coveted perch for sunsets and stargazing – of both ilks (P. Diddy, Madonna, and Beyoncé count among past patrons).

For more trip-planning info, see our Rio de Janiero Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

Fontainebleau

The Fontainebleau (www.fontainebleau.com) has been a part of the Miami Beach scene since 1954 (now that’s what we call staying power) yet this old darling is new again, thanks to a $1 billion renovation completed in 2008. Its celebrity pedigree can’t be beat (old-school icons like Elvis and the Rat Pack used to prowl the halls) and now the Fontainebleau’s hot-spot LIV nightclub, considered one of the world’s best clubs by many, attracts A-listers like Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James (his switch over to Miami Heat a coincidence? We think not!), and Lady Gaga who performed at LIV’s New Year’s Eve party last year. The 30,000-square-foot DJ-catered venue features eclectic entertainment and a voyeuristic design (you can see the entire venue from nearly every corner of the space) and is reason alone for the Fontainebleau’s major “party hotel” status. And for those who crave a more mellow night (sans the velvet rope and VIP list), the Fontainebleau offers the more subdued, but no less glam, Bleau Bar in the hotel lobby and Glow Bar, a sophisticated pool lounge, open to hotel guests only, daily until sunset (with the pool in signature bowtie design courtesy of hotel architect Morris Lapidus). The guest rooms and suites, 1,504 in total, come with ocean views, blue accents, and personal 20-inch iMacs. After a long night out, hotel guests can nurse their hangovers with food from one of Fontainebleau’s 11 restaurants and lounges, including three haute eateries: Hakkasan, Scarpetta, and Gotham Steak. Room rates start from $189/night www.fontainebleau.com.

For more trip-planning info, see our Miami Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

Metropolitan London

Checking out your room at the Metropolitan London (www.metropolitan.london.como.bz) – with its minimalist sophistication, COMO Shambhala bath products, Egyptian cotton sheets, yoga mat, and sweeping views of Hyde Park from some – you may not feel like you’ve just checked into the biggest party hotel in London, but that you have (and your room key is as good as a VIP ticket). After lunch or dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred Nobu outpost, head over to the Met Bar. The party starts during Afternoon De-Light (Monday–Saturday, 3pm to 6pm), a (potentially) boozy take on English teatime where alcohol-optional mar-tea-nis are served alongside healthier versions of traditional scones and sandwiches. Things really heat up at night when the bar hosts the latest London DJs, music acts, and entertainers past performers include bands Oasis and Kings of Leon as well as then-unknown comedian Russell Brand. The regular monthly schedule features themed events like “Rockaoke” (karaoke with a live band) and an electronica club night. The oh-so exclusive Met Bar is open to hotel guests and Met members only (aside from a small, impossible to penetrate, guest list) which makes booking a room here all the more appealing. True revelers will want to book the hotel’s Party Like a Rock Star – Sleep Like a Baby package (from £309/night subject to availability), which includes such essential amenities as Purple Haze shots (champagne-topped passionfruit vodka concoctions) on arrival, VIP access to several London nightclubs, and a "Party Box" with an inflatable guitar and hangover-hiding eye mask. Published rates start at £390/night, but check the website as daily rates fluctuate www.metropolitan.london.como.bz.

For more trip-planning info, see our London Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

Murano Resort

If you want to party in Paris with the in crowd, the Murano Resort (www.muranoresort.com) is the place. Situated on the border of the trendy Marais neighborhood, the Murano’s 43 rooms and nine suites (two with private outdoor heated pools) feature cutting-edge technology each opens using fingerprint ID and can essentially transform into a personal disco, thanks to in-room stereos and a high-tech system for playing with the room lights’ colors and levels. Down in the bar lounge – actually two party venues separated by a glass wall with a DJ booth in the middle – you’ll find 180 types of vodka on offer. Paris’s young and fabulous gather here for nightly DJ sessions with special guests hitting the turntables on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Take a breather from the techno-fueled bedlam at the ground-floor Martini Terrace lounge (open air in summer, covered in winter), serving up Italian fare with smooth martinis until 2am. Even Murano’s dining options cater to the party set: The Murano restaurant has its own DJ and serves breakfast until noon (perfect for the hangover-prone). Plus, all rooms have an espresso machine for an immediate caffeine fix. Stay over on a Saturday and indulge in all-day Sunday brunch, available from 11.30am to 5pm. For a weekend romp, the party hotel offers the Rock n’Luxe package (from €600/night) for two nights in an M room, champagne upon arrival, round-trip airport transfers, unlimited mini-bar access, breakfast daily, and late checkout. Rates start at €350/night muranoresort.com.

For more trip-planning info, see our Paris Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

Ritz-Carlton at L.A. LIVE

A renaissance continues to rock LA’s formerly business-only Downtown neighborhood. The past decade has brought slick residential condos, a concert hall, plenty of art galleries, and stylish bars, restaurants, and party hotels (the rooftop at The Standard Downtown remains a trendy drink spot) and, now, the transformation – from a no-fly zone to a stylish city enclave – is nearly complete with the unveiling of the enormous, 2.5-billion-dollar L.A. LIVE (www.LALive.com), a sports, entertainment, and hotel complex next to the STAPLES Center and Nokia Theatre. Considered the cornerstone of Downtown’s new entertainment endeavor, the Ritz-Carlton at L.A. LIVE (www.ritzcarlton.com), opened in April 2010, is stacked on top of the also new JW Marriot and the Ritz-Carlton Residences on the upper floors of a 54-story, LEED-certified tower, and features a sleek, contemporary aesthetic (a fresh look for a Ritz) and a swank full-service spa. Just steps away from the hotel, guests can take advantage of L.A. LIVE's offerings – bowl at Lucky Strike Lanes, dine at restaurants like Katsuya or Rosa Mexicana, catch a Lakers game, rage at a Lady Gaga concert (she has shows scheduled at the STAPLES Center in August 2010 and March 2011), perhaps even attend the Grammys next year – then head for some pre- or post-event partying to the Ritz’s Club Lounge on the 23rd floor for cocktails and sweeping city views the rooftop pool lounge, Ion, on the 26th floor or WP24, Wolfgang Puck’s onsite Asian restaurant. Coordinate your Los Angeles city stay with one of these upcoming, hot-ticket events: Rihanna, the X Games, Lady Gaga, American Idols Live Tour 2010, and Roger Waters. The hotel’s I Love L.A. LIVE package, priced from $309/night, includes a guest room, 10 percent off dining, valet parking, and any two L.A. LIVE add-ons like Bowling with shoe rental at Lucky Strike Bowling, movie tickets at Regal Cinemas, ESPN Zone Game Cards, and Grammy Museum tickets. Standard rack rates go for $309/night www.ritzcarlton.com.

For more trip-planning info, see our Los Angeles Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

The Standard New York

New York's 18th-floor Top of the Standard (formerly “The Boom Boom Room”) alone could earn hotelier Andre Balazs’ Meatpacking District property a spot on this list. The uber-exclusive rooftop club at The Standard (www.standardhotels.com) has already hosted the likes of Madonna, Jude Law, and Courtney Love, but expect the VIP cachet to spike even more when the space reopens its clubbing hours in late 2010 as a “private social club” (so say our insider sources the space currently shuts down at 10pm but is open for daily sunset service). Thankfully, The Standard’s four other bars still draw crowds. Biergarten and The Standard Grill cater to more casual types, with hearty brews, outdoor seating, and a more relaxed atmosphere than many of the nabe’s velvet-rope spots, while DJs spin Friday and Saturday nights at The Living Room. For sky-high panoramas of the Hudson and High Line Park, guests can flock to Le Bain, a new rooftop space outfitted with Astroturf carpeting, metal-framed plastic lawn chairs, and an indoor pool bar one floor below (complete with sparkly disco ball). The party hotel’s 337 guest rooms seem to be an afterthought here, but the amenities certainly won’t disappoint: Floor-to-ceiling glass walls with city and river views, mood lighting, and Kiss My Face organic bath products. Rates start at $295 www.standardhotels.com.

For more trip-planning info, see our New York City Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.

TheWit

The lightning bolt motif that traverses this party hotel’s sleek 27-story glass facade is just the first indication that theWit (www.thewithotel.com) is positively sizzling. The ROOF lounge, its year-round indoor/outdoor crowning glory, has been Chicago’s reigning “it” spot since its May 2009 debut, granting skyline and starry views roaring fire pits a menu of signature cocktails and small plates and danceable beats doled out by weekend DJs or via the live rock and pop bands showcased in the June 2010-debuted concert series, ROOFLIVE (held twice monthly in summer/early fall). Add to that theWit’s bustling Loop location (just a stone’s throw from top theaters and eateries) duo of popular on-site restaurants tricked-out movie theater available for private party screenings and, oh yeah, some 300 stylish guest rooms to harbor your hangover in and you have just the energy-infused, merry-making recipe to whip up a regular roster of party-minded patrons. And theWit isn’t about to gather any moss on its primo party-circuit status: Though they say lightning doesn’t strike twice, its newly debuted second-floor Phoenix Lounge is already creating some sparks, with a menu of classic cocktails, a reader-friendly wine-list (“Lush Red”, “Buttery White”), and Mediterranean-inspired small plates rounded out by chic décor (black velvet chairs, silver leather banquets, modern sculpture) and live evening acoustic sets from local artists (Thursdays through Saturdays). Summer rates go for $229/night www.thewithotel.com.

For more trip-planning info, see our Chicago Travel Guide, then find deals with our Travel Search price comparison tool.


The Epicurious Blog

Tomorrow the auction house Christie&aposs will hold the first liquor auction in New York since Prohibition began in 1920. (Apparently the house has been stockpiling spirits since a New York State law change this August made liquor auctions legal again.) The Fine Wines and Spirits sale, which will take place at the house&aposs Rockefeller Galleries, will feature bottles of Cognac, whiskey, and other spirits with estimated values from $300 to $100,000, according to a press release issued by Christie&aposs. Yes, that&aposs five zeros behind that "1." You can browse and bid on Christie&aposs Web site.

Three questions: First, are any of you fancy pants out there planning to attend the auction? Second, what&aposs the most you would spend on a bottle of wine or liquor? Third, how much would you pay me to bust into the auction house, grab a $70,000 bottle of single malt Scotch off the auction table, crack it open, and start guzzling while screaming, "Y&aposall want to party?!"?

The Latke Chronicles


Happy Hanukkah! Or is it Hannuka? Chanukah? It&aposs the holiday with multiple spellings. Thankfully there is only one spelling for latkes, which is Yiddish for potato pancakes, the traditional food associated with the holiday in this country.

Latkes are tricky. While the perfect latke is crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, they can easily become soggy or greasy. The batter consistency varies greatly depending upon the moisture content of your potatoes. And then there is the question of additional ingredients like matzo meal, flour, baking powder and just how many eggs. Oy!

Baking Bites makes a Oven Baked version. The conclusion? "Overall, I think they&aposre a good substitute for the "real" thing, with a lot good potato flavor" says blogger Nicole. For another twist, The Perfect Pantry has a recipe for Sweet Potato Latkes.

In a newspaper article, in addition to a discussion on deep frying which frankly doesn&apost seem like a good idea as far latkes go, there were two suggestions for using a non-stick pan:

* Browning in a non-stick pan and then baking

* Using a light amount of oil in a non-stick pan

Personally I&aposm sticking with my cast iron skillet. It get so much hotter than non-stick which I try to reserve for cooking eggs only. What about you? Any tips or tricks for making the perfect latkes?

Puebla York

My agent in Latin America, private chef Tessa Liebman, has finally returned from a weeks-long foodie research expedition to Mexico, and she&aposs been kind enough to share a few of her experiences (you may have read her Oaxaca notes or heard her on Mexican radio.)

You can read her thoughts on Puebla and Cholula (as well as answer her pleas for Puebla York experiences) after the jump.

Crispy Duck Legs, Tatsoi Pizza, and Other Staples Of The Writer&aposs Strike

An odd byproduct of the WGA strike is that I&aposve been cooking more often. I don&apost mean eating at home more often of course I&aposm going to stop going to any restaurant than costs more than $25 for the whole family. I&aposm on freaking strike here! There&aposs no time to eat well unless someone else is buying, and no one in town is buying right now, at least not for writers.

No, I mean cooking more often. As I wrote a few days ago, Regina has taken a job making $400 gift baskets for the types of people against whom I&aposm striking. It&aposs intense, seasonal work, and she&aposs trying to rack up as many hours as possible. This means she&aposs never home before six, and often not until after seven. So I&aposve been at the stove a lot.

I declared, forcefully, that I wasn&apost going to resort to cooking laziness. My hard-working gal would not come home to defrosted Stouffer&aposs lasagne. I would shop, and cook, and everything would be fresh and delicious.

On night one of my cooking marathon, I pulled out some big cannons, with a delicious plate of braised duck legs topped with a gravy of carmelized onion, celery, and carrot. This hardly sounds like strike food, but the legs had cost me five bucks and all the vegetables were from our twice-monthly box, so why am I apologizing to you? The legs were tender and gamy and the skin was crisped to perfection. Our ancient Southern cast-iron skillet had triumphed again.

Since then, it&aposs been a mixed bag. A Marcella Hazan red snapper came out sort of bland, but it went well with the roasted garlic and potatoes I made, and I accompanied it with a tasty Greek salad. Next, I moved on to pizza, with a premade crust. This was also Greek in theme, with leftover feta and olives and mushrooms that I&aposd reduced in their own juices. It also contained what I thought was sauteed spinach. Regina took a bite.

"This isn&apost spinach," she said.

"No. It&aposs good, but it&aposs not spinach."

"Go look at the list from the farm."

Apparently, according to the list, I&aposd prepared a tatsoi pizza. I wonder if Eugene V. Debs ever used to eat tatsoi pizza when he was leading a strike. Did the Wobblies eat tatsoi?

The next night, I whipped out the wok and did a simple but effective broccoli and zucchini stir-fry, with rice. Very little remained from our vegetable box now, except for, I guess, the spinach and some Chinese cabbage, which I probably will not be eating. Also, we had a head of Romaine.

That meant it was time for my signature dish: Caesar salad, made tableside, with the original 1924 Tijuana recipe. I toast my own sourdough croutons. I coddle an egg for 45 seconds. I drizzle the 1/3 cup olive oil slowly into the dressing as I stir, so the oil doesn&apost separate. I chop up anchovies. I do it right.

This time, however, I was dealing with an old lemon, and it was too dark in the backyard to see what was ripe on the tree. I threw a little extra salt into the dressing to balance it out, but the chemistry was a little off. Also, I found myself distracted by the tempura shrimp, bought at Costco and oven-defrosted for Elijah&aposs pleasure, which required to be turned every few minutes. This led me to forget to mix the Parmesan in with the dressing and I even forgot to mix in more Parmesan into the salad as I was tossing it in our big wooden bowl. How can you have Caesar salad without Parmesan? Hell, how can you have anything without Parmesan?

I&aposve been cooking a lot, and am damn tired. But it&aposs inexcusable for me not to execute my signature dish. Oh, writer&aposs strike! Is there no end to your cruelty?


Cigar Strikes, Anarchists and Bohemian Beer: Vestiges of a Czech Community 

It looks like any other East Village apartment building now, but over a century ago, 533 East Fifth Street, between Avenues A and B, was the site of what may have been the city’s first Bohemian National Hall. At the time, Czech and Slovak immigrants were so concentrated along Avenue B, between Houston Street and Tompkins Square Park, that it was called “Czech Boulevard.”

This Slavic community flourished until the end of the 19th century, when its residents started migrating to the Bronx, Astoria and the Upper East Side. They abandoned the East Village with little evidence to show for their existence, ceding the neighborhood to Germans, Poles, and Ukrainians.

But before they left, the Bohemian National Hall, or Narodní Budova, was typical of public halls in immigrant neighborhoods throughout the city. It was brimming with life and the base for several Czech and Slovak social clubs and hosted literary and union meetings, concerts, balls, and language classes. For Czech and Slovak immigrants of the time, it was a home away from home.

The hall was in a tenement building, one of 13 pre-law tenements that went up more than 150 years ago on the block owned by William B. Astor. Although the exact date of construction is unknown, the five-story National Hall would have looked much like the tenement next door at 531 East Fifth Street, which currently houses the Ace Bar. That Italianate structure was built between 1860 and 1861.

The old National Hall would have been built around the same time, but the building was either torn down and rebuilt, or it had a major alteration in 1899, according to building records. In the construction, another story was added by architect Nathan Langer.

Langer designed 533 in the Queen Anne style, mixing Renaissance revival and Baroque motifs, which explains the delicate lace-like details that line the building and the window’s lattices. The facade is also, surprisingly, decorated with 13 bearded stone faces that sit atop its four window arches on every other floor—the only one of its kind on the block. The largest of the gentlemen hangs over the door, guarding with wide eyes and mouth agape. Maybe Langer had Prague’s Gothic gargoyles in mind while he was re-designing.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, and the over-investment in America’s new railroad system that followed, the national economy suffered, setting off the Panic of 1873, which lasted until 1877. It was called the Great Depression before the 1930s set the new standard in collective misery.

In February 1874, a cascade of headlines—“Scenes of Starvation,” “Tenement House Wretchedness,” “A Day in the City’s Pauperized Thousands”—announced an article in the New York Daily Herald that described both the squalor and resilience that a reporter encountered during a tour of various wards. “So ripe is poverty and crime,” he summarized. He described the East Village, then the 17th ward, as enjoying “the proud pre-eminence of being the most thickly populated spot in the United States, and probably in the world.” He cited recent census data that showed 6,720 people living on the single block between Fourth and Fifth Street on First Avenue, mostly Germans, Bohemians and Swedes. Despite the poverty, the local police precinct captain told the reporter that the local residents were of “the highest character.” Their rooms may not have carpet but “the floors are scrubbed until one could eat off them. The people are poor, but forehanded, comfortably clad and they live well. There is very little misery among them. They have saved for the rainy day, and manage, in spite of hard times, to get along very well and look the future in the face hopefully.”

Further down Fifth Street, between avenues A and B, the reporter stopped in at a “representative Bohemian” saloon near the Narodní Budova, which he described without its name as a large hall with “eight flourishing Bohemian societies.” Inside were a Turner gymnastics club and two Czech language schools. “By the way,” the reporter incorrectly noted, “this startling word is pronounced Chesh.”

Cigar-making was the major occupation of the Czechs and Slovaks, the reporter said, noting that 800 of them were on strike at the time. Their job action followed a riot of 7,000 workers—the largest to date in New York City—that broke out in Tompkins Square Park a month earlier in a protest of the poor economic conditions of the day.

In the years to come, Czech cigar makers, sometimes spelled sigar back then, demonstrated repeatedly to protest their long hours and low wages. In 1881, for example, the Cigarmakers’ Union 444 met at Bohemian Hall to work on strengthening the union. At a meeting in 1883, the union demanded the governor sign the Tenement Bill, which would ban cigar-making in tenement buildings. The bill “denounced the system of manufacturing cigars in tenements as productive of disease and death, the cause of overcrowding, of vitiated air and contagion.”

Jacob Riis describes the cigar tenements around Fifth Street in How the Other Half Lives, along with the harsh conditions under which so many Bohemians worked.

Chicago’s infamous Haymarket Riots broke out on May 4, 1886 during a worker’s strike that brought 80,000 people into the city’s streets in a spectacle that became one of the world’s first May Day parades. A couple days later, police shot at several rock-throwing strikers, sparking a “revenge” protest the next day in the Haymarket. As police gathered to disperse the crowd, someone lobbed a bomb, killing seven police officers and at least four protesters. Authorities identified the perpetrators as anarchists and German-speaking Bohemians.

Within three weeks, the Bohemians of New York responded by creating an anti-anarchist society to show their patriotism. The Bohemian Hall hosted the meeting, attended by some 500 Czechs and Slovaks, bent on “crushing the anarchists.” Half a dozen anarchists crashed the meeting and tried to wrest control of the proceedings, but as an anarchist tried to take the chair, “he was assisted to the floor,” the New York Tribune reported. The anarchists left the hall but came back later with reinforcements, about 30 in all. But a dozen cops scared them away.

J.F. Vosatka, who presided over the meeting and was voted president of the Anti-Anarchists, said at the time:

A few of our nationality are anarchists, and as we know they are misleading our people in the city, who number about 25,000, we started this anti-anarchy movement. We are all citizens of the country, and as we find our adopted country better than the one we left, our duty is to work with all our power against all lawlessness, and do our best to put down anarchism among our members, stand by our flag, and be obedient citizens.

Clinging to traditions from their homeland, in the late 1800s “Czech Boulevard” had its own Czech and Slovak speciality shops, saloons, eateries and bakeries, all clustered on a handful of streets that ran across Avenue B. Thomas Capek describes the area in the book The Čech Bohemian Community of New York, published in 1921. He writes that in the 1870s and 1880s, his countrymen would hang out at Tompkins Square Park: “their favorite rendezvous, they called the White Garden from the whiteness of the asphalt.” Capek describes the blocks between Third and Fifth streets as the densest concentration and says, “but a few were bold enough to penetrate the unknown regions west of Avenue A, ‘where strangers lived’.”

This makes sense considering the classified advertisements of microfilm archives of “New Yorksé Listy,” the Bohemian language newspaper that served the community beginning in 1875. The newspaper is self-proclaimed as “the oldest and the most popular Bohemian Paper in the East.” Many local restaurants and shops that advertised were located around Third and Fifth street, with some reaching out to First Avenue.

Several ads in newspapers from October 1889 give a glimpse into what the streets and storefronts might have looked like back then. Just a few doors down from the Bohemian Hall, Jana Cerela advertised a “Český Hostinec,” or Czech restaurant with fresh, hot food at 529 East Fifth Street. Another, larger ad showed Karel Wancl’s Czech hostinec at 525 East Fifth Street, featuring hot food, a student’s menu and lager from Plžen, Czechoslovakia (the origin of the pilsner beer). At 50 Avenue B was Josef Pipota’s wine bar. And down at 122 East Third Street was J. Heisler’s book store, complete with Czech books and calendars for the upcoming new year of 1890.

A livelier ad announced a theater showing of “Peasant Zlatodvorsky” on Oct. 6 and also a ball after the show. Tickets cost 25 cents for adults, which was about $7 in those days, and 10 cents for children. In the ad, men were asked to please refrain from smoking during the show. Another ad below it publicized a celebratory feast hosted at the hall for the ninth anniversary of a choir. Entrance for a man and a woman was 25 cents, and an extra 15 cents to add another woman.

Another ad in the New York Herald, in 1892, announced the winners of the annual boxing entertainment of the Olympian Athletic Club held at the Bohemian National Hall.

These old newspaper classifieds show how vibrant the community used to be. If a Czech or Slovak lived and worked in the neighborhood, it seems like there would hardly be any reason to leave. But eventually, the Bohemians did leave.

By 1889, some of the Czechs and Slovaks in the community had already begun to migrate up to Yorkville to the streets in the 70s and 80s on the Upper East Side, which is also reflected in some of the advertisements.

Whether because the Bohemians outgrew their hall, as some articles suggested, or because cigar factories moved uptown and factory workers followed, by 1897, a brand new hall was built at 321 East 72nd Street. Today, that hall still survives with a Czech restaurant on the bottom floor, serving the famous Plžen pilsner. On other floors there are several Czech societies, including a Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Society, and a theater to put on Czech plays. The building also has offices for the Czech consulate of New York, and a Czech cultural center. On the street behind the hall is a Czech Protestant church, the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1888 — Hus was a heretic against the Catholic Church and was burned at the stake in the 15th century.

During the Prague Spring in 1968, almost a hundred years after Czechs moved to the Upper East Side, Václav Havel, the dissident writer who would eventually become the first president of the Czech Republic, visited New York for the first time. He loved the East Village, which he strolled with the Czech director Milos Forman, who lived in New York at the time. Havel admired the neighborhood’s hippies, artists, and other unconventionals. Maybe he passed by the ghosts of that other kind of Bohemian who had lived and worked and played near the 533 East Fifth Street of a hundred years before.


American Beer Gardens: Hip Summer Hangouts

Americans love summer and summer means heading outside to eat, drink and be merry. Instead of imbibing with friends in a dark and stuffy pub, why not drink your favorite brew at a beer garden? This quintessentially German institution, with its convivial atmosphere, plethora of beer and outdoor seating, is taking the U.S. by storm. Here are our favorites around the country:

Estabrook Beer Garden, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee has strong German roots and once had a plethora of beer gardens. Today, Estabrook Beer Garden, on the banks of the Milwaukee River, is bringing the concept back to life. It’s not a large space but it gets the job done. Sit at one of the picnic tables and enjoy the water view. Guests can order pretzels, German sausage and half liters and liters of beer daily, from noon until 10. Enjoy live music in the early evening but leave the credit card at home. It’s cash only.

Bayou Beer Garden, New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is synonymous with fun. And the Bayou Beer Garden promises a lot of that. Situated on Jefferson Davis street in Mid City, the Bayou is a relaxed place to while away the time, play trivia, watch sports or just socialize with friends and locals. The beer garden offers an extensive list of domestic and imported beer as well as cider, wine and spirits. The open plan concept offers cover when the weather turns rainy during winter month, and a soft breeze during the hot and humid summer.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Astoria, Queens

No list would be complete without mention of the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Queens, New York. For more than a century, New Yorkers have been heading to this rustic beer garden in the heart of Astoria to drink Czech beer and dine on East European food. But don’t expect your beer in a stein or mass. You can only order by the mug or pitcher, with selections limited to Czech and American brews. The beer garden isn’t just about brews, however. It plays hosts to events such as the Czech and Slovak Festival and dance parties during off-peak hours. Although it has become increasingly popular in recent years, it still has a laid back, almost take-it-or-shove-it vibe. So leave the attitude in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Prost, Portland, Oregon

Portlanders are beer aficionados and most drink local brews. But sticking to that would be a shame. Prost on bustling Mississippi Avenue in North Portland serves only German fare and German beer, the latter in their proper glasses just like in an authentic German beer garden. Prost is packed whenever a German soccer match is televised, with guests spilling over the outside patio. But the bartenders are attentive and the clientele is fun, if a bit rowdy at times. The spot is so popular that the owners opened another beer garden in NE Portland called Stammtisch. The crowd is older and the food more varied. Where else in town can you order hasenpfeffer?


Beer & Microbrews

Although beer has been a mainstay in America since Colonial times, since the 1980s, Americans have taken a renewed interest in "going beyond Budweiser" and making new/rediscovering old recipes for beer and ale. Though domestic sales are still dominated by larger macrobrews, all over the nation smaller, newer breweries and brands are showing up on tap in bars and on the shelves of liquor stores, many of them (like the now-mighty Sam Adams, a Boston-based beer named for the very real beer brewing patriot) are making inroads into the traditional territory of large corporations like Anheuser-Buch or Miller and often beating them mercilessly in taste tests. Many of these beers are regional in nature: Brooklyn Lager (New York City), Harpoon Ale (New England), Pete's Wicked (Texas), Great Lakes (Chicago and Midwest), Red Brick (Georgia and the South), and Anchor Steam (California/West Coast) take inspiration from nations like Germany, Austria, Ireland, the U.K., and the Czech Republic, and should be given a try if they appear on a menu. During special occasions, these brewers often have a limited edition brew circulating: keep watch for these as well.


On my way to a grill-out at a friend's house I stopped to get some beer for the party. When I went to the cooler to get a couple of our usual favorites, there it was. Schlitz original 60's formula. Remembering what I wrote here, I bought a sixer so we could give it a try along with our regulars.

Here's the funny part. When I brought it into my friend's house, he and Lance (his wife's boss) started laughing. It turns out they had just been talking about really wanting to get some and try it out. I had never talked about it with either one of them.

Anyway, we all liked it fine. Particularly Lance because it reminded him of the sips he got from his dad and uncle back in the day.

For my palate it was certainly more enjoyable than the usual mass market suspects, and I actually liked it. But it isn't going to displace my usual favorites in the golden lager category.

I don't know if it's an all malt beer, but it didn't strike me as something that would pass Reinheitsgebot muster. There was a sweet note in the flavor that's usually telltale for brewing with adjuncts. Corn grits being the likely suspect. Yuengling is another "old school" American Lager producer that does this. This is not the same sweetness that I taste in a more heavily malted "real" beer. I would have liked the Schlitz more if the hops were a little sharper so the sweetness would be better balanced.

It was a pleasant diversion, but I can't call it serious Pilsner. It just didn't have the bready malt note and crisp hop bite of the real thing.


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