June has been a long month. Between Washington DC, Albany, Boston and Newport, I feel as if I’m some sort of celebrity touring the East Coast. I just got back last evening from a couple days in Newport, RI for work (I know, tough life) and I seriously need to recharge. Every stop along the tour has been accompanied by long days, lonely hotel beds, too much drinking and at times, questionable eating. With that said, this trip to Newport was also amazing, although far too brief.
From a people standpoint, I was surrounded by immense quality and the times we had will certainly be remembered. Since a lot of the trip surrounded work, I’m not going to get into details as I don’t want Big Brother knocking on my cubicle wall and ushering me out. Rather, I’d like to talk about three things: Mansions, Mustaches, and Mischief.
When you think of Newport, you think of Great Gatsby era opulence: gilded décor, breathtaking architecture, meticulous attention to detail, etc. The one thing that isn’t told, or at least clearly emphasized, is how absurdly MASSIVE Newport’s mansions are. During my morning run down Bellevue Ave., I couldn’t help but think of how these behemoths of Newport made the mansions of Cleveland look like in-law apartments. Beyond the sheer girth of these structures, it was refreshing to see how well maintained the grounds of each compound were. It’s refreshing to see such pride in a bygone era maintained today. Bellevue Ave. is certainly a “must run” while in Newport.
There’s one mustache that defines Newport: Kenny G’s handlebar. No, I’m not talking about the badass saxophone player, but rather the legendary bar steward at Clarke Cooke House. The second you see him with his hipster specs and dashing good looks, you know that this man is capable of, at the very least, creating a tremendous cocktail.
This experience was enhanced by the presence of Will Willis, proprietor/distiller of Boston’s own Bully Boy Distillers, a good friend of one of my co-workers. Fate would have it that he was in Newport promoting his line-up and my man Kenny G was throwing down two cocktails using Bully Boy’s high-quality spirits. For the American Straight Whiskey (blend of rye, corn and malted barley), our mustachioed friend was crafting the best damn Old Fashioned I’ve had. As for the Boston Rum, what better to revive a crowd on a humid Newport evening than a Dark & Stormy?!
Talk about a win-win, handlebars and great booze.
Well, I wouldn’t say that I got into mischief per se, but hell the eye sees what it sees and good lord there was a lot of “sight-seeing” to be had in Newport.
Beyond the wandering eyes, the true mischief was had at Flo’s Clam Shack. Due to features on Phantom Gourmet and Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, the expectations were high for Flo’s, but the figurative “soup de jour” was highly overrated. Although the fiery Quahog was quite tasty and the fries were good, the lobsta roll was rather unmemorable and the fried fisherman’s platter was dredged in batter that was morbidly obese-ifying (totally sucks that today is an “off day”, I need to run this meal off so bad). Sometimes I wish I didn’t give a shit about my health as I’m sure if that was the case, this place would be Mecca.
However I do give a shit, so to me Flo’s was slightly more than a dive bar. In addition, they are cash only and they have on on-premise ATM that charges $3.25 per transaction. Not to be cheap, but I was put off by the little racket they have going on. But wait…
Just when I thought Flo’s couldn’t possibly be any more frustrating, they go and do something like Combo #9… and totally redeem themselves!
Overall, Newport seemed like a charming town with quite a lot to offer. I look forward to hitting it up again when I have more time to devote to fun rather than the stress of preparation, hosting, and presenting.
Damn I need a vacation…Newport sounds nice this time of year!