12:46: Pint of Anchor Steam. I love Tommy’s Joynt for a wealth of reasons, but the wall of beers is chief among them. Around 110 bottled beers from around the world, but today I’m starting with a pint of the homegrown stuff.
I’m going to share a pastrami on rye and a turkey on sourdough roll with Half Pint. The ceramic jar of hot mustard—they’re so not kidding about the hot—is calling my name. Mara, the designated “pickle fetcher” ever since her star debut on (an upcoming episode of) the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” was filmed here, is heading toward the (secret) pickle jar.
The delicious carved meats. The tankards and steins adorning the walls. The chatchkes adorning the beams and ceiling. The barflies at the bar. It’s a good day.
1:28: “It was lip-smacking good,” says the white-haired man in the XL Hawaiin shirt to his wife on their way out. I wonder if they had my favorite, the buffalo stew.
Absolutely no one has left the long wooden bar. Jose in his Giants cap and TJ’s baseball 3/4s ringer is pouring mostly beer, but I see a guy with an orange juice based cocktail and another guy with a vodka rocks.
2:02: Looking over the list of wordly beers, for now I skip the offerings from Armenia and Australia and go for the Maredsous Triple from Belgium. I know that for my next round, I’ll at least skip over the beers from Brazil, Canada, and China (though it would be fitting for the final day of the Beijing Olympics). Thanks, Marissa (the new waitress).
2:09: Wonder how much Tommy’s collects from the condom vending machine mounted on the bathroom wall.
3:23: One guy at the bar asks Jose for another pint of Fat Tire, then asks where it’s from. Jose knows it’s from Colorado, thinks it’s from Golden. Another guy corrects him and says it’s from Boulder. I try not to chime in, but the 10% Belgian triple I’m still nursing makes me hand each dude one of my postcards as I say New Belgium’s from Ft. Collins. Mr. “Boulder” says he’s not talking about that, he’s talking about Fat Tire. This same person soon gave me shit for originally being from LA, when he’s actually from Aspen, the Beverly Hills of the Rockies. But pretty soon we’re happy compatriots at the bar until a tasty blond walks in and stands directly between us. Once she gets a book of matches, she’s off, and Boulder/Aspen and I have nothing left to say.
5:19: On second thought, I WILL try an Armenian beer. I ask to look at both bottles. The Erebuni appears to be a standard industrial lager, but the Kilikia Jubilee has a more captivating appearance. Both come in 500 ml green bottles, but the Jubilee label shows four gold medals including, and I only know this because I read Cyrillic (Russian), a medal from the 2002 Sochi (the Hawaii of Russia, not that they’re comparable) beer competition. Swan-kee.
Sam, Susie’s son and therefor representing Tommy’s Joynt’s third generation after Susie’s Uncle Tommy founded it in 1947, before her dad took over in ’55, told me a funny story. He was in Jerusalem trying to open a bottle of beer. Wait, I’m not at the funny part yet. So he’s looking around for a way to open it when this Orthodox Jew with the black hat and the sidelocks and the long beard walks by, grabs the beer, opens it with his teeth then hands it back and just keeps walking. I doubt if you hang out in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with a bottle of brew, no Amish dude would do that for you.
6:00: Mike Lattig shows up and joins me at the bar. He gets a Tusker from Kenya. I get a Spaten Oktoberfest. We enjoy the drunken banter from our neighbors.
7:15: Half Pint returns. Mike’s wife Jen shows up. Mike gets the corned beef platter. I get one of my favorites—the massive turkey leg. Yeah, a whole giant turkey leg, little stuffing, some gravy, period. I know I’ll barely have room for the pickles. Oh, and a slice of chocolate cake, which is rare, since I usually go for the carrot cake.
7:50: A barrage of foreign students or tourists show up and don’t quite get the concept of lining up for the cafeteria-style service. They organize themselves in a cluster. Works for me, since my primary means of organization at home is a strategy I like to call piles.
I ask for the special bottle I had another bartender put on ice for me since they didn’t have any chilled. I know it’s August 28, 2008, but oh my, they’ve got some bottles of the 2007 Anchor Christmas Ale left. It wasn’t as good as the ’06, but I love it and it goes with chocolate cake.
9:45: It’s been eight hours. I put in a full day’s work at my “office.” Time to punch out.