Getting there

Getting there

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Beaufort Bourgeois Vs. Fishbowl Fridays

Last night I did something I rarely do, and went to a local bar for drinks. Generally speaking I prefer to drink at home and avoid the noise, confusion, and general mayhem of the local bar scene, but occasionally it's nice to get out for a bit.

When we arrived at the local bar we had to wait a bit to snag a table. The bar was quite full and it meant watching tables closely to see who was settling up their tab and looking like they were about to depart, and then pouncing immediately. Once we had secured a table we ordered a pitcher of Stella Artois, but our bartender instead brought a pitcher of Rickard's White. While my two companions, my husband and best friend, could accept this I found it unappealing and decided instead to order a gin and tonic, my go-to drink in any situation. The waitress took my order and then asked if I'd like the fishbowl size. Fishbowl? Fishbowl indeed it is, minus the fish, but with 3 shots of gin and enough tonic water to drown a few minnows. The fishbowl was amusing, but I couldn't help but think of the contrast of fishbowl drinks in my Alberta city and the drinks I'd recently enjoyed in bars in London.

In London, you see, I stayed at the glorious Savoy Hotel, which has been recently renovated in lavish style. One night on a whim my husband and I decided we'd like to go to one of the hotel bars for a drink, and we called the butler to see what they would suggest. This impromptu decision for a drink caused some kerfuffle, as the bars are generally full in the evenings and securing a table a difficult task. The butler called the concierge. The concierge called the bar managers. The bar managers finally agreed that they could squeeze us into a table at the Beaufort Bar, but only because we were guests and had had the butler and the concierge intervene. Woe to those wanting a drink but lacking access to the butler and concierge!

We dressed to go down as these bars are rather formal affairs and jeans would not do. At the door of the Beaufort we were whisked past those waiting outside and they shot us glances of envy as we were shown to our table. Once seated the bar menu was presented, and what a menu it is! Incredible varieties of champagne served in crystal flutes, and cocktails served in gilded bird cages. We ordered our champagne (at 80 pounds per glass an extravagance indeed), and settled back to take in the view. The Beaufort is a beautiful bar, done in an Art Deco style of black and gold. For the record the gold is, in fact, gold leaf - 40,000 pounds worth of it, all over the walls. It is decadent, opulent, and lends itself to extravagant guests as well. This is a bar where people wear their silks and furs, Louboutin on their feet and Chanel bags in their hands.

I don't have any photos of myself at the Beaufort bar, as I suspect using a camera in places such as this can be perilous. There are celebrities who hang out in these bars (I'm quite certain I saw Jude Law during our stay at the Savoy), and as such they are quite sensitive to the potential for paparazzi and those who may try to take compromising photos for personal gain. It's not an atmosphere that lends itself to photos, really, as one would look a bit starstruck to pull out a camera and begin snapping. In places such as this you are supposed to just act as if you feel at home, not as if you're a tourist on safari.

So, there we sat for a couple of hours, taking in the parade of style and glamour at the Beaufort bar, sipping champagne presented on a silver tray. It was an experience in luxury and decadence quite unlike any I'd ever had before.

Last night I sat in the local bar where we had had to gain our table through a combination of savvy and persistence. I drank gin and tonic from a fish bowl, and appeared somewhat overdressed compared to those wearing coveralls and work boots. Drinks were presented with a smile but silver trays were decidedly absent. And yet it was in many ways just as enjoyable as my evening at the Beaufort bar. The gin was reasonably good, the music was decent (thank god, no rap!), and the company of my husband and best friend was the best anyone could want. Perhaps the bar was lacking the silks and furs, and the shoes were Redwings while the handbags were from Walmart. What it had, though, was what all bars, from the grandest like the Beaufort to the humblest like my local bar, have - a sense of possibility, of an evening that could unfold in any way, and enough alcohol to help it along. Whether it's a Fishbowl Friday or a night of Beaufort Bourgeois adventure awaits those who dare to pursue it, fishbowl or champagne flute in hand.

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