June 12, 2014

Day 11: How We Drink in Arlington


People in Chicago do alcohol two main ways: 1. Underneath a moderately sized lunch or 2. BYOB.  Ordering a drink with a Happy Meal skewered on top was something to get used to, just like pulling out a bottle of $2.50 Trader Joe's White Zinfandel from your purse in the middle of a restaurant.  But I got used to both and eventually, I couldn't imagine my life without my weekly Bloody.

Just like everything else though, drinking in Arlington will take some major adjustments.  I haven't had enough time or, you know, friends to check out the brunch scene here yet but I know for sure that I haven't seen a single BYOB joint in the area.

What they do here is much, much stranger: the "wine bar."

I had heard the term before but I thought it meant a bar that served wine.  Redundant, yes, but not incorrect; I just marked it up as being overly descriptive, used at places that also serve "bread-wrapped sandwiches."

But just as I learned the importance of a shower curtain in daily operations, so too have I learned what a wine bar actually is and, more importantly, how one works.  Because other than finding your office bathrooms, learning local drinking protocol, I think, is probably the most important task for anyone moving to a new place.

Wine bars work a lot like the metro, as the guy at Oby Lee explained to me this evening when I was out for a crepe/wine excursion with my friend, Madelynne.  You buy a re-loadable card with however much money you want, only instead of unsuccessfully swiping the card five times at a subway turnstall in rush house traffic while a sweaty man in a suit breathes threateningly over your shoulder, you swipe it at the "wine bar."  Then, you use LSD-lighted buttons to pick out your wine type and portion, which is automatically dispensed into your glass.

And I thought the Amazon drones were cool.

I still have a few kinks to work out, things like how much money one puts on the re-loadable wine card (the cashier thought to offer me $2 off of a $25 card; I'm not sure if that says more about him or me) and how many elliptical miles it takes to work off a salmon and Gruyere-stuffed crepe and a glass of rosé.

But God know that if I can tackle the Chicago Bloody Mary scene and come out on top, I'm ready for anything.

"Wine is bottled poetry."
- Robert Louis Stevenson