If I wasn't going to be in Texas to watch the World Series at the Rangers' pastiche of a stadium, a prohibition-era speakeasy would be a terrific choice, don't you think?
Lucky for me, I have good friends who own a beautiful home in the Oakland hills. I'd call it an estate, but Randy would scoff. Let's just say it's gorgeous, Mission style, and very comfortable. One of my favorite features? Apart from the amazing tile work? And the lush garden? And the ambiance Katy and Randy infuse it with?
Separate from the house proper is a speakeasy, original to the building. Snug Harbor, the speakeasy is called, and you know that because of the red neon light above and behind the bar that shines the words out. The ceiling of the bar is beautiful brushed aluminum, emanating out from the corner where Snug Harbor shines red, the aluminum raying out in fabulous Art Deco lines from the sunset that is those two beautiful words-
And talk about me feeling at home. On the bartop - also original to the Harbor - are classic cocktail books. A sweet edition of the Boston guide from just after the War. A gorgeous copy of the Professor's very own Bon Vivant's Companion. Next to those sits a pristine set of Deco bartender tools - ice bucket, shaker, curly spoon with a Bakelite red dot topping the handle.
The rest of the bar is snug, just like it's name. Low ceilings add to the speakeasy feel, as does the dart board - it took me three tries with three darts before I hit the bulls eye, I'm rusty - pool table, and the paraphernalia. Booze, sports, and war artifacts lurk in all the nooks of the Harbor. Framed programs from the 1954 World Series, service caps from WWII, Deco ash trays. And the 8X10's overlooking that pool table, covering the entire wall - a hundred photos, all baseball, all Giants.
We'd gathered in Snug Harbor to watch the Giants play in the World Series. Also, we'd inaugurate the drink concocted the night before. I thought it'd need tinkering, and it did. For while the presentation is fabulous - Bovad Black Vodka in a sinister layer atop fresh squeezed orange juice - the color when mixed leaves much to be desired. My friend Jengiz, who was mixing the same drink at the same time across the bay in San Francisco, likened it to a Nursing Job Color when mixed.
It did indeed resemble a bruise. So we tinkered, and the Orange and Black shall now be served in an old-fashioned glass, not highball, and the ratio of Bovad Black shall be decreased so that the drink has a startling but thin layer of the dark on top, and then you can just sip it to completion.
So we'd gathered, Randy and Katy had invited us, a small group to cheer on the Orange and Black as we drank Orange and Black. But in our midst was a Ranger fan. Katy said she didn't know, was unaware of the extent of his loyalty to the Lone Star State. Because tricking and treating would be happening tomorrow (today), because Halloween candy lay nestled in a blue pottery bowl that was fired years before the Giants last won a championship (1954), because Katy's new raven called nevermore from the coffetable in front of the tv, because all these reminders of the spooky day were in evidence, I thought of the warnings associated with the Count - and I ain't talking about Montefusco. Vampires can only enter your home, I told Katy, when they've been invited.
But the deed had already been done and the villain was in our midst.
Perhaps villain is too harsh. Interloper, then. And though we knew we'd not replay the gorgeousness of Thursday night. Thursday, when we, Karen and I and the girls, gathered with Casandra to carve pumpkins - something we do every year - gathered at Casandra's because she has a tv and we could watch the game, witness the 9-0 thrashing that occurred (and the quantity of wine consumed may have affected the lack of completion when it came to our Jacks), though we knew that particular brand of Thursday supremacy would not be replayed, we hoped for victory.
What we got was a good, old-fashioned whooping, a pitcher's duel where each team jacked two home runs, but theirs weren't all solo, and so our boys were greeted in Texas by the losing end of a 4-2 score. And though the interloper was gracious in victory - I'm not convinced the little devil, with his Longhorns hidden, didn't somehow bring some Texas trickery into the Harbor with him.
The Harbor, though, Katy and Randy's Harbor, it's resilient as all heck, and it provided refuge from the tribulations of the game. And the bottle of Basil Hayden - plucked from his many compatriots on the bar's shelves - suffered much damage. As I bid my hosts adieu, headed off in the dark to wind my way down out of Oakland's hills, all I could think was - tomorrow.
And tomorrow is today and first pitch is in 51 minutes.