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Lebanon, December 16, 2005

A Vodka Gimlet Is All I Ask

Is that too much really? Its just vodka + lime juice cordial + ice

yellow, like pee
That's not a vodka gimlet
thanks for the ride
Time to go!
the finish
Smile while arresting
It's been four days of nonstop work, and as I'm with my boss who doesn't drink, I'm trying to maintain a sober face till after dinner. Then, with a local beer or two for me we talk about the day. Those two beers being woefully unfulfilling. Almaza is flavored water, bloating more than buzzing its lighter than even Corona and drinkable only as a last resort.

Deciding to upgrade to keep my sanity, I ordered a vodka gimlet at our restaurant one night. A fancy place and a simple drink should be an easy recipe for a good drink, right? Nope. When the waiter returned with Absolut Raspberry and a puzzled look I knew it was going to be a long night. When I looked behind the bar and noted the lack of lime juice cordial, a long and sober night.

Trying to recover, I asked for a vodka tonic, the simplest of drinks. I received a glass of vodka with a lemon and a bottle of lemon-flavored tonic. Lemon? In a vodka tonic? Please! Giving up on this place, I started to ask for vodka gimlets all across Beirut. No luck. No one drinks vodka gimlets in Lebanon apparently, or at least no one bartending.

Then I went to Rue Monot, where everyone assured me I could find a good vodka gimlet. Rue Monot is Beirut's version of Beijing's Sanlitun with clubs rivaling Nairobi's Mad House and packing the pride of Lebanon; beautiful Lebanese women. Attracting Arabs from all over the Middle East to get their groove on, they pack this street in the summer, tossing the morals of restrictive regimes to enjoy babes sans burkas.

This being winter, I found a rather low key street with a handful of bars, all of them rather empty, with only a few guys standing around holding up walls and columns. Desperate for a good vodka gimlet, I head into the most welcoming one.

There I finally find relief for my vodka + lime juice cordial + ice needs, with a cute bartenderess throwing me long pours into perfect drinks. Happiness indeed.

While savoring my toxins, I check out the slowly forming crowd. All men still, they are not an unattractive lot. In fact I think I would easily loose a date or two if I brought them here before I could get up in their head. Luckily my tolerance was high enough I didn't loose my head before the three hotties rolled in. Escorted by five guys, the three sat at the table next to me and in short order, I was making my move.

Before they made theirs, and left me lonely, I verified that once again its "beer pong" not "Beirut". Heading out myself, I stopped in the little shop across the way and for some odd reason, felt it was high time I tried arak, the Lebanese moonshine.

Whoa, damn! Burning my throat, blurring my vision, and blunting my brain, it had me stumbling blind drunk across town to my hotel. Screaming at the Ministries building for being in my way, until the nice men with guns chased me off? Check! Babbling Russian with a random cab driver as he was changing a tire in the middle of Rue Bliss? Check! Being questioned by armed security guards three times in three blocks? Check thrice!

Yeah, DC needs some blinding arak too! Best with a good vodka gimlet starter no less.

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You used to be interesting, now you're a techno-yuppie who drinks too much. Look at all the writing you do about the bars you've been to instead of the interesting places you've been. Think about it.

"a techno-yuppie who drinks too much" - Ouch!

Good call though. Yes, I am a techno freak, we call them "geeks" and even proudly work for Geekcorps, the Peace Corps for IT people. I'm not sure I qualify as a yuppie though. I think I would have to actually make money, and as Geekcorps is a nonprofit, I'm paid too poorly to be yuppie.

A drunkard, now that hurts the most. Granted, my posts on Lebanon are all bar-related, guilty as charged, but only because outside of working all day, which was a series of boring-to-every-non-geek meetings punctuated by long traffic jams, I didn't get to see much outside my hotel room.

Remember, this trip was for work, so it took precedence over looking around. And unlike my trip to West Africa in February, where I could wander about, this trip had a month's worth of work crammed into 10 short days.

Still, I get the message - I am knocking back a few too many these days. Check out the remaining 2005 posts for good ole navel-gazing Belly Button Window posts of yore.

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