As I was leaving a recent show at Vinyl Music Hall, I strolled down Garden Street and saw the marquee for the Rex Theater lit. It doesn’t seem like much to the average passer-by, but I’ve been living here for 27 years and to finally see the classic neon glowing purple against the night… Well, it made me smile.
I lent a thought to that feeling. What about Pensacola makes me happy? Conversely, what isn’t jibing well with my sensibilities right now?
Let’s get the negatives taken care of straight away. Humidity. Not the fault of our city nor anyone living here, but all the same I’m feeling nostalgic for that ice storm we had a couple of winters ago.
Far too many citizens of our town gladly eat at national chain seafood restaurants. We live on the Gulf of Mexico and have fresh seafood in constant supply. Knock it off.
Sushi chef Hiro Muramatsu is no longer at my favorite Japanese restaurant. This hurts my heart like no one could understand. Scott Dixon isn’t bartending anymore. Very, very sad.
Enough cold squigglies. Let’s get into some warm fuzzies. Esquire Barber Shop. Tony Riha has run this place since the 60’s and Mr. Joe Brown is 99 years young and still cutting my cowlick-cursed hair. The hot lather and straight razor clean-up give me goose bumps every time. This year I’m getting the full beard shave for my birthday, like a mafia don.
Gulf Coast sunsets; Joe Patti Seafood Company; Pensacon; Ice Flyers hockey; being less than a day’s drive from New Orleans, Atlanta, Orlando and Tampa; living in North Hill; Bushwhackers; beaches with confectioner’s sugar for sand; professional baseball with a stellar view… all reasons to be happy here.
Oh, and we have a pretty darn good brewery, too. I’ve been lucky enough to annoy their Brew Master Mark Robertson on a number of occasions. One time, he asked if I’d like to try some Dopplebock out of the bright tank. As we stood amidst the silo-like vessels full of beer, he inspected the liquid in his glass and shook his head.
“I’m just not happy with it,” he said matter-of-factly. It looked, smelled and tasted like a Dopplebock should, I countered. So what’s the problem? “It’s not dark enough!”
That was a couple of years ago. A couple of months back he saw me at his brewery and asked if I’d tried this year’s batch; a very happy expression lighting up his face. He’d finally gotten his recipe as close to perfect as he could. This time around his Conquistador Dopplebock is cola dark with an off-white head and scents of walnut, caramel, wet forest floor and sweet malt. It’s pretty potent at 8.1% and packs in dense flavors of toffee, orange peel, honey, raisin and spiced rum with a long finish.
This is a seasonal item and will be gone soon, and that makes me sad. But knowing there’s another seasonal Pensacola Bay Brewery item around the corner makes me glad again.