Night Life

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Hands up anyone who likes the words “Happy” and “Hour” when used together? Most of you? Good, I’ve clearly got the right audience reading this. Well, out here, it’s taken very seriously and is rarely just an hour. Most of the bars and restaurants will have a good selection of beers, wines and cocktails as well as and food at roughly half price between 4pm and 7pm on Mondays through Fridays and so if you’re canny with it, you can rock up at 6:45pm, order a double round of drinks and get your food order in sharpish then make a really good start to the night whilst also looking after your wallet.

Iva Lee’s has been quite a regular haunt for me as they have live music Fri/Sat/Sun – in fact just yesterday I saw a group called Finger Fungus (name not all that appealing I grant you), but they were a really great three-piece band. They played excellent covers of songs by artists as diverse as Prince, Tom Petty, Blur, Beatles, Stones, Credence, Roxy Music, Killers and (ahem) Sheryl Crowe. With a new name and some of their own material I could see those guys going a long way – they can’t have been much over 21 or so – perhaps I should consider a late career change and move into band management. Another couple of bars much on the itinerary have been Mulligans and Beachfire – the former has 6 pool tables and the latter a great deal of surf memorabilia on the walls. Both are sports bars with an extensive list of beers, thus enabling me to keep my eye in with the baseball while sampling a good range of the local craft ale scene.

Iva Lees

Speaking of which, the last ten years or so has seen a significant renaissance of beer brewing in the US – much like the UK I guess. As I remember the first time I came out here in the 90s all you could generally get was the generic fizzy pish from Bud, Coors, Miller etc, but now most of the towns here have at least one local brewery, if not two and manage to produce some really great beers. There are a lot of IPAs (India Pale Ale) brewed, most of which are stronger than those produced in Britain (6-9% is often the norm) so I’ve learnt to exercise a bit of caution when at the bar as my initial approach of “Hmm, 8% eh? Well, I’d better give that one a bash” lead to earlier than planned curtailment of a night out or two in the first couple of weeks. (And, Yes, you’re quite right, perhaps I ought to have learnt by now…)

The bars I’ve been in have all been welcoming and I’ve often found folk to chat to at the bar – I’m not trying to make out everywhere is like Cheers, but folk do genuinely strike up conversations and are interested in who you are, why you’re there etc. I’ve yet to have the experience where you walk in somewhere, the music stops and everyone stares at you, but on a couple of occasions I have felt the need to down my drink and make a hasty exit – first was a few weeks ago at Iva Lee’s when I was the youngest person (yes, you did read that correctly) there by about 20 years and the second was the opposite in Mulligans when it was clearly Goth night and as I’d omitted to bring any black clothes or eye shadow, my baggy shorts and surf tee-shirt didn’t really cut the mustard. It’s not that I had anything against any of the people on either occasion, but when having a pint, I do like to feel like I’m fitting in at least a bit…