Vlada Lounge

When an out of town friend comes to visit for a weekend, like Camden did a couple of weeks ago, I generally try to give them the full New York experience. By which I do not mean the touristy version that involves waiting in endless lines (ew), gawking at performers posing as the statue of liberty (double ew), and waiting in even more endless lines (ew) to get to the top of the Empire State Building. I always said that Jacleen was one of the best guests because she would fly in, and just tag along to whatever events I had previously RSVPd and have a marvelous time doing it. Camden was just as great. Not that I didn’t pull a few strings and throw a couple of things together to celebrate him being here — I couldn’t, for instance, let him come and go without experiencing a Barbounia brunch. The last-minute invite to the Alexandre Plokhov show followed by an impromptu bottle of prosecco at Robert was simply icing on the cake.

We started the weekend, however, very appropriately with a happy hour. Now, I’m a huge fan of happy hour. It’s old friends, the possibility of making new friends, — it’s people in, well, their happiest hour as they flee their cubicles and meet with their friends to laugh and make merry. not to mention the discounted drinks. Generally any bar will do, but I always say that gay happy hour is best, because it lasts longer, the drink specials are always more bang for your buck, and the lighting is (almost) always more flattering. This particular day I opted for Vlada, on West 51st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. Not all gay bars serve food, but Vlada shares a kitchen with Braii, and I had heard that the fries were legendary. Turns out they’re pretty good. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them legendary, but they did the job. The sliders were delicious, also — our bartender got a little confused and gave us sweet potato fries instead of regular, and even though I normally am not a fan, I enjoyed these. So we forgave him and his pretty face.

Aside from the food I knew we would need to keep the city from spinning up around us before 10:00, I was also in the mood to try some of their in-house infused vodkas. See that list below, next to my cosmo? That’s a list of their different flavors of vodka, which they infuse in-house, on-site, in the back, what have you. My first try was the horseradish. It sounds odd, but it had a subtle kick that actually was quite perfect, given the day I had just had.

Vlada. Russian. Vodka. It’s like a little ice cave, with a frosted strip on the bar that I use to keep my drink cool — though I’m not entirely sure that’s what it’s there for.

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