Archive | January, 2011

Ranaz-rules! Happy Hour at Ranazul Tapas Restaurant

24 Jan

Linda has an abnormal fascination with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, so we went out yesterday looking for a place near home to catch the Packers v. Bears game. Curious, we strolled into Ranazul, a tapas bar in Maple Lawn, and to our pleasant surprise, we found a big screen projector playing the game behind the bar.

Our bartender, Zach, introduced himself and shook each of our hands, as did the manager Michael, who was wearing an exquisite pair of sneakers with his snazzy suit. We felt immediately welcome and taken care of. Michael later told us that he aims to be known as “that manger who wears Chuck Taylors all the time,” and that he had just bought a nice blue pair that day.

Aside from watching the game, we were also out to grab a casual drink to celebrate a good friend’s recent birthday. We were pumped to see that Ranazul has happy hour from 3PM – 7PM everyday (even on Sundays!), which includes $2 off beer, glasses of sangria, full glasses of wine and rail cocktails. They also offer a select menu of tapas for $7 and under.

Missy had a glass of the sangria and an order of ceviche, both of which rivaled those she enjoyed in Costa Rica (which says a lot).. Linda had a glass of the Domaine Schlumberger, a Pinot Gris from Alsace, France. It wasn’t too dry and had wonderful fruity hints. [Don’t worry, we’re going to a wine tasting soon so that we can beef up our wine-o lingo.]

Our orders were modest, and we took our sweet time with our drinks. This did not bother our bartender one bit, and we actually had some great conversation with him. He even gave us a round of his specialty, Chocolate Cupcake shots. Zach informed us that the secret ingredients were Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate vodka, Pinnacle whipped cream vodka and delicious chocolate syrup at the bottom. It was so scrumptious that we shamelessly licked the bottoms of our glasses… Don’t judge.

Ranazul’s atmosphere was classy, with mood lighting and snazzily dressed staff, without being uptight. We’d highly recommend Ranazul for a casual after-work drink, a romantic date night, or any kind of intimate get-together. Ask for Zach’s Chocolate Cupcake shot!

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The River Hill Sports Grille: Taking Ravens Bombs while the Ravens Bombed

16 Jan

Last night was rough. After a lot of moaning and groaning and fist-shaking at the NFL gods, I finally came to terms with the fact that life must go on, even if your football team’s playoff run does not. And despite the fact that evil (a.k.a. the Pittsburgh Steelers) has yet again triumphed in the world, I have to say that there could not have been a better place to watch the game yesterday than at the River Hill Sports Grille of Clarksville, Md.

The bar area of River Hill Sports Grille. Credit: http://www.riverhillsportsgrille.com/

Game Day Experience
By 4:30PM, the place was jam-packed with both Ravens and Steelers fans, making the actual game day experience very interesting. With a large screen projector in the back room and all other TVs turned on to the game, the Grille made sure that the only place where you couldn’t check the score was the bathroom. Despite the big crowd, the service was good (with the exception of a forgotten drink or two), and the bartenders kept the drinks coming out of the bar quickly.

As promised by yesterday’s post, wearing your Ravens gear bought you the first Miller Light or Coors Light for free – which, needless to say, is the perfect way to start the game. If light beer wasn’t quite your flavor of choice, you could also opt for $4 Blue Moons – although there were some questions as to whether or not they were actually 20 ounce drafts, as advertised. And with each of the Ravens touchdowns, rounds of $2.50 Raven Bombs and $1 Miller Light/Bud Light drafts went out throughout the bar.

Okay, What the Hell is a Raven Bomb?
I’m so glad you asked! We also had no idea what we were getting, and there are probably a few people from that night who still wish they had never found out. In three words: alcoholic grape soda. From what I gathered, a Raven Bomb consists of a shot of grape vodka dropped into a glass of Red Bull. If you’re not a fan of Red Bull and/or grape soda, then you will likely find yourself just a little miserable.

Now, before I conclude with my favorite moment of the night, I have to give a huge *thank you* and a special mention to one of the River Hill Sports Grille bartenders, Tony. Not only did we enjoy a round of delicious “Purple Drank” shots because of him, but I heard other customers making special requests for Tony to make their drinks, particularly for Bloody Mary’s. Well done.

Favorite Memories and New Friends
With both Ravens and Steelers fans in the mix, it should be no surprise that there was just a little bit of tension within the crowd. Toward the end of the game, the Steelers fans began to make their presence much more known, and – as all the Raven Bombs and Blue Moons I had consumed stirred together with the miserable sorrow of the Ravens’ loss – I was definitely not having it. I marched right up to one loud Steelers fan as he cheered on incessantly, hoping that I could muster up some Ray Lewis strength and pummel this guy into oblivion.

…Instead, I gave him the link to this blog, took his picture, and declared that he would forever go down in infamy as the most obnoxious person I had ever met. Weak? Maybe. But if you can imagine an 115 pound girl who only dreams of doing a pull-up getting into a bar brawl with this guy:

Beneath all that black and yellow, I'm sure he's not half bad.

…Well, I don’t think you could blame me. Thinking back, he was actually a pretty nice guy, and if he’s reading this now: Sorry about the whole threatening to throw a plate at you thing. No hard feelings. We’ll see you and your Steelers on the field next year.

Cheers,
Linda of HoCo Hangover

HoCo Plans for Football Fans – Playoff Week Specials

14 Jan

Hey HoCo Hooligans –

Since my lovely colleague has decided to skip out on Maryland’s wintry weather to sip on mojitos and cervezas in Costa Rica, it’s just going to be me and my hangovers until next week. But don’t worry – you’re in good hands. However, I have to give a little disclaimer before I begin. I’ve been told explicitly by my co-blogger, Missy, to make it clear that this entry comes from me and only me. Anything that I say in the next few paragraphs does not reflect the views, opinions or football team affiliations of HoCo Hangover as a blog.

With that out of the way, I give you the good stuff. As you all know, this weekend marks the beginning of the Divisional Round playoffs and, most importantly, the greatly anticipated game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday at 4:30PM. That means that bars throughout Howard County are guaranteed to be packed with rabid football fans who are ready to gulp down cold beers, tear into some crab cake sandwiches, and cheer at the top of their lungs until their throats are sore. And yes, that includes me.

Appropriate game day attire. Credit: Julie Jacobson

Before I go any further, now would be a good time to make a little warning. If you just so happen to be a Steelers fan with a “terrible towel” in tow, you should probably stop reading. Steelers fans aren’t welcome here. …Okay, I’m just kidding! In all seriousness, awesome drink specials during playoff week is a right that should be guaranteed to all, no matter which football team you root for.

As Howard County is the home to a few Ravens players (including running back Willis McGahee who even has his own official HoCo Holiday), it should be no surprise that many bars in the area are going all out for tomorrow’s game. Expect purple beer, purple jerseys, and rounds of shots for every Ravens touchdown.

Second Chance Saloon, located in the Oakland Mills Village Center, is one location that is taking Ravens spirit to another level. Their game day specials include $2 purple drafts (Bud Light, Miller Light, and Yuengling), 50 cent wings, and free shots for every time the Ravens score a touchdown. Not only do they have a load of contests for prizes, but you can pin the tail on Polamalu for 2nd Chance Dollas.

The recently reviewed Maple Lawn bar, Looney’s Pub South, is guaranteed to be a popular game day spot with its swarms of HD televisions, $2.50 domestic bottles, and $3 Blue Moon/Guinness/Red Stripe Lite specials. If you stick around after the game to celebrate or mourn, you can enjoy their Saturday night live music.

Another one of our recommended bars, Union Jack’s of Columbia, offers large screen projectors and full surround sound to maximize your game day experience. Head over for $2.50 domestics, $6 Raven Crushes, $5 Crushes, and $5 appetizer specials. Stick around after the game for live music and their pretty impressive Saturday night “Beat the Clock” special – $1 house drinks at 9pm that go up to $2 at 10pm, and then to $3 at 11pm.

My last shout out will go to the River Hill Sports Grille, where you can get your first Miller Light or Coors Light on the house for wearing Ravens gear. All game, they offer $3 Miller Light/Coors Light and $4 Blue Moon 20 ounce drafts. Each time the Ravens score, head to the bar for $2.50 bombs and $1 Bud Light/Miller Light drafts.

Have fun, be safe, and cheer hard! Stay tuned for news on Superbowl game day specials.

Cheers,

Linda of HoCo Hangover

A Not-So-Looney Night

6 Jan

 

Looney's Pub South in Maple Lawn

 

Located in the snazzy Maple Lawn shopping center, Looney’s Pub South serves as one of the most popular drinking holes in Howard County, claiming the livers and minds of many locals. Three things come to mind when we think of Looney’s Pub: cheap drinks, raucous crowds, and enough TVs to put Best Buy to shame.

We ventured to Looney’s for their Wednesday night drink specials – $1 Miller drafts, $2 Miller bottles, $2.50 house drinks and half-priced bottles of wine. Because of Looney’s reputation, we expected to have a fairly rowdy night. Much to our surprise, we found Looney’s to be relatively subdued. There wasn’t much of a crowd, which was great for easy bar access but, at the same time, left us wanting more.

Some Other Lows
Looney’s was out of their Miller Light on draft [thankfully, they knocked the bottles down to $1].

The Dogfish Head 90 Minute came out of the keg warm.

After the hostess told us that we could get the drink specials at a booth, the server explained to us that we, in fact, could not. Instead, we’d have to walk up to the bar to order them…from her, as she was also the bartender. Confused? So were we.   

On the Brightside
Their crab pretzel appetizer was pretty impressive and more than enough to share between three people. Plus, there was a really cool fish tank behind the bar. And hey, who can complain about dollar bottles? 

Our collection.

At 10pm, DJ Ray began his set with some Top 40 hits, although a little too loudly for the sparse crowd. The dance floor was basically empty all night – but likely because there wasn’t really a dance floor at all. The area was filled with pub tables, interfering with our feeble attempts to groove…and causing some confusion. [“Hey, did you just slap my butt?” “No, dude, you just ran into the chair.”]

Speaking of butts – our fondest memory of the night involved the excessive appearance of one dancer’s butt crack. In fact, we suspect that this fleshy reveal was completely intentional. Not only did she fail to make any attempt to fix the situation, but also we watched as her date took pictures  of another friend posing with her smiling face alongside the aforementioned butt crack. Thanks for the memories, Looney’s.

Until Next Time
From what we’ve heard and experienced from other nights at this fine establishment, last night fails to fully represent the typical Looney’s experience. Maybe this means that weeknights at Looney’s are just hit or miss – but we’d like to hear from you. Comment below and let us know about your nights at Looney’s!

Either way, we’ll be back to give Looney’s Pub South another shot.

Union Jack’s of Columbia – Thursday Night British Invasion

1 Jan

So if you haven’t yet heard of this new HoCo hot spot, don’t be too hard on yourself. Union Jack’s of Columbia first came into business during the spring of 2010, staking its claim off of Little Patuxent Parkway. We visited this British-themed restaurant/bar hybrid for its popular Thursday night drink specials. They offer $1 Miller Light bottles from 7pm until 2am, half-priced bottles of wine and a Power Hour with $1 U-Call-Its (any drink but top shelf for a dollar).

The Night
With such great atmosphere and drink specials, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Union Jack’s was bustling that night. This might be true of any major bar in Howard County – but expect to see anyone and everyone on these popular nights. It’s like the Ghosts of HoCo Past up in there. From former teachers to former lovers, long-lost childhood friends to long-lost sworn enemies, it would be quite the feat to not recognize someone you know at Union Jack’s. [Afraid of those kind of awkward moments? Have no fear – it was easy to stay pretty secluded in one of the private pub booths].

Our server, Darryl, was awesome. I’m sure many other servers would’ve scowled at our relocating and cheap requests (“Why, yes, we will continue to drink only Miller Light until the Power Hour, at which point, we will suddenly reveal that we actually want Stoli Raz and Captain Morgan.”)  Yet, Darryl was a champ and made our night very enjoyable. He even brought us warm tortilla chips to munch on,  although the kitchen was closed.

Also, DJ Chris Tharp was there to spin from 10pm until close, getting all the wild young ones to hit the dance floor. You could feel the heavy bass in your seats.

Some Lows
Come to find out, Union Jack’s has decided to no longer offer a late night menu (at least on Thursdays). It was a little disappointing to discover that we couldn’t get hot pizzas to accompany our cold drinks. There was also some confusion over the time of the Power Hour. Although the website says it’s from 9-10, our server informed us that it was actually from 10-11. Even though we think 10pm is a better time for the Power Hour, we wish we would’ve known beforehand.

Despite the hot beats, the dance floor situation was a tad awkward. There was a lone table of older customers on the dance floor, which likely minimized the freakiness that could’ve ensued.

Memorable Moment
Brief background – Linda recently had a party at Union Jack’s, complete with a giant green dinosaur pinata. Upon impact, it sprayed about 20 pounds of candy throughout the entire pool room. The manager stopped by our table on Thursday night to inform us that Linda’s party resulted in the adoption of a strict new policy forever banning pinatas of any kind from Union Jack’s.

“Linda’s a legend.” – UJ’s Manager

Union Jack's pub area. Credit: http://bit.ly/hYnhnn

Happy New Year’s! And happy birthday to HoCo Hangover!

1 Jan

What’s up HoCo hooligans?!

It’s the new year, and we decided it’s time to start something we’ve been wanting to do for a while. We’ve created this blog as a forum to discuss the nightlife in Howard County, Md., and to share our stories. And what better day to launch HoCo Hangover than Jan. 1, National Hangover Day?

So, this will be the place to come for an overview of all the Howard County hot spots’ perks, from drink specials to atmosphere and other notable features. We’ll also be sure to throw in some juicy stories and funny/awkward moments from our excursions as well.

We don’t claim to be the experts on HoCo nightlife, so we need your help in our journalistic endeavors. Please comment about your own experiences at the different venues we visit. Our best night out at a certain bar might have been your worst night there, and if so, we want to hear about it. Besides, some of your stories are probably more exciting than ours.

We’ve created a “bucket list” of all the bars that we plan to hit for HoCo Hangover. If there’s a venue that you think we’ve missed, or even a venue that you think we should check out again on another night, give us a shout at hocohangover@gmail.com.

Another thing: we promise to do our best to blog about our experiences the morning after, no matter how hungover we might be. Don’t worry – we will be sure to take notes all night to supplement what few memories we may have in the morning.