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Ram’s Head Tavern – Best Happy Hour Ever?

19 Feb

It’s official – HoCo Hangover has earned its title as a real-life Howard County blog. This must be what Pinocchio felt like when he became a real boy.

On Wednesday night, we attended our first HoCoBlogs blogger party at Ram’s Head Tavern, where we met fellow bloggers, talked about our HoCo Hangover endeavors and, of course, enjoyed a few cold ones. Jessie, the host of HoCo Blogs, likes to throw these parties about once a month, or whenever she finds bloggers that are willing to co-host. This time, Thursday Bram, Amy Monteith, and Jen Kentmere hosted the party at Ram’s Head, and it was a blast.

Ram’s Head Tavern is located in historic Savage Mill, an old textile mill that has since been turned into a fantastic shopping center with a great old-time feel. It’s filled with tons of specialty stores and antique shops with unique items that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

The architecture of the Mill works out well for Ram’s Head’s, allowing for at least four separate dining areas on three different levels. Each level carries its own unique vibe, ranging from its sophisticated dining room to lively basement tavern area. In addition to its interesting layout, the Tavern is loaded with one-of-a-kind decorative touches that give it a truly original feel. Check out our favorite seat in the house.

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There are steps up to this booth, and perched on the adjacent wall is the signature Ram statue. About 15 minutes into our conversation, we looked up to find a square of glass that allows you to look up through the woodwork of the upper floors. So cool.  Also, there are bars in both the main dining room and the basement. We know what you’re thinking: what if you’ve had one too many drinks to confidently get up and down all those stairs? Not to worry, HoCo Hooligans – the Tavern’s personal elevator will transport you safely from bar to bar.

The basement tavern seemed to be the best spot to grab a pint and hang out with friends. There are bright red glowing letters above the bar that call out, “BEER” and “LIQUOR” – you know, just in case you forgot what you came down there for. Across from the pool table sits a small, wooden stage, where local musicians and DJs set up to entertain the crowds at night. It just so happened that Wednesday night is Ram’s Head Tavern’s open mic night, allowing us to enjoy some sweet renditions of the Flight of the Conchord’s “Business Time” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.” If that’s not enough, the bar offered $2.50 domestic drafts and $3 shooters. 

If that wasn’t enough to convince us to return, get ready for the real kicker: Ram’s Head Tavern may just have the most impressive happy hour specials in Howard County. Every weekday from 5pm until 7pm, Ram’s Head gives out free food, which ranges from carved meats, tacos, oysters/shrimp,/mussels, bratwursts and Buffalo Wings. That’s in addition to their great drink specials that go from 4pm-7pm, which include $2.50 drafts, house wines, and rail drinks. What more could you ask for?

But Hey, Nobody’s Perfect:

Probably because the Mill wasn’t originally built for shopping, the parking situation pretty much sucks. Very few are lucky enough to snag a spot in the small lot just outside of Ram’s Head before happy hour. More parking is available on the other side of the Mill, and it’s a hike to get back to your car at the end of the night when the rest of the Mill is locked up. Not only that, but the Mill gets seriously creepy after hours. Once we stepped out of Ram’s Head and into the empty hallways, we kind of felt like we were in that hotel from The Shining.

On a positive note: Walking through the hall to leave the Mill will scare the bejesus out of you and make you want to run back to your car, so you’ll get there in no time.

So, we’re definitely interested in hosting our own blogger party in the near future. The only problem: which venue to chose? Anyway, stay tuned for details on upcoming blogger events. They’re open to bloggers as well as blog readers, but you need to make sure you sign up for a (free!) ticket to attend. In the meantime, check out our new friends’ blogs!

TJ Mayotte of 1000 Words and Jennifer  Domenick of Love Life Images, Inc. were just two of the awesome HoCo bloggers at Ram’s Head Tavern. We also had the pleasure of meeting Mary C. Gardella, a colleague of Jennifer’s, who also has an amazing blog that shows off her own work.

Here are two of the hosts of great HoCo Blogger party, Thursday and Amy. Don’t forget to check out Thursday’s awesome blog on writing and business and Amy’s fantastic creations at her site.

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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

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.