My final story of 2011 is about steamed wieners

From a story in today’s National Post about an adorable new business in Parkdale: While the bourbon and Mexican food of Grand Electric may be the neighbourhood’s hottest spot for the 25-to-40 set, among under-19s The Hot N’ Dog is the place to be. Open since Dec. 5, the wiener slinger has become an institution for the young scholars of Close Avenue faster than you can say “give me the works.” Click here for the full story and a much better photo, by the Post‘s talented Tyler Anderson. This story was a rare example of shoe-leather journalism in the 21st…

In praise of bad drinks: Updated with link

Every once in a while I get a hankering for a bad cocktail. Not just something poorly made, but shitty by design. This week I spent an afternoon at the bar of The Old Spaghetti Factory on Toronto’s Esplanade, and followed it up today by writing about quick, crappy mixed drinks for my Happy Hour column in the National Post. And here it is. Who doesn’t, on occasion, enjoy a sugary, boozy confection? All hail the platform for grenadine, the cheap mix, the fruity liqueurs. I’ve complained about them many times in the past, and yet … don’t they have…

Oldies but goodies

One of my favourite annual traditions in the National Post‘s Arts & Life universe is the end-of-year Cultural Lessons. They’re essays in which the writers meditate on what they learned from popular (and I guess not popular) culture over the year. I suppose it’s our chance to tell you what we really think. Anyway, published Tuesday, here’s my one and only for 2011, about how fortysomethings made a lot of the year’s interesting music — meanwhile, the young folk not so much. Illustration of an aged-looking PJ Harvey and Jay-Z by the talented, nice-smelling Steve Murray.

Dreaming of a black Christmas

Tune in to this coming Saturday’s National Post for a trio of whiskies branded in black, new to Canada for holiday 2011. By way of preview, The Black Grouse is bloody fantastic. A must-try for lovers of full-on stinky, smoky whisky. Link to follow once my Happy Hour column is posted at the National Post’s grub and booze blog, The Appetizer. UPDATE: And here it is.