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Čili Bar (Chili Bar)
Celebrating a new arrival, Brewsta enjoys booze and cigars at an unpretentious Old Town cocktail lounge
"If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves."There are healthier ways to welcome a new child into the world.
But tradition is a stubborn thing.
And so it was that Captain Canuck invited his friends to an Old Town bar for booze and cigars.
I'd never heard of the venue before that night -- a cocktail lounge called Čili Bar.
It's on Kožná, just off Old Town Square. Some people got confused and ended up on Kozí street, which is not far away.
You can see the gold-tipped spires of the Týn church from the bar's doorway if you step outside for some air.
I have to confess that in all my years in Prague, I'd never walked on this street. I'd looked down it and seen the shop selling suits of armor and swords.
I thought it was a street for tourists and kept walking. But I was missing out on an interesting little lane.
After you pass under the big pepper over the door, you will find that Čili Bar itself is small. There were just a couple of tables in the front.
It had a lived-in, scuffed-up decor with loud, striped wallpaper.
There was one table in the back where a group of young, German-speaking ladies had settled in.
There were a couple of big, comfortable leather chairs. And that's it.
It reminded me a bit of Hapu up in Žižkov. Nothing fancy or pretentious. The bartenders were cool and without attitude.
The bar is right by the front door and there was not much space, so when a few people were standing there, it was a little hard to get by them and walk in.
Things got off to a hot start when I was handed Čili Bar's signature shot.
It was made with rum, a little sweet, but not very strong. Floating on the top were chopped red chilies that went through a blender.
Being no fool, I took an experimental little taste. Lips began to burn.
Then, I was set upon by the assembled well-wishers, urging me to down it in one gulp.
"It hurts less that way," someone said. Famous last words.
I tossed it back. And you know, it wasn't so bad. Just wash your hands before going to the rest room.
They had a couple of beers on tap from the Ferdinand brewery -- a light lager and a semi-dark called Sedm Kulí.
I've been trying to cut down on beer, so I ordered gimlet. I was a little surprised that the bartender hadn't heard of this cocktail before.
My friend said he'd ordered one from a different bartender on another evening without a problem.
The good news was that on this night, the bartender was very friendly and open to learning something new. He asked me what was in it, and said he'd make one.
Which wasn't hard, since a gimlet is just half gin and half Rose's lime juice shaken with ice. I don't think he had Rose's, so I told him to use lime juice and a little sugar syrup.
It was pretty good. And with a few suggestions, he got better and better at it as the evening progressed.
Or so it seemed.
At one point, someone ordered a round of what looked like Tequila Sunrises. I saw some red syrup go into the glasses of orange juice before they were handed out. I didn't have one of those.
I should also mention that the aforementioned cigars were Cuban.
Romeo y Julietas from Havana. Very fresh.
And since the new daddy is Canadian, no embargoes were broken during the celebration of this birth.
As far as I know, anyway.
The man did throw a fine "birthday" bash.
And since he paid everyone's tab, I don't know what anything cost.
But the size of his generosity is matched only by his hypocrisy. He actually gave me the following advice over the years.
1. Never get married
2. Never have a child
3. Never have a second child
Not only did he break all three of these rules, he didn't even wait a respectable period between their ill-timed issuance and brazen breakage.
While he is fully aware of his "do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do" attitude, he still maintains that the advice remains sound.
This all seems mildly amusing now.
And it will remain so until the day his sweet daughter comes home reeking of rum, a big Cuban, and red hot chili peppers.
In which case, he'll probably eschew the teachings of Jung and do what any good Freudian would do.
Čili Bar (Chili Bar)
Tel.: (+420) 777 945 848
Prague Directory Listing
• This article was originally posted on Czech Please, a weblog dedicated to the food and drink scene in Prague and beyond
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