Hopefully, you're past the phase where when you go TDY you run to the PX and spend all of your per diem on Silver Bullets, Red Bull and ramen. The next stage, of course, is craft beers outside the gate. I love a good IPA as much as the next guy, actually probably a lot more than the next guy. But now it’s time to step up your game and enjoy a good cocktail in a place where you can actually have a conversation without shouting.
After you do what taxpayer’s dollars are paying you to do, go get your workout in, then hit the town in style. Yes, this means a shower and at least an attempt to smell good are in order. Comb your hair, leave the caps at home, no Velcro and no Chuck Taylors. Wear some goddamn leather shoes for a change. And would a jacket kill you?
Once you’re tight, right and ready to roll, these are the five best spots around to get your TDY drink on in style.
5. Camp Lejeune / Ft Bragg
You should know by now that if you find yourself in either of these places, you can always find a beer and a shot. But since we’re looking for a great - not good - cocktail bar, the pickings are mighty slim. So wait for the weekend and make a trip up to Raleigh (one hour from Ft. Bragg, two from Camp Lejeune). Specifically to Watts and Ward at 200 S. Blount Street. Walk down the stairs, pay your lifetime membership (which will set you back a buck) and order up a Blood and Sand just because it sounds badass. It's made with scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry liqueur and blood orange juice.
4. Coronado / Camp Pendleton
I know everyone loves McP’s but let’s push our boundaries a little, fellas. Head into San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter and make your way to the Courtyard Hotel at 453 6th Avenue. Take the elevator to the fourteenth floor where you’ll find The Nolen, an open-air rooftop bar with views of Petco Park and the Coronado Bridge. Order up the Zona De Silencio which is made with añejo tequila, ancho chili liqueur, grapefruit liqueur and orange bitters.
3. Tampa, Florida
Ciro’s Speakeasy is located inside the Bayshore Royal building at Howard Ave and Bayshore Blvd. You’ll need to knock on the door and ‘speak easy’ when the window opens. Head in and grab yourself an Old Fashioned. The ultimate cool guy drink, it’s made with bourbon, a sugar cube, angostura bitters and an orange peel garnish.
If you’re in our Nation’s Capital TDY, you’re definitely going to need a drink. Uber out to the Gin Joint in the New Heights Restaurant.
Okay, what? You don’t like gin? Gin has been around since the 1500s, so it’s time you give it a go. Plus, they’ve got over sixty-five brands, so you’ll find something you dig. Gin was also the favorite drink of famous chef and female WWII OSS operative Julia Childs. When at a French restaurant and the sommelier asked Childs what her favorite wine was she answered, “gin.”
So sidle up and grab yourself a classic Singapore Sling, made with good gin, Grand Marnier, cherry liqueur, herbal liqueur, pineapple juice, lime bitters and club soda. Ask for it in a highball glass with a lime twist garnish instead of the giant chunks of pineapple and umbrella and you’ll be good to go.
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
The chances of finding yourself TAD in the Big Easy are probably slim. And if you do, try and avoid the 2-for-$10 happy hour Hand Grenades on Bourbon Street, tempting as they are. You owe it to yourself to hit up The Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone at 214 Royal Street. Not only does the bar slowly rotate while you drink, but it was a favorite spot of legendary scribes Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote. Order up the specialty, a Vieux Carre (pronounced Vue Care-a so you don’t sound like a boob). Vieux Carre is the French name for the Old Quarter. It’s made with rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and both Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters.
John Dailey is a retired Marine Special Operator who still works for Uncle Sugar. He is the editor of ‘The Raider Patch’ magazine and enjoys running ultra-marathons and drinking beer—not in that order. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Special Operations Command, the United States Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.