Tended: Malibu Wines

Instagram has transformed the way we spend our time. Many of us plan out our days, trips, and experiences just to show our followers what we did. Maybe it’s a good thing though. Whatever gets us out of the house and into the “real world” is fine by me, even if it’s to show off for the artificial world we have built around us. Let me climb off my high horse and tell you how Instagram landed me at my next location.

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Image Via: derigo.me

If you live in Los Angeles there are three places you will see your friends post on their “story” time, and time again; Runyon Canyon, The Observatory and the place I spent my last Sunday at…Malibu Wines. This trendy winery is tucked deep away in the Malibu Hills. So far in fact, that you will absolutely want to designate a driver or risk paying an Uber bill the size of your rent check.

After making the hour plus drive to the winery you are quickly told to clear out of the loading zone and travel further into the hills to the designated parking lot, “just up the road.” Once you pull into the packed lot, you’re squeezed on to quaint trollies that take you back down to where you just were. The winery serves as a refuge from the cityscape down below. Gorgeous trees, tasteful decorations, and vast hillsides of vines surround it. Yet the whole time I couldn’t help but feel like I was in every white girl’s “Wedding Goals” Pinterest Page. 

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Image Via: malibuwines.com

As I ponied up to the bar I made the quick discovery that this establishment serves either bottles or tastings. So despite my bank account screaming “NO! DON’T DO THIS, PLEASE JUST FOR ONCE BE RESPONSIBLE”, I purchased a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc and trekked up the hillside for a better view of the stunning surroundings. As I poured the bottle for my girlfriend and myself, I thought “how great of a time this is, the location, the weather, the company, all truly fantastic.” As I started to sink into pure bliss the local wine touched my lips and slid down my throat. With what can only be described as a soapy start with a vodka finish, this wine was without a doubt the worst wine I had ever tasted (and I buy a lot of cheap wine). I thought to myself, “No, this can’t be that bad. It cost $40, that means it has to be good”.” I took another sip and said to my date, “is it me, or is this wine terrible?” I quickly found out that it was not just me. Yet being the strong couple we are, we powered through and finished the trash bottle in honor of the money I lost just minutes before.

 

Yet wine is wine, and the buzz I got from the bottle gave an extra sparkle to the space before me. It’s almost impossible to be in a bad mood at Malibu Wines. The fresh air and nature lifted me up, and the live band kept me going. We headed back to the bar for another tasting. I will save you the time of reading more of my rants and just say this… it was all trash. But what this winery lacked in quality wine, it made up for in sub par, somewhat rude, and sloppy service.

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Image Via: malibuwines.com

The pourers didn’t seem interested in the wine at all. They were slow, hard to talk to, and made you almost feel bad to ask for anything at all. And I normally will give people the benefit of the doubt as food service is one of the most taxing and strenuous jobs out there. It is EXTREMELY hard to maintain a calm and inviting presence when you’re 8 hours into a double shift and you have 30 people yelling at you. But this was not that. Almost all the wait staff we came in contact with seemed disinterested and cold, so they are getting my full wrath! Which I guess is just a negative review in an article they will never read.

The place was absolutely packed. People from all walks of life seem to flock to this hidden purveyor of trash liquid. While there were no classic “bar fly’s,” the place was chalk full of Angelenos. I don’t know if it was the alcohol or the location, but Malibu Wines somehow brought together a patchwork of the LA community deep into the hidden hills, high above the smog and fame.

Malibu Wines has the potential to be great. The picturesque scenery, elegant décor and hidden locale score a 10/10, yet the quality of the wine and service drop this hot spot deep into the gutters of my ratings. Don’t get me wrong, while I was unhappy with major aspects of this establishment, I will absolutely be back. With moderate prices, amusing music, and plenty of space to relax, this is a fantastic group hangout. But with that being said, I will for sure be sneaking in my own wine and snacks in order to avoid ever drinking that poison juice again.

(All rankings out of 5)

Décor: *****

Bartenders: *

Bar Flies: ****

Price: $$$

Overall score: 65/100

Tended: Lono Hollywood

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© Wonho Frank Lee

There’s something about Hollywood that seems to keep pulling me back. No matter how much I try to stay away, I seem to end up there at least once a week. Maybe it’s the grit, maybe it’s the streets full of both hope and despair, or maybe it’s just the fact that I live five minutes away and there are new bars to try (it’s the last one).

This week I stepped out onto those star-lined streets to try Lono, an “urban oasis, away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood Boulevard.” Where, “a curated adventure awaits the intrepid explorer in all of us in this classy homage to the escapist drinking palaces of yesteryear.” First of all, can we ban the use of “Urban Oasis” from now on? The fact that I have only gone to four bars for this column and two of them have used this joke of a description is preposterous.

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© Wonho Frank Lee

Walking into Lono is a delight. Where as most Tiki bars over do it, Lono’s homage to Hawaiian culture is beautiful and fun. The tasteful décor and inviting ambiance draws you in, and the bar doesn’t seem to stop. The space is massive, cascading from a bar/sit-down dining area to a massive lounge; Lono utilizes what I’m sure is a considerable monthly rent check.

I got to the bar around 6:30pm this past Tuesday. And while Tuesday night isn’t exactly the best night to see a bar in full swing, I have my reasons (I don’t like waiting in lines). The crowd was small and quiet, post-work colleagues enjoying cocktails and appetizers as well as some ex-fratstars out for an early evening on the town. While it was a slow night, Lono has the potential to be a cracking Friday or Saturday night spot. It’s size, location, and multiple bars make it an excellent hot spot to attend if you want to see Youtube stars living their “Best Lives.”

The bartender at Lono was professional, fast, and skilled. I ordered the Curse of Lono, which, “as tradition dictates, this recipe has been entrusted only to the proprietors. They’ll only say that it is a special blend of exotic juices, intense spices & intoxicating spirits served in a fiery chalice…” Basically it was a sweet rum cocktail with a splash of 151 set on fire. While I have lit too many tables on fire trying to make them at home, I will always jump at the chance to have a burning cocktail where someone else is responsible. My date had the Ring of Fire (mezcal, aged cachaca, aperol, fresh lime, pineapple, ginger, habanero & togarashi spice), and they were both amazing. It’s becoming rarer and rarer to feel welcomed at a bar, and I know many bars see hundreds of patrons a night. But when a bartender can engage with you, answer all your questions, and make you feel right at home, he or she will be getting 10/10 from me every time. And that’s exactly what the staff at Lono managed to do.

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Photo Via: Lonohollywood.com

Lono stuck to the script when it came to LA prices. Everything was expensive, but with the intricate cocktail options, skilled service, and high alcohol content, I didn’t mind one bit. And as if they had read my past reviews, the happy hour prices were great! Cheap beer and appetizers a plenty, make it possible to do this sweet spot on a low budget.

While I didn’t know I would be hungry, the menu at Lono sure got me there. I got an order of the Yakisoba Madripoor (ramen noodle stir-fry, charred market vegetables, golden chive, kimchi) that was FANTASTIC. The salty/sweet sauce coating the perfectly pan fried noodles was accented by crunchy veggie bits and a ridiculous kimchi. The rest of the menu looked eclectic and delicious. With great bar snacks and what looked like terrific entrées, Lono doubles as a great date night dining vibe, as well as a hip Friday night hang.

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© Wonho Frank Lee

Lono is a modern Tiki bar and an amazing escape from the streets of Hollywood. Unique drinks, personal service, and a beautiful setting make this spot the perfect tropical storm. So if it’s your turn to pick the spot for date night, or you want to wake up with a rum headache because you’re feeling nostalgic about college, get over to Lono, you won’t regret it.

(All rankings out of 5)

Décor: *****

Bartenders: *****

Bar Flies: **

Price: $$$$

Overall score: 93/100

Biergarten LA

Football season is over, my hopes and dreams of winning any money on sports betting or  fantasy football leagues are once again tarnished. But guess who still loves to drink? If you said Jimmy Fallon and David Ledwith, you nailed it! And just because the best sport around (that also conclusively contributes to permanent brain damage to a majority of those who play it) is over, doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of other games to watch at sports bars all around the beautiful city of Los Angeles.

As an ex-employee of a popular sports bar chain (it rhymes with Fuffalo Mild Tings), I like to consider myself somewhat of an expert. And so when I set out to review my first sports bar, I wanted something unique, something fun, something that wasn’t your standard run of the mill sports spot with shitty beer, shitty food, and not enough TVs.

And when you want unique in Los Angeles, it never hurts to head to K-Town.

Korea Town is chalk full of amazing restaurants, exciting activities, and stores that you never knew existed. Right off the corner of Beverly and North Western Street sits Biergarten LA, a sports bar about as eclectic as it can possibly get. If I had to describe it in 16 words, I would say, “It’s a Korean, American, and German sports bar with fantastic food and way too expensive beer”. Luckily I can write as many words as I want about these places, because no one regulates me and I am basically just an unleashed drinking tornado with no word limit… So lets start with the décor!

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Photo via: LA.eater.com

Walking into Biergarten is a small shock to the system. Normally you can tell what a place is trying to be. But here, it’s as if three people with three very different ideas, all decided to decorate simultaneously. Yet, while this place can’t seem to find a common identity or theme, that’s where it finds its charm. It’s fun to look around and marvel at the clash of culture. That is if you can make out the signs across the room, IT WAS TOO DARK FOR ME IN THERE! I LIKE MY LIGHT! There were plenty of TVs playing that night’s NBA games, with quality viewing points at any angle. And while the feed cut out near the end of my night and was replaced with K-Pop music videos, I could tell that this would be a fantastic place to catch a game.

The service was fine. Considering the fact that my good pal Jared and I were two of the eight people in the entire establishment, I couldn’t get a great read on the vibe of our servers. I would love to come back here for the NBA playoffs or Overwatch League Night (because now I have learn to accept video games as a sport), in order to feel the energy that this spot seems to have the potential for.

The drinks were flat out too damn expensive. Jared and I split a pitcher of cheap beer, which ended up costing us $19. The happy hour did nothing to entice me, and the daily special was an $8 Margarita. If it’s Tuesday and you’re offering a margarita special, that baby better be $2 flat or don’t call it a special at all. With other deals like $6 wells and $8 flavored Soju, I felt like I was paying Beverly Hills prices for deals that should be half of that.

While the drinks were expensive, I got a nice buzz but I had already had one at home, so who cares. The saving grace of this place was its food. I enjoyed some of the best fries I have had in ages, tempura fried and complemented with some fantastic Korean hot sauce. However, being the Vegan I am, it’s hard for me to give you fantastic readers a true outlook on a sports bar menu. And so, I employed the help of J-Rock, J- Rizzy, the one and only Jared Kleber (managing editor and CEO of lowupside.com) to review the menu and some of it’s items:

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Jared: Sup my dudes. I don’t normally write in the first person so this is more bizarre to me than the burger I ordered. I got the Chosun burger which the menu denoted as having been featured on my second favorite food show, Triple D. Anyone who knows me is aware that I completely worship the Gretzky of Grub, Mr. Guy Fieri. Considering I’d drink the man’s three day old skillet oil, I’ll order any menu item endorsed by the Flavortown Prince. The Chosun Burger, which consisted of a 7 oz angus chuck patty, American cheese, grilled spam, kimchi, pickled daikon, gochujang aioli, and mustard all sitting on top of a thicc brioche bun. The burger was fantastic tasting like a full KBBQ on a bun. I also got a side of fries, which wasn’t the same fries David received. The fries were thin and crispy but nothing special. I would’ve liked to have tried something else on their menu but most of the other bar foods were around $10 per item. I don’t get paid to run this site, so the food reviews are gonna stay cheap. Alright bye.

All in all, Biergarten LA is a fun sports bar. There’s plenty of TVs for games, fantastic food, energetic and kind servers, and of course alcohol. So if you’re looking for a quirky and delicious place to catch a game, and you don’t want your servers wearing jerseys or “flare”, head out to K-Town and douse yourself in this German/Korean/American wonderland.

(All rankings out of 5)

Décor: *****

Bartenders: ***

Bar Flies: N/A

Price: $$$$

Overall score: 79/100

 

Everyone Who Will Be At Your Super Bowl Party

The Couple That Worked Really Hard On Their Dip and Homemade Potato Chips And Are Just Upset That No One Will Try Them.

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Image Via: Huffington Post

Look, Kaytlyn and Derek worked really hard on this, guys. They went to Whole Foods two days ago, spent over $45 on dip materials alone and then cooked for four hours this morning. The least you can do is just try it, okay? This is the couple that will leave the living room three minutes into the second quarter, all because YOUR refusal to try their chips and dip has struck a nerve at their deep-seeded inability to “work as a team.”

Your best bet here is to just try the dip, tell Kaytlyn that you love it, and RSVP “yes” to the Facebook invite they already sent you for their 2019 Game of Thrones viewing party.

Your buddy’s friend from work who doesn’t really “like American football”

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© Monte Isom

We get it, some people like soccer. Stop trying to get me to like it, and no I will not also call it football. This dude cannot and will not stop talking about how bad the U.S. Men’s Team is, and has told you three times now that he’s always been more of a Brazil guy anyway. Every missed field goal will be commented on with a “Messi would have made that,” and all timeouts will be followed with a comment on how “SLOW THIS GAME IS.” Tell Brett to go back to his liberal arts college’s club team and don’t give him the time of day.

Keg Guy

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© College Humor

You love keg guy! Who doesn’t love keg guy?? Three weeks ago, he insisted on getting one for the party and has been looking forward to it ever since. And it’s not like him trying to get everyone plastered and doing keg stands by doing them himself definitely isn’t a cry for help… He just really loved college. So much so that every chance he gets to feel that sweet feeling of freedom again he “accidentally blacks out” and pees in the those new succulents you just got :/

The Fucking Patriots Fan

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© The Associated Press

Ugh… This fan moved to your current city from Boston two years ago to follow her dream of utilizing her communications degree. She’s the friend of your friend and has not shut up for three quarters about how Brady is the GOAT and that this game was over before it began. But honestly, can you blame her? We all hate the fucking Patriots, but at the end of the day, cheaters or not, they have had one of the most historic decades in sports history. So let her enjoy, it’s only a matter of time before Brady and Belichick retire and that franchise goes to shit. Unless Brady is a cyborg and lives forever, which at this point is 22% plausible.

The Complainer

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Image Via: SoulPreaching.com

Have you ever wanted to have someone yell loud expletives every play? Have you been lacking a person to scream entirely too loud about nothing at all? If you answered “Yes,” then invite this terrible person to your party. “P.I.! WHAT! NO HOLDING??! OFFSIDES OFFSIDES!” This dude is absolutely convinced that the game is rigged and that these refs who have been doing this job for 30 years have “NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT THEY ARE DOING.” Hopefully this fella gets too drunk off the Jager he brought (seriously dude?) and eventually passes out on his throne of perfect game analysis.

I Never Got Venmo Guy

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Image Via: The Odyssey

Everybody chipped in for the keg and for that handle of organic vodka that Sarah brought from the store (we just wanted cheap vodka Sarah, what is your problem?). And then there’s this guy, sitting quietly in the corner hoping that no one calls him out, but of course they do. “Sorry guys, I don’t have any cash, I can get you next time.” Just Venmo us Clayton. OH THAT’S RIGHT, YOUR’E ONE OF FOUR PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF 30 WHO DOESN’T HAVE IT. Clayton will go on for about five minutes saying that he doesn’t trust an app that links up to his bank account and swears the government is watching every transaction you make. Like a perfectly honed specimen he has developed this trait to avoid ever paying for anything. Just give up and watch the game, Clayton has won again.

The Gambler  

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I know this isn’t sports betting but this picture is too funny. Image Via: Jennifer Hill Counseling

Somehow betting online is legal now?? “Yes!” this person says, “I mean not technically but like it is, at least in Argentina, it’s totally chill I swear.” This person will try to get you to take action on every snap of the game. They themselves are currently betting the coin toss, the first score, Tom Brady’s underwear color all parlayed with the over at 44 ½. Do they shut down immediately right after losing the coin toss? You betcha. Do they fall deeper and deeper into a Miller Lite and potato chip depression hole as they lose bet after bet trying to crawl their way back? Yup, yes, yeah.

 Half Time Activity Guy

Okay, this guy is actually sick. Cause let’s be real, ain’t no one trying to see Justin Timberlake this year. So follow Jake outside and go have a catch! Fuck it, get a couple friends out their and make it a game! Maybe even go so far as to run a 20-yard out and trip over the curb and land straight on your spine (I definitely didn’t do this last year after six IPAs. Definitely didn’t do this, definitely not me).

Hopefully You

If you didn’t find yourself above, then you’re in luck. You can be yourself. And it’s pretty damn easy to be a cool hang at your Super Bowl party this year. Bring snacks, some beer, take a bet or two, find a good seat that doesn’t block anyones view (unless it’s that Patriots fan) and enjoy the game.

Who Can Make Golf Cool Again?

To many August 29th 1996 seemed a day like any other. Birds chirped, the sun shined and Bill Clinton most likely roamed the halls of the White House calling people “doll” and giving employees pats on the butt. But to the golf world, it was the day that marked the unleashing of the beast.

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© Getty Images

In ’96, the one and only Tiger Woods turned pro and took the PGA by storm. After signing what at the time was the biggest golf endorsement ever with Nike and Titleist and becoming the tour’s Rookie of the Year, he took the ’97 Masters to become the youngest champion in tournament history. I could go on and on about Tiger’s wins but I wont, because plain and simple he was and continues to be, the GOAT.

What’s important to recognize is the impact that Tiger had on the game. According to the NGF, in 1996 the total number of golfers in the US, topped out at 24.4 Million, and in 2006 reached a high of 29.8 Million. And from 1996 to 2014 we saw a drastic growth in High School golf athletes, growing 42,030 in size (NFSHSA). Are there other factors at play here that could have influenced this growth? Sure. Am I a statistician? No. Am I going to claim that Tiger’s electric play and unbelievable raw talent caused the revitalization of golf and a new love for the game from viewer’s young and old? You fucking bet.

But America, we have a problem. And it’s big.

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I HATE THIS SO MUCH. © World of Golf, London

Golf has started to decline. Interest has faltered and some courses have had to allow foot golf and other atrocities just to stay afloat. So what now? Who will save us? Who will come down from the heavens and bless us with a decade of immaculate play, cool new gear and ultimately have a public downfall due to sex addiction and painkillers? Well that’s what we are here to find out.

The PGA is chalk full of remarkable talents, winners, and for what feels like the first time, actual athletes (it’s not a John Daly world anymore). But who has what it takes to wake up today’s youth? Who can inspire the young and old to get out and play the game of games? Who can lead the charge for the future of this great sport? Below you will see the top five men with a shot at glory.

  1. PHIL MICKELSON
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© AP Images

First of all no, it’s not Phil. And if you had your hopes up for him, you’re most likely well out of the age range for my target demographic. So head back to the Republican National Convention and the course out front of your house that you shoot 112 on during the weekends. Phil, who hasn’t won a tournament in 5 years, feels like the old dying breed of golfers hanging on for dear life. He’s not flashy, he’s not going to be in a hip add anytime soon and his style of play leaves a lot to be desired. But Phil breaks number 5 on the list because supposedly he bets like an absolute maniac, and I respect the hell out of that. (See here)

  1. RORY McILROY
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Photo Via: Golf Digest

Holy shit Rory is an absolute beast. The fact that this guy can crush a ball 436 yards (WATCH THIS) and is only 5’10”, 160 pounds is low key just a joke. He continues to be one of the best golfers in the world and has also been on the forefront of a new type of golfer, a truly athletic golfer. Rory is a monster in the weight room; he dedicates his life to the game on and off the green. The one problem is, he’s just kind of boring. We get it, you’re jacked, amazing, and sometimes can blow your top (watch). But what he has in skill he lacks in pizzazz. Just being good isn’t going get the kids back out on the course, Rory. So eat another PowerBar and maybe start live-gramming your rounds on your finsta, or whatever the hell kids do these days.

  1. DUSTIN JOHNSON
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Photo Via: Golf Nation

Tall. Dark. Handsome. DJ. This guy is not only one of the best golfers of the past decade, but he also had the balls to date and subsequently marry Wayne Gretzky’s daughter. I had the pleasure of seeing Johnson play in the 2016 Pebble Beach Pro Am, and he did not disappoint. The guy carries himself with the poise and confidence of a lion, and straight up wins. He’s honestly a machine. With 17 PGA tour victories since turning Pro in 2007 and an Official World Golf Ranking of #1, DJ is on track to be one of the best of all time. But let’s be real, judging by his Instagram Johnson is committed to 3 things, his wife, his kids and golf. There will be no controversy for him soon, no crazy stories, and no intense rivalries. Therefore he will continue to be great, but not the spark this sport needs.

  1. JORDAN SPIETH:
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© Dave Thompson, The Associated Press

Hey Jordan, if you’re reading this, want to hang out? Considering some of your past hangs include Steph Curry and Obama I get it if I’m not up to snuff, but I will continue to hit your DM’s like a 14 year old messaging Nick Jonas on MySpace in 2008. At 24 years of age, with 11 PGA tour wins as well as a first place finish in the Masters and the US open, Spieth is one of the few men with a chance to come for Tiger as the four-legged animal that eats grass and stares at you with piercing eyes (goats, I’m talking about goats). But not only is Spieth a powerhouse on the course, he has proven to be one of the more marketable men in golf. Snatching up huge paydays from Under Armour, AT&T, and Rolex, the kid made just under 30 Million last year from endorsements alone. But even being #21 on the 100 highest paid athletes in the world doesn’t get this young gun the title of who’s going to save this sport.

#1 RICKY FOWLER:

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© Getty Images

Ricky is without a doubt the man we need to make golf cool again (MGCA is a registered trademark of the Low Upside and I will go to court with Trump if need be). While his play has not been GOAT level it has still earned him a #7 ranking in the world for 2018 and has won him four PGA tour events. But at the end of the day Ricky is what this sport should be, FUN. The guy plays the game with intensity and determination, but breaks the mold of boring old golf (watch). His swagger, his style, and his fun yet PG antics outside of the tour make him an all around winner. While he’s marketable to the older generation of golfers with brands like Mercedes and Quicken Loans backing him, he also draws the younger crowds, clearly shown by Red Bull’s backing of the young golfer. If Ricky can start racking up some wins, get a green jacket, and keep his energy flowing, there is absolutely no telling how high his ceiling is.