Philadelphia – March 2022
When I originally wrote this post a year ago I still had some bitterness in me. It was Covid but I was grateful. My daughter and I got a year and a half off from work life to create. She made original music and I wrote books.
It was beautiful. It was exactly what we both needed.
I’ve edited the nonsense and bitterness out of this post to make it a bit more palatable to my readers. The original version seemed a bit callous and mean. Don’t worry, all the best parts are still in it, but it’s a little nicer.
I’ve learned that it isn’t what happens to you in life, it’s how you react to it that creates its value.
Anyway, I’m running low on content because I’m so buried in writing my new book, Down the Shore that I can think of little else.
But I’m determined to write a blog post a week to keep Phicklephilly going.
So here we go…
My friend James hit me up and wanted to hang out. We settled on a date to meet and set it up. We decided to check out the new Victory Brewery up on the parkway which is where the old TGIFridays was for years.
I’d been to the TGIFridays in the past and it was a good space. It had 2 levels and an outdoor patio. But many of these chain restaurants have left center city because the audience just isn’t there anymore. There are too many unique spots to drink and dine in the city and people are no longer interested in goofy theme restaurants.
I’m not a big beer drinker at all. I hardly drink at all anymore and just don’t see the benefit of it in my life. Why would I want something hard for my body to process and slow me down the next day?
But I do like a bottle of cold Victory Summer Love in the spring and summer months. It was an unseasonably comfortable March evening and I knew I’d be having one at Victory Brewery.
We get there around 7:30 and the place is packed. I’m feeling a little cranky when I get there because when we approach the hostess stand there’s some guy making it his life’s work to discuss something with her. Come on. Make your reservation or reserve your table and move on, clown. So James and I are rotting away in line behind this idiot.
We finally get up there and she tells us the wait for a table is 30 minutes. That’s cool. We’ll go have a beer at the bar and chat while we wait. We get our beers and head outside to the outdoor deck. There aren’t many people out there so we can grab a table and chat and enjoy our beers.
I realized that it was March Madness and that’s why the place is so busy on a Monday night. But the half-hour goes quickly and we get a little table. We both order Old Fashioneds and toast our night together.
The menu’s limited and is standard brewery fare so there aren’t many choices. That’s fine. James gets the burrito and I get a burger and fries. I rarely eat bread or refined carbs of any type now so anytime I’m out, (which is rare) I get something decadent and enjoy it as a treat.
James said his burrito was sub-par and I agree about my burger. It’s cooked one way and we’re eating low-level fast food. No big deal. We’re there to just check the place out and get some food in our bellies and chit-chat.
James brings up the subject of my freelance writing and I sort of go off. At this point, I’m frustrated that the business hasn’t grown in my favor. I started this gig with my former coworker and I feel like she’s hired numerous freelancers and she’s spreading the work among several of them. But I told her back in December that I needed to earn around $700 a month to get by and I thought we were clear on that fact. But I feel like I’ve been thrown scraps since the new year began. A couple of easy clients and crap articles for $30 apiece. I did 14 articles in January and didn’t make much money for all of my hard work.
I’ve written how I’ve been getting fed up with it and the moment I start earning more at the hardware store I’m probably going to either give up the freelancing or cut it way back. I get why she may be spreading the work over several writers, but I started this thing with her and I’ve written over 200 articles for her. Now I’m getting scraps.
So I went on a rage rant to James about my dissatisfaction with how this freelance writing gig has been going since its inception. It was the first time I talked about it with anyone and it came out as a rage fest. (I texted James the next morning and apologized) I wasn’t directing my anger at him, I was just stating the facts of my situation. Normally I’m calm and happy about everything, but it triggered me and I went off on a bit of a rant over our mediocre dinner. We both agreed we wouldn’t be returning to this place again. It’s just too basic and full of families and sports fans. If you want a better experience like that I would recommend Cavanaugh’s. The staff is on point, the food is great and so is the service. (But since they moved to their new location down the street, it lacks the spirit of the old place and we’re done with that joint too.)
James pays the bill, (Thanks, man!) and we leave. We walk south back down into the center city. We decide we want to stop for another cocktail and lift the evening a bit. But as we pass Rouge, Devon, and Parc in Rittenhouse we find that most of those places look like their closing. It’s around 10 pm now.
We figure we’ll hit up Pub and Kitchen or Lou Bird’s because those are a couple of bookend spots down in my neighborhood.
We get down there to 20th and Lombard and find that both places are dark and locked up tight. What the heck? Why is everything closed? But we quickly realize that after covid, many places are done on a Monday night by 10 pm.
We still want to hang out some more because there was still a lot to cover. After all, we only see each other every couple of months. I suggest we walk up to Food and Friends, make a six-pack of mixed beers and seltzers, and just go to my house.
Once we get back to my place we settle in, sip our drinks, and chat. I had one spiked seltzer and then switched over to plain seltzer. I just don’t like drinking alcohol anymore. For a guy who once drank lakes of vodka and oceans of chardonnay, it’s been a great change. I’ve been living a pretty clean life for the last few years and just enjoy feeling healthy and looking lean and fit.
We’re listening to some chill music and chatting about movies. The subject of my sparse liquor collection somehow comes up. I formerly had many bottles in my collection but I don’t have many in the house anymore.
Over 5 years ago I knew a guy that worked for Edrington Brands and was fired. He decided to get sober even though he didn’t have a drinking problem and gave me all of his liquor to get it out of his house.
At the time it was a nice collection of unique bottles of whiskey, rum, and vodka. I was grateful but ended up giving most of it away as gifts to others.
It was great that if I was invited to someone’s house, I could just grab a $40 bottle of booze from the collection and give it to them. The only bottles I kept were a Glenturret 27, a black grouse blend, a Macallan 17, and another bottle of Macallan with no vintage that I had never seen before but I was sure was worthless. (But Macallan is good scotch, so I kept it)
James is sitting there sipping his beer and I’m showing him a few of the bottles left in my tiny collection. I tell him the Macallan 17 is now worth $400 and I’ll probably crack it at my daughter’s wedding if she ever gets married.
He asks me about the other Macallan bottle and I tell him I don’t know what it is. I take it out of its box and let him check it out.
He looks it over and then goes on his phone in an attempt to figure out what it is. From the look of it, it appears to be a commemorative bottle that may have only been given to reps for the company or something. It doesn’t have a year on it and is wrapped in a Macallan and Edrington label with a blue ribbon around it with a red seal.
What James found on the internet was nothing short of astounding. Macallan was run and distributed through Remy Cointreau for years. Around 2014 Edrington Brands bought the brand and took over all distribution for Macallan across the globe. When that acquisition occurred they decided to make a special bottle of whiskey to commemorate the event. (Notice the statement on the label, Great People, Leading Brands, Giving More)
These bottles were specially designed to be filled with new whiskey and given to employees of the company at the event. The guy I once knew may have gone over to Scotland for this event but I’m not sure.
That’s why I figured the bottle was worthless. It isn’t aged whiskey even though it’s a great brand. They just grabbed some fresh booze and put it in commemorative bottles to celebrate the acquisition. Then handed these trinkets out to the staff that attended the event. That sort of thing happens all the time with brands.
But what James discovered is that it’s rumored that only 100 of these bottles were ever produced. To a person who collects Macallan scotch, they would probably want this for their collection. Not because it’s aged 10,12,15,17, 18, or 20 years, but because the bottle itself is rare.
James continues his search and finds that a bottle exactly like this one sold at auction for $6,000 in 2018.
The bottle I thought was worthless is now worth something to a collector right now.
So, I was blown away and elated that James had made this gesture of discovery. Thank you, Sherlock!
So, I’m going to have to decide what I’m going to do with this bottle that’s unopened, and in mint condition in its original box. It’s been sitting in a little cabinet in my bedroom for the last 5 years!
I love rare discoveries like this. I’ll probably sell it and take the cash because I don’t want to drink it. It’s not even aged whiskey. I’m sure it’s not very good, but I’d rather put it in the hands of someone who will appreciate it. (I did this with my comic book collection and my dad’s toy trains, so why not?) I made a bundle and plowed the cash into the stock market.
I’ll update the blog once the bottle is sold.
Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly.
You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1