Tour Guides from Hell

Tour Guides From Hell: Alestorm’s Chris Bowes’ Top Ten Worldwide Watering Holes

Background artwork by Thibault Fischer
Background artwork by Thibault Fischer

Alestorm 2014

Scottish pirate metal phenoms Alestorm will release their new album Sunset on the Golden Age on August 5th via Napalm Records. Check out the music video for the brand new track “Drink” and pre-order it here. Since lead vocalist and keytar-slinger Chris Bowes has quite a bit of experience both drinking and touring the world, he figured he’d combine his two greatest passions into one for a handy guide to worldwide drinking. Cheers!

Ahoy dudes, babes and Sucky Metal nerds. It’s difficult to write an article like this without coming across as an utterly entitled know-it-all upper middle class wanker who traveled the world on daddy’s credit card in his “gap yah.” But I’m a big fan of booze, especially if it isn’t beer, so I thought I’d come up with a list of my favourite places to get monged off one’s tits while on tour, complete with my tipple of choice from each establishment. Since this website is so massively America-centric, I thought I’d mix things up a bit and fill my list with (mostly) joints from around the world to add a dash of international flair. Regardez les alcools, s’il vous plaîtz. Or something.

1. The Dock Yard Pub (Nantes, France) – Flaming Flo

If you’re ever gonna play a show in Nantes in France, chances are it’s gonna be at a place called Le Ferrailleur, down by the quayside. It’s a nice wee rock club, and the French fans get crazy. A couple of doors down there’s an Irish bar called The Dock Yard, inexplicably decked out in loads of cool pirate decor. Yarr ahoy, etc! I had no idea there were so many pirates from Ireland, but I digress. The bar man here makes a ridiculous flaming drink that tastes like Christmas, if Christmas was on fire and got you drunk really fast. Yum! 

2. Buckfast Abbey (Buckfastleigh, United Kingdom) – Buckfast Tonic Wine

As a Scotsman, I have a soft spot for my national drink. It isn’t Whisky… it is of course Buckfast Tonic Wine. Did you know more people in Glasgow are stabbed with broken Buckfast bottles than with any other weapon? You really have to try this elixir of the Gods to understand why. It’s basically rocket fuel. Naturally, the best place to taste it is from its source in Buckfast Abbey, where it is lovingly made by monks and sold for a few bucks in the abbey shop by a mild mannered old woman. Murderous monk slaughtering rampage optional.

3. The Victory Hotel (Brisbane, Australia) – Bong Shot

Anyone who has been to Australia will know it is an expensive hole. Seriously, I’ve seen bars that sell beers for $40: fuck that. Thankfully there’s this big bar/club/dive in Brisbane called The Vic, and it’s $3 for well drinks on a Sunday night. Get all over that shit. Or get one shot of yellow chartreuse, one shot of strawberry advocaat, mix it all up in a glass and inhale the fumes and neck the rest. Party times ahoy!

4. Tropical Isle (New Orleans, USA) – Hand Grenade

I’m not a classy gentleman. New Orleans is sort of like heaven on earth for me in that respect. There is nothing I find more appealing than a gigantic lemony slushie with a hideous amount of everclear floating in it. Sure, there’s plenty of “cultural” and “authentic” things you could do in New Orleans, but you and me both know you’d much rather be sucking neon rat poison out of a grenade shaped glass while throwing up all over a hooker.

5. The Gryphon (Bristol, United Kingdom) – Ping Pong Bomb

Time to rep something closer to home! The Gryphon is my local metal bar; it’s a tiny wee place but the beer is good (if you like beer), and the soundtrack blasting over the stereo is decent. If you want to prove yourself a true connoisseur of fine alcoholic beverages, head to the bar and ask for a “Ping Pong Bomb.” Order it by name, and accept no substitutes. Then play naked twister.

6. Café Kandinsky (Tilburg, Netherlands) – Kasteel Rouge

Beer is pretty dull, but I make an exception for this place. Belgium and the Netherlands are full of these things called “beercafes” where they usually have over 300 Dutch and Belgian beers (plus those of a few other nationalities) always served in the correct glassware. You could sit in a place like this for weeks and still not manage to try everything they have. My favourite is a “Kasteel Rouge,” fortified with cherry juice and with a brain-busting 8% alcohol content. Fuckin’ delicious though!

7. The Apple (Bristol, United Kingdom) – Old Bristolian

Since I’m lazy and can’t be bothered questing far for drinks, I thought I’d recommend another place from my wee town. Nowhere outside of the Southwest of England seems to be able to make proper cider – all the shite from Scandinavia is glorified alcopops, while America and Australia’s offerings aren’t much better. Get yourself to a proper cider house like The Apple in Bristol, and drink something that has at least seen a real piece of fruit.  Did I mention this bar is on a boat? Bars on boats are cool.

8. Changi International Airport (Singapore, Singapore) – Singapore Sling

Flying to Australia is the most horrendous and thrombosis inducing journey a man can make. Thankfully at the halfway point you usually stop in Singapore and there’s a bar on the roof of the airport, in the most insane humidity you can imagine, that makes a great Singapore Sling. It’s gotta be done. Everyone needs to pretend they’re a jetsetting billionaire once in their life. 

9. Any gas station in the middle of nowhere (Everywhere, USA) – Four Loko

Clearly the msot sensible thing for a gas station to sell is fortified psycho hobo juice. ‘Cos when you’re cruising down I-40 there’s nothing like reaching for a cool can of Watermelon (allegedly) flavored Four Loko and drowning yourself in 24 fluid ounces of 12% abv liquid death, shortly before slamming your jacked up truck into the central crash barrier. But yeah for some reason I like this stuff, and American gas stations never close. It’s a recipe for party. And regret.

10. Some bar I really can’t remember that well (Minsk, Belarus) – A bottle of vodka

This is where my memory gets a bit hazy. There was a bar. It was definitely in Minsk. I remember being sat at a table, and this bottle of ice cold vodka appearing. Everything after that was a blur. I think I had a good night? You’ll probably have a great night too. Go to Belarus, raise a toast to the president-for-life, and get mashed on cheap vodka.

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