26 December 2006

Night out with the boys

I don't usually do advertising for free, but I thought this would merit some. Last Saturday night I went with some friends to a bar that one of them had visited once long ago. Nenina is on a corner of the northern Costanera (the avenue that follows the Paraná River starting just north of the city center), close to the impressive arc of the Rosario-Victoria Bridge, maybe 300 m south of Circunvalación Avenue and the municipal limit. Not many people go there on purpose, since the "good" parts of Costanera are on the middle section, full of open-air bars, discos, and the beach. Once you get to Nenina, you either stop there or have to turn back, or at most make in a wide detour to go up to Circunvalación, on the bridge, and across the maze of islands and river arms, eastward, to Entre Ríos.

I tell you, this bar should be in tourist guidebooks. Rosario's been working on that field lately, initially much to the surprise of us locals, but I still have to see a guide with a list of those small places that make a city special — those curious spots that most people don't know about and that you get news of only by word of mouth.

Nenina can be a bar like any other, where you can order a pizza or a carlitos (a hot sandwich with cheese, ham, and ketchup, optionally plus tomato slices, hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, etc., not a tostado as in Buenos Aires) and down it with a beer... but that would be an awful waste. The place specializes in cocktails, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic; its menu is about 70% drinks. It's not cheap, but it's not expensive either; and the service is so good that it makes the money seem unimportant. These guys prepare a drink like a chef prepares a favourite dish.

My friends and I sampled a few cocktails and were pleased about the quality and variety. It's not that simple to have a place in a small establishment (that already needs to cook and serve regular bar/restaurant food and drink) to store a sufficient amount of several icecream flavours, several types of fresh fruit (lemon, orange, pineapple, watermelon, strawberry...), a lot of alcoholic beverages, and slightly more exotic ingredients (Tabasco sauce for Bloody Maries, fresh leaves of hierba buena for mojitos). The drinks do take a while to come, since the place seems to be packed all the time. We arrived a bit late and couldn't get a table outside — the outside is another bar! — so we went inside, which was a bit hot. That (lack of a) choice proved the best, since one hour later it started raining... and raining... and then there was something like a hurricane. Indeed, with the icecream cocktails and the margaritas to the tune of Gloria Stefan, I felt like I was in the Caribbean during the hurricane season. Naturally, at this point the people drinking outside had to get in or leave, so the place became slightly more packed; but the wind cooled the inside of the place.

The storm went on and on... You could see the trees buckling and hear the curtains of rain hitting the roof and the windows. Mind you, we had no wheels to go back. None of us owns a car, and anyway nobody in Rosario goes out by car anymore if they plan to drink alcohol. We got to the place by bus and had to get out like that; a taxi from such a distant place to anyone's house would've been too expensive (not in an emergency, but this wasn't one, and we'd forked more than a few pesos already). We waited (Bloody Mary) and waited (more Bloody Mary) and as the storm subsided a bit we decided to brave the drizzle and go up six or seven blocks to Roundeau Boulevard, where we'd be able to catch plenty of buses. That was a mistake. Two blocks after that the drizzle turned into a deluge, as the huge low-pressure center above us sucked in more clouds. The storm reassembled and we had to seek shelter in a porch. Forty-five minutes later the rain stopped (mostly). Off we went to get our bus.

Long story short, I arrived home much later, wet and shivering. Good news is that my immune system seems to have toughened; after a string of colds in last autumn and winter, I didn't catch anything...

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