The Drinks of Comic-Con 2012

We all know what Comic-Con is supposed to be: Cannes for Geeks. Still, aside from the fetishization of all things genre-related and the increasingly Hollywood-ized atmosphere, there’s something else it’s about: drinking! But one can grab a $12.00 martini or a $3.00 shot anytime in an upscale yet funky city like San Diego. It takes a Comic-Con for the dipsomanical masses to be able to slurp their way to oblivion with a Captain America, a Spicy Hulk, or drinks saluting the warring dynasties from George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones.”

Which is not to say that the search for the great themed cocktails to be found in Comic-Con’s backyard was an easy one. At times I and my photographing buddy, Rodney Reynaldo, feared we might not have enough drinks to really make this piece sing but, as we trudged through what seemed like every bar in San Diego’s downtown Gaslamp district, we found plenty. Admittedly, we sometimes found ourselves making the news as much as we reported on it; some of these drinks are on the spot creations from some of the area’s more spontaneous mixologists. Still, most of these were created with plenty of forethought, most of them tasted good, and some were downright terrific.

The Captain America

I have to admit that I pretty much knew somebody would come up with an extremely sweet red, white and blue themed salute to good ol’ Cap. I never imagined it would induce near terminal brain freeze while tasting far better than this cocktail snob would have ever expected.

The Captain America, as crafted by Andrea of the Hard Rock Cafe on 4th Avenue, is actually three drinks. The blue is a pina colada featuring Blue Curacao; the red is a raspberry pina colada featuring Bacardi rum; and the white, and possibly the best tasting of the three, was an exceedingly sweet frozen daiquiri made with Bacardi’s Dragon Berry Rum. A million miles away from a classic daiquiri like I’d make, but what would I expect from a red, white and blue cocktail?

The Dark Knight

The Tivoli, which proclaims itself the oldest bar in San Diego, sticks to its old school image by an affinity with a certain reactionary-leaning caped crusader. The Dark Knight, crafted by the bar’s redoubtable Rosie (pictured uptop), was as dark as any black knight but it’s flavor might have pleased a fruit bat with it’s surprisingly refreshing combination of vodka, blue curacao, raspberry liqueur, and a splash of Rumple Minze 100 proof peppermint schnapps.

The Spicy Hulk

There are any number of green drinks named in honor of Bruce Banner’s ill-tempered alter-ego. Yet, it’s hard to imagine any would ever be tastier than this concoction. Whipped up on the spot by the very skilled Oscar Avila of El Vitral, the Spicy Hulk reflected our location just a few miles from the Mexican border with healthy dashes of cucumber, cilantro, serrano peppers, tomatillo, lime juice, agave nectar and, of course, blanco tequila. Nothing puny about this one.

The Marble Room Trilogy

We came to the Gaslamp in search of themed cocktails. We found our first themed bartender in Harlo Stompro of the brothel-esque 5th Avenue watering hole and restaurant. The man might be a joker, but he certainly took the time to come up an assortment of con-friendly libations.

The Alien Secretion contains vodka, both Rose’s Lime Juice and fresh lime, and triple sec. The bright green Romulan Ale might please Trek fans with a yen for another slight twist on a Kamikaze with blue curacao, vodka and fresh lime.  The Darth Vader is an homage to a Long Island Ice Tea with vodka, gin, rum, sour mix, and Chambord sitting in for the traditional triple sec. Since I kind of hate Long Islands, I found the taste appropriately evil.

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First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

When I tested the Veloster a last year I was very impressed with the styling and handling. Hyundai had created a truly unique coupe with a hidden third door that quickly became a hit. Now with the introduction of the 2013 Veloster Turbo, Hyundai now has a version where the performance is just as impressive as the styling. I had the opportunity to drive the new Veloster Turbo through the winding canyon roads surrounding San Diego, and frankly the car was a joy to drive.

Exterior

The Veloster is a great-looking vehicle. Hyundai developed an excellent design and they didn’t mess around with it. The 2013 Turbo version carries over the aggressive styling from the 2012 model. They’ll have no trouble attracting younger buyers with this car. For the turbo, LED accents have been added to the front and rear lights, and a panoramic sunroof and body color spoiler are also available. It also features 18-inch wheels with chrome accents.

One option available for the new Turbo Veloster is the matte gray paint. Usually we only see this type of paint option on far more expensive vehicles but Hyundai decided to offer it on the Veloster and it looks great. Hyundai officials stressed that owners of this color option need to take special care of the vehicle in order to preserve the matte finish.

Interior

The interior for the Turbo Veloster includes a number of standard upgrades, including, heated front seats, aluminum pedals, Blue Link, electroluminescent gauge cluster and push-button start. And this sporty vehicle is also practical with the third door and the hatch. Veloster Turbo has best-in-class cargo volume and more interior volume than Civic, Mini, Beetle and Fiat 500.

Performance

We were looking forward to this new Turbo and we included it on our list of 20 cars to look forward to in 2012. The results did not disappoint us. We had the perfect setting to test this car as Hyundai crafted some great driving routes through the SoCal canyon roads. I was able to push this car very hard through tight turns as we went up and down that various mountain roads. The power and acceleration was excellent and the 6-speed was very responsive. Anyone who likes to drive will have fun with this car. While we would definitely choose the manual transmission, we should note that the automatic transmission version comes with standard Sport mode.

This new Veloster is powered by a Hyundai-first 1.6L Turbo delivering 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft. of torque with regular fuel. The fuel economy remains excellent. The non-turbo model gets 40 MPG on the highway while the Turbo achieves 26/38 MPG for the manual and 25/34 for the automatic. The engineers at Hyundai have focused on reducing weight through high-strength steel which has helped them achieve their impressive fuel economy numbers across the lineup.

Overview

The pricing for the Veloster Turbo ranges from $21,950 to $25,450. That’s an impressive value for a car that looks this good and has the performance to go with it. You have to test drive this car to truly appreciate the value here. It’s fun as hell, and you certainly have to be a younger buyer to appreciate it. Just young at heart!

  

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