The eyes and ears of three very different bars tell us about their normal—and not-so-normal—nights on the job.
Here in the 49th state’s largest city, there’s a saying that goes, “When you’re in Anchorage you’re just five minutes away from Alaska.”
Plopped in the middle of a vast wilderness, Anchorage—a city of nearly 300,000—isn’t typically described with the same effusive prose bestowed upon the state’s magnificent mountains, bays and tundra. Bland, boxy and weather-worn, its essence is cheekily captured by a mysterious Instagram account, @keepanchoragebeige, which features churches, high-rises, even a Cadillac cloaked in the city’s unofficial colorway. Anchorage is a city that wears its flaws on its chest—if not proudly, then at least with painful self-awareness.
It’s said that even during hard economic times, bars don’t suffer, yet in the midst of the state’s years-long recession and following a recent shooting at a downtown bar, some locals have opted rather to stay home. But the recession has also prompted Alaska to invest in tourism, and today the state welcomes more than a million cruise passengers each year. For this installment of PUNCH’s “A Night at the Door,” we spoke with security at three Anchorage bars to find out how they cater to throngs of international visitors and take responsibility for locals’ safety.
Alaska’s largest city is the coolest combination of modern culture, rugged wilderness, and—of course—great food.
Think a ski resort is fun only in the winter? Think again. Alyeska Resort, 40 miles from central Anchorage, offers summertime fun with hiking trails, downhill mountain biking, stunning panoramic views, and mountaintop fine dining at the Seven Glaciers restaurant (like the scallop bisque with salmon mousse or wagyu beef with Alaskan barley).
Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria
Coming in at No. 5 on Trip Advisor’s Best Pizza in the Country list, Moose’s Tooth is a must-stop. With signature pies like Thai chicken and Greek gyro, there’s surely something for everyone. (Don’t worry, veggievores, there are meatless options for you, too.) They don’t take reservations, but a pint of Broken Tooth Brewing beer by the fire pit makes the wait more than bearable.
Ice cream in chilly Alaska? Oh yes. Cool local flavors like Foraged Wild Rose and Spruce Tip—along with kid-friendly options like Bubble Gum and Fruity Pebbles— are the reason this artisanal creamery blossomed from a farmers’ market stand to a downtown shop with lines out the door.
Snow City Cafe
With fresh local ingredients and nearly everything from scratch, this quirky downtown café is popular among locals and world leaders alike. You can make like President Obama, who bought every cinnamon roll in the case during a notable visit in 2015, or you can opt for dishes like snow crab omelets, stuffed French toast, and salmon BLT sammies.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
A living, breathing cultural hub, the Alaska Native Heritage Center is much more than a museum. Explore the history of Alaska’s indigenous cultures through dance performances, crafts classes, and guided tours of life-size replicas of native dwellings. The center is open daily from mid-May through mid-September.
The Alaska Railroad
Anchorage’s railroad depot is your ticket out of town without the worry of driving. Nearly 20 different day trips are available, including add-on excursions for glacier cruises, dogsled tours, and hiking paths only accessible by rail.
Published in Rachael Ray magazine and on rachaelraymag.com on June 26, 2019.
Collaboration is common in Alaska's food network with a hands-across-the-state mentality that makes the system work.
A new partnership between the 49th State Brewing Company and Bambino's Baby Food may seem a little odd on the surface, but owners of both businesses say it couldn't have been a better fit.
Resolutions — many have them, fewer keep them.
Online polling firm YouGov reports that reducing stress, working out and losing weight, eating healthier and saving money are the top five goals for Americans in 2019.
Ditching various vices is also an oft-popular goal for the new year. Tiffany Hall, executive director of Recover Alaska, said cutting out alcohol is something numerous people resolve to do.
“January is a time that a lot of people are thinking about resolutions and changes they can make to their lives and if somebody drinks alcohol, they’ve usually come off of a heavy alcohol-infused holiday season. So it’s sort of a good reset for the year,” she said.
Dry January, an international movement promoting a month-long commitment to abstaining from alcohol, has saturated the news in the first few days of 2019. Articles on the health benefits, financial perks, even how it can help you get ahead in the workplace, are swirling around the internet.
So how did this popular — and to some already-annoying — self-improvement trend begin? Blame the British.
If you ask my family, I’ve never been too shy to say what needs to be said. I won’t sugarcoat it — I have found the best doughnuts in Anchorage.
As I write, there is sugar coursing through my veins. Some people talk about being able to feel adrenaline move through your body, but I think I can feel the sucrose pumping its way from my heart to my hands.
The red vinyl covering the seat of the booth groaned as I reached for my yellow mug of diner coffee. Suddenly, my weekend morning (OK, early afternoon) was interrupted by a wave of recollection: driving in a white Jeep on a road that hugged the ocean, windows down and music up.
Much to the dismay of my mother, I have now lived in both of the outlying states in the U.S.: Hawaii and Alaska. As a senior in high school, my rural upbringing and craving for adventure spurred my decision to apply to a university on the island of Oahu.
A few months later, I learned that I got in. With some finagling, faith, and financial aid, I boarded a plane alone and left everything I knew behind. When I landed, I had to figure out how to catch a city bus.
In Honolulu, a city of a million souls, I saw for the first time what it looked like for people to live on top of one another — on the ranch our nearest neighbor was a mile away. I became aware of new cultures each accompanied by their own sights, smells and tastes.
Our sense of smell is intricately linked to our sense of taste — and to memory. So as I reached for that Fiestaware mug, it was the smell of the Kava’s Pancake House breakfast fried rice that transported me to that day years ago when my friends and I were driving to the North Shore of Oahu.
A three-part harmony, a good burger and a cold milkshake are part of what made America great. Not so common anymore, diners call us back to a time of bobby socks, a good jukebox and leather-topped stools where one could belly up for some grub.
My grandfather used to tell me that as a bachelor, he would go to a diner every Thanksgiving to get a turkey dinner. The image has had a Norman Rockwell-esque staying power in my mind since I was small.
That, along with a hangover, drew me to City Diner in Anchorage.
Sometimes a place isn’t so much about geography or what’s inside. Its significance lies in the people who are there.
‘Don’t fuel the hatred, let us mourn’: LGBT community gathers at gay bar to honor victims of Orlando shooting (For KTVA)
ANCHORAGE – Gravel crunched under feet as the crowd came out of the dark bar into the light of the midnight sun. Flames were passed from wick to wick, lighting candles for a vigil.
In the parking lot of popular gay bar Mad Myrna’s, a group gathered to mourn the victims of Sunday morning’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. One gravelly voice cut through the night.
“Today we stand together, stronger than ever,” RJ Johnson said. “Today we’re also afraid because we’re here at Myrna’s and one man caused the worst mass murder in America.”
ANCHORAGE – The hardest lesson of Jake Carlson’s teenage years hasn’t been taught in a textbook. Perhaps the hardest lesson of his life, so far, has been dealing with loss.
Neither of Jake’s parents will see him graduate from high school. When he was 13 his mother, Lynn, died of a long-term illness. Last May, at the end of Jake’s junior year, his father died unexpectedly.
“Grief sucks,” Jake said.
To be with his family, Jake missed several final exams. He returned to the high school to see what could be done and was told he would need to re-enroll as a junior. Hearing his only choice was to become a “super senior” made Jake consider dropping out. It was a very low point at the end of that summer, he said.
He decided to leave West High School to find a school where he could learn at his own pace in order to catch up on credits. His savior would appear to be just that — SAVE High School.
ANCHORAGE – May marks the beginning of summer in Alaska and the end of a long road for the state’s high school seniors. Anchorage alone will see around 3,100 high school graduates in the upcoming weeks, according to the Anchorage School District.
With a city-wide graduation rate of 80.2 percent, one out of every five students still aren’t getting to the graduation stage. With so many students still failing to get there, many community leaders, organizations, schools, teachers and parents are facing a tough question: What more can be done to get students their diplomas and what is holding them back?
We sat beneath a chandelier made of wine bottles in the middle of the bar. I was eagerly awaiting our eight-course feast. I was skeptical. The tickets sport a $110 price tag, yet I reserved judgment.
My dining partner and fellow writer, Wanderer and I were inside Crush, a wine bistro in downtown Anchorage, but our reservation was for an entirely different restaurant — Harvest.
Harvest restaurant is a pop-up, which by nature is temporary. It’s part of a worldwide dining trend that focuses on exclusive offerings from seasoned chefs, who cook up unique cuisine to tell stories that highlight the best of the harvest at that time.
ANCHORAGE – A two-story white house in Midtown doesn’t look like any other on its block, but the sounds inside are familiar. Last Friday afternoon, laughter emanated from a toothy grin on the face of 1-year-old Athina Tziolas. She chewed a cookie while in the arms of her mother, Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas.
With the curious mind of a child her age, there was only one thing that was able to keep Athina’s attention: food. Although foods like kale, spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are staples of healthy fare, for children they usually aren’t a favorite.
Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas is working to change that.
There's no doubt about it, in multiple cultures all around the world, winter is soup season.
My counterpart had the same notion-plus an elephantine amount more ambition-to procure a big, steaming bowl of ramen to battle the dark days of winter ("Momofuk'in good," Zack Fields, Dec. 10). While he smoked, simmered and boiled his own batch of Momofuku-style ramen, I went to Naruto.
Growing up, I had a friend with dark hair and espresso-colored eyes whose skin turned a deep shade of copper in the sun. Her brother was flame-haired, fair-skinned and freckled. (Yes, I’m positive he wasn’t adopted.) While they both shared the same roots of an Irish father and a Native American mother, their characteristics couldn’t have been more different.
Much is the same with Italian and Italian-American food.
The current owners of 601 F St. are making sure the new building stands on the principles of its past.
Built where the old Covenant House once was, Williwaw has decided to continue supporting young people by partnering with the Alaska Music Project for Youth (AMP) to help kids develop a lifelong passion for music. This Saturday, the venue is hosting a free music workshop for kids put on by local artists and AMP, followed by the first-ever benefit event for the project.
Ever wish there were ways to increase your health and stamina before taking on a challenge? Maybe a first aid kit, a cache of ammo and a bigger weapon hiding in a trunk conveniently located on the way? Real life doesn’t have checkpoints or power-ups before the big battles, but local gaming group 907 Gamers is working to equip children and families to take on villains like cystic fibrosis and cancer.
The Midnight Sons Drag Kings challenge gender norms one show at a time
The people you meet in a dimly lit corner of a bar next to a blaring jukebox are rarely what they seem. What better place to meet three strangers by the names of Dr. Feel Good, Random A. Danger and Silkk—the core members of the Midnight Sons Drag Kings, a group of three women who dress and take on the persona of men during live performances since 2012.
Winter Project mixes high-octane action with vivid storytelling
Last year was a bad snow year for Alaska, and this year isn’t off to a good start either.
But however badly the lack of snow last winter cramped your style, imagine raising more than $156,000 to finally make the full-length film of your dreams about extreme snowmachine riding in Alaska, only to have Mother Nature try and stop you.
This scenario sets the opening scene of the film Winter Project, which will have its world premiere this week at the Bear Tooth. Hybrid Color Films, who brought you the snowmachine short Black Sunday, presents their first feature-length film that has come a long way from the Kickstarter campaign it was born from. If you have been around Anchorage since 2013, you may remember it.
From October 31 to November 30 last year, the film’s crew and stars rallied the support of 1,031 backers to fund the making of Winter Project. They proposed an estimated goal of $140,000 and ended up raising $156,501.
On any given Thursday, you can hear the sound of their skates glide across the smooth, waxed floors. The soft thud as the skate hits the wood, followed by the whir of the wheels and bearings spinning. Then the clap of gear hitting gear, the crack of one helmet colliding with another and the slap of bare skin as a skater goes down. Sometimes, you can almost hear the bruises forming.
Erase what you think you know about roller derby. Forget Ellen Page and the movie Whip It (except the feminist bad-ass part), forget the costumes and the short skirts—keep the tattoos and add uniforms. Think hockey, mixed with speed skating and some Xena the Warrior Princess thrown in for good measure.
Allow me to cordially re-introduce you to the Rage City Rollergirls and the select few skaters who make up the elite Rage City All Stars, as they prepare for their season-opener bout.
Read all of Jessica's writing on Muck Rack