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Scene in Manchester: A bunch of Baileys imbibed at the Backroom

Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader

October 07. 2012 9:07PM

Manchester, I think we may have a drinking problem. Did you know the Puritan Backroom is the number-one purchaser of Baileys Irish Cream in the entire country? And where do you think all that Baileys is going? Chris Pappas and his crew over on Hooksett Road are certainly not dumping 2,500 bottles of Baileys into Dorr's Pond every year, although that may entice me to swim in it.

The Baileys, of course, is joining its best friends Kahlua and vodka in the Backroom's signature drink - the mudslide. Pappas, co-owner and manager of the restaurant, said the Backroom sold 14,900 mudslides in 2011. With a strict limit of two mudslides per person at each visit, that's a lot of people drinking mudslides around here.

The Baileys distributor presented the Backroom with a plaque for its amazing consumption last year. Pappas admits an all-expense-paid trip to the Baileys factory in Ireland would have been nice too, but the restaurant is just happy to have the title. And he intends to hold onto it.

The mudslide has been a featured cocktail at the Backroom since it opened in 1974. 'People come from far and wide to enjoy them,' Pappas said.

They are so delicious and creamy that many customers assume the Backroom's mudslides contain the eatery's homemade ice cream, but they don't. But they do contain a lot of alcohol, which is the reason for the two-per-person limit. I'm not sure I've ever made it past one mudslide myself.

Drinking Backroom mudslides actually counts as an activity for some people in Manchester. Some people go bowling or dancing, others go 'mudsliding.' The cocktails definitely make for a fun and delicious night out with friends, and Pappas, whose name you've probably seen on political signs in the area, said he thinks they can even help move political agendas along.

If his campaign for executive councilor is successful, he said he could use the Backroom's fare to help settle any disagreements among the councilors. 'Chicken tenders and mudslides should break the logjam and allow us to work together across party lines,' he said.

Getting fit at The Fort

A while back I wrote about my quest to get my pre-baby body back by participating in a boot camp class at the Manchester YMCA. After getting over the initial shock I began to look forward to the twice-a-week workouts with Danielle Rheault Bicknell and Lisa Maria-Booth.

The boot camp exercises are nothing new. We do your basic sit-ups, squats, sprints, and something called a burpee. But, as a co-boot camper recently put it, Bicknell and Maria-Booth had the ability to motivate me like no one has since Central High School track. This is probably why they've had such a loyal following at the Y since they began teaching there 20 years ago.

Soon after I joined the class, the duo announced they were leaving the Y to open their own gym called Fortitude Health + Training - a.k.a - The Fort. Was it something I said? Maybe it was the way I smelled after too many burpees. Whatever the reason, I'm still following them down to their new space at 775 Canal St.

The Fort opens on Monday, Oct. 15, offering 26 group classes each week. In addition to Boot Camp, there will also be yoga, suspension training, kickboxing, a weight loss and healthy living program, and more. And all group classes are free for the first week.

In a recent conversation I had with some local business owners about The Fort, we were trying to figure out what its unique niche or brand was. (Business people love to use words like 'niche' and 'brand.')We asked why people would choose to exercise there over any of the dozens of other fitness businesses in the area? We ultimately decided Bicknell and Maria-Booth are their own brand. Without their inspiration and motivation, The Fort is just a big room with medicine balls, weights and other instruments of torture ... I mean exercise equipment.

Bicknell said relationships and really knowing their students are a big part of their success. She also credits the camaraderie of the group class. 'Our energy stirs their energy and people perform better, reach their goals faster, and are motivated by one another. People work harder and perform better when they have the company (or competition) of others,' she wrote in an email.

Well the holidays are coming and I refuse to take my fat pants out of their bin in the basement. I'll be checking out The Fort's class schedule at

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

Anyone who has seen even one episode of 'Glee' knows the show's high school a cappella group is perpetually preparing for 'Regionals,' a big singing competition where the students are able to sing and dance without breaking a sweat or losing their breath. This is what I imagine Voices of the (603) is going to be like.

This event takes place Friday, when middle and high school students from around New Hampshire will converge on the Queen City for a day of educational a cappella clinics followed by a public concert/competition where a Voices of the (603) a cappella champion will be crowned. The entire event is hosted by Milling Around, UNH Manchester's co-ed a cappella group, and will be emceed by WZID's Heather Bishop.

The concert will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the lodge at the base of McIntyre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at

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