For Proper Tequila Cocktails & Healthy Mexican Bites, Visit Cítrico In Brooklyn

Citrico Bday

L-R: Luis & Noor (Owners of Cítrico), Me, Kortnee, Erica, Jason

This Monday, July 24th, was and always is, a special day. For one, it is my birthday, and secondly, it is #NationalTequilaDay. Last year I brought in year 30 with a huge brunch courtesy of Patron, and for this year, I brought in 31 with some close friends, and the team at Cítrico.

Cítrico is a fresh Mexican restaurant & bar in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, opened in 2014. Owners (and married couple) Luis & Noor modeled the menu off of some of Luis’s family recipes, as well as the cuisine of the southern states of Mexico. As the topic of conversation was tequila, I spoke to Noor about margarita alternatives that Cítrico offers, as well as testing a few out with the help of my girls Kortnee and Erica.

citricosalsas

Salsa Platter. Photo courtesy of Cítrico

To help soak up the drinks, we started with the salsa platter, which included house-made tortilla chips, pico de gallo, guajillo salsa, salsa de arbol, and tomatillo salsa. In addition, we snacked on chicharrines, not to be confused with pork chicharrones, which is made from a flour base and has a similar consistency to Funions.

Our feature cocktails were the following:

  • Citrico Tropical: Tequila (or mezcal); pineapple and mango
  • Tlaxcalita Bella: Tequila, cranberry juice, lime and fresh mint

  • Guerrero: Espadin mezcal, tequila, hibiscus, lime, orange and agave

 

Dive into our live session, and see how we rated the cocktails and snacks in the video below!

 

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Event: Mezcal de la Raza Premium Mezcal Tasting, Columbus Day @ Astor Center in NYC

When it comes to the world of spirits, would you say you are familiar with mezcal? Some call it the “smokier cousin of tequila” which is just scratching the surface. This comparison is often made as like tequila, mezcal is also produced from the agave plant. In the United States, mezcal is more of a novelty spirit, but the folks behind Mezcal de la Raza have the mission of breaking those barriers down.

To be held on Columbus Day at Astor Center in NYC, Mezcal de la Raza is a premium mezcal tasting like no other, offering a curated selection of over 30 mezcals from 20 producers in all nine states of Mexico which legally produce the spirit.

Featured brands include:

Cielo Rojo Sotol
Del Maguey, Single Village Mezcal
Mezcal Derrumbes
Mezcal Don Amado
Mezcal El Jolgorio
Espíritu Lauro
Koch el Mezcal de Oaxaca
La Venenosa Raicilla
Mezcales de Leyenda
Mezcal Marca Negra
Mezcalero mezcal
Nuestra Soledad Mezcal
Ochocientos sotol
Mezcal Pierde Almas
Sotol Por Siempre
Mezcal Real Minero
Rey Campero
Mezcal Vago

In addition to the tasting, seminars will be held, focused on food pairing, cocktail creation, and the history and production behind the spirit.

  • Food Pairing Workshop with Yana Volfson of Cosme NYC: discover how different varieties of mezcal express themselves with cuisine
  • Behind The Bar with Alex Valencia of La Contenta NYC: cocktails, glassware, and presentation
  • Production, Culture and Myth with Tess Rose Lampert of PalateTrip: take a trip from the earliest known evidence of distillation through to the modern day

Tickets are available now, with a number of price ranges for the full event, tasting only, and single seminars. Today is the last day for early bird tickets for the full event, for $60, with the price going up to $75 thereafter. Be sure to scoop up your tickets here, and I hope to see you there!

Mezcal de la Raza
Monday, October 10, 2016
2:30 – 6:30 PM
Astor Center
399 Lafayette St.
New York, NY 10003

Take A Bite & Sip: Henri’s Backyard in Park Slope

Henri’s Backyard

The dog days of summer in Brooklyn, New York call for many things; proper air conditioning, delicious eats, cold drinks + adult beverages, sun, and great company. What if you could get all of these things in one place, and if you live near the South Central region of BK, just with a quick trip on the train or by car? Yes, it is possible.

Say hello to Henri’s Backyard, the laid-back sister restaurant of Henri on Fifth. It is the second Brooklyn-based dining spot from Binh Douglas of the HENRI Hospitality Group.

Indoor seating & bar

Located on 4th Avenue between President & Carroll Streets in Park Slope (or Gowanus, if you prefer), the bar-centric eatery is easily accessible from the Prospect Expressway and Union St. R-Train station. I attended the media preview earlier this month, and arrived cool and in style via Uber. I was working in Bushwick that day, so it was perfect that we had Uber codes for the event, or else it would have taken near an hour of commute time. To my surprise, I was the first guest to arrive (which never happens, in life) and because of this, I was treated to a nice little tour from Kayla, who handled all press for the event. I also bumped into one of my college friends, Erin, who works at the restaurant and created the indoor & outdoor stencil artwork for the establishment.

The backyard

As it was a muggy day, and I tend to get flustered really quickly, I was immediately treated to a cocktail from mixologist Leon. More on cocktails later. I sipped on my cold beverage as I learned more about the owners, food & drink menu, former business in the space (vegetarian eatery Pickle Shack), and was able to meet the chef.

Walking through and arriving at the backyard, in which the restaurant is named, was a delight! Its simple design featuring wooden plank flooring, no nonsense tables, aluminum chairs, and rattan benches evoke summer vibes all year round. What about the colder months, you ask? They’ve got that covered, with a retractable roof/awning that will keep patrons warm and dry when the weather cools up again.

Cocktail menu

A key feature of the backyard, aside from its cool city oasis feel, is a full bar, with 18 lines of beer on tap. Sure to satisfy even the most discerned drinker!

Now, let’s get back to cocktails, as that is how I began my evening. Seen above is the full signature cocktail list for Henri’s Backyard. As I love glamour and excess (or whatever) I began my evening with the S.O.B. which along with bourbon and a mixed berry purée with citrus, was topped off with champagne. Throughout the evening, I ended up sampling all cocktails, but of course, there was one that stood out.

Backyard Boogie cocktail 

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Lazy AF But Want A Bomb Margarita This Cinco de Mayo? Try These From José Cuervo

Authentic Cuervo Margarita Flavors

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the day that commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). Although the holiday is generally another day in Mexico, with the exception of the state of Puebla that holds military parades and other festive events, it is a huge celebration of Mexican-American heritage in the United States.

Here, Mexican culture is on full display, mainly its music, cuisine and popular spirit of choice, tequila. Maybe you plan on throwing some shots or margaritas back at a local bar this evening with your buddies, but how about those who like to entertain at home? José Cuervo has the perfect option for you, with no shakers and bar tools necessary.

Enter the Authentic Cuervo Margarita, a ready-to-serve margarita made exclusively with Cuervo Gold tequila. Available in six flavors: classic lime, strawberry lime, mango, watermelon, grapefruit-tangerine, and coconut-pineapple, there is sure to be a variety to suit your taste. The best part? All you have to do is load up your glass with your desired amount of ice, pour, and serve. Check out some of the flavors below.
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Take A Bite & Sip: Dinner & Cocktails at Earls Lincoln Park in Chicago

Setting and menu

Back in mid-November I had the opportunity to head out to Chicago with my cousin Lauren, and some friends. Having never been to the Windy City, I was really excited to head out, although for just two days, to explore a bit of the city’s famed food culture.

I had previously interviewed executive Stephen Andrews about the newest opening of Earls Kitchen + Bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, and I found this quick trip to be the perfect time to stop into the restaurant to eat, drink, and be merry.

B-flat by Ricky Alvarez, #ArtOfEarls

The restaurant was situated in a hip shopping and dining area in Lincoln Park right on North Clybourn Ave. The space was quite large, with a lovely outdoor dining space, specially equipped with weatherproof furniture, fire pits, and heating lamps to keep guests warm when it is brisk out. Upon entering, the aesthetics of the exterior melded into the main dining room, featuring two bars, one massive with all around seating for those that prefer a more casual outing, and a smaller bar near the entrance to cater to patrons present for a sit down dinner, or more formal outing.

Muddy Waters by Erik den Breejen, #ArtOfEarls

Unique artwork was ever present, including a huge wall installation in the bar area entitled B-flat by Vancouver-based artist Ricky Alvarez, which was created using a plethora of trumpets. Also of note was the Muddy Waters collage by Erik den Breejen in the main dining room, comprised of Muddy Waters lyrics that create a portrait of the famed Chicago musician.

The staff greeted us, gave us the lowdown on the space and Earls as a chain, and quickly seated my cousin and I at a dining table. We were given a full description of items on the menu, and were treated to all courses. Here is what we ate!

Appetizers

We began our evening with appetizers to share, and specialty cocktails. We shared three appetizers including the Korean Hot Wings, Dynamite Roll which was made of shrimp,  mango and avocado sushi, sriracha mayo, black sesame and unagi maple, and a Corn poblano dip topped with jalapeño and served with fried bread. Everything was delicious, but the wings were definitely off the chain, containing the perfect amount of sweet and spice.

Bees Knees cocktail

Cocktails came our way about every fifteen minutes, and I can definitely say that I was tipsy by the end of the evening.  I will highlight my favorites, one being the Bees Knees cocktail above. Comprised of Aviation Gin, Cointreau, honey, fresh lemon, and angostura bitters, I was quite surprised that I loved this cocktail so much as it was gin based. I usually go for rum or tequila based drinks.  I had two of these.

Paloma cocktail

The Paloma cocktail was a not-so-classic Paloma recipe, comprised of Espolon Reposado Tequila, fresh lime juice and Jarritos Mexican grapefruit soda. Both Lauren and I enjoyed this cocktail as it was super fresh, not too sweet, with a deep tequila flavor. Reminiscent of a vacation somewhere tropical, like Tulum.

My entree: Salmon

Entrees were so hard to pick as all the offerings were amazing, but our plan of action was to pick two completely different plates so we could share. We went the surf & turf route, with Lauren choosing a Chimichurri Skirt Steak, and me choosing a Mediterranean infused Salmon plate.

The earthiness of my dish muted my salmon in a nice way. The grains, legumes, and tomato-based sauce that the salmon steak laid upon brought about a medley of flavors to the salmon that I was not used to, but in an exciting way.

Lauren’s entree: Chimichurri Skirt Steak

Lauren’s chimichurri skirt steak was just delectable. The Earls chain only uses the best beef, “Certified Humane Creekstone Farms Black Angus Beef free of antibiotics with no added hormones”, and boy does it show. Served in an iron skillet, the beef was so fresh and tender, cooked perfectly with baby potatoes, and pan roasted cherry tomatoes. I can definitely see now why this is a favorite among patrons.

Lemon Meringue cocktail

As with our appetizers, more cocktails came with dinner. A standout for me was the Lemon Meringue cocktail. Comprised of Skyy Vodka, Limoncello, and meringue foam, the cocktail tasted almost as good as Lauren’s mother’s family famous lemon meringue pie. A feat indeed.

Silly Wabbit cocktail

Lauren’s favorite cocktail of the evening, which I also enjoyed, was the Silly Wabbit. Comprised of vodka and fresh carrot juice with a few other ingredients, Lauren described the drink as a “nice cool breeze” and gave her that feeling you get after having a great work out at the gym. The carrot juice makes you feel super healthy, but don’t be fooled; the vodka has a kick!

Sticky Chocolate Toffee Pudding

And then came dessert. We had a bit of a sampling. The pumpkin pie was delectable and reminiscent of something your grandma would make. Spiced just right and topped with fresh whipped cream, it was a treat. The Sticky Chocolate Toffee Pudding was a staff favorite, so we decided to try it as well. The combination of warm pudding cake atop chocolate and toffee sauces, paired with vanilla ice cream was pretty much the best of both worlds. I like the balance of sweetness and textures.

Upon completing our meal, we were greeted with, you guessed it, more cocktails, and treated to a unique tour of the restaurant’s kitchen and prep spaces with Senior Sous Chef, Jovahn Sandhu.

Saucy!

Since I am a complete food and kitchen nerd, the kitchen tour may have been even more exciting than the food and cocktails! Jovahn introduced us to the kitchen staff, and showed us all of their stations; every thing from sauce and condiment prep, to meats, to baked goods and more.  It was really intriguing to see how many moving parts are needed to get the final meal on your plate at super fast speed.

Even more exciting for me, was taking a step into the refrigerators. I cannot truly gauge the amount of square footage the refrigerators took up, but with racks and product, you could still fit a small dance party of folks within. Above you see all the containers of sauces, that are prepped fresh each day before dawn.

Zests for cocktails

As I am a bit of a cocktail snob, it was great for me to see where all of the zests for the cocktails you saw above, and more, were stored. These things that may seem so small, are so important to the diner’s overall experience from a taste and time perspective. I was so geeked it was probably embarrassing, especially as my drinks were starting to hit me during the tour. Despite all this, Jovahn and crew were super detailed and helpful, giving me all the information I was seeking, and then some.

Cousins!

We finished our tour with some insight on the bar culture of Earls from Lounge Manager, Taylor Happy, who had been present throughout our meal, helping with suggestions. He showed us the outdoor seating and fire pit, as well as the outdoor seating near the entrance. With a garage door between the inside and outside, summer patrons can feel like a part of the indoor action with a quick raise of the door.

When in downtown Chicago, definitely make a stop at Earls Kitchen + Bar. With a menu to appeal to all tastes and a friendly, knowledgeable staff, it is sure to be a dining experience you will never forget!

 

Earls Kitchen + Bar, Lincoln Park

1538 North Clybourn Avenue, Unit A108, Chicago IL
Get directions via Google maps
tel.   312-929-3952   fax.   312-929-4049

 

All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary meal at Earls Kitchen + Bar.

Take A Bite & Sip: Up On 20 at the Hyatt Herald Sq. Offers Food & Drinks With A View

View of Up On 20. Photo: Real Hospitality Group

Let me paint a picture for you. You’re in the middle of Herald Square in Manhattan on a late weekday afternoon. You may be in the area for work, or visiting for a few days. You are in desperate need of food and drink that doesn’t completely break the bank, and isn’t an Applebee’s either. You are coaxed with huge signs from chain restaurants in the area, but how about if you wanted to be slightly off the main street, and able to catch spectacular views while you are it? Let me introduce you to Up On 20.

Located on the roof deck of the Hyatt Herald Square, Up On 20 is the hotel’s rooftop lounge. I visited on a grey Thursday to check out the location’s food and drink offerings, along with its views. As the weather wasn’t the best, the space was not packed, which made me feel better about having a meal solo. I was greeted by a lovely waiter/bartender and told him I was there for a review. He wasted no time to get me seated and really give me the lowdown on the space.

View from my seat of the Empire State Building. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

The hotel itself opened back in the fall of 2014 and Up On 20 is newly opened for the summer season. I found a cocktail table near the perimeter of the space, to better gaze at the city’s architecture below me, including the Empire State Building.

I snapped a few touristy photos of my surroundings, then got to the menu. The waiter gave me a few suggestions which I trusted as he seemed to be quite the foodie himself. I started with a rum cocktail called “The Old Virgin” which had a base of dark rum and prosecco, with lime and simple syrup. The drink definitely had a kick, but if made with a tad less lime, the finish would have been a little smoother.

All the food. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

My food platter consisted of white fish sliders with avocado, NYC-style fresh pretzels with fresh sesame mustard, meatballs with hoisin sauce, and shrimp ceviche paired with kettle chips. I would call the cuisine style “New American Fusion” as it melded flavors from both the Americas and Asia alike. So what did I think of the food? Let’s go one by one.

  • White fish sliders with avocado on whole grain bun: fresh flavors and overall great ingredients for a slider. As the fish is quite plain, a smokey or spicy element would have made this top notch.
  • Pretzels with fresh sesame mustard: pretzel consistency and mustard was very good. A bit too much salt on the pretzel.
  • Meatballs with hoisin sauce: great meatball consistency with sauce pairing. No complaints, but had to bring the rest home because of the portion size.
  • Shrimp ceviche with kettle chips: REALLY liked the shrimp ceviche as it had pineapple in it and reminded me of the ceviche back in Belize. The kettle chips were good, but went soggy quickly as I visited on a rather humid day. A good alternative would be fresh tortilla or plantain chips.

Drea vs. Food. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

I had a lovely experience at Up On 20, and would definitely want to go back on a sunny day. The open atmosphere makes it great for everything from after-work drinks, birthday parties, business meetings, and a casual date. Prices are mid-range, with cocktails in the mid to upper teens, and food made to share. If you are in Herald Square anytime soon, definitely check it out. Address below.

 

Up On 20 at the Hyatt Herald Square

30-32 W 31st St

New York, NY 10001

*All photos by Andrea K. Castillo

I received a complimentary meal and drinks at Up On 20.

What I’ve Been Up To: More Writing, Fitness, Food & Travel!

Mid “Running through the 6 with my woes”/ Photo: AKC

For the past few weeks, my posts here have been a little inconsistent, so I wanted to update you all on some of the new happenings in my life. Here is an update of my past few weeks in the realms of writing, fitness, food, and travel. It is “A Life In The Day of Andrea” after all!

 

I am a new “Cocktail Culture” contributor Societe Perrier

I’ve been following Perrier and their lifestyle blog Societe Perrier for some time now. I’ve been interested in contributing since 2011, but didn’t think my work was strong enough as I was fairly new to writing and blogging at the time. Fast forward to late December 2014. They start to communicate with me via social media, to me eventually landing a spot as a new Cocktail Culture contributor for NYC! I started in late May. You can check out my first post on antioxidant cocktails here.

 

I ran a great race at the Nike Women Toronto 15 K, and took 3 dance classes after

Dancing in my race shirt/Photo: CDC

On June 14th, I ran my first major race in ages at the Nike Women Toronto 15 K and finished strong! You can read the full backstory with images here. Post-race I decided to take a few dance classes at the City Dance Corps open house in downtown Toronto (because I’m crazy, apparently). I took jazz, ballet, and dancehall (bluck bluck!) classes, all thirty minutes each, and had a blast! The photo above is from my most challenging session, ballet. Thank you so much to my girl/fake sister Celina for having me.

 

A new “Liquid Culture” feature on Large Up

Arcachon Cremas/ Photo: AKC

I’ve been contributing food & drink pieces to Caribbean culture site Large Up since December of 2014, mainly my own Belizean family recipes. This was my first feature, focusing on a fledging Haitian-American cremas brand. You can read all about it here. Photos by yours truly also!

 

*BIG NEWS: I am a Staff Writer at super new journalism platform, SLANT*

I’m super excited to share this news. I am a Staff Writer for newly launched (like one week old NEW) journalism platform Slant. It is innovative as its model is crowdsourced journalism, allowing the ones who are experiencing the “news” to contribute and tell their own unique story. I love this idea, because I am really able to express myself in ways I may have not been able to on other platforms. Stay tuned for awesome music, personal, fashion, art & culture stories. In the meantime, you can read these that are now live.

Take A Sip: Drinks & Recipes To Ring In The New Year Right, Feat: Piper Heidsieck, Jameson Black Barrel, Ciroc & More!

As we are on the heels of bidding the year 2014 adieu, it is time to gather our things and prepare for New Year’s Eve festivities! A proper party consists of a lovely outfit, great company & music, bites, and cocktails of course! We’ve rounded up some of our favorite drinks and cocktail recipes, spanning all categories of spirits, so you can start the new year off right!

CIROC: Ultra Premium French Vodka

Let us begin with vodka, as across the board, I’ve noticed vodka to peek the fancy of many different personalities. For your celebration, a light and citrusy vodka cocktail freshens the palate without weighing you down with too much sugar.

Our Pick: Ciroc 75

CIROC reminds everyone to please celebrate responsibly.


JAMESON BLACK BARREL: Irish Whiskey

If you have been keeping up with our spirits & cocktails posts, you would have noticed that we are fans of Jameson Black Barrel, a smooth aged Irish Whiskey that makes for a great cocktail.

Our Pick: Whiskey Buck


DON JULIO AÑEJO: Aged Tequila

I first discovered Don Julio Añejo whilst on a work trip in Vegas. We asked the bartender what the best tequila they offered was, and I’ve been hooked ever since. As an aged tequila, it is darker in color with a smoother finish, unlike white and gold tequilas that have more of a bite. This variety is great on the rocks, but for a holiday, spice it up in a margarita.

Our Pick: Spicy Margarita


MOUNT GAY BLACK BARREL: Barbados Rum

For us, rum is one of those things that is always on the menu (because Caribbean blood). There are endless ways to enjoy rum during the year and holiday season, but to bring in the new year, we suggest to keep it simple with this updated Dark & Stormy cocktail.

Our Pick: Black & Stormy


PIPER-HEIDSIECK: Champagne

Champagne goes without saying for New Year’s, so why not celebrate with a glass of bubbly from one of the oldest champagne houses in the world? Their Brut offering is a classic champagne that is sure to height the fancy of your entire party. If you feel like dropping a bit more cash and being EXTRA fancy, their vintage varieties are some of the most awarded.

Our Pick: Brut


A Life In The Day of Andrea wishes you a lovely year ahead. Please drink responsibly 🙂


#MANday Exclusive: Reggie Milligan of Mantry Talks Food & Start-Ups, And Why You Should Get Hip To “The Modern Man’s Pantry”

ANTHONY HANCOCK & REGGIE MILLIGAN OF MANTRY

MANday is back and we have a special feature interview for you guys! I had the opportunity to speak with Reggie Milligan, co-founder of food start-up Mantry, affectionately named after a play on words of the modern man’s pantry. They search for the best artisan and small-batch foods around the country, and deliver you the goods every month.

Their latest project is a special box catered towards cocktails, specifically high-quality cocktail mixers. Read on below to get the lowdown, and how you can get involved!

What is your personal experience with food and drink?

I grew up working in restaurants from the age of fourteen, specifically fine dining. I started working when I was fifteen years old, at a restaurant that was called Lumiere, and I actually apprenticed at the ages of seventeen and eighteen down at The French Laundry which is out in Napa (that’s a three Michelin star spot). I was really much the driven guy that was super-interested in owning the next best restaurant by a really young age. So I was really deep into fine dining between the ages of fourteen and twenty, and learned from chopping onions in a back hallway to apprenticing in kitchens and bumping around. I was always very passionate about food; I was a part of that generation that might have been plunked out in front of The Food Network, and absorbed a ridiculous amount. I remember growing up watching Emeril and stuff for hours on end back when The Food Network was based on teaching, opposed to building sugar castles and running around chasing food trucks, or whatever they do now [laughs]. In short, the same way a young boy would get interested in sports, I was always drawn to cooking.

How did the idea for Mantry come about, and why did you decide to make it a subscription-box service?

I actually ended up going to university and doing business school, and once I left fine dining kitchens around twenty, I burnt out a little bit. But back at school, just living the college lifestyle and doing a business degree, I kind of saw how people cooked and would eat at home more, especially living with a bunch of guys, and that’s where the seed for the concept kind of started in a sense. I was just thinking, ‘is there a resource for food that really speaks to guys as much?‘. There’s the GQs and the Details, and that sort of thing, they write the very rare food article, so that’s what planted the seed. Ultimately didn’t know if we wanted to do a men’s food magazine fully, as opposed to just product. Those magazines write about “top sauce to try” and “five artisan makers around the country”, “four products that use bourbon”, and we just thought, let’s hedge our best, put this stuff in a box and send it to guys blind and hopefully they’ll dig it, cuz they can’t read about it when it’s right in front of them.

Mantry came out of just trying to find a cool resource that was tailored to guys. We have lots of female subscribers, most of our subscribers are couples who just like getting six cool products to accessorize their shopping at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or whatever throughout the week. The true concept to why we wanted a subscription was just cuz we wanted to take people on more of a journey. We focus on American small-batch makers, but there are so many stories to tell. Maybe a box would be just focused on different Mexican-inspired foods made throughout the U.S., or different people making Thai foods throughout the U.S.; we did a box called Thai Game which was kind of game-night feature, wings recipes and nachos recipes, and that type of thing, but using different makers that had Thai influence around the country. There was this amazing Thai chili sauce from Virginia of all places, there was Thai basil pickled jalapeños from Washington, from a maker up there called Gordy’s, this supercool Thai curry coconut peanuts that this person was making down in Texas…so we’ve done boxes like that, or we’ve done boxes like “Six Amazing Makers From Georgia” and trying to tell a little bit of a story of food culture in Georgia, we included an amazing small-batch grits from down there with a shrimp & grits recipe, there’s an olive oil company that’s the first olive oil farm east of the Mississippi in 100 years, so there’s so many stories to tell around the U.S.

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Jameson Black Barrel Celebrates Movember With Delicious, Moustache-Themed Cocktails

We are currently in the midst of November, a month that has been nicknamed Movember, a time where all men are encouraged to grow mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health initiatives. Being the official sponsor of Movember, Jameson Black Barrel ushered in the month of awareness with a special cocktail event in NYC, with mustache-themed cocktails for all guests to enjoy.

I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite recipes for you to enjoy this Movember using Jameson Black Barrel. Illustrations and full recipes below!

The Painter’s Brush Moustache [Tipperary cocktail]

–        1.5 parts Jameson Black Barrel

–        0.5 part sweet vermouth

–        0.75 part green chartreuse

–        2 dashes angostura bitters

Combine ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and stire until ice cold. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass and finish with orange oils.

 

The Handlebar Moustache [Old Fashioned cocktail]

–        2 parts Jameson Black Barrel

–        0.75 part Benedictine

–        2 dashes angostura bitters

–        2 dashes orange bitters

Combine ingredient into a mixing glass, add ice and stir into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with an orange slice.

 

The Horseshoe Moustache [Whiskey Buck cocktail]

–        2 parts Jameson Black Barrel

–        0.75 part fresh lime juice

–        0.75 part ginger syrup

–        2-3 dashes angostura bitters

Combine ingredients into a shaker, add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass/ Fill the balance with ginger ale or soda water. Garnish with a lime.

 

The Pencil Moustache [Irish Maid cocktail]

–        2 parts Jameson Black Barrel

–        0.5 part Elderflower liqueur

–        0.75 part fresh lemon juice

–        0.75 part sugar syrup

–        2 cucumber chunks

Muddle cucumber and combine ingredients into a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Fine-strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

To see the full offering of Jameson Black Barrel Movember cocktails, check out the video below.

#AlifeinthedayinToronto: Take a Bite & Sip at 416 Snack Bar

Real wine, real candles

I hope you have been enjoying my Toronto tales! I wanted to circle back to my first evening. As I had mentioned in prior posts, my first food stop was Patois. After this, my friend and guide Jahmal had to leave me, and gave me detailed directions of where to walk to get a real taste of the city, along with the location of one of his favorite spots where he would meet me later on in the evening; 416 Snack Bar.

Korean Fried Chicken

Located on Bathurst Ave, steps away from Queen Street E, 416 Snack Bar totally felt like home when I walked in. The lights were dim, soul music played in the background (from a DJ in the back right corner), and the crowd was eclectic and calm. Since I had some time to kill, I figured I would have a little drink, and a small bite from their food menu. I kept it simple and ordered a cider, and the Korean Fried Chicken (pictured above). The restaurant used chicken thighs for their recipe, as opposed to white meat, and seasoned generously with soy, ginger, sesame seeds, chives and other flavors.

Tourist Photo 🙂

In my time at the bar, I made a few new friends, and was really able to take in the atmosphere as I had gone there solo. It was kind of a big deal for me, because I had never really gone to a bar/restaurant alone before, especially not in another country! Just goes to show that we live and we learn, right?

Once we exited, I asked Jahmal to take this lovely tourist photo of me, seen above. As someone who takes photos, I’m never in much photos, so I made sure that I got snapped in front of as many cool spots as possible during my trip.

416 Snack Bar

181 Bathurst Ave (near Queen St. E)

Toronto, ON

Phone: 416-364-9320

info@416snackbar.com

Be sure to check out 416 Snack Bar if you are out and about in Toronto. Also, check out all my spots in detail via my TripleSpot list, Enjoy Toronto w/ AKC!

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo & Jahmal Sang

#AlifeinthedayinToronto: Take a Sip at The Beaconsfield

A view of the bar, fully stocked with top-shelf everything

Located on the corner of Queen St W and Beaconsfield Ave, stands a bar unlike any other, aptly named The Beaconsfield. The bar and restaurant is steps away from the famed Drake Hotel, and boast a beautiful exterior, housed in the historical Molsons Bank, with a cobblestone patio hugging the space’s perimeter. We stopped by the watering hole to end off a chill evening with friends.

Crystal chandelier, that added to the old-school vibe

Upon entering The Beaconsfield you are immediately transformed into a space that is both luxurious and inviting at the same time. Crystal chandeliers hung from high ceilings, and all the attention was on the bar, fully stocked with various spirits, bottled beers, and fine wines; they are known for their impressive tequila selection.

My drink of the evening, dark rum with a splash of pineapple

Soon after our arrival and my admiration of the space, we all ordered drinks. I kept it simple and ordered a dark rum with pineapple on the rocks. The guys had beers and vodka drinks for the most part, and we sat back to unwind with great tunes in the background (lots of Drake and Majid Jordan on the playlist to be exact). I had an unfortunate encounter with a man whose horrible “I like the way you drink your drink” pick-up line scarred me for the rest of the evening. Thankfully, I was diverted by friends who conjured up aimless conversation to save me. Phew!

I would definitely recommend The Beaconsfield for groups of friends who want to chill out, or even a date as there are some super low-key tables in the back of the space. I found out after that they have a full food menu, which you can view here. I will definitely be back!

Beaconsfield
1154 Queen St W
Toronto, ON M6J 1J5
(416) 516-2550
Be sure to check out more of my favorite spots on my Enjoy Toronto w/ AKC TripleSpot list!

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Take A Sip: The Garret

View of the fully-stocked bar at The Garret.
View of the fully-stocked bar at The Garret.

Tucked away in an unexpected location in the West Village lies a newly-opened cocktail bar, and its name is The Garret. Housed above the Five Guys on the corner of 7th Ave South and Bleecker, The Garret is far from a dive bar, but a “refined drinking establishment”. Once walking up a set of stairs at the back of the burger joint, you are transformed into a space reminiscent of a crazy uncle that has a unique take on luxury.

A custom piece by Bradley Theodore below the mantle.
A custom piece by Bradley Theodore below the mantle.

The vibe in the space is that of an old-school salon, featuring brick walls, eclectic framed photographs, vintage books and hourglasses, paired with luxe tufted leather seating. You are given the feeling of exclusivity in the otherwise bustling neighborhood.

One such special element of The Garret is the special painting above by graffiti artist Bradley Theodore, known for his now famous street piece in Little Italy, Anna and Karl.

The night ambience.
The night ambience.

When the night falls, the space transforms from its bright feel during the day, to a sophisticated amber glow, made possible by light reflecting off the bar’s copper ceiling. Draperies on the vast windows stay open so patrons can view the streets below without feeling like they are on-the-spot. The lighting really sets the mood, and is perfect for impressing a date, in case you were wondering of course!

A show-stopping chandelier illuminates the space.
A show-stopping chandelier illuminates the space.

There are many unique design elements that make The Garret special, but the show-stopper is definitely the chandelier in the photo above. It hangs from a vaulted skylight strategically over the bar to illuminate the menus of patrons. The menu features hand-crafted cocktails from master mixologists, paired with an impressive craft beer menu, that is fairly-priced for its attention to detail.

Check out some more photos below from The Garret below. They are now open for business. Head over to their website for more!

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo 

An Evening of Cocktails and Views With Garrett Leight & Friends at The Standard East Village

The set-up. Display of the latest issue of "Spectacle" paired with eyewear.
The set-up. Display of the latest issue of “Spectacle” paired with eyewear.

On the evening of Thursday, March 27th, the team at one of my new favorite eyewear brands, Garrett Leight hosted an exclusive gathering with cocktails and views. Held in the penthouse suite of the Standard East Village, the night served as a showcase of Garrett Leight’s newest optical offerings, along with the unveiling of the newest issue of the brand’s lifestyle magazine, Spectacle, seen in the photo above.

Views from the penthouse of the Standard East Village.
Views from the penthouse of the Standard East Village.

The penthouse suite, situated on the 21st floor of the hotel, provided breathtaking wraparound views of the entire city. I snuck out to the terrace sans coat to take the photo up top, and it was definitely worth it.

Collaboration shades. Garrett Leight x Boswell. Made in the USA.
Collaboration shades. Garrett Leight x Boswell. Made in the USA.

Along with the brand’s namesake offerings, Garrett Leight is also known for his collaborations with various designers. Up top is a special pair of sunnies crafted in conjunction with designer Waraire Boswell.

Cocktails provided by Zarco Tequila.
Cocktails provided by Zarco Tequila.

Guests sipped on hand-crafted spring cocktails, provided by Zarco Tequila. There was champagne for the latter, and cool jams to vibe to, which I really appreciated. The event overall was laid-back with a full focus on the product. Check out the gallery below for more photos!

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

Take A Sip: Macao Trading Co.

Interior of Macao Trading Co.; Photo: Hannah Whitaker

When it comes to cocktails, I like to seek out those that are special and combine unexpected ingredients. I found this while taking a trip to Macao Trading Co. this past weekend. It sits on an unsuspecting block in TriBeca, with a main floor for dining, and basement for drinks and dancing. I stopped by with some friends to check out my friend Sean who was spinning that night, and was pleasantly surprised with the ambience and crowd. The dim lighting and vintage Asian trinkets that decorate the basement space provide a laid-back and somewhat mysterious vibe for patrons. The star of this venue, aside from the aforementioned, are their cocktails. Handcrafted by mixologists, Macao Trading Co. boasts signature cocktails that compare to popular speakeasies scattered throughout the city. Starting at around $14, they can get a bit pricey, but the attention to detail and intricate mixtures make it all worth the while. Cocktail standout by far was Dr. Funk which combines “Mekhong Thai Rum served tall with Homemade Grenadine, Ginger Beer, dressed with Fresh Fruits and Mint & topped off with a drizzle of Absinthe“. Divine. We also snacked on some offerings from the late night menu which included garlic & parsley fries with curry ailoi, hanger steak satay, and shrimp & dill spring rolls with Vietnamese sweet chili sauce. Delectable! The combination of superb cocktails, food, ambience, crowd, and sounds, make it a must on my list.

Macao Trading Co.

311 Church St. (off of Walker)

New York, NY 10013

(212) 431-8750