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Mixology Spirits Event – Mizner Park Amphitheater, Boca Raton, FL February 13, 2016

Craft2 Craft5Combine incredible February weather with some of the finest spirits and food from local restaurants in one of South Florida’s beautiful locales and you have the makings of a great Saturday afternoon.

And so it was with Mixology: The Craft Spirits Event, held from 4 – 8 p.m. at the Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton. Hosted by Boca Raton’s own Kapow restaurant, Mixology was a celebration of Bourbon, Whiskey, Tequila and the requisite cocktail possibilities of each. With just under 30 spirit vendors on scene and food samples from Kapow and The Little Chalet, there was something for everyone – including a Montecristo “Cigar Lounge.”

We decided to focus our attention on Whiskey and Bourbon sampling, which was, by far, the most abundant at this event. Highlights were the High West Rendezvous Rye and the Double Rye; Irish whiskey from Tullamore Dew; the Compass Box Spice Tree Whisky (delicious); as well as the Whistle Pig 10-Year Whiskey and by far our favorite Bourbon of late, Widow Jane. Pours were moderate, but patrons were encouraged to try offerings at each station more than once, if they so desired. We did, of course.Craft7

We both ecraft3njoyed the Gin samples from Brooklyn Gin, a small batch maker that calls itself “Fresh American Gin” and was named one of the best Gins by GQ magazine. Even if you don’t consider yourself a Gin drinker, this citrus forward Gin with strong floral notes might make you a convert.

There were several hundred attendees, though it never felt overly crowded. Lines were relatively short at most of the stations, though food items seemed to take a bit longer to prepare, which is understandable when only one or two chefs are preparing samples for so many hungry patrons. The Small Chalet’s short rib sampler was amazing, as was Kapow’s Chicken Fried Rice.

Given that this is the first year of the event, I would consider it a success for Kapow and Mizner Park in general. People had a great time, and like we said at the beginning, when you combine great spirits and food with spectacular weather, you have a recipe for a fun event. Cheers to Kapow and everyone involved with putting on Mixology: The Craft Spirits Event.

 

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2015…A Year of Living Decadently

So, for any visitor to our site it must be obvious that we have been a bit neglectful in our updates.  As with many people, life, work and all the things that go with living it got in the way!  The good news is that we really enjoyed the living part this year and plan on doing more of the same next year.  Our intention is to actually add things as they happen, but we’ll just have to see how that goes!   Anyhoo…without further ado, our 2015 in photo review.  We hope you get an idea of just how much we savored it!

Funky Buddha Brewery Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival

FB2If craft beer makers are the new rock stars, Funky Buddha has gone platinum. Saturday, January 10, Funky Buddha held its second annual Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival at its Oakland Park brewery, which seems to be growing by leaps and bounds as demand grows for their myriad of one-of-a-kind craft beers.

Looking at the crowds, this year’s event easily eclipsed last year’s in terms of attendance. The city of Oakland Park closed down the street to accommodate the throngs of craft beer lovers. Several food trucks set up shop along the street, giving attendees some tasty eating options, including Chaco’s Chinese Tacos and Diablo Dogs. Craft beer and street food just go hand in hand. For ease in operation and to speed up sales, tickets are sold for $5 each, with beers sold one per customer – no exceptions. Bottles of the precious Maple Bacon Coffee Porter were sold between noon and 3 p.m., with pick-up from 4 – 7 p.m. Unfortunately we arrived later that afternoon and never had a chance to buy any bottles. Damn. Maybe next time.10866055_766364990121851_153536580750934960_o

But back to the beer. FB’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter may be the star, but there were over 50 craft beers to choose from; most of them Funky Buddha signature beers, some specialty brews, plus several guest taps including several Florida beer makers such as Due South (Boynton Beach), Wynwood Brewing (Miami) and Angry Chair (Tampa). Unless you have a second liver or are resistant to the effects of alcohol, there is no conceivable way to try every beer on the menu. We each had a Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, which was delicious and true to its moniker, tastes just like breakfast in a glass. As we started surveying the options, we realized that almost all the earlier timed releases were sold out. Not to be deterred, we formulated our plan for the next release as we sipped a Dredd Pirate Robert’s Imperial Stout (9% ABV), which had strong hints of chocolate, raspberries and coconut. Next up was the Up Pip’s Kriek American Sour on oak and cherries (5.4% ABV), which, like most good sour beers make you pucker up and smile. With “appetizers” out of the way, we then focused on Funky Buddha’s timed-release beers.

0110151646Standing in line, shoulder-to-shoulder, like die-hard fans waiting to score concert tickets, the countdown begins and then it’s release time! We had a game plan and put it in action. We anxiously awaited as the countdown began in the tap room, looking forward to a pour of the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Nikolai Vorlauf Imperial Stout (10.5% ABV). Sweet, complex and boozy, the NV takes on the characteristics as it ages in the Bourbon barrel, with strong hints of vanilla caramel added to what is already an incredible beer. Outside at one of two beer trucks, a similar frenzy was building. There were so many great choices but this time we were after the Chocolate Basil Porter (6.7% ABV). This was easily one of the standout beers of the festival with a flavor profile that struck a nice balance between the cocoa and basil.

IMG_2725We met up with some fellow beer-loving friends during the event, which gave us all an opportunity to sip and savor other beers we may not have a chance to try. We sipped and strategized for the 7pm release which was going to be tricky. There were several beers at each timed release station that we wanted to try that were, most likely, not going to last long. We split up and headed to our respective stations. Thankfully, we were able to get each beer we were after.

The Uncle Vucub’s Imperial Stout, which is made with cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa nibs and habanero. Sweet, spicy and strong with its 9% ABV, Uncle Vucub’s Imperial wakes up your taste buds from the first sip. Stepping outside of Florida we also enjoyed a Toppling Goliath PseudoSue Pale Ale (5.8% ABV) from Iowa and a name any Star Wars geek can appreciate: Revolution Deth’s Tar IRS Imperial Stout Heaven Hill and Old Forester barrel-aged (11.4%) from Chicago. The Force is with this craft beer maker, for sure. Both of these beers lasted only a short time and we considered ourselves lucky to get to try them. The piece de resistance was the Last Buffalo in the Park Snowed In Imperial Last Snow Porter (11% ABV) aged in Buffalo Trace Whiskey barrels. It doesn’t get better than that so we decided to call it a night on this high note.

If you appreciate good craft beer, the Funky Buddha Brewing Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival is a once-a-year event worth checking out. Just make a point to arrive early, park and by all means, pace yourself. Cheers!

Cellars Bourbon, Beer & BBQ Whiskey Tasting September 27, 2014

IMG_2275It seems like on any given weekend here in South Florida you will stumble across some sort of tasting event happening around town, be it a simple in-store wine sampling to a full-blown, hosted sit-down food and wine/beer pairing event. Having too much of a good thing is not a complaint, mind you – it’s more of a delightful dilemma.

On this particular Saturday we decided to venture outside our wine and beer comfort zone and venture into the tremendously popular and growing world of boutique (small batch) Whiskeys and Bourbons. Cellars Wine & Spirits, in Ft. Lauderdale, hosted such an event ($20 per person), giving discriminating drinkers the unique opportunity to sample some of the finest Whiskeys and Bourbons from across the country and enjoy delicious barbecue fare from the carnivore-friendly Red Cow restaurant, also located in Ft. Lauderdale.

The tasting menu was extensive and the tasting glasses large, so rather than attempt to taste them all (bad idea) we instead focused on the few brands we had read or heard about as listed below.

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Red Cow’s grilled pork and barbecue sauce medley was the perfect companion for the Whiskey and Bourbon tasting (and helped fill our stomachs a bit), matching and even contrasting the sweet, smoky flavor profiles of the spirits with zesty BBQ goodness. The mac and cheese was also a hit, as evidenced by the nearly empty container sitting on the buffet table. (My large, second helping of it may have contributed also.)

As a bonus, the $20 price of admission included a discount on any of the featured spirits, so we picked up a bottle each of the Haas Brothers Cyrus Noble Bourbon (San Francisco) and the Ridgemont Reserve 1792 Barrel Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon (Barton 1792 Distillery, Kentucky) – which we thoroughly enjoyed that evening, and we will enjoy for many evenings to come! Cheers!

Brasserie Cantillon Night at the Sybarite Pig, Sep 1, 2014

IMAG5801  IMAG5790There was no secret knock to get in, but as we entered the Sybarite Pig for the Brasserie de Cantillon tasting on a recent Monday, we felt that we were stepping into an exclusive experience where we were, by far, the novices.

Tonight we would be sampling several offerings from Brasserie Cantillon that we will, most likely, not have the opportunity to try again anytime soon, if ever.  If we do become lucky enough to find one of these rare beers, our wallet may not be able to handle it.

Despite our relatively limited knowledge, we were welcomed by the attending enthusiasts. Everyone we spoke to was obviously enamored with these beers and wanted to share that love and exuberance with us.  Several of our fellow beer lovers pointed out we were starting out at the top and risked finding other beers of this style we have in the future lacking.  Oh well, go big or go home, right?  We dove into the experience with great anticipation.

The evening started with a plate prepared by Daniel, the owner. The plate of lamb atop basmati rice was an original dish that he explained won a competition and started him on his culinary career. It was the perfect start to a very special tasting. One by one the coveted beers were presented and poured, each unique and complex.  By the end of the evening we were IMAG5794sharing the remains of the bottles with new friends. And oh the beer!  We still have a lot to learn but we know enough that we want more! More Lambic, more Kriek, more Gueuze, just more! Tonight, sour ruled and we loved it.IMAG5797

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