Category: Spirits

Garden To Glass Event at Miami Beach Botanical Garden Friday, February 22, 2013

Garden to GlassThe South Beach Wine & Food Festival may be all about wine and food, but there is something to be said about enjoying amazing mixed cocktails, especially when they’re served under the stars in one of the most beautiful and unique settings in South Florida, the Botanical Garden of Miami Beach. And so it was with the Garden To Glass event hosted by legendary chef Emeril Lagasse, along with the talented mixologists from Bar Lab and food provided by Chef Sam Gorenstein and South Beach’s My Ceviche. Miami Beach Botanical Garden

We arrived around 9:30 (the event started at 10 p.m.), found parking nearby and took our places in line outside the front gates. Walking in we noticed tables stocked with liquors, napkins, etc. all set up on the grass close to the sidewalks that wind through the gardens. One table seemed to have more traffic than the others. As we made our way closer, we knew why: People were there to catch a glimpse of Emeril Lagasse sitting at a small tiki-style hut with a bartender at a station to the right serving up cocktails. It was a crowded scene with semi-buzzed patrons all jockeying for position at Emeril’s table.  We managed to work our way in closer, meet Emeril, grab a cocktail and move on to the next station, leaving the chaos behind.

There were some cocktails we enjoyed, but considered them just average in terms of spirits, mixers, ingredients, etc. By that, I mean these were drinks you’d expect to find around town (and most likely, overpriced, depending on the establishment). On the other hand, Bar Lab’s cocktails were the hit of the night, as evidenced by the long lines and scores of return patrons (us included) at their bar. Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta, the mad scientists of mixology and founders of Bar Lab, have built up quite the following in South Florida.  All of the six offerings were good but the Oaxacan Palate (blood orange, smoked ancho chili, coriander bitters w/Zignum Mezcal) was our favorite of the night. Bar Lab

One knock on this event was the lack of food. My Ceviche was a big part of the festivities, providing trays of various ceviche and light bites. They were hard to find and what samples they did offer were quickly snatched up by hungry, drunk patrons – oftentimes before the servers had a chance to move through the crowds. This was a disappointment, and we hope they’ll remedy this for future events. Oaxacan Palate

All in all we enjoyed Garden To Glass. A little more organization is needed to make this one of the more memorable events during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, but still, there could be worse ways to spend a Friday evening sipping cocktails amongst a lush tropical garden under a starry Miami night. The Gardens

Lucky Rice Festival November 30, 2012 at Soho Beach House

Lucky Rice Festival

Lucky Rice

According to its website, the LUCKYRICE Festival can be best described as an “Epicurean cocktail feast on the beach” with “a spotlight on Asian-inspired tastings and cocktails from celebrated chefs and buzz-worthy bartenders.”

So, how could we not attend an event with “feast” and “buzz worthy” in the very same paragraph? Superlatives aside, did I mention all of this was taking place in Miami Beach? (FYI: The LUCKYRICE Festival is held in five key U.S. markets – New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco and now Miami.)

Poolside Stations

Poolside Stations

We’ll be the first to admit that a food and cocktail event like this can be a pricey, stuffy and pretentious affair, especially in image-conscious place like South Beach – a town where appearances count for everything (and cost a lot to maintain). But much to our surprise, we thoroughly enjoyed LUCKYRICE. The staff, chefs and bartenders were all quite friendly and accommodating. It should be mentioned that The SoHo Beach House, in Miami Beach, made for an ideal event venue. Besides its impressive beauty, the hotel offered ample space and incredible aesthetics. There were several cocktail and food stations located poolside; a tiki bar, as well as a large food and drinking tent beachside in which to sip, sample and savor. It was a bit windy this night, but that didn’t create any issues for the chefs and bartenders.

We’re not ones for the spotlight, but an event like LUCKYRICE is a haven for foodies, bloggers and other media types. At one point as I reached for a food sample I found myself staring like a deer with the glare of a camera’s spotlight less than two feet from me. Turns out it was a local entertainment show. My 15 seconds of fame done with, we meandered from station to station, eating and drinking some truly delightful offerings. Everything was fresh and delicious. By 10:30 we could take no more, so it was time for us to say goodnight. And what a good night it was.

Thank you, LUCKYRICE and SoHo Beach House, for putting on such an amazing event.

Food Favorites:
Wonton  with Mochi Rice, Mushroom Duxelles, Shallots, Umami Sauce by Makoto
Marinated Pork Belly Skewers with Burmese Sticky Rice, Coriander, Fish Sauce by Khong River House
Smoky Mojo Pulled Pork Sandwich with Aji de Chicharron by Suser Lee
Nantucket Bay Scallops Ceviche with Celery Root and Black Garlic by Douglas Rodriguez
Happy Pancake with Smoked Tilefish, Okeechobee Shrimp, Fish Sauce Caramel and Herbs by Norman Van Aken

Drink Favorites:
The East Garden (Bombay Sapphire East Gin, Honey, Fresh Yuzu, Herbs) by Elad Zvi of the Broken Shaker
Tequila & Vinegar (Corzo Reposado Tequila, Pineapple Vinegar with Ancho Chilies, Fresh Lime) also by Elad Zvi
The Killer Bee (Bombay Sapphire East Gin, Fresh Pressed Lemon Juice, White Pepper Ginger Syrup) by William Rivas of the Khong River House
Butter Me Up Martini (Bombay Sapphire East Gin, Butterscotch, Lemon, Ginger Air) by Ben Carlotto
Szechuan Basil Smash (Bombay London Dry Gin, Fresh Pressed Lemon, Szechuan, Peppercorn Syrup, Thai Basil) by Rick Nani of the Soho Beach House

House Of Walker Event Temple House, Miami Beach 11/10/12

Johnnie Walker

House of Walker

When you’re Johnnie Walker, one of the oldest, most well established whiskies in the world, staying fresh in a rapidly changing world of distilled spirits and marketing your product to the next generation of loyal consumers isn’t always easy – especially to hipsters with their hands clasped firmly around cans of PBR.

Still, with its well-earned reputation for creating fine spirits (and deservedly so) Johnnie Walker is a favorite amongst whiskey drinkers today, and has been since the 1800’s. Now Johnnie Walker has taken its name and reputation on the road with a unique branding campaign called “House Of Walker.” This particular Saturday’s HOW event took place at a beautiful South Beach South Beach residence called The Temple House.Johnnie Walker

The event was gratis, so we Wanderlushes made our way down to South Beach and pulled up to the front of the Temple House where a valet (sporting all black and a heavy Russian/Eastern European accent) gave us directions where to park (strange, but doesn’t valet involve someone parking your car for you?). After a few turns down some side streets we finally found the parking lot, dropped the car off with the next “valet” (who proceeded to drive the car two spaces back) and made our way back the three blocks to the event with trepidation.

Black Label Wild Scot Cocktail

Black Label Wild Scot Cocktail

Upon entering we were greeted by several young women who gave us wristbands and four “tickets for each of the whiskies we would be sampling during the night. We were then seated in a small room and told we would be watching a brief introduction video featuring actor Robert Carlyle (“Johnnie Walker: The Man Who Walked Around The World) focusing on the history of Johnnie Walker. After the video, we were ushered into a small room with about eight bar-height tables containing two small glasses of Johnnie Walker whiskey, ice and water. The host for the evening, Stephen Wilson, Johnnie Walker Ambassador, entered the room and spoke briefly about Johnnie Walker the whiskey brand, how and where it’s made – but most importantly, tasting and appreciating this famous whiskey.

Black Label Tasting

Black Label Tasting

When the tasting was over we were led into a large concrete-floored room with a high ceiling and a loft area on the far end. It was here where we redeemed our tickets for various samples of Johnnie Walker whiskey (Red Label, Black Label and the top-shelf $200 a bottle Blue Label). All were delicious and went down smooth. As for the venue, Temple House ( was perfect for this type of event. The residence is chic, tastefully designed and offered more than an ample amount of room for the 75 or so attendees who were there this particular Saturday. There were bottles of Johnnie Walker signature whiskies on display, including a bottle dating from 1808 that was for sale at the budget-friendly price of $30,000. And yes, that price is in dollars, not pesos, in terms of whiskey currency. Ouch.

The event ran until around 11 p.m. The event staff wasn’t shy about letting everyone know it was time to drink up and get out. They weren’t out and out rude about it, but this clearly was a case of being told in no uncertain terms, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” All in all, we Wanderlushes enjoyed the “House Of Walker” experience. I personally am not a huge whiskey drinker, but I do appreciate Johnnie Walker more after learning its history and sampling some of its amazing offerings.





The Rebel House, Boca Raton, FL 10/27/12

Rebel House Boca

Rebel House Boca Raton

How would you define the term, “New American Restaurant”? The Rebel House, in Boca Raton, bills itself as such, but this fun, funky place isn’t your typical eatery. We decided to check it out this particular Saturday hoping for an alternative to the more staid restaurants in the area.We called ahead and made reservations for 8:45. Our table wasn’t ready, so we decided to get drinks at the bar. The

Sweet Potato Skins

Sweet Potato Skins

Rebel House’s wine, beer and cocktail menu has something for every taste; eclectic beer selections, modestly priced wine by the bottle and glass – plus, their own spin on cocktails. Sitting at the bar we struck up a lively conversation with a gentleman who was obviously a regular at Rebel House. He told us the food was good and took an active interest in getting us sat at our table. After 25 minutes of waiting, one of the sympathetic bartenders ambled over to our area and bought us all a shot of Jameson whiskey, which was much appreciated.

Pork Belly Tater Tots

Pork Belly Tater Tots

The Rebel House’s vibe is casual and unpretentious. Our waiter brought us a bowl of their signature curry popcorn (delicious) to munch on as we decided on our food. After looking over the menu, we decided on the following:

Sweet potato skins – braised duck, ancho blackberry BBQ/Gorgonzola dolce.
Pork belly tater tots – with smoked tomato ketchup and spicy mayo.

Main courses
Pumpkin gnocchetti – with smoked duck sausage, crispy sage, and vanilla beurre noir.
“OG” recipe fried chicken – with cheddar cornmeal waffle, candied bacon syrup, watermelon relish.
Rebel Fried Rice – with bacon, corn, peas, carrots, crispy onions, sunny side up egg, spicy mayo.
Rib eye – with garlic beurre gascogne, fries.

Pumpkin Gnocchetti

Pumpkin Gnocchetti

All were thoroughly enjoyed. The pork belly tater tots, in particular, could make a meal, yet this appetizer only contained four. The steak was cooked to perfection (rare); the gnocchetti was a nice combination of smoky and slight spice; the table favorite fried chicken and waffle combo brought together sweet and salty in perfect tandem; and the fried rice exploded with flavor profiles – plus the fried egg was a fun touch.

All in all, The Rebel House is a great place to eat, drink and people watch. It is definitely Wanderlush worthy and a place we will go back to.

Note: Rebel House is operated by the same group as Charm City Burgers and El Jefe Luchador

Market 17 Farm Fresh Restaurant And Bar Saturday, July 14, 2012


Market 17

Market 17 Bread & Avotini

Market 17 Cheese Selection

Market 17 Cheese Selection

Fort Lauderdale’s fine dining scene is a mixed bag. Sure, over-priced eateries abound, and there is a smattering of good to excellent restaurants here and there, but not much that compares to Fort Lauderdale’s chic cousin, Miami.  However, there are gems to be discovered if you look hard enough.

Located at the site of the former Fish seafood restaurant, Market 17 takes a fresh approach to creating unique and delicious cuisine—literally. Dishes are prepared utilizing ingredients purchased both locally and nationally from purveyors who focus on sustainable sources.  Market 17 has been quietly nestled in this plaza near Port Everglades since fall of 2010.  We had heard good things about it but somehow never ended up there until this particular Saturday.

As we walked into the subdued entry it was apparent they knew how to set the tone for a unique dining experience.  We surveyed the crowded  dining room and decided to dine at the bar instead.  Our bartender immediately came over and was pleased to give us recommendations for our first drink order after we asked her about several of the crafted cocktail options.  We all enjoyed our choices immensely.  As we sipped our drinks, we chose a cheese plate to get things started.  Market 17 features daily cheese options and on the evening we were there the offerings were Midnight Moon, a California Firm aged goat cheese with a nutty, sweet caramel-like flavor;  Sunshine Blue, a Florida semi-soft cheese with a clean, subtle taste; and Bijou, a Vermont French-style ripened goat cheese.

After looking over the menu, we were having a hard time picking as most everything sounded amazing.  In the end we ended up each getting something different hoping everyone would share a bite or two.  Once dinner arrived we all became somewhat possesive of our food.  It was that good.  Smacking of hands and forks headed towards other plates would not be out of the question.  We ordered a second round of drinks and continued our gluttony.

What we ordered -


  • Avotini  – Crop cucumber vodka, avocado, pineapple, ginger, fresh lemon juice and agave nectar
  • M-17 – Makers Mark bourbon, Jack Daniel’s honey, muddled port marinated cherries, topped with ginger beer & orange peel
  • Chenin Blanc Chateau Monfort Vouvray France 2009
  • 3 Philosophers Belgian Ale
  • Dogfish 90 Minute IPA
  • Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2010 Williamette Valley, Oregon


  • Local Oyster Mushroom Tempura served with a Ponzu Sauce and a Sesame Aioli
  • Six-Minute Farm Egg, with venison sausage, brussels leaves, pickled onion and a bacon gastrique.
  • Grilled Boneless Pork Chop, Brown Butter Cornbread, Arugula, Sweet Corn Pudding, Carrot Apple Butter
  • Elk Loin, Charred Eggplant Puree, Pea Tendrils, broccoli, Quail Egg, Mushroom Demi-Glace

From the food, decor and the ecletic mix of music it was obvious to us that Market 17 was striving to reach beyond the norm, which is why we loved it.

Market 17
1850 SE 17th Street Ft. Lauderdale

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