Brooklyn’s Finest Axe-Throwing Showdown

All photos by Andrea Bullock

You can turn anything crazy or off-the-wall into a competition. So, why wouldn’t whirling axes toward a target be an international sport? The thrill-seeking sport, which started in Canada, has now captured the fascination of Brooklynites. Axe-throwing is such an unexpected activity to do in Brooklyn and rivals popular social scenes like bowling and going to the movies. Word-of-mouth has done wonders to create awareness and increases business for the only axe-throwing locations in the borough: Bury the Hatchet and Kick Axe. Both exude ‘fun’ from the start. In fact, many of the proficient Axe Masters explain the rules like carnival barkers (very amusing) amidst the continuous stream of metal clanking on wood.

Each location has unique qualities, but fits different personalities. This begs the question, “Which should I visit?” Instead of making any hasty decisions, here is a comparison of both destinations based on: price; session length; age requirements; staff knowledge; drinks and treats  and overall experience. Also, a ‘fun factor’ score is given for each place based on a scale of one through five. Either way, both locations deliver a stellar, unforgettable experience letting your inner Game of Thrones character come alive!

Bury the Hatchet – November 2019

A playlist with of Guns N’ Roses and other classic rock hits, paired with blades splintering wooden boards, fills the sound space at Bury the Hatchet, Greenpoint’s axe-adventure destination. Groups, small and large are staggered throughout the large warehouse with lofty ceilings and towering walls. Each session starts with a brief, training given by an ‘Axe-pert’. All are extremely knowledgeable, and ready to provide the most rewarding experience possible. It’s truly a create-your-own adventure from that point on. Parties can choose whether to compete one-on-one in the battle cages, or incorporate jumbo Jenga and a life-size Connect Four game into their sessions to determine points, turns, and customize competitions.

Bury The Hatchet provides as much fun, freedom and opportunities to play as possible during the allotted time, and that is a part of their credo. “The intention is for all players to end their session feeling like a ‘Bad-ass’,” according to General Manager, Matt Sylvester. “We’ve received comments from customers saying they didn’t receive many throws at other axe locations, and they like that we provide more flexibility here. We are here for the customer – we provide high quality experience and fun all the time.” This must be true as the response from the neighborhood and beyond has been incredible. Bury the Hatchet has had solid bookings since opening. The Bury the Hatchet Bar is on its way this summer. Selections include delicious wine, beer, and hard cider including many excellent Brooklyn brands.

Fun Factor Score and Venue Ambiance: 4 – Bury the Hatchet has positive, free-flowing vibes from the time guests arrive until they leave. Décor is minimal feels like being in a rural hipster’s basement full of lumber beams, with seasoned (yet comfortable) over-sized furniture and board games. The venue’s open space with high ceilings and gated lanes contrasts nicely with the cozy lounge area. All is very indicative of Brooklyn, reflecting a balance of urban edge, originality and hospitable leisure.

 Cost: 39.99 (approximately $5 more than Kick Axe) + tax and fees, if applicable

Session Length:  Full session is 1.5 hours (15 minutes more than Kick Axe); Walk-in sessions are 45 minutes (half a session)

Age Range: 16 years old and up

Staff Knowledge:  All Axe Masters extremely friendly and at the top of their game. Many participate in leagues and have won competitions.

Drinks and Treats: The bar is in the works! Get ready to enjoy beer, wine, and hard cider this summer while flinging axes all around. For now, guests can bring snacks and non-alcoholic beverages for fuel.

Future Plans: There’s talk of upcoming Trivia Nights, a Dungeon’s and Dragons themed event (Yes, get excited!) and late night axe-throwing – similar to Midnight Bowling with glow-in-the-dark painted axes, targets and black lights.

Overall Experience: Fantastic! The friendly, enthusiastic staff is very patient and dedicated to seeing all guests succeed and have a blast. Once guests feel comfortable throwing, the masters suggest challenges like precision training (taping three balloons to various parts of the target and guests perfect their aim by popping the balloons instead of aiming for the bulls-eye) and other games to enhance the experience. Those who think they are hot stuff have opportunities to join leagues and can visit every Thursday night to practice, or perfect their inner ‘Bad Ass.’ Take advantage of the half-priced Walk-In sessions on Wednesdays, Visit the website for details.


Kick Axe – Brooklyn

Is that a bull?! Yep, it’s Babe the Bull, the unofficial mascot of Kick Axe Brooklyn. He’s strategically parked in front of the entrance, drawing visitors from blocks away in Gowanus, near Park Slope. Babe is bold, stands out, and is different, reflecting the venues spirit.  People wander inside to see flying hatchets as guests cheer or grunt every few seconds. “It’s a great place just to hang out, you don’t have to commit to playing. Just come in, have some pizza, grab a cold beer, and watch others play,” a welcome suggestion from John Sales, Operations Manager.

The warm hospitality and whimsy ambiance strikes a delicate balance between cozy Americana ski lodge and a relaxed New England cottage, with heavy metal and garage band tunes in the background. Similar to Bury the Hatchet, customers sign a waiver and undergo a short tutorial before the battle begins. After a few initial throws, Axe Masters take time to suggest pointers for each player’s personal throwing style to improve aim and accuracy. This is helpful and shows how dedicated the masters are to each player. Once guests are on a roll it’s time to turn up the heat. Challenges such as Around the World and First to 21 Points (both games are based on a combination of points, strategy, and luck) revs up everyone’s competitive spirit.   

Fun Factor Score and Venue Ambiance:  5 – If social atmosphere is a top priority (regardless of age range), then this is the place to be. There’s more opportunity for social engagement and family focused fun. Ample indoor and outdoor seating, a photo corner with Viking props, and lounge area to watch throws, plus the bar are all added bonuses.

Cost: $35 plus tax (approximately $5 less than Bury the Hatchet)

Session Length: 75 minutes/ 1 hour, 15 minutes (15 minutes less than Bury the Hatchet); Walk-Ins are welcome but those sessions are at designated times. visit site for deets.

Age Requirement: 8 years old and up

Knowledgeable Staff: All ‘Axe-perts’ are at the top of their game. Many participate in leagues and are competition winners.

Drinks and Treats: There’s a soft bar with wine, a decent selection of beer (local and national brands), cider, hard seltzer, and sake as well as soft drinks. Hungry guests can order Table 87 Pizza and other snacks to satisfy the munchies.

Kick Axe Brooklyn bar selection

Overall experience: Brilliant experience!Since Gowanus hosts other extreme sports like archery, fencing, and bouldering, axe-throwing seems like a natural progression and a great addition to the area. The sociable axe masters are experts and have a kick-ass time guiding guests on the customized axe-adventure.  Since it officially opened at the beginning of 2018, Kick Axe Brooklyn is the pioneer location in the borough’s axe craze.  It sets the gold standard for other axe concepts here and beyond, as the chain is expanding into other major cities.

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Have You Experienced ‘A Taste of Fifth’?

Calling all Brooklyn Gourmands to Park Slope’s 5th Ave Exhibition: A Taste of Fifth. Join local Brooklynites and dines on samples from over 40 diverse restaurants along Fifth Avenue. This annual charity event will be held on Wednesday, April 10th from 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm at the Grand Prospect Hall (263 Prospect Avenue; between 4th and 5th Avenues.)

Tickets are currently on sale: $60 in advance and $70 at the door.

$20 of each ticket will be donated to participating charities:

PS 118

Brooklyn Pride

 CHIPS

 Brooklyn Dream Factory

MS 51

Fifth Avenue Committee

 BAX

2018 Charity – Camp Gowanee

 PS 39

 Old Stone House

 President Street Garden

 Good Shepherd Services

Piper Theatre

 Imani House

PS 124

 PS 295

What’s included in the ticket?

Unlimited tastes of superb cuisine, showcasing the best 5th Ave has to offer! Here’s a tease to wet your palate: Buttermilk Bakeshop, Dram Shop, O Live Brooklyn, Calexico, Shaking Crab, The Chocolate Room, and much more! Click here to see the updated list. Wash the delicious bites down with complementary cocktails from Breuckelen Distilling in the Grand Ball Room’s Speakeasy.

This is a celebration of life, community, and supporting one another, which means there will be music to cut a rug! Entertainment is provided by the gypsy jazz group Hot Club of Flatbush, PLUS DJ Ace, a local officer from the 78th Precinct.

Bon appétit and cheers for great causes!

Hot Club of Flatbush and DJ Ace

2018 highlights

How to Taste Whiskey like a Pro for St. Paddy’s Day

‘Slanté’ (pronounced slawn-cha) is the Irish toast to wish others love, health, happiness and good drinking! So with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, this is wise to remember while pub-hopping through rounds of Guinness pints, Bailey’s, and shots of whiskey.

By no means am I against shots, but instead of rushing whiskey down the hatch, consider appreciating the spirit’s nuances. Colin Spoelman, Co-Founder and Head Distiller of Kings County Distillery, in Brooklyn, has an infectious passion for all things whiskey and dropped major knowledge on how to approach it with ease. Whether you are a novice or a whiz when it comes to whiskey, let your palate lead you.

Top: Bourbon whiskey
Bottom: Moonshine/ White Whiskey

Like many people who like various liquors but freeze up when talking about them, Colin suggests it’s useful to taste spirits blind. When it comes to whiskey or any other alcohol, visit a pub, (say this holiday weekend), and “ask the bartender to pour four different whiskey’s and without telling you what they are. Try all and form your own opinion. Then ask for the big reveal.” Spoelman, continues, “you’ll probably be super shocked at what you like and discover. Honestly, in a blind setting you learn to just trust your pallet and it can be hard doing that. Everyone’s taste is different, and so there’s no ‘one way’ to enjoy whisky. [If you are a beginner,] it’s best to do a blind tasting flight and pick out the flavors [you detect]. That will help you decide which type of whiskey you care about and why.”

Do you notice vanilla? Caramel? Maybe a slight smoky essence? This is active tasting and you are becoming an expert in your own right. The more you actually note different flavors in each sip, the more you can appreciate your experience, thus learning to understand the spirit.  Also, to help lessen the “sting” of the alcohol, whiskey experts advise pouring spring water or ice into the whiskey to open up the flavor profile. The amount of water is up to you, as diluting the whiskey can help you identify various aspects to the whiskey. If some the original creators of whiskey, (the Scotch and Irish) prefer to add water, you can too! Here in the U.S., some people tend to add ice, but remember, whether you are drinking a spirit straight, wine, cocktail or beer, it’s your own adventure. You decide how to enjoy it. From there, you may want to know more about the brand and its backstory which may lead you to further connect with its mission, other products, and tell others about it.

Manhattan Cocktail using Kings County Distillery Whiskey

When buying a bottle, Colin advises customers to keep a few things in mind: the occasion, try local brands, and when in doubt, ask! The reason for buying whiskey matters: if purchasing the bottle as a gift, or celebrating a milestone perhaps a rare edition or slightly more expensive choice could be worth the investment. Yet, if you’d like to keep a stash on-hand, you don’t have to opt for pricier choice. “Common misconceptions I like to address are people think the older a whiskey is, the better it will be. As well as the more expensive, the better,” Spoelman expresses. “Those aren’t necessarily true. Older isn’t always better, it may be rarer, and sometimes rarity is fun, regardless of taste! On the other hand, you can find a pretty great whiskey hiding at an inexpensive price. If you are mixing it, for example, making an Old Fashioned which is very flavorful, there’s no reason to spend lots of money.” It’s always a solid idea to support local businesses, so if a store has a fantastic selection of local products, try that first and support your neighbors, aside from buying national brands. And of course, when you aren’t sure, always ask the knowledgeable clerks because they are trustworthy and believe in their inventory.

Interested in King County’s Selection? Here’s a bit of a teaser.

Three flagship King County products:

Straight Bourbon: 80% New York organic corn, 20% English barley; aged for at least two years in oak

Tasting notes – caramel, cinnamon, and spicy notes. Very smooth and touted by the New York Times, award winning by the SF World Spirits Competition

Peated Bourbon: 75% corn and 25% Scotch-grown barley  (meaning a technique use to influence a whiskey’s flavor during aging by  exposing it to peated smoke—a particular type of smoke on the barrels)

Tasting notes – dry, complexed bourbon, not heavily peated but the smoke creates a subtle Scotch-like after taste…basically the love-child of bourbon and Scotch.

American Single Malt: (single malt means the whiskey is from one single distillery and made from a malted barley grain) Tasting notes – honey, hay, burnt orange peel, dry, sophisticated

Moral of the story, explore the limitless world of whiskey with an open mind and palate!If you are in the Brooklyn Navy Yard area, a great place to start your exploration is at the Gate House of Kings County Distillery for an engaging tour and tasting. Slanté!


There are Plenty of Fish in…Chelsea

When you dine out, do you want to work for your food?
Of course not! And I don’t blame you, however, I’m open to new experiences.

Recently, I visited Zauo, a Japanese restaurant in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood and literally fished for my dinner! The restaurant has three pools of live sea-life for diners to actually hook a live catch to enjoy moments later. The selection includes Fluke, Flounder, Abalone, Lobster, Rockfish, Rainbow Trout, Salmon, and Striped Bass. Out of the large selection, I decided on Bass and instantly ‘earned’ my Zauo fishing license, received a poncho (thankfully!) and was ready for the fishy-feat ahead.

When it comes to fishing, the staff is very helpful and knowledgeable, full of advice on how to properly bait the swimmers. It took a few tries, but the hook finally snuck behind a bass fish and the chase was over!

Whenever guests successfully net their catch, all the staff exclaims a congratulatory chant which involves playing the wadaiko, a Japanese drum, and clapping; completing the interactive experience.  (Click here to see video of the experience.)

At this point, guests select how the fish or crustacean is prepared. There are 5 preparation choices: tempora style, grilled, shashimi, simmered in soy sauce, or Shabu Shabu (a traditional hot-pot style, somewhat similar to fondu). 

The Bass displayed two ways: center plate is half raw Bass with onions & mushroom, and lemongrass for Shabu Shabu ; right plate is half grilled salted Bass

Although it is a unique opportunity to engage with your dinner in such a fun (and wet!) way, all seafood options are available for á la carte as a formal dining experience. 

It is best to visit in a group to not only share the experience but it is more beneficial and cost-effective to order many appetizers along with the seafood course. With this approach, you are more likely to feel more content, can try most of the menu and can split costs as they can get pricey. Such a unique experience with friends is priceless and filling too!

Left image: Japanese Chile Peppers with bonito flakes Right image: Tako Kara-Age (fried octopus)

Don’t Whine, Celebrate ‘Galentine’s’!

Don't fret Valentine's Day, here are 6 groovy spots to celebrate with your gals on Galentine's Day!

Galentine’s Day may be a faux holiday but whenever there’s an opportunity for women to gather and celebrate each other, that’s reason enough to celebrate! So, if you don’t have plans or a special someone on Valentine’s Day, IT’S ALL GOOD. Embrace being with your girls, go out and have fun! February 13th has taken on a new meaning. Here are some great hot spots to have a memorable Galentine’s Day evening, no matter your fancy!

Brooklyn Galentine Spots

Photo credit: google.com

Ginger’s Bar  If you want a fuss-free girls night, Ginger’s Bar may be the answer. Located in Park Slope, Brooklyn, this neighborhood staple is perfect for kicking back, relaxing with a few cold dranks, playing pool and sing along to favorite tunes. Visit with a friend or a few, enjoy good vibes, and salute to women loving and supporting each other.

 363 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215; (718) 788-0924 (no website)

The Starliner – A few blocks off the L and M trains, is a sexy, crimson cocktail lounge to show off your ‘grown and sexy’ self. The Starliner is a beautiful, spacious speakeasy in Bushwick, Brooklyn with delicious swills and a seductive ambiance.  The bar’s design lends a great background for sultry selfies and fierce gal-pal group pictures. Lucky for you, Galentine’s Day lands on a Wednesday, which is when the Starliner hosts stellar femme fetale burlesque shows. (Check the website or call for details.)

The Starliner (interior)

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema –  Want to see a new release or can’t get enough of a box office hit? Plan a visit to the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn. It’s super simple to order from the award-winning menu of snacks like Berbere wings seasoned with Ethiopian spices and cilantro; and of course, there’s large bowls of popcorn which are available in three flavors: traditional butter, Herb Parmesan, and Truffle Parmesan. Need more? There are indulgent plates like the Brisket Burger. Wash it all down with a selection of over 30 craft beers on tap from New York State microbreweries.  Not into the suds? Try one of the excellent cocktails like Lion’s Tail with Bourbon, all-spice, and bitters or an addictive boozy milkshake such as the racy Mexican Hot Chocolate spiked with blanco tequila.

Photo credit: drafthouse.com/nyc

Nitethawk Cinema – The original meal – with- a – movie theater in Brooklyn, offers mainstream as well as indie and unusual flicks. Nitehawk’s fare is pretty rad. Great snacks to share with gal-pals includes the cheese and charcuterie plate, or the Mediterranean inspired Sweet Potato Pakora flatbread with kale and za’atar labneh (a Middle Eastern Spice). Want something more filling? Check out the Dr. Pepper Braised Short Rib Sandwich with pickled cranberries.  Complete the meal with one of the satisfying tipples like the sexy Mae West Negroni with Rittenhouse Rye or one of the many beer and ciders available for your delight. For convenience, there are two Brooklyn locations: Williamsburg or Prospect Park.

Gabi Porter for Time Out NY

Manhattan Galentine Spots

CMX Cinemas –  Want more of a chic ‘lady’s night’? CMX Cinema is your ideal pick. Recently opened last fall, CMX delivers a VIP movie-going experience.  First, text your squad and plan to meet at the theater’s lux bar and lounge area (on the third floor) and chitchat over specialty handcrafted cocktails. Then, head to the big screen and settle into plush, reclining seats and enjoy delectable in-theater dining.  Right before the film begins, choose from a bounty of mouthwatering dishes like Lobster Cannoli and Moroccan Lamb Lollies from the CMX CinéBistro menu. This will undoubtedly become a monthly must-visit experience for you!

Posh, CMX bar and lounge

Henrietta Hudson Bar and Girl – Rally the girls because it’s time to get turnt on Hudson Street. It’s always ‘Girl Power’ at Henrietta Hudson in the West Village. Although it caters to ladies, it is gender inclusive. Dynamite DJs spin the latest and greatest hits of today and yesterday, striking the perfect combo to party with your gals! With drinks flowing all night, pool tables (available early evening), and entertaining go-go dancers on the main bar, this place is ideal for an impromptu Galentine’s night out!

Courtesy of Henrietta Hudson

The BAKERY on Bergen…How Sweet It Is!

Akim Vann, owner of The BAKERY on Bergen

“There’s always room for dessert!” –  a family belief which holds true for Akim Vann, owner of The BAKERY on Bergen, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The quaint, beautifully designed bakery may look familiar since it was recently renovated by BravoTVs Get a Room with Carson Kresley and Thom Filica, this year. Akim, a mother of four,  has a very diverse background but is the complete embodiment of Brooklyn. Raised by her mother who is first generation Chinese-American, (originally from Hong Kong), and her father who is African-American, (with roots in Savannah, Georgia, and Trinidad), Akim’s influences have always been undeniably global. Although she grew up with a heavily Asian influence, she is a native Brooklynite to the core.

Renovated interior

Akim feels that “being a product of Brooklyn, exposes you to many cultures and they all influence who I am.” Those influences are tastefully displayed throughout the bakery from the ambiance, to the staff, and of course, treats! Delectable selections such as Matcha Cupcakes and even savory choices like Bánh Mi Hotdogs and Organic Chicken Dumplings grace the menu along with traditional sweets. Akim believes the offerings at the bakery will not seem inconsistent because of Brooklyn’s myriad of cultures which contribute to her identity, and the essence of the neighborhood.  

Chocolate Chip Cookie with Smoked Sea Salt 

Known as a neighborhood favorite, the bakery offers delicious treats: the indulgent Chocolate Chip Cookies with smoked sea salt, (the delicate smoked element adds a whole new depth of flavor), the Carrot Cake is pure pleasure boasting a hearty amount of carrots, and the gluten-free treats like the Lemon Cake and Oatmeal Cranberry Coconut Cookies are simply heavenly. Both vegan and non-vegan customers praise this cookie due to its balance of sweet and tart from the cranberries, and texture from the coconut flakes.

Lemon Cake

The BAKERY on Bergen is open to the community daily except Mondays. Guests are greeted with a warm, welcoming smile, and will feel ‘at home.’ The mix of sweet aromas lures visitors further into comfy seats, quaint tables, and thoughtful pastel and whimsy adornments. This is the ambiance Akim Vann intends. She aims to unite Brooklynites and evoke feelings of old-school Brooklyn, (open doors and spreading love), with new-school Brooklyn, (trendy, cultural, and innovative ideas).

Dessert is often associated with celebration, comfort, and happiness while stimulating the senses. The BAKERY on Bergen achieves just that, whilst proving it is more than a bakery – it is a place where people from various walks of life can meet,  fellowship, and feel at home. Much like its home… the borough of Brooklyn.

Want to know more about this beloved bakery? Follow Akim (@unbelievablekim) and The BAKERY on Bergen (@thebakeryonbergen) for news on the latest treats, classes, and delish events!

Hudson Valley Wine and Food Fest Recap

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Glasses were raised, bottles poured, growlers were filled, and hunger was quenched at Hudson Valley’s 17th Annual Wine and Food Festival in Rhinebeck, NY.  Hosted on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, thirsty crowds flocked to booths representing the best wine Hudson Valley has to offer. Featured rave-worthy vineyards include  Don Tony Perez, (Yonkers, NY), with its silky Petite Verdot, and Baldwin Vineyards’, (Pine Bush, NY), award-winning Strawberry Wine along with their unique hops-touting Autumn Crush, made with apples, pumpkin and hops.

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The chic Tousey Winery, (Germantown, NY), definitely made a statement with its modern museum designed booth staring its beautiful, white dessert wine, Bloomé.

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Mead, spirits and traditionally made ciders rounded out the delicious weekend libations. Mysto Mead, (Carmel, NY), a honey-based wine producer, showcased its wide variety of mead including the impressive, Silver Medalist: Basil Mint.

Many New York State distilleries showcased luscious, traditional and creative selections. Harvest  Spirits Farm Distillery (Valatie, NY) fans tasted clean, flavorful swills like the John Henry Single Malt Whiskey, Core Black Raspberry Vodka, and Cornelius Peach Brandy.

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Harvest  Spirits Farm Distillery seletions

Another rad distillery in attendance was Olde Farm Distillery based in Hudson, New York. Female owned and operated, this distillery uses seasonal ingredients to make gems such as Cacao Maple Vodka, Smoked Maple Bourbon, and seasonal spirits.

New York Cideries had a great presence at the festival. Specializing in traditional craftsman and taste techniques, Pitchfork Cider in Hopewell, NY offered its fresh pressed, gluten-free cider.

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Another popular cidery was Awestruck Hard Cider (Sidney, NY) which use 100% New York State apples in its thoughtfully crafted and named selections like Hometown Homicider, and the pleasant Lavender Hops.IMG_8610

The day also included cooking demos by local chefs, food artisans with homemade condiments, and alluring food trucks serving local grilled sweet corn, Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian food, gyros, pulled pork nachos, and so much more!

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Time to taste, network, and learn at Bevcon 2018

bevcon-2016-day1-mrodriguez-082116-l-98.jpgIn just a few days, LaLa Land will have a beverage takeover like no other as the 3rd Annual BevCon comes to town. From August 19th until 21st beverage industry only convention is making its debut in Los Angeles but was birthed in Charleston, South Carolina by Angel Postell in and her dynamic team in 2016. Bevcon is an enlightening, three-day, networking event for everyone in the alcoholic and non-alcoholic tipple industry, filled with educational seminars presented by the best in the business, both domestic and globally. Angel took a few moments to share her thoughts on all things beverage, trends, and the exciting plans for BevCon 2018.

CannyCandi: What are your insights/ opinions in today’s current beverage culture?

Angel Postell: I think it’s really exciting. The chef side of things has gotten a lot of attention and support over the last several years. Beverages are really coming out on their own. There are communities [of people] dedicating themselves to beverages a lot more, and placing more emphasis on the imbibing culture in general. Also, people are enjoying drinks and becoming more thoughtful about what they drink instead of just ‘drinking’ to drink. They are asking questions i.e. “Where’s this wine is from?” and then getting excited about the educational aspect of their drink.

CC: Do you think anything is lacking in the beverage culture?

AP: Not exactly lacking, but I was recently reading something about emerging countries developing beverage products. This is exciting because it shows that you don’t have to be in a certain area to grow grapes to make wine. Plus, brewing has become such a big thing, same for distilling, and there’s such a big interest in mezcal. I think the next horizon is bringing this beverage movement global and exposing interesting techniques and practices all over the world.

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CC: Where do you see the culture going?

AP: I’m very excited about what’s done in Paris, Amsterdam, and Mexico regarding the different techniques used there. It’s cool! Those beverage professionals have different styles and preparations. We are just as advanced in America as they are, but we just do the same things in a different way. Also, there’s a huge interest in popups. I think that the culture today is interested in what’s new and the use of social media urges bars to be creative with concepts and approaches. Constantly changing menus and keeping things new, will become more normal. And yet, there will still be places where ‘the classics’ will always be available. So, there will be a good mix of the [classics and modern concepts].

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CC: BevCon seems like an ideal platform for smaller producers to share their product line. Was that one of your original intentions?

AP: Yes. My team was working with small craft producers who didn’t have the money or resources to do the bigger events. They wanted their products out there for people to try. So, I saw a void to fill. One of the main core elements of BevCon is to give artisanal craft producers the space to showcase themselves in a meaningful way, without spending a lot of money. We wanted to provide a space to connecting small brands to industry professionals who can help get the smaller brand products on the markets or get the product in establishments. Also, we work with midsize and larger producers who are showing their limited reserve products. They have an equal voice [at Bevcon, also,] without overpowering the smaller producers. As a result, we have seen the smaller ones receive great media exposure [through the event] which has taken them to a whole new level!

CC: Are there any learning sessions you are looking forward to attending?

AP: This year we’re offering One-Day master classes, for the first time which provides attendees a chance to really get the knowledge on how to achieve industry and business goals and education on specific trends. This is much better than bouncing around to different classes since attendees can stick with one specific track. I’ll attend the class on how to successfully open a bar, (we have great people teaching that), and I, personally, want to open a bar. We have one on the influence of Hip Hop on the wine and spirits industry. That’s going to be really cool. The Hip Hop culture is influential in so many ways and I love that it has such a presence in the beverage world.

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CC: Why was Los Angeles, California (L.A.) chosen as the host location for this year and next?

AP: It was almost surreal as to how we chose L.A. We always wanted to move the event to different cites, but I was invited to L.A. which was my first time there.  And I just fell in love with the city! It’s such a cool community with lots of energy, excitement, and diversity.  The beverage scene has definitely blossomed there. Hospitality is so genuine in all the neighborhoods with great vibes. L.A. is more accessible than Charleston is, so more international guests have been very receptive to participating this year.  I’m so pumped to be there and everyone has been very open and interested in hosting this year.

CC: I love the idea of pop-up bars all around the area. Is this a new idea for this year?

AP: We had popups in Charleston, but it’s more focused this year. Each night will feature three locations with guest bartenders making drinks paired with a special menu.  These popups will be the only activity open to the public. It’s great for social media because people can actually meet the bartenders and post all the excitement instantly. Guests can hop around since there’s no cost to attend. Just visit and order off the provided menu. Bar venues range rooftops, to speakeasies, and natural wine bars spanning Downtown, Koreatown, and Hollywood. I’m really looking forward to these because some of the best cocktails I have consumed have been at the BevCon popups.

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CC: What else do you envision for the future of BevCon?

AP: BevCon started out as a hobby of mine. My teams and I foresee it as a year-round experience by doing more programming around the country, such as a one-day mini BevCon experience, geared toward a city’s local community. This would work well for key market’s looking for more educational opportunities and exposure. Would be great to capture or record the live sessions and follow up with teleseminars throughout the year, too. And definitely, in a couple years, host an international BevCon. People will never stop eating and drinking, and the industry will always continue to grow globally.  


 

 

New Macallan Distillery Thrills in 4D & Debuts Edition No.4

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Photo credit: Wes Tarca

The Scotch Whisky game has been changed! Single malt Scotch Whisky brand, Macallan, has raised the stakes with its new distillery in Speyside, Scotland – and it’s worth a serious visit. Scotland’s not on your itinerary this summer? You can still visit…virtually. This week, Macallan has built an immersive virtual reality experience for guests in Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall.

No passport needed, visitors (21 years old and older) will be transported to Speyside, to the beautiful estate and distillery within a massive, all-encompassing cube, alongside specialized projectors which display video of the grounds and in-depth views of all the distillery has to offer.

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Photo credit: Wes Tarca

Participants can marvel at the panoramas above, behind and on either side. All senses will be heightened as 4D special audio, wind, and scent diffusion technology matches the footage being played. Further, you will be able to choose your own adventure and select which part of the distillery you’d like to see through interactive controls using leap motion and Microsoft Surface tablets.

And if that isn’t cool enough, you can sample the latest gem to the Macallan family, Edition No. 4 Whisky, which was crafted with the intrigue, sophistication, and modernity, with the new distillery in mind, by Master Distiller Nick Savage.

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Photo credit: Wes Tarca

The Macallan Distillery Experience is open to guests and free of charge beginning Wednesday, July 25 through Friday, July 27 (which also happens to be National Scotch Day). Check out the schedule below:

Wednesday, July 25 – 11:30 AM to 7:30 PM

Thursday, July 26 – 11:30 AM to 7:30 PM

Friday, July 27 – 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM (National Scotch Day!)