Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cheesesteak, Whisky & Wine and Food Network Festival

Day two of the Food Network’s Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival actually didn’t start until the evening, but I had three events to squeeze in there.

Stop one was at Guy Fieri’s Cheesesteak Battle. Guy – and I – were going to pick the best one at the Palladium Ballroom in Caesars. It was a food orgy in there with four contestants and a selection of additional food, like a great chicken/asparagus cheesesteak-like offering from Café Roma, Spicy Chicken Dim Sum from Sammy’s Beach Bar, and some absolutely delicious chocolates from 2 Chicks with Chocolate, which I highly recommend checking out. There was also lots of drink offerings, like Rosenblum Cellars wine and Blue Moon beer.

Guy and I didn’t quite agree on the winner.  He went for Tony Boloney’s Cheesesteak, which I thought was very good, but a bit too salty for me.  This Atlantic City restaurant beat out my choice, Chinks Steaks of Philadelphia, which I thought was the perfect mixture of tender beer, cheese and onions.  It was a Fieri frenzied evening as everyone fought over a glimpse of the Food Network star.  I, however, knew I had a morning interview set up with Guy Fieri, and a Maker’s Mark Whisky and Cigar Party to get to.

Sammy’s Beach Bar is Bally’s latest addition and it is literally on the beach.  A winding staircase from the boardwalk will lead you down there as the piano music goes through the ocean air.  My friends from Beam Global were there to great with samples of the original Maker’s Mark, as well as their brand new product (the first new release the company has had), Maker’s Mark 46.  It was long in the making, but worth the wait as bourbon offering distinct vanilla undertones and a smooth finish.  There were also lots of cigars for the taking at this event.  I didn’t join in that vice and instead headed out to my next stop…. Wine Unplugged: A Doors Experience.

The Very Best of the Doors [US Version]I’ve never been to Showboat (with the exception of a short visit when first opened) and it’s quite different from the other casinos.  Club Harlem is dark and relaxing, the perfect place to sample some wines while listening to the Doors, as done by The Soft Parade.  The wine was chosen by sommelier Michael Green and included 15 unique choices.  It had been a long day so I only sampled a few: The Chocolate Block by Boekenhoutskloof of South Africa, a combination of sweet and spicy;   Pierre Sparr’s Gewurztraminer from France, not as sweet as most, with a floral aroma; and Schmitt Sohne’s Anything Goes Riesling, light and crisp to end the event with.

Before heading back to Harrah's Resort and a nightcap at The Pool, I made a stop at the Foundation Room at Showboat for a tour of this spectacular club and restaurant (you must try the private rooms, if you can get one) and beautiful views of the beach and the Steel Pier.

My Saturday is filled with eight events at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival so there’s plenty more to come.

Follow SpiritsTraveler adventures throughout the weekend on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Whirl!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival Kicks Off at The Chelsea

It may have been raining outdoors most of the day, but that’s never a problem in Atlantic City as I kept myself busy with my friend Gail along for the ride.  It was only fitting since she was a big part of my last Atlantic City adventure.

After a work-filled morning, I went to check out The Pool at Harrah’s Resort in the daytime.  It was just as fun-spirited as it is at night. The lunch of Jerk Chicken Sliders was good, but I found heaven and it’s called Temptation.  This is a spot in Harrah’s just outside the pool you can’t miss.  They sell coffee drinks, Jacques Torres chocolates and Crumbs cupcakes.  Plus, there’s even wine and some interesting (chocolate based) cocktails.  I just had a Mocha and I’m hoping to go back for the Frozen Hot Chocolate with Patron Tequila, or the Blackout Cupcake.

We took a cab over to Caesers to pick up credentials for the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival and I couldn’t believe the decorations.  There was Food Network everywhere, from the pan Julius Caeser held to the faces of the network’s stars around the casino as we walked over to The Pier Shops.  It was a great reminder to everyone of the festivities to come and we took the hint and were off to The Chelsea for the kickoff party.

I hope to spend a bit more time at The Chelsea someday.  It’s a boutique hotel without a casino or the glitz that comes with it, but it looks like a beautiful hideaway under the massive Tropicana.  The party was upstairs in the Cabana Club around the pool and extended through the C5 nightclub.  Sponsors, media and friends mingled with Food Network personalities, most notably Guy Fieri, who reveled in the attention.

There was no shortage of drinks at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival’s Kickoff Party, including Blue on Blue Martinis with Van Gogh Blue Triple Wheat Vodka; Cucumber Lemonade with Hendricks Gin; The Paloma, Cazadores Reposado Tequila, Grapefruit Soda and Lime Juice; Red Stag Old Fashioned (a favorite of mine), with Jim Beam’s cherry-infused bourbon, oranges, cherries and club soda; Kentucky Tea, a  mix of Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Iced Tea, Lemonade and Mint; Cruzan Single Barrel Sour, Cruzan Estate Rum, lemon juice and sugar; and Johnnie Walker Gold on the rocks.  There was also a selection of beer and a perfect assortment of wine from Acacia and Provenance(really liked their Sauvignon Blanc).

After we left The Chelsea we headed back to Harrah's for a nightcap at the Eden Lounge and a small snack at The Deli.  It wasn’t an early enough night for what I next have on schedule as the festival gets into full swing.  Friday evening will be Guy Fieri’s Cheeseteak Battle, Maker’s Mark Cigar & Whiskey Gala and Wine Unplugged, a Doors Experience.  All the events will be taking place at Caeser’s, Ballys, Showboat and Harrah’s.  Some tickets are still available through the festival website.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hurray for Harrah’s

Even though it hasn’t been that long since I was in Atlantic City, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend the Food Network’s Food and Wine Festival.  The only stipulation to the trip was that I get some different experiences this time so I’m not boring everyone with writing about the same things.   In a city filled with hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, that isn’t hard to do.

My day began with my flights to Atlantic City Airport.  I love small airports and  it was nice to get into Bloomington and out at Atlantic City without any hassles, but there were a few minor problems during the trip.  The first was the my seat on the plane.  I have to admit I’ve been a bit spoiled by upgrades and being in coach – Zone 6 coach, no less – I am not so used to.  Watching everyone fight over bin space is interesting.  Is there any reason people can’t just store their stuff about THEIR seat?  As if that wasn’t annoying enough, I was the lucky one who got to be in the third seat with the world's happiest couple, who spent the whole flight kissing and groping each other! There's a time and a place for everything and this was not what I expected as I tried to work and ignore the giggles and moans! Needless to say, I was thrilled to hit the ground.

Things seem to look up when I began my latest Atlantic City adventure began at Harrah’s with a beautiful room in the Bayview Tower (though I do wish I could find a hotel that appreciated the need for electric outlets).  This will be my home base for the next four days so I’m making myself comfortable.   That’s not hard to do at a place with 10 dining options; a Family Fun Center and 25,000 gallon pool; an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa; for lounges and The Pool (more about that later).

Dinner was at The Steakhouse and it was one of the best meals I’ve had this year.  I started with a glass of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and a chef’s tasting of the Steak Tartar.  Accompanying this was a basket of The Steakhouse’s signature breads – Pretzel Twists and Onion Rolls.  It was hard not to fill up on these, but I soon had my French Onion Soup.  It was sweet and tasty, with a combination of cheeses that I was sure included cheddar, but the chef confirmed did not.  Next it was the Gala Apple Salad with endive, candied pecans, celery root and watercress, topped with gorgonzola cheese and a walnut vinaigrette.  I thought the combination of two nuts might be strange, but I was a perfect fit to a light summer salad.

After a blueberry sorbet (which I wish was available to me again on the next hot summer day), I ordered a Rutherford Merlot
to accompany my main course of beef,  The waiter recommended it and I couldn’t agree more that it was not at all overpowering to my Tournedos of Beef Tenderloin.  There were three, each with their own sauce – Béarnaise, Port Wine Reduction and Green Peppercorn.  It was excellent, even in the well-done state I prefer.  It was hard to narrow down the side dishes, but I decided to skip the Crispy Artichoke Hearts, Citrus Remoulade, Multigrain Rice Pilaf with Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Olive Oil and Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes in favor of the Candied Sweet Potato Steak Fries and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Olive Oil, both good choices.  There was also a Lobster Macaroni and Cheese on the menu, giving me one of those moments I wished I didn’t have a seafood allergy.  Of course, the menu is filled with steak choices and also includes Crab Cakes, Rack of Lamb and Veal Chops.

Dessert was a tough choice and I had no sooner started the Vanilla Bean Crème Brule – which was very tasty, but a bit cold – before the chef walked over with a chocolate soufflé.  I had to take a few bites and didn’t regret enjoying this light, but chocolaty concoction.  When I couldn’t possibly eat any more, it was off to my tour of The Pool at Harrah's. I had heard quite a bit about this cross between the ultimate nightlife venue and a relaxing (or romantic) daytime venue.  It is set up for both the socialite and the privacy seeker, with small “living rooms” and hot tub areas reserved for those with bottle service (there is a minimum that varies by time, but no fee for this).  For additional privacy, you can rent your own cabana for as little as $100 for the day. 

I’m looking forward to checking out The Pool during the daytime as I explore more of Atlantic City and get red for the Food Festival Kick-off Party tonight at The Chelsea Hotel.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pass the Scotch

Scotland and its Whiskies: The Great Whiskies, the Distilleries and Their LandscapesI had a tentative trip to Scotland scheduled for last month. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but I had gathered a bit of information – and spirits – as a pre-trip intro that I’d thought I would pass along.

I navigated most of the American Whiskey Trail in just a few days, but the trail to Scotch Whisky is not that simple. A good example of what’s in store is at Distilleries of Scotland, where you will find that dozens of Scotch companies exist all over the country. It seems like there’s enough Scotch to keep everyone seeing the Loch Nest Monster! Until I do make that trip I won’t even attempt to suggest an itinerary, but I do recommend Visit Scotland as a great place to start. But if you don't have a chance to snag a cheap fare for that trip yet, I do have some suggestions for Scotch lovers.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America (SMWSA), founded in 1983, has a new membership program that is tailored for Scotch drinkers from novice to connoisseur. Members will receive a membership kit that has four 100ml single casks that have been personally selected by the Society’s Tasting Panel and the society’s magazine. They also receive offers to buy special blends that are not normally available commercially. They and can visit Members’ Rooms in Leith, Edinburgh and London, attend tasting events throughout the U.S. and even have the opportunity to stay at The Vaults in Leith. Membership into the Scotch Malt Whisky Society is $229 for the first year and $60 a year for each subsequent year. You can find out more at their website,

Speaking of Scotch sampling, the FedEx guy was back at my door again so I gathered my friends for sampling. We had quite the selection of Scotch Whisky with eight samples of Dalmore and Isle of Jura distilleries. So, what should you look for the next time you’re ready to buy? If you are looking for a good, reasonably priced bottle of Scotch Whisky, the 12 year old Dalmore goes down smooth – mixed or straight – and is a good choice at $49.99. Dalmore’s Gran Reservera ($64.99) was even smoother, making it a better choice on the rocks, with strong citrus undertones. The 18 year old by the same company was actually the favorite of one of the tasters for its strong taste and unusual spice (Dalmore lists it as pine and lemongrass).

The two big winners of the night were Dalmore’s 15 year old and the 1263 King Alexander. Ironically, thoug the King Alexander got high marks, the $250 Scotch was actually not as raved about as the 15 year old Dalmore at $79.99 for its intense flavor with a bit more sweetness than the others. If you read this blog often you know I am not a big whisky drinker, but I did find that one really smooth. Also – if you are looking for something a bit different, the Jura Prophecy ($70) is more woodsy, with smokey and vanilla flavors we didn’t taste so much in the others.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Checking out Wine & Spirits of St. Augustine

Day one in St. Augustine was all about relaxation, scenery and food, but on day two I had to get down to official business. In my case, that means hunting down the wine and spirits

When talking about St. Augustine, I have to clarify “spirits.” Ghosts are said to be haunting this town and tracking down their history and whereabouts is a big attraction. In my case, however, I was interested in the spirits that fill my glass and those were even easier to find around here than the ghosts!

Our first stop in the morning was San Sebastian Winery. This was my very first Florida winery and I really didn’t know what to expect. San Sebastian and its sister winery Lakeridge are the largest in the state. The Lakeridge Winery & Vineyard came first in 1988 and St. Augustine’s San Sebastian followed in 1996. It’s a great location in town, offering free tours and tastings, as well as a Wine & Jazz Bar upstairs that opens in the afternoon and continues through the evening. I didn’t get to go, but it was recommended by quite a few people in town.

San Sebastian currently has 10 wines on their menu. I was pleasantly surprised by the assortment created from the native Muscadine grape, which grows in red and white varietals. The Rosa is very berry-like, a semi-dry that would complement a summer barbecue, while the Vintners White was actually not very fruity, with hints of vanilla. My friend Lynn liked the Castillo Red, a full bodied red wine without h sweetness of the Vintners Red, the top seller. I was a bit disappointed in the Reserva, which was not overly flavorful, but loved the Proprietor’s Lakeridge Cream Sherry and Blanc Du Fleur, a sparkling wine produced Methode Champenoise.

After the winery it was a bit of exploration of downtown St. Augustine by foot and by trolley (the best way to see the most, I wish I had more time to explore on it). We also had chicken and avocado sandwiches (tender and tasty) at A1A brewery and enjoyed visiting at Claude’s Chocolate, where Nicole let me sample the Absinthe Truffle husband Claude makes. Then it was off to the next spirited adventure – the St. Augustine Pub Crawl.

For anyone who hasn’t done a Pub Crawl, it’s a lot of fun and this one was in the perfect place. As the streets mixed with old and new, Mia guided our group of six through a great assortment of stops, beginning with Anne O’Malley’s for the first Irish beer experience. While the rugby lit up the television screens, owners John and Sherri Cunningham poured Yuengling drafts. It was a great start and soon we were on our way down the hot and steamy streets of St. Augustine to Taberna del Gallo.

Things were quite different here in the city’s Spanish section, where they dressed in 18th century garb. The refreshment at Taberna del Gallo was Sangria, the best I’ve had in a long time. I enjoyed the Red, but heard the Pink Grapefruit was wonderful. One member of our group also imbibed with a Snake Bite – beer and cider.

Pub crawl stop number three was a cigar bar appropriately named Stogies. Here it was back to the beer with eight different drafts pouring everything from Stout to Tangerine. We lingered upstairs (shhh… only the locals are supposed to know about the upstairs) for awhile sipping the ale before heading to Meehan’s Irish Pub. Owner John Meehan joined us to talk a bit about his gastro pub – where the food does not take a back seat to the extensive (50 variety) beer collection or Jameson shots. The specialty here is Oyster Florentine Soup, which is enhanced with artichokes.

The final stop on the St. Augustine Pub Crawl was J.P. Henley’s where I was a bit disappointed that the Chocovine Wine was not offered, but it was a great time to recap the tour with our final drinks before some of us headed over to
The Tasting Room
for Tapas and music.

Unfortunately, my stay at the St. Francis Inn and St. Augustine adventure is over for now, but there’s just too much more to see, do – and drink – for me not to be back.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sailing away the stress in St. Augustine

Life sometimes gets away from us as we struggle to keep up with work and family. Sometimes it takes a little nudge to remind us that we should stop and enjoy it a bit more. For my friend Lynn and me, it was more of a push than a nudge, but we found a place to help us remember how to enjoy life a little more – St. Augustine, Florida.

I have never been to St. Augustine and I was immediately blown away by the quaint beauty. This is the oldest city in the country, dating back over 400 years. We have the privilege of staying at the St. Francis Inn, which is not only the oldest here, but it’s an incredible place. The room is a perfect mixture of antique (a roll-top desk adorns the living room) and new (the bathroom has a whirlpool). We were created with cookies and iced tea in the lobby, just one of the little extras here.

After enjoying a little wine, cheese and fruit in the Garcia Suite, it was off to the marina, where the real relaxing began. It’s been years since I’ve been on a sailboat and I couldn’t have picked a better one to be on. Zach owns Eco Tours, a boating company that takes life in the water very seriously. Every move his boat takes is carefully navigated to disturb the sea turtles, manatees and dolphins as little as possible. We had a private two hour tour with Zach, through the Intercoastal and into the Atlantic, listening to his vast knowledge of the creatures below us, as we relaxed on the trampoline, enjoyed the sunshine and even got to watch some dolphins come up for breath.

By the time I got back to shore, I had clearly remembered what relaxing was all about. I contemplated leaving the IPhone off a bit longer, but didn’t quite go that far. We strolled slowly back to the hotel where we enjoyed the rest of the St. Francis Inn bottled Sonoma Chardonnay before getting dressed for Social Hour at the St. Francis Inn. I could have enjoyed Joe’s stories about St. Augustine and the Inn for hours, but we had dinner to get to.

Our dinner had also been arranged by Leigh Cort, an expert when it comes to all things St. Augustine. She told me I would love Bistro de Leon and she was certainly right. From the moment I saw the sign and the Eiffel Tower drawing on the window, I knew this was not going to be just dinner out in Florida.

Jean Stephane Poinard and his wife Valerie came from France to St. Augustine to build a real French bistro and they have certainly succeeded. With the exception of the missing outdoor seating (town ordinances won’t allow it) this restaurant is the real deal. Valerie personally picked out our meal, living up to the challenge of two women allergic to shellfish. Chef Jean Stephane prepared a feast for us starting with of one of the best French Onion soup’s I’ve ever had (sweet, not salty, the way it should be), and Poultry and Tarragone Terrine, a chicken pate-like dish with a tasty onion marmalade.

Valerie continued our feast with a Duck Filet roasted in apple cider and served with a potato cheese soufflé and tender lamb chops with a potato and tomatoes pie. Both were delicious, but we managed to save room for dessert – a fresh baked Napoleon and a chocolate lava cake served with a mint sorbet. I left feeling like I was still in Paris, and hoping I could get back to
Bistro de Leon

Lynn and I ended the evening with a nightcap at Columbia, where we ran into Marsha and Karen, two more women enjoying a girls' getaway in St. Augustine. After a good night's sleep, we enjoyed a St. Francis breakfast of Vegetable Strata, Country Ham, Spanish Potatoes and fruit (with Mimosas and Bloody Marys) and are getting ready to head off to our tour and tasting at San Sebastian Winery and then some more exploration of the city. Until tomorrow….

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mixing and Pouring at the World's Largest Block Party

I spent most of my life on Long Island, where a block party meant you and your neighbors put out some chairs, ordered some food and invited friends and family to dance to the DJ while you made frozen cocktails (or enjoyed the brew).  Old St. Pat’s Church has a totally different view of the term “block party” and it’s one that I could get used to.

The World’s Largest Block Party is a two day event to benefit the church’s outreach services and mission, as well as the Global Alliance for Africa and the Career Transitions Center for Chicago.  It is in its 26th year and attracts top musical acts over blocks of what looks like an incredible street fair.  There's tons of food (loved Connie’s Pizza, Chicago Deep Dish at its best), beer and wine. 
This is a 21 and over party because every charitable $40 ticket comes with five free drinks of Miller Beer or Barefoot Wine.  Both companies generously donated their wares.  Since Barefoot’s Pinot Grigio is a favorite (they were also pouring Pinot Noir), I was especially grateful for their generosity!

While everyone was eating and imbibing, music permeated the air of Chicago from two stages.  I was there Friday night for the incredible performances of Kris Allen and Bare Naked Ladies, who really got the already excited crowd moving with “One Week.”  And caught some of Angel Taylor and the Spazmatics.  Also on hand earlier were the Out for Hours and Jeffrey David.  Saturday’s lineup was nearly as good, with Spoon, White Rabbits, Chris Mills, Adam Fitz and Inroads.

In addition to Barefoot Wine and Miller Beer, other sponsors helped out.  Clearwire was everywhere and generously helped my group out with VIP passes during the Bare Naked Ladies show. I’ve heard great things about their internet and look forward to checking it out when it comes to my area.  There was also some great support from The Mix radio team, home of my new friend Cara Carriveau, who hung out with me and my pals from The Local Tourist, Theresa and Jim .

The World’s Largest Block Party was a lot of fun for a good cause.  I highly recommend getting it on your calendar for next year.  If you’re not in the Chicago area, it’s just reason to make a trip to the Windy City for a charitable evening of great music, wine and  beer .  And if that’s not enough to get you there, I hear the event also holds the record for all the couples who have met there and lived happily ever after!

Packages for the World's Largest Block Party are available at the Holiday Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown

Photo on bottom courtesy of the World's Largest Block Party.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wine, Spirits and Travel Tweeters to Know in Twitterland

Let’s face it, it’s hard to exist these days in internet land without Twitter. It’s definitely one of the most useful social networking tools on the planet. The trick to using Twitter -- I’m learning -- is not to spend all your time looking up Twitter addresses. I don’t think too many people will argue with me when I say that the search feature is not one of the most useful around.

I’ve been doing my best to work on time management so I’ve put together Twitter addresses I keep going back to. Feel free to enter additional ones in the comments as I know I didn’t come close to getting everything. Please indicate the category and I will update as often as possible.

Hotels & Resorts on Twitter

Airlines & Cruises on Twitter

Champagne, Wine & Wineries on Twitter

Spirits & Distilleries on Twitter

Restaurants, Bars & Clubs on Twitter

Convention & Visitors Bureaus on Twitter

Miscellaneous Food, Drinks & Tourism on Twitter

Hotels & Resorts on Twitter

21C Museum Hotel-Louisville, KY

Atlantis Resort Paradise Island

Bally’s Atlantic City

Beaches Resorts

Bellagio Las Vegas

The Betsy Hotel-South Beach Miami, FL

Blue Chip Casino Hotel-Michigan City, Indiana
@ bluechip_casino

Borgata-Atlantic City, New Jersey

Breezes Resorts

Caesar’s Palace- Las Vegas, Nevada

Caesar’s-Atlantic City, New Jersey

Casa Marina Hotel-Jacksonville, Florida
@Casa MarinaHotel

Cavalier Hotel-South Beach, Florida

Chippewa Hotel-Makinac Island, MI

Claremont Hotel-Berkeley, CA
Club Med

Country Inn & Suites

Dreams Resorts

Embassy Suites

FDR Resorts

Gran Bahia Principe

Grand Traverse Resort-Traverse City, Michigan
@ GTResort

Great Wolf Lodges

Half Moon Bay, Jamaica

Harrahs Atlantic City

Harrah’s Resorts


Hershey Resorts

Hilton Cancun

Hilton Downtown Indianapolis

Hilton Hotels

Hilton Garden Inn

Hilton Suites

Holiday Inn

Horseshoe Hotel & Casino-Elizabeth, Indiana

Horseshoe Casino Iowa

Hyatt Hotels

Indianapolis Hyatt

IHotel-Champaign, Illinois

Jekyll Island Club Hotel, Georgia

JW Marriott-Indianapolis, Indiana

King and Prince Resort-St. Simmons Island, Georgia

Mandalay Bay-Las Vegas, Mevada

Mandarin Oriental Washignton DC

Marriott Hotels

Marriott Minneapolis

MGM Mirage-:Las Vegas, Nevada

Mirval Hotel-Tucson, AZ

Monte Carlo Hotel Las Vegas

Mount Airy Resort & Casino-Poconos, Pennsyvlania

Napa Marriott

Ocean Key Resort-Key West, Florida

Palmer House-Chicago, Illinois

Paradius Resorts

The Republic Hotel-San Francisco, California

Ritz Carlton

Ritz Carlton Chicago, Illinois

Riu Hotels

Robert’s Grove-Placencia, Belize

Royal Hideaway-Riviera Maya, Mexico
@ Royal_Hideaway

San Francisco Hyatt at the Wharf

Sandals Resorts

Secrets Resorts

Showboat Atlantic City, New Jersey

Sofitel Miami, Florida

Solage Calistoga, California

Solmar Resorts-Los Cabos, California
@ SolmarResorts

Split Rock Resort-Poconos, Pennsylvania

Standard Hotel-New York City

Sunset Key-Westin, Florida
@ SunsetKeyWestin


Tranquil Seas Resort-Roatan, Honduras

Trump Casinos Atlantic City, New Jersey

Turks and Caicos Club-Provodenciales, TC

Venetian-Las Vegas, Nevada

W Hotels

Westin Napa, California

The Wit Hotel-Chicago, Illinois
@ theWitChicago

Woodloch Resort-Poconos, Pennsylvania

Wynn Las Vegas, Nevada

Feel free to enter additional Twitterers in comments below

Airlines & Cruise Lines on Twitter

Air Tran

American Airlines

Delta Airlines
@Delta Airlines

Jetblue Airlines

Southwest Airlines

US Air

Feel free to enter additional Twitterers below

Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise

Costa Cruises

Cunard Curise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruises

Princess Cruises

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Feel free to enter additional Twitterers in comments below

Champagne, Wine & Wineries on Twitter

Barefoot Wine

Black Star Farms Winery, Distillery, B&B-

Brys Estate Winery
@ BrysEstate

Chataeu Chantal-Winery/B&B

Fidelitas Wine

Finger Lakes Wine Country

Flora Springs winery
@ Flora_Springs

Graffigna Wines

Hauser Estate Winery
@ HauserEstate

Indian Creek Winery

Judds Hill Winery

Left Foot Charley

Lynfred Winery & B&B-Roselle, IL

Lynfred Winery-Wheeling, IL
@ LynfredWheeling

Moet & Chandon

Oliver Winery

Perrier-Jouet Champagne

Boon Doon Vineyard/Randall Grahm

Rosenblum Winery

Satek Winery-Indiana

Two Lads Winery

Washington Wine

Whitehall Winery-Napa, CA

Wiley Jack Wines

Feel free to enter additional Twitterers below

Spirits & Distilleries on Twitter

Beam Global
@ beamglobal

Bourbon Country

Canadian Club Whisky

@Green Ambassador

Ciroc Vodka

Death’s Door Distillery


George Dickel Bourbon

Great Lakes Distillery/Rehorst Vodka

Jim Beam Bourbon

Koval Distillery

Lucky Bucket Brewery/Joss Vodka

North Shore Distillery

Red Stag

Remy Martin
@Remy Martin

Rums of Puerto Rico


Sparkling Nuvo

Vermont Spirits

Voli Spirits

Feel free to enter additional Twitterers below

Convention & Visitors Bureaus on Twitter

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Austin, Texas

Baltimore, Maryland

Boston, Massachusetts

Charlotte, North Carolina

Chicago, Illinois

Chicagoland, Illinois

Cleveland, Ohio

Denver, Colorado

Detroit, Michigan

Evansville, Indiana


Fort Lauderdale, Florida


French Lick, Indiana

Gettysburg, PA
@ GettysburgNews

Greensboro, North Carolina

Harrison County, Indiana



Houston, Texas





Jekyll Island, Georgia

Kansas City, Kansas

Las Vegas, Nevada

Louisville, Kentucky

Los Angeles, California

Los Cabos, Mexico
@ LosCabosCVB

Marin County, California

Miami Beach, Florida


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nashville, Tennessee

New Jersey Shore, New Jersey
@ JerseyShore_CVB

New York City, New York

Oakland, California

Orlando, Florida

Palm Beach County, Florida

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Phoenix, Arizona

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Poconos, Pennsylvania

Portland, Oregon

Providence, Rhode Island

Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic
@ PuertoPlataDR

Round Rock, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah

San Antonio, Texas

San Diego, California

San Francisco, California

San Jose, California

Seattle, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Springfield, Missouri

Springfield, Illinois

St. Louis, Missouri

Tampa Bay, Florida


Traverse City, Michigan

Virginia Beach, Virginia


Washington DC

Wisconsin Tourism

Feel free to enter additional Twitterers in comments below

Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Food Drinks & Misc on Twitter

Restaurants, Bars & Clubs on Twitter
15 Romola San Francisco Bar

Borgata Clubs-Atlantic City, New Jersey


Dusk Nightclub at Caesar’s in Atlantic City

Houlihan’s-Champaign, Illinois

Iron Springs Pub-Fairfax, California

Melting Pot Restaurants

Memphis on Main- Champaign, Illinois

Mercadito Cantina-New York City

Seven Saints-Champaign, Illinois

TGI Friday’s-Champaign, Illinois

Feel free to enter additional Twitterers below

Miscellaneous Food, Drinks & Tourism on Twitter
Aces Train Atlantic City

Food Network

Lonely Planet

Miami Seaquarium

Whole Foods

Feel free to enter additional Twitterers in comments below

Friday, July 2, 2010

Navigating the Bourbon Trail

After my trip to Tennessee’s Whiskey Country, it was just a short distance to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Between the incredibly green Bluegrass and the stables of horses that remind you that this is Derby Country, there are a host of distilleries waiting for visitors.

There are six distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail – Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey and Four Roses. On this trip I got to visit the first three. They were very different, both in the experience and in the bourbon they produced. All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whisky is bourbon. There are actually strict rules on what makes whiskey a bourbon, including;

Bourbon’s grain mixture must be at least 51% corn.;
Bourbon must be distilled to no more than 80% alcohol;
Bourbon must be aged in charred oak barrels which are new;
Bourbon is not run through a charcoal filter like whiskey.

The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail BookThe first stop in Kentucky for me was Woodford Reserve. It was appropriate since I had horses on the mind the minute I entered the state. Woodford not only makes bourbon, but they have the Woodford Reserve Stables, where you can own your own Thoroughbred. The grounds are just breathtaking and you imagine walking them forever, until you remember the bourbon you came for.

Woodford is the fourth name of this distillery which re-opened in 1996 under Brown-Foreman, who also own Jack Daniels. Woodford’s bourbon is hand-crafted in small batches with high percentage of rye for a sweeter taste than some of the other bourbons. The distillery tour is not only one of the most scenic, but is also the only one I went on in bourbon or whiskey country that was handicap accessible all the way through. It is also the only distillery that charges for a tour ($5) of all the grounds and sampling.

Maker’s Mark, part of the Beam Global portfolio, offered me a completely different atmosphere than the previous tour. You are welcomed into the home of the Samuels family to learn about how their bourbon came about and why there’s red melted wax on the bottle. Along the tour you even get to see the bottle factory and have an option to “dip” your own if you’d like to buy a bottle at the end. Maker’s Mark is handcrafted and recently introduced a new product, Maker’s 46, with made with soft winter red wheat.

Maker's Mark Bourbon Flavored Gourmet Cherries - Case of TwelveWheat is a big factor here as the wheat for the original bourbon was discovered by baking bread to get the grain proportions right. Enter the tasting room to determine this mixture for yourself. Also check out the Ambassador Program, where you can help get the Maker’s Mark name out there and earn your name on a bottle.

My final Kentucky bourbon stop was the biggest. The Jim Beam Outpost is in the middle of some major renovations, but the tour is open with plenty to see in the meantime. This is the home of the top bourbon in the world and 80,000 people a year visit here. It is also the home of eight bourbons at last count, including the small batch brands of Basil Hayden, Knob Hill, Baker’s and Booker’s.

Despite the fact that It seemed like there was something for everyone at Jim Beam, they brought in a surprise last year and it’s been quite a hit. I had my first taste of the Kid Rock touted Jim Beam Red Stag at the Outpost and it won me over. In general, I’m not a big whiskey or bourbon drinker, but Red Stag is in a place of its own. It’s a bourbon that is black cherry infused and all I can say is this is one of the few bottles on my (very full) bar that emptied quickly. If you do not like your bourbon as sweet, check out the re-launched Jim Beam Black.

My trip was a press tour so I did get a bit more in-depth visits than the public, but all of these distilleries are open for anyone to visit and taste at. As for accommodations, I stayed at unbelievable 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville. Check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail website to plan out your route and find hotels and B&Bs throughout the area. Also, if you visit all six distilleries on the trail, you can receive a free tee-shirt (details on the website).\