This post is sponsored by Pinnacle® Vodka.
Most people are aware that French cuisine is one of the foundations of our culinary world, but what about libations and cocktails?
France has long been a leader in the spirit business including the vodka sector with Pinnacle® Vodka, an award-winning spirit. Pinnacle® Vodka comes from France’s Cognac Region also known as “Spirit Valley”.
It is the perfect foundation to your next France-themed party in your house.
Pinnacle® is the ultimate combination of quality and value. I often enjoy it on the rocks with some of my favorite foods.
Here are some suggestions on what to include in your next French-themed party alongside your Pinnacle® Vodka.
- Cheese & Bread: Would it really be French without cheese and bread? Incorporate some Brie into your get-together. Brie is the best-known French cheese and is also known as “The Queen of Cheese”. Don’t forget some rye bread with it. These items are known to pair well with vodka.
- French Phrases: Power up your French vocabulary for your get-together. Here are a few easy phrases you can wow your guests with.
- Bienvenue (bee-ehn veh-noo) – Welcome
- Merci (mehr-see) – Thank you
- Comment allez-vous? (kom-mohn tah-lay voo) – How are you?
- À la votre (a la voht-reu)! – to your health (a cheers saying)
- Rentrez-bien, bonne soirée ! – Get home safe, good night!
- French Music: Music creates a mood. Taking a quick search on music streaming websites will reveal tons of playlists for French dinner music. I’d recommend adding that to your party for an extra impact. France has many classic artists from various eras as well as quite catchy pop music these days.
- French Art: Personally I’m a huge fan of Renoir from the Impressionism period, but France has long led in art and architecture in western civilization and you could find plenty of images to use as a backdrop to your get together.
- Soccer: France made a huge win this year. If you need a backdrop for your get-together why not pull up one of their games and stream it on the television. France did an incredible job.
Amusez-vous bien! (Enjoy)
Drink Smart® Pinnacle® Imported Vodka, 40% Alc./Vol. Distilled from Grain, ©2018 Portfield Importers, Chicago, IL, USA; All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
Taking a trip to Orlando soon? Something delicious is cooking in “The Theme Park Capital of the World”.
Prepare to enjoy some serious dining deals for Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month. 100+ restaurant will be offering three course prix-fixe meals for $35 per person. The restaurant month is sponsored by American Express and will run from Friday, August 24th to Sunday, September 30th.
It’s a great way to try restaurants that you’ve been wanting to experience. New additions for 2018 include first-time vegan options as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options.
$1 from every meal will be donated to a local charities Best Buddies and Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida.
According to Visit Orlando, “Proceeds from Magical Dining Month will help Best Buddies expand its programs into Orange County middle schools with high populations of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This mentorship program helps improve students’ quality of life and foster an inclusive middle school culture, by erasing the barrier that typically separates students with disabilities”.
Also: “Proceeds from Magical Dining Month will help the Down Syndrome Association expand its emergency and crisis fund, pay for potential medical needs not covered by insurance, and fund therapy scholarship programs.”
Some notable restaurants on the list include Morimoto Asia, Wine Bar George, K Restaurant, Pharmacy Orlando, Seito Sushi Baldin Park, and more. You’ll find everything from local hotposts to chains and even some steakhouses and upper-tier restaurants on the list.
Check out www.orlandomagicaldining.com for the full details, menus, and more.
Scoop: Petit Piquant located near North Hyde Park is now permanently closed. The French-inspired bakery served a wide range of pastries, sandwiches, and coffee. I was personally a big fan of their Kouign-Amann pastries.
Rumor Mill: The owners Ricardo Castro and Rosana Rivera are pursuing a new business venture called Xilo Mexican Steet Food. The concept was first used a pop-up at The Hall on Franklin in Tampa Heights.
More details as I get them!
Check out Xilo Street Mexican on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/xilostreetmexican/
Check out Xilo Street Mexican on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/xilostreetmexican/
Miami Beach is a classic tourist attraction. Hotels are all along the strip with bars and restaurants just waiting for customers. It’s a little hard to navigate as well. Most bars are open late and many are open until 5AM with nightclubs filling in the party scene.
Here are some recommendations on where to go in South Beach when you’re there.
Uber Pool and Lyft will easily transport you around this area for less than $5 in most cases so avoid attempting to park if possible.
Bodega Taqueria y Tequila: This place is unassuming from the outside, but behind the front and through a few doors is a beautiful bar with libations and food as well as music spinning until 5AM. The best part about this place is their daily happy hour from 6PM to 8PM which features loaded tacos for $2 and $6 cocktails as well as $4 chips and salsa / $5 mezcal and tequila shots. There is a $35 minimum for card so make sure you bring cash or use the ATM there if you don’t mind paying a fee. These were some of the best tacos I have enjoyed in a long time. The ribeye and mahi mahi tacos were excellent. I enjoyed a Maduro Old Fashioned. I highly recommend this spot. Note: 18% Gratuity and 7% Sales Tax will automatically be added to your bill. 1220 16th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 704-2145 http://www.bodegasouthbeach.com/
Employees Only: Quality craft cocktails await at this speakeasy hidden behind a psychic / tarot card room. The best seats are at the bar in my opinion just because its beautiful, but service was also great tableside. Drinks are fairly priced for Miami Beach and they pack a punch. The Hurricane was enjoyable. 1030 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (786) 264-3945 http://employeesonlymiami.com
Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company: You’ll find this beautiful neon lit bar in Collins Park area. The best time to go is during happy hour from 4PM to 7PM where you can enjoy a fantastic Classic Daquiri for $5 as I did or even Tommy’s Margarita for $8. You’ll easily spend $20 a drink in the off hours which is pretty average for Miami. 237 20th Street Suite B, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 763-8217 http://mysweetliberty.com/
The Broken Shaker: Socialites can enjoy a tiki bar with craft cocktails at The Broken Shaker at Freehand Hotel. There is plenty of people mingling and on dates so it may not be the best bar for someone flying solo. The drinks here are strong, inventive, and flavorful. It might be one of the best bars I have been to and I would go with a crowd or some friends for sure. Expect to spend $15-$20 on a drink. Happy Hour is only for hotel guests as is the pool area. 2727 Indian Creek Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33140 (305) 531-2727 http://freehandhotels.com/miami/broken-shaker/
Moshi Moshi: If you want a reasonably priced Japanese restaurant in South Beach, Moshi Moshi will fit the bill. It’s located right next to Española Way. They deliver and are open-late. Lunch specials here are under $8 which is a steal for South Beach. I enjoyed a takoyaki (octopus balls) during my visit and it was superb as well as Crunchy Krab Ceviche which wasn’t ceviche at all but a great assortment of imitation Krab, crunchies, avocados, eel sauce, and spicy mayo. Sushi rolls start at $5 and many are under $10. 1448 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 531-4520
Rosseta Bakery: This local bakery in Miami has excellent Italian breads and pastries as well as a beautiful interior and is a great place to get work done and wake up in the morning with a coffee after a long night of drinking and partying in Miami Beach. You must try the prosciutto croissant sandwich. It is life-changing. The staff is incredibly friendly and they were playing Destiny’s Child and Beyonce songs at 7AM. I can get behind that. 929 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (786) 216-7795 http://www.rosettabakery.com
Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Creative Loafing Tampa. Any opinions expressed are my own and do not represent Creative Loafing.
Get ready to party like it is Cinco de Mayo this month. Local newspaper Creative Loafing Tampa will have their annual Margarita Wars competition on Friday, July 27th from 7PM to 10PM at TPepin’s Hospitality at 4121 North 50th Street in Tampa.
Guests will sample margaritas from more than 15 mixologists around town and vote for “Tampa Bay’s Best Margarita” while enjoying Mexican bites from top restaurants.
Margaritas are one of the most popular drinks in the United States and Americans drink up to 185,000 margaritas per hour according to The Nibble.
In fact, The United States is the number one tequila market in the world beating even Mexico. Not only that, but the South accounts for 34.9% of all margarita sales nationwide. It makes sense considering how hot it is.
Tickets start at $45 and are now on-sale. VIP attendees will enjoy an hour of early entry as well as other perks.
This event is for ages 21+ older only.
Now to go look for my sombrero.
Buy Tickets: http://tampabayeventtickets.com/events/54636603/margarita-wars-2018
Participating restaurants and bars include:
- Beach Bar & Restaurant
- Besito Mexican
- Brew Bus Brewing
- Bungalow Restaurant & Bar
- Casa Tina
- Copper Shaker
- Epicurean Hotel
- First Chance Last Chance Bar
- Iberian Rooster
- Parks & Rec
- Pisces Sushi & Global Bistro
- Rasoi Indian Cuisine
- The Avenue Eat + Drink
- The Bricks
- The Living Room on Main
- The Mill
- World of Beer
- & More
Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1322485457897217/
4th of July brings lots of excitment and American pride. Fireworks and partying are at the top of the agenda as well.
Wondering where to go and get your dose of red, white, and blue? I have you covered.
Here are some places throwing events for 4th of July this Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 in Tampa Bay:
- Aloft Hotel: Every Wednesday is Wine Down Wednesdays at Aloft Tampa Downtown and this 4th of July is no different. The event will feature $20 regular admission and $10 reduced entry with RSVP. Guests will enjoy bottomless wine, champagne, craft beer, and appetizers from 5PM-9PM and drink specials afterwards. Fireworks begins at 9PM. 100 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 898-8000
- American Social: Celebrate Independence Day at American Social with food, drinks, music, and fireworks. The waterfront access of American Social makes this a great spot to view fireworks. Drink specials include $4 Tito’s Vodka and Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey as well as $3 Bud Light/Budweiser all day. 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd. Suite 107, Tampa, FL 33602 (813) 605-3333
- American Victory Museum & Ship: Celebrate Independence Day at this 4th of July Family Funfest from 6:30PM-9:30PM. There will be music, games, food, beer, wine, contests, and giveaways. American Victory Museum provides a voyage to American Maritime History. Tickets range from $7-$13. 705 Channelside Dr., Tampa, FL 33602
- Astro Skate of Brandon: This local Brandon skating rink will offer $5 admission on 4th of July from 1PM-6PM (skate rentals extra). FREE all-you-can-eat hot dogs from 1PM-2PM and a singing contetst for “God Bless America” with a $25 cash prize. 750 W Robertson St, Brandon, FL 33511. (813) 681-3635
- George M. Steinbrenner Field: There is no sport more American than baseball and the Tampa Tarpons have a game scheduled against the Clearwater Threshers at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Doors open at 5PM with the game kicking off at 6:30PM. Tickets range from $5-$8 and there will be specials including $3 16 oz. Budweiser / Bud Light drafts and $5 for 6 chicken wings. FREE Admission for current and former EMT Specialists, Firefighters, Police, and Military Personnel. 1 Steinbrenner Dr., Tampa, FL 33614
- Hollander Hotel Downtown St. Petersburg: Feel like getting wet? Hollander Hotel will have a pool party on 4th of July with DJ Dutch from 1PM-5PM. No cover. 421 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 873-7900
- Museum of the Fine Arts, St. Petersburg: The MFA Cafe has a special buffet planned for 4th of July at 6:30PM. On the menu: Brown sugar and chipotle rubbed beef brisket, Carolina hickory smoked chicken quarters, BBQ pulled pork sliders, Sweet cole slaw, Grilled bbq gulf shrimp salad sliders, Charred corn aioli, Grilled corn on the cob with cilantro-lime butter, Build your own red, white and blue cupcake bar, and more. Enjoy fireworks after the feast. $46 for adults and $23 for children. Limited-seating. Call (727) 822-1032 for reservations. 255 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
- The Sail: Channelside’s usual 4th of July festivities are on hold this year as construction continues on the plaza. The Sail located a few miles down the Tampa Riverwalk will have food trucks for 4th of July and a front-view of Downtown Tampa fireworks. Catch Casablanca Fusion, Sugar Shack Tampa, and Sexton’s Pizza from 11AM-9PM and The Bacon Boss, The Melt Machine, and Just Smokin BBQ from 5PM-11PM serving some street eats. There will be live music and drinks at the bar. 333 S Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 274-7778
- Shephard’s Beach Resort: Shephard’s Beach Resort on Clearwater Beach has as weekly Wednesday night club party called NEON BEACH at their Wave Nightclub. The event will offer $2 drinks all night long starting at 9PM right after the fireworks go off on the beach. Guests must be 18 years or older to enter. There will be a relaxed dress code. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach, FL 33767 (727) 442-5107
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender (MIB) Cocktail Competition at Racket in Wynwood.
Bartenders showcased their talents and the winners move on to London (the home of Bombay Sapphire) for the finals and the chance to win $10,000, a digital feature in GQ, and other Conde Nast digital properties.
Cocktail competitions are awesome because you get to see bartenders push themselves to the limit. Bartenders have that same creativity that chefs show in the kitchen and the same passion too. The United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) helps to promote that and USBG Miami helped to partner with this event.
Bartenders are judged on flavor, appearance, bartender presentation, and imagination. The key to these competitions is to make something new, while also staying true to the spirit that you’re competing with. Due to these requirements, the people’s choice award will often not be the same as the one the judges choose.
Last night’s winner for people’s choice was Evan Lewis from Taquerias el Mexicano in Miami. His cocktail is called “Queen’s Bouget” and incorporates Bombay Sapphire Gin, Blueberry “Gin-ager”, Lemon Aquafaba, Blueberry Cardamom syrup, Sparkling Elderflower Liqueur, topped with a Floral Candy Orchid. This drink made gin truly fun to drink.
The winners of the Southeast judging contest who will move on to London are:
- Derek Stilmann from Beaker + Gray in Miami. His drink is called “Who I Am” and incorporates elements of his life into each ingredient. The cocktail has Bombay Sapphire Gin, Spiced Milk Syrup, Lustau Cream Sherry, Gunpowder Tea, Orange Liqueur, Absinthe Salt, and Rose Mist.
- Cody Henson from El Coyote Charleston with “Ceylon Fix”. This drink includes Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lemon Juice, Pineapple Syrup, and Doctor Possner’s New Star Soda.
Did you hear that Tampa is now ranked one of the most hipster cities in the United States?
If we’re talking hipsters, Seminole Heights has taken the mantle from Ybor City in the past few years as restaurants, bars, breweries, and cafes have popped up all over this small town that supports local busines.
Here are 10 places to eat and drink in Seminole Heights when you visit:
1. Brew Bus Brewing / Florida Ave. Brewing: Brew Bus has quickly grown to be one of the most successful businesses in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. The owners have Exectuive Chef Max Sherard making gourmet food in the kitchen and plenty of beers rolling out of the brewery all the time. They also recently added craft cocktails to the menu. You can jump on the Brew Bus here and ride all around town to some of Seminole Heights less parking friendly businesses. It’s a good hub to the neighborhood. 4101 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (813) 990-7310
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Curb Check Maple & Coffee (Imperial Porter) Brew Bus Brewing Tampa, FL ABV 11.5% Glassware – Snifter This Imperial Porter is absolutely perfect! Aged in Bourbon Barrels! Thick & sweet! Huge notes of Bourbon, fresh roasted coffee, raw coconut, salted caramel, sweet tobacco, wheat, silky oats, charred oak, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla, dark fruits, fudge, cocoa powder & toffee! Rate – 5 stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This will pair perfectly with smoked aged cheddar cheese, smoked white cheese bacon mushroom pizza, smoked spiced beef tacos & slutty brownies
2. Angry Chair Brewing Co.: One of the most popular local breweries in town. Parking is a conondrum, but you did jump on the Brew Bus like I told you above right? Angry Chair has craft beer fans lining up hours before release parties and most people in town will tell you it has grown to be one of their favorite local breweries. 6401 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 238-1122
3. Chop Chop Shop: No one can deny that what is cooking in this kitchen is delicious. The cuisine is a mixture of Japanese and Korean inspiration and whatever the chef is cooking up in the kitchen. No complaints from hungry fans who happily call in orders and show up to eat whenever they get a chance. 6605 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 770-7306
4. The Independent Bar & Cafe: I hope you’re noticing a theme that Seminole Heights is a bit of a watering hole. The Independen has long been a local stronghold in the neighborhood where you’ll see local business owners and residents grabbing a beer and having a blast. 5016 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (813) 341-4883
5. The Refinery: Always give credit where credit is due. The Refinery was one of the first restaurants to take a risk inside Seminole Heights and helped to form the foundation of the restaurants all over Florida Avenue now. It’s unfortunate that the original location is now closed as I was a fan, but you can find them a few blocks away now in the former Fodder & Shine spot. The burger is my go-to. 5910 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 234-3710
6. Revolution Ice Cream: After making a name for themselves in Brandon, Revolution Ice Cream brought their delicious desserts to Seminole Heights and saved many people a trip on I-4 or I-75 and that’s truly a miracle. Their ice cream incorporates many local businesses into their flavors and they are constantly changing and evolving. 6701 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 513-5053
7. Rooster & The Till: If you want a truly gourmet experience, Rooster & The Till is arguably one of the best restaurants in Tampa offering that. Be prepared to spend some money, but you’ll want lick your plate as you taste their creations. 6500 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 374-8940
8. Lowry Parcade: We nerds needed a spot to join together and Lowry Parade has provided done just that. Where else can you catch a rock band playing Mega Man on a speedrun, sip a local craft beer, and hit an arcade or pinball machine. I hope Lowry Parcade grows and expands so they can increase their selection and add some more fighting games and retro throwbacks, that’s my dream personally. 1213 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 915-9180
9. The Mermaid Tavern: This dive bar is much more of the core, original feeling that Seminole Heights was founded on. This is a great spot to catch up with friends or unwind. DJs spinning regularly. 6719 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa, FL 33604 (813) 238-5618
10. Spaddy’s Coffee Co.: Every neighborhood needs local coffee and Tampa wouldn’t be a hipster town without our coffee scene. Spaddy serves local roasts from Zeal Coffee Roasters and offers a wide menu of choices. His truck is open early and has really grown into the neighborhood. One of the great things about Seminole Heights is the local feel of it and Spaddy embodies that feeling all the way. 5206 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603 (954) 829-2111
Have you always dreamt of visting Europe? How about visiting the Tower of London or Big Ben?
Norwegian Airlines could make that a reality with their NEW direct flights on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner jets from Tampa to London that begins service on October 31st, 2018. Norwegian is the world’s sixth largest low-cost airline and carried around 33 million passengers in 2017.
Chief Commerical Officer Thomas Ramdahl shares, “We are excited to introduce another U.S. destination to our network. Tampa Bay will be a very popular destination amongst European traveler. Similarly, Europe is in high demand among Tampa Bay and Florida resident. With our growing commitment to Florida, we’re also increasing our Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to London services for the winter season due to the great demand.”
Direct flights are now available and one-way airfares go for as low as $214. You could travel roundtrip for less than $500 with tax from Tampa. Visit London has a guide for travelers with what’s happening month by month.
Book now: http://www.norwegian.com/us/
Here are some London-related travel articles for extended reading:
I visited Miami a few weeks ago and have been craving a Cafe con Leche since then. I asked around and tried some recommendations such as La Segunda and Bodega, but neither of them had that bold coffee that I grew to like during my trip in Miami.
During my visit last weekend to Dunedin for ice cream my sister’s husband suggested Sabor A Cuba.
Sabor A Cuba is a little house on the north side of Downtown Dunedin that sells Cuban cigars, coffee, and sandwiches. The owners give you that mom and pop vibe. No pretentiousness. I knew I was going to need to have a coffee the minute we stepped inside.
The Cafe Con Leche? Excellent. Bold coffee flavors going down my throat. I had a nice rush of energy right afterwards and the Cuban Sandwich? I LOVED it. This isn’t a Tampa Cuban Sandwich, but Miami style (no salami folks). I understand that some people in Tampa will not appreciate that, but I am a man that enjoys the variety in life.
What makes a good Cuban Sandwich to me? It’s not a specific thing inside the sandwich, but the combination of everything together. When you take a bite there should be crunch and as the ingredients move around in your mouth, you should feel some happiness and pleasure on your taste buds. This Cuban did that.
The sandwich will run you $8, but it’s a purchase I would make in the future again.
If you haven’t stopped by Sabor A Cuba, I recommend giving them some love. They regularly have live music outside and this is the real deal.
Restaurant: Sabor A Cuba
Cuisine: Coffee, Sandwiches
Address: 828 Highland Ave., Dunedin, FL 34698
Phone: (727) 238-5368