SPIRITS OF THE HOLIDAYS: Best Bottles to Bring to the Party

Spread the holiday cheer with these unique choices, your host will thank you! (1) Spicy and sweet, with perfect flavors for the holidays, The King's Ginger was created in 1903 to warm and energize His Majesty King Edward VII. Delightful by itself as an after-dinner sip, or even more wonderful mixed with vodka or gin, the flavor is reminiscent of a candied, citrus-y ginger. Around $37. (2) No.3 London Dry Gin offers traditional gin lovers something to cherish. The No.3 refers to the address on St James’s Street, home to London’s oldest wine and spirit merchant (since 1698). No.3 also refers to its three fruits: Juniper, orange peel, and grapefruit peel—and three spices: angelica root, coriander seed, and cardamom pods. Check out the website for a beautiful cocktail video for making the perfect martini. You may leave the music playing while you are busy in the kitchen with holiday cooking. Around $37. (3) For those loving complex spirits, Bols Barrel Aged Genever fits the bill. Traditional genever, thought of as the original spirit, starts with a triple distillate of rye, wheat and corn, and is then blended with botanicals (hops, cloves, anise, licorice, ginger, juniper and many others). The barrel-aged limited edition is subsequently aged in French oak barrels, resulting in an an herbalishious-cognac-like taste. Around $50 (4) The Bitter Truth Apricot Liqueur is a preserved, sweet taste of world-class sun-ripened apricots—combining apricot juice and apricot schnapps together. Works as a fantastic addition to cocktails. Try the super Austrian mix of flavors in the cocktail below. Around $28.
1.5 oz Riesling Wine
.5 oz Gin
.25 oz The Bitter Truth Apricot Liqueur
1 dash The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain in a cocktail glass.


Bolthouse Farms NOG: Low Cal Egg Nog at The Wayland

Bolthouse Farms NOG Your guests will thank you for serving egg nog with 60% fewer calories and 83% less fat—but that tastes just as sweet. Bolthouse Farms presents its limited-edition Holiday Nog with only 80 calories per 4 ounce serving. Available around the city, check the website for a store near you. I got to sample it at The Wayland, newly opened on Ave C, a cozy corner spot with bar bites by owner Rob Ceraso, and cocktails by Brian Hawthorne of Cocktails in Motion. See photos and cocktail recipe below.

1.5 oz Bolthouse Farms Holiday Nog
1.5 oz light rum
1.5 oz pineapple juice
dash of Angostura bitters
sprig of mint for garnish
optional: teaspoon of dark rum
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake wll with ice, strain into a tall glass over crushed ice, garnish with a sprig of mint, and teaspoon of dark rum, if desired.

TREAT YOUR GUESTS: Liquid Chocolate

Cask & Cream Chocolate Temptation
Thrill and delight your friends’ sweet tooth, with an after-dinner sip of Cask & Cream Chocolate Temptation—an absolute taste sensation. This delicious cream liqueur blends rich, dark chocolate flavors and a touch of brandy. Serve it up straight, over ice, in coffee or over cake or ice cream.

Art in the Age organic SNAP liqueur: Ginger Snap in a Bottle

Art in the Age organic SNAP liqueur Following Pennsylvania Dutch roots, the makers of Snap created their organic liqueur with the taste of old-fashioned ginger snaps in mind. Warm up guests with Snap in a mulled apple cider (see recipe below), or wow your guests with a batch of Snap Caramels. Lots of other recipes and merchandise on their adorable, foodie website—learn more about this wonderful brand here.

1/2 gallon apple cider
Zest and juice of an orange
1 each piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
6 anise pods
1 Tbsp of whole cloves
Combine all the ingredients, except for the Snap, in a pot, cover and heat over medium-low for about 20-30 minutes. Pour a shot of Snap into a heat-proof glass and top off with the warm mulled cider.

TREAT YOUR GUESTS: Decadent St. André

Fill up your guest’s bellies with a cheesy-oniony dip. Incorporating St. André’s intense taste and rich offering of 70% butterfat will have the brie-lovers going wild. Or just put this pretty wheel out for guests to help themselves. (Let the cheese sit out for an hour before serving, to show off its melty goodness.) The recommended pairing: beer or bitter ales.

by Chef Ash Fulk
Serves 8
1 lb Saint André cheese
4 oz sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Spanish onions, diced and caramelized
1 bunch chives, chopped
1 roasted jalapeno (seeded and diced, please use gloves)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, crushed
Dice Saint André. In a food processor, pureé cheese, sour cream and cream. Add caramelized onion and pulse until incorporated. Dip should be thick, but not so thick that it would break a celery stick. Fold in chives, jalapeño and scallions, finish with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. Top with toasted pine nuts. Serve with carrot sticks, celery sticks, asparagus, and green beans.


Say “Thank You” or drop an attention-getting personal note this holiday with Trina Turk’s collection for Dempsey and Carroll’s Blue Ogee. The clean, geometric shapes and fresh colors say “winter” and “holiday” without going the traditional route. Handmade cards feature a raised blue diamond on thick paper with beveled blue edge. A box of ten cards with gorgeous lined envelopes goes for $65. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these cards benefits PS Arts, a non-profit organization committed to improving children's lives through arts education.

HOLIDAY HELPERS: Nawgan—Drink to Think

Have a tendency to forget? Pass on the soda and put Nawgan on your list of items to help get you through the hectic holiday season. Created by a professor of neuropsychology, its blend of natural-occurring chemicals combine to enhance concentration and focus. The drink is also low in calories. Comes in caffeinated, Red Berry (my favorite), Tarocco Orange (mild-tasting) and caffeine-free Berry. Available online, $49.99 for a case of 24 cans plus $12 shipping. I was doing a little experimenting, and came up with this cocktail combo: No 3 Gin, plus a little Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur, and half a can of Red Berries Nawgan.


Gourmet Gifts:100 Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion to Make Yourself and Wrap with Style
This book is loaded with great recipes for gifting, plus creative ways to package and present to your host. The recipes fall into a gamut of categories, like Hazelnut Brittle, wrapped to look like vintage letters, Whole Preserved Lemons stored in jars with instructions attached, and Rose Petal Vinegar (as seen in the photos). Dinah Corley takes into account foods that ship well over a long distance, and how long items will last. Check out the website for behind-the-scenes photos on her blog and more about the book.


The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food that French Women Cook Every Day
I saw tons of recipes that were perfect for entertaining in this book by Wini Moranville, who brings the spirit of the French lifestyle with her recipes inspired from spending summers at her house in France for the past 15 years. The easy techniques and speedy preparation will have you choosing to make one recipe after another. The following recipe would be a welcome hostess gift, or be great to have on hand for the holidays—the crackers keep for a week refrigerated (tightly covered), or up to one month in the freezer. 

Comté-Walnut Crackers
Makes about 24 crackers
1 cup shredded Comté, Gruyère, or Emmental cheese, at room temperature (about 4 ounces)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or chives, or a combination
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon ice water, plus more if needed
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the cheese and butter on low speed until combined. Add the herbs, salt, cayenne pepper, and a few grindings of black pepper; mix briefly to combine. Add the flour and mix until crumbly. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts. Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture and toss with a fork to combine. If needed, add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough clings together.
2. Gather the dough into a ball, place the ball on a clean, flat surface, and shape it into an 8-inch log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or lightly grease them).
4. Using a very sharp knife, cut the log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1 inch apart on the sheets and bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool the crackers on the sheets for 1 minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


Artisanal, reknowned for its cheese selections, has sophisticated packages perfect for sending to the turophiles in your life. Choose from one of their interesting categories—Best of Paris, Italian Collection, Exotic & Rare Cheese Collection, Red Wine Collection, more—or have a custom selection created just for you. Each package comes beautifully wrapped and includes not only a sampling of the world's finest artisanal cheeses, but also the perfect accessories and accompaniments. They also offer a Cheese of the Month edition, which you can subscribe to for 3 months, 6 months, or a year, for $55 a month.


Lobster lovers can get the best and sweetest specimens direct from Maine. GetMaineLobster.com specializes in overnight delivery of fresh caught live Maine Lobsters as well as a variety of other Maine goodies like crab or lobster cakes, lobster pie, mussels, clams, clam or seafood chowder. Now there’s an interesting package to recieve!


The Frost Family Farm Heritage, headed by Prescott Frost, great-grandson of the American poet Robert Frost, continues a centuries long tradition of family farming. Prescott is deeply committed to changing the current unhealthy factory-farm system in use today. Their USDA Certified Organic meats, come from animals fed on grass in the Nebraska Sandhills—not corn, and without hormones or antibiotics. These fine, flavorful meats can be ordered online. What meat lover wouldn’t be thrilled to receive the Filet Mignon (8oz for $21), or the NY Strip (12oz for $24) or the best All Beef Hot Dogs (12oz for $7.50). For those who are very deserving, there’s also a Gift Package which includes 2 Filet Mignon, 2 NY Strip, 4 Rib Eye, 6 Ground Beef, 2 packs Hot Dogs (at a savings of 24%) for $199.

hip HAPPENINGS: New talent at Lani Kai

Lani Kai, THE destination for tiki cocktails and scene has a new chef. Chef Sawa (formerly at Good Fork in Brooklyn, and sous chef at Annisa) has reimagined and elevated the menu, adding a Polynesian flair to her style of New American cuisine. You can practically taste the food looking at the gorgeous photos from Doron Gild. Why not sample the menu on a Monday night, and enjoy the latest cocktails from guest bartenders. Here’s the latest lineup:
DEC:12th—Damon Boelte; 19th—Brother Cleve
JAN: 9th—Jackie Patterson; 16th—Thomas Waugh; 23rd—Dale DeGroff; 30th—Rob Fuentevilla
FEB: 6th—Allen Katz; 3th—Tiki Monday All-Stars (Richie & Lynnette, Adam & Joe, Kearns & Phil, Wrigley & Menite, Julie & Brad); 27th—Eryn Reece.
MAR: 5th—Marcos Tello; 12th—Julie Reiner; 19th—Cabell Tomlinson

top photo: PuPu Platter: Okonomiyaki (classic japanese street food)—crispy pancake with cabbage, bean sprouts, and house-made spam, topped with bonito flakes and a drizzle of okonomi sauce; Char Siu Baby Back Ribs—roasted in chinese barbeque sauce, garnished with crushed macadamia nuts and scallions; Escabeche Tacos—red snapper, cabbage salad and grilled pineapple salsa, served in wonton taco shells; Crab Wontons—lump crab mixed with mascarpone cheese in a crispy wonton, served with mustard sauce; Huli Huli Yakitori—grilled chicken skewers marinated in a house-made huli huli sauce.

Loco Moco: Crispy Japanese rice cake topped with a spiced beef patty, fried quail egg and demi glace – a riff on Hawaii’s traditional surfer dish

Short Ribs: Pineapple braised short ribs served with purple rice, sauteed baby bok choy and fresh horseradish gremolata.

Oyster Sliders: Fried oysters on a brioche bun with spicy mayo and pickled ginger.

hip HAPPENINGS: New talent at Michael’s Restaurant

If you are in midtown admiring the windows on Fifth Avenue this holiday season, do stop in at Michael’s, whose menu and bar has gone through a complete overhaul. At the bar you will be treated to Michael Flannery’s repertoire of cocktails. My favorite, Eve’s Temptation, is a mix of Louis Royer VSOP Force 53 Cognac, Marie Brizard Curacao liqueur, Benedictine, fresh lemon juice, and an apple cider reduction (see photo). If you are in the mood for a great glass of red wine, I highly recommend The Malibu Vineyard 2008 Pinot Noir, which is one of the nicest sips I have had lately that is available by the glass (remarkably, it is actually grown in owner Michael McCarty’s backyard in California). There are some interesting bar bites, such as spicy Korean tacos, and a crispy oyster trio, if you get hungry. Then, if these bites inspire you to order dinner, you can explore Chef Kyung Up Lim’s full menu, which adds a fine touch to classic dishes. For appetizers, try the Roasted Heirloom Carrot Salad, or comforting Veal Sweetbread served with creamed spinach. A fantastic choice for the entree—the Grilled Mediterranean Branzino (photo) served with forbidden black rice, haricots verts, pesto, and a cabernet sauce. See more photos from our dinner at this link.


Sale: lighting from Artemide

Light up your space for the holidays. Artemide presents the Holiday Collection with savings of UP TO 30%. Nesso (pictured in red) would certainly make the scene festive, as well as Castore, the beautiful hanging globes.
when: From November 1st through December 31st 2011
where: available in all Artemide showrooms and dealers. Click here to locate the nearest Artemide point of sale.

Veritas: Magnum Bottle Openings

Every second Monday, Veritas will be opening a special magnum from the wine cellar of Park B. Smith to be served by the glass. I went a few weeks back with my friend Jude, and unfortunately, the bottle had only one little sip left—which we got to taste, and agreed it was totally out-of-this-world. I swore I would get to the restaurant earlier the next time. (we got there around 9:30) Here's the lineup:

November 7th: Pegau 'Cuvée Réservée' 2000

November 21st: Janasse 'Chaupin' 2000

December 5th: Clos des Papes 2001

December 19th: Bois de Boursan 'Cuvee des Félix' 2000

Sale: Cookware online

Holiday shoppers get an early opportunity to save on top-brand cookware, bakeware, oven-to-table stoneware, teakettles, kitchen tools, cutlery, pantryware, and other kitchen accessories. Get 30-70% savings on every cookware and kitchenware product offered by: Anolon, Circulon, KitchenAid (cookware and teakettles), Farberware, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, and BonJour. To shop, click here. When ready to purchase, enter DISCOUNT CODE: 100040
where: PotAndPans.com
when: Wednesday, November 23, 2011 through Sunday, January 2, 2012.

Sale at Chilewich

Chilewich is taking 50 – 75% off regular retail prices. (you've seen their stuff at practically every new restaurant) Designs will include placemats, floormats, floor tiles, pet mats and bags (some items will be irregulars.)
where: Clothingline, 261 west 36th St, between 7/8,  2nd floor
when: Sale starts on November 8th and goes through November 10th. Open Tuesday, from 10 to 7, Wednesday from 10 to 6, Thursday from 10 to 7.

Benefit: Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais

The midnight unveiling of Beaujolais Nouveau's latest vintage comes with great fanfare. This year’s label was created by a multi-media artist Kaves, a Brooklyn native, whose inspiration was 80s-style grafitti. The bottles will arrive in a classic Cadillac also outfitted in graffiti. See Art Contest winners, dance and drink the night away. A $25 suggested donation will benefits City Meals on Wheels. Get your tickets at this link.
where: Stage 37, 508 West 37th st between 10/11
when: Nov 16th from 10pm – 1:30am

BOBO's new fall menu

Take a peek at what's being served at Bobo. Check the website for upcoming events...

STEAMED L.I. MUSSELS white wine, lobster broth, cherry tomatoes, swiss chard

STEAK TARTARE 'French' dressing, quail egg, potato chips, cress

PARSLEY CRUSTED SKATE brocolli rabe, garlic beurre noir

STRIPED BASS ratatouille, arugula pesto


Two E Bar: An Elegant Hideaway at the Pierre Hotel

The Pierre Hotel was recently renovated and has a special spot for lounging and cocktailing at the Two E Bar. The space harks back to grander days, with its art deco styled gold bar, roomy proportions, muted metallic color scheme, and comfortable seating. My favorite sip of the night was the Suchn’ Such (photo) a unque taste sensation from the bar’s Indian-spiced homemade ‘Garam Masala’ rum, mixed with simple syrup, fresh lime juice, grapefruit bitters. Fantastic, perfect for fall. See the cocktail report of tastes around town at this link.

IL TESORO Restaurant: fresh tradition

For traditional Italian dishes with a feeling of total freshness, head to Il Tesoro, a new Italian spot on the upper east side. One step inside takes you into a Mad-Men-days vibe, which has been shined to perfection and refurbished by the chef’s wife, Joelene Jolie. A soft opera plays in the background while you sample Chef AJ Black’s dishes. My favorite of the night: Pollo Milanese breaded pan-sauteed chicken breast topped with fresh mix of baby greens, red onions slices, and heirloom tomatoes finished in an aged balsamic dressing (photo). You will be completely pampered by the charming, and attentive wait staff. See more photos of the meal, and other September dining highlights, at this link.


how to host a wine tasting

Get your wine aficionado friends together to savor the notes of the latest natural, biodynamic and organic wines.

get guests involved
Each person should do a little research and arrive knowing a little bit about the terroir, vineyard, etc. Try these guidelines:
• single grape / in a certain price range: The same grape from different areas can vary widely in taste.
• single grape / money is no object: Taste the difference between an expensive bottle and a one that doesn’t break the bank. When I was doing a 10-week wine course with a known sommelier, he would sometimes sneak an inexpensive wine into the tasting, which often turned out to be the favorite.
• one country or region / bring your favorite bottle: Learn more about what your friends enjoy, and why. Narrow the choice to either white, red, rose, or sparkling.
• bring something unusual: Find a sparkling red, something from a country not known for making wine, a blend of 4 or more grapes, or a limited edition.

use your senses
I love the idea of doing blind tastings. Cover each bottle in a pretty sack, or decant the wine in wide pitchers, ceramic jugs, or, of course, decanters designed to do the job.

take note!
My wine tasting note cards include a list of “hints” that will help you describe what you are tasting. Download them here (click on cards above to enlarge) and print them out to use at your next tasting.

wine recommendations
from Chile: At an organic tasting, I came across these three winners. Aresti: 2010 Equilibrio Sauvignon Blanc, Curico Valley. Miguel Torres: 2010 Las Mulas Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley. Matetic: 2009 Corralillo Chardonnay, San Antonio Valley. 

from South Africa: Reyneke produces all their wines organically and biodynamically. A triple treat: the 2007 Reserve Red, Shiraz/Cab; the 2009 Capstone Stellenbosch, Shiraz/Cab/Merlot; and the 2007 Cornerstone, Cab/Merlot/Shiraz. Chenin Blancs are delightfully light: Fleur du Cap 2009; Raats 2010 Original Chenin; and the 2009 Mulderbosch.

from Austria: The exciting white: Grüner Veltliner. Try the Loimer 2010 Kamptal; Wimmer-Czerny 2010 Fumberg, Wagram; Nikolaihof Wachau 2008 Im Weingebirge; also great: Ploder-Rosenberg 2008 Eruption Kraft Aus der Erde Chardonnay and the 2010 Linea Sauvignon Blanc; Wieninger 2008 Gemischter Satz Nussberg Alte Reben.

from France: Bila-Haut 2009 Blanc Côtes du Roussillon. This wine stands out with its lovely citrus aromas and smoky notes.

mixed bag: At a recent natural wine tasting hosted by W. R. Tish, founder of nywinesalon.com, I got to taste a wide variety of natural wines. (If you live in NYC you should attend one of his tastings, which are casual, entertaining, yet highly informative.) My favorites: the Montesecondo 2007 Chianti Classico, and the Bucklin 2008 Bambino Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel. Tish’s favorite organic producers include Leflaive in Burgundy, M. Chapoutier in the Rhone, Brick House in Oregon, Alvaro Palacios in Spain and Benziger, Coturri and Robert Sinskey in California.

it’s only natural 
For more help in picking wine, get a copy of Alice Feiring’s entertaining new book Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally. Alice Feiring is an award-winning food and wine journalist whose latest passion is finding wines without any of the 200 government-approved additives (which can include animal proteins, oak chips, sulfurs, preservatives, and Mega Purple—a brand of concentrated wine color). She’s tasted wine around the globe, and believes in “Just grape. Nothing added, nothing taken away.” Read excerpts from the book at alicefeiring.com. Alice recommends: 2009 Coturri Testa Vineyard Carignane: Rich, meaty and delicious, from an icon of American natural winemaking. 2008 Bodegas Carballo La Palma Listan Blanco. A silky and savory wine from the volcanic soils of the Canary Islands. A touch of high toned aroma, just the safe side of cider. 2010 Puzelat, Le Telquel. Gamay is one of the most underrated grapes in the world, and this earthy expression is delicious. 2009 Arnot-Roberts Green Island Vineyard Chardonnay, North Coast, USA. Bored with California chardonnay? Try an edgy one from cool California climate and little manipulation.
This article first appeared in the November December 2011 issue of Organic Spa Magazine. 

fortified honey: Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur

When the weather starts to get cold, I love to sip Bärenjäger on its own in a pretty little liqueur glass. So I couldn’t help but be curious to see how this yummy 70 proof honey liqueur would transform in the hands of bartenders in a contest sponsored by Bärenjäger. Six finalists were selected from over 250 entrees from around the country, who then competed to win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest and $1000. The herb-edged honey taste got mixed with everything from absinthe to beer. Kyle Ford was selected as the winner, with SS Europa (see recipe below). Despite the fact that I don’t adore the flavor of absinthe, the cocktail worked perfectly, and it was quite nice how the 3 flavors played together. The crowd favorite came from Erick B. Smith with his Bad News Bear, whose inclusion of Benedictine won my vote (see recipe below). See more photos of the event and cocktails from the contestants at this link.

SS Europa
1 part Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur
2 parts Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
3 dashes St. George absinthe   

Stir for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Bad News Bear
1 part Bärenjäger
1.5 parts Bols Genever
.5 parts Benedictine
.75 parts Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-aged Bitters

Combine all ingredients in shaker, add ice, shake vigorously, and strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.


Scottish Dining: Mark Greenaway and 21212

I was lured to Scotland by two of my dearest friends to attend their wedding a few weeks ago, which gave me the opportunity to maximize the experience and include some fine dining while in Edinburgh. Mark Greenaway, a restaurant in a sophisticated townhouse opened a few months ago, and has been getting some great reviews, so I made sure to have a reservation before I left New York. The experience turned out to be fantastic: photo above is my favorite entree of the trip: Goosnargh Duck Breast: Sausage Roll, Potato Croquette, Peas, Caramelized Watermelon, and Tarragon Jus. The duck was cooked to perfection, with a nice layer of fat, and had the ideal texture to pair with the sausage rolls. The next night, we snagged a last-minute reservation at 21212, which was open on Sunday because the Fringe Festival was in full swing. Lucky for us, we were able to escape the fray around the Royal Mile and head over to another beautiful, posh townhouse. 21212 gets its name from the menu, which has a choice of 2 starters, 1 soup, choice of 2 entrees, 1 cheese, and a choice of 2 desserts. Photo below shows the entree: The Chicken Roast Dinner, French slow-cooked corn-fed chicken breast, with  bacon, chipolatas, ham, 4 Scottish root vegetables, mini roasties, cranberry puree, sage & onion, white bread & rosemary sauce, tiny leeks & crisp skin. It was two nights of pure decadence! See more photos of all the fabulous bites on my FB page in the Foodie Scotland album.

Scottish Cocktails Report Edinburgh/Glasgow: Blythswood Square and Ubiquitous Chip

After a few days in Edinburgh, we headed west to Glasgow. Blythswood Square Hotel proved to be not only a totally high-class spot, but also devoted to cocktail making. One sip convinced us to stay for dinner as well, and try some more cocktails after we had some food in our system. Bartender David Smillie invented a cocktail for me on the spot, the Teq App, when I told him I had a preference for tequila. He blended apricot brandy, pink grapefruit, lime and pineapple juice, added a dash of Peychards Bitters and egg white with Tapatio Blanco (photo, top). Fabulous! On the other end of town, we stopped in at the Ubiquitous Chip, celebrating its 40th year in business. We chose the tiniest of the three bars, where Peter treated us to the specialties of the house. Photo shows the Ginger Mojito with Anogstura 5 Year Old Rum, Mint, Lime and Ginger. See more photos from the trip at Scottish Cocktails on my FB page.

Scottish Lodging: The Scotsman Hotel and Citizen M

I try to stay in boutique hotels whenever I travel, and the two that I picked in Scotland could not be more different from each other, making for a split personality trip! In Edinburgh, The Scotsman was built in 1905, originally as offices for the newspaper of the same name. The architecture is striking, and unique, and the hotel is like a maze, as it is actually 3 buildings, each serviced by its own elevator. Each of the suites are different. The lower level houses a stainless steel swimming pool below the spa and gym. When we headed over to Glasgow, and Citizen M, we encountered a totally modern, space with personality. The rooms were designed and fitted modularly, so that each room was identical. A sumptuous, king-size bed decked with plump, cushy pillows, spanned wall to wall, in front of a window. Inside the space was a frosted glass cubicle which housed a luxurious shower and the toilet. The TV, lighting, and window blinds and shades were all controlled with a Philips remote. We nicknamed the room "the pod" for its futuristic qualities. See more photos of both hotels in the Foodie Scotland album on FB.