In Alcohol Review Cocktails Drinks Entertaining Food and Drink Gin Recipes Summer Drinks Whitley Neill Handcrafted Gin

Rituals In The Making, Gin At The Root: Whitley Neill Handcrafted Gins

I won't even begin to question you on your personal outlook of the seasons and their transitions as they're just that...personal.  However, as it relates to myself, I will tell you that certain thoughts pop up from time to time that make me wonder about my personal connections to the seasons, the rituals connected to them and what may seem like my instinctual habits of the seasons.  For example, I do wear white, but feel odd wearing shorts after Labor Day as to me Summer ends Labor Day Weekend and not a few weeks later when it's supposed to.  I also refuse to wear shorts before Memorial Day since its not the start of Summer, but I still regard Memorial Day Weekend as the unofficial start of Summer.  Then again, I keep my down comforter on the bed year-round and just turn the AC up to full blast instead of using my flat sheet, so my logic is to be questioned.  However, we won't question it now, we'll just chalk it up to "To Each Their Own".

Now while you could ritualize your wines & spirits, and some have (red wine with meat and white wine with fish, etc.) don't you really just drink what suits you whenever the hell you want?  I've been known to order a margarita at brunch and order an extra dirty martini in a dive bar.  This Summer saw a resounding return to gin for me.  The distinctive kick of a gin & tonic is a very welcomed escape at times from the weight of a whiskey neat and the saccharine spicy rush of a dark & stormy.  Along my reconnection to the joy of gin this Summer was my discovery of Whitley Neill Handcrafted Gins.

Whitley Neill is a handcrafted English Dry Gin that offers an amazing line of the eclectic spirit in flavors like Blood Orange, Rhubarb & Ginger and Blackberry.  This family-owned business has been handed down from generation to generation since 1762 and even now, on it's 8th generational family-owner, has no intention of stopping.  What Whitley Neill is intent on however is continuing to offer tradition gin-distilling techniques with high quality botanicals that are steeped in a more than a century-old antique copper pot the family has dubbed 'Constance'.  The current head of the company, Johnny Neill, has a passion for gin-distilling learned from his grandmother that leads him to source unique and exciting ingredients for benchmark distinguished outcomes.  The sweet & fragrant 'Quince', the both cool and warm citrus kick of 'Blood Orange', the floral and licorice heat of 'Rhubarb & Ginger' and the juniper-rich cleanliness of the classic 'Small Batch' Original, the award-winner made from South African gooseberries and baobab, all conspire to make a superb gin all poised to elevate a cocktail to a culinary experience.  Check out my recipe below for a remix on a Gin & Juice I call "The Gin Got Juiced".

The Gin Got Juiced

4 ounces               Whitley Neill Handcrafted Small Batch Gin
1 ounce                 Simple Syrup
1- 1 1/2 ounces     Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1- 1 1/2 ounces     Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
1- 1 1/2 ounces     Fresh Squeezed Pineapple Juice

Place gin and simple syrup into a shaker.  You can pre-prep the juices then just add them or fresh squeeze them at that moment you're making the cocktail.  It's about 1/4 of a medium to large sized orange, 1/4 of a grapefruit and about a palmful size of cut pineapple.  Stir and strain into a rocks glass with ice.  Garnish with an orange and grapefruit rind and a single spire from a pineapple crown.  

The citrus & tropical balance pairs nicely with the gin for a sweet, tart and sharp kick with that tangy gooseberry punch.  Whitley Neill Handcrafted Gins are available now at your finer wine & spirit retailers.  For more information on the brand and their bevy of flavors, check out their website here!  With however you choose to zero in on and toast your near end to Summer, officially or unofficially,  please remember to drink responsibly.

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In Exercise Fitness Health Home gym Mens Issues Mens lifestyle MOTR Summer Body Summer Fitness Wellness Workout

The Summer's Lazy, You Don't Have To Be: MOTR® Balanced Body Fitness

On July 20, 2019 the heat index in Harlem NYC hit a whopping 114 degrees.  Maybe whopping is an understatement.  It may be better to go with intolerable as I'm realizing why it's actually called the 'Lazy Days of Summer.'  You barely want to do anything outdoors as the excessive heat seems to not just suck away your energy, but also your ambition.  However, since life must continue and since you've been busy eating ice-cream indoors and over-packing those barbecue plates, this time of year may take a bit of aspirational and air-conditioned creativity to stay on your fitness game.

I've also found that mixing it up especially around this time of year is essential as your body wants to be out at the beach, but your sensibilities still want to maintain that beach body.  Further, sometimes mixing it up doesn't just mean the routine, but rather the equipment involving a routine.  With that on the brain, I must say I was immediately drawn to the MOTR® when I first saw it.  For starters, I live in New York City where space is a time-honored commodity and then in this day and age, enough time to get everything done is a rarity.  The MOTR® by Balanced Body lives up to its motto of 'Smart Fitness Made Simple' by being what I call the quintessential pilates roller unit.  The MOTR is built with a 43" cylinder that features an arm attachment that holds two resistance-based pull cables that when engaged can allow its user to perform various categories of exercises depending on what specific bodily area they are trying to focus on.  So there are a bevy of suggested exercises that focus on specific areas like upper & lower body and isolated legs & arms together with agendas of agility & balance all with a central emphasis on a basic focus of pilates fitness, the core.

It's interesting to note how the core, the center, is where the stability of mostly all the exercises offered by the MOTR radiates from.  A stronger core enables you to lift better and maintain better balance which in turn leads to better form, more noticeable results and quicker post-workout recovery.  This is precisely why the MOTR is such a great asset in your fitness journey.  I discovered this firsthand when I set up to use my MOTR for the first time. 

                                                    Supine Feet In Straps: Core, Legs and Arms

                                                 All Four Cats: Core, Legs and Balance

Having never done pilates or yoga, I was unfamiliar with the using of a roller in a fitness regimen.  So when I first unpacked my unit, which was an easy-stepped breeze, (SEE MY VIDEO) I decided to christen it with a suggested exercise that worked both core and legs but also utilized every component of the MOTR.  The 'Supine Feet In Straps' calls for the user to balance their back on the roller, place their feet in the handles of the cable pulls and use their arms to stabilize themselves.  Your core abdominals, your legs and arms are all activated creating tone and with one or two clicks of the resistance buttons you can build muscle by making them work a bit harder by increasing the resistance.  I immediately got a better sense of what the MOTR could do after one use and how its building on exercises that all center back to the core are essential to having better overall fitness motion and gains.  The MOTR will help build my core while simultaneously supplementing the exercises I do with my regular weight routines.

                                                                 Triceps: Core and Arms

                                                             Teaser: Core, Legs and Arms

In the coming weeks please check back with the site to see my on-going coverage of how I'll implement the MOTR into my existing fitness routine and create new routines with it.  Shiny new essential toys, amazing body results and better fitness mobility all provide a fitting case to chase the lazy days of Summer away.

                                                                                            Squats: Core and Legs

                                                                                     My new toy in my home gym

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In Cocktails Drinks Entertaining Food and Drink Gadgets Soda Stream Summer Drinks Summer Gadgets Tech Tech and Gadgets

That Sparkle In Your Eye: Soda Stream Fizzi One Touch

We're almost a month into Summer so hopefully you're not still having hot toddies.  Think cool, crisp, effervescent and verdant.  Think light, refreshing, lively and easy.  There's a collective understanding that your food and drink should be the opposite of the temperature outside, which is precisely why a nice bowl of chili works before when its 20 degrees out and a big fresh salad works better when its 80 degrees out.  Or perhaps it doesn't matter to you and you're just going to eat and drink whatever the hell you want to.  Well for those who may want to spice up seasonal culinary intakes may I suggest a handy apparatus to add exuberance to your Summer cocktails.  

We all order cocktails with soda.  Whiskey & soda, Vodka soda, tequila & soda.  The thing is that we don't order them all the time and some days we're in the mood for it and somedays not so much.  This is precisely why I love the Soda Stream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water-maker.  It's fresh sparkling water when you want at the simple touch of a button.  The Fizzi One Touch eliminates wondering if your water has gone flat since you make it when you need it and its effervescent and fresh all in under thirty seconds.  Your cocktails will be livelier but also your regular water needs can be as well.  How perfectly refreshing to enjoy a nice bubbly glass of sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime or any other fruit slices in the Summer.  Then how delightfully naughty to add a splash of bourbon or vodka to the glass and give some umph to your sparkle.   So useful to have at home and to make great Summer stunner cocktails like the one below.

The Pom-Cherry Chiller

3 ounces             Deep Eddy Lemon Flavored Vodka
3-4 ounces          Fresh Sparkling Water
5                          Fresh Cherries
12-16                   Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
1                          Lemon wheel (for garnish)

Place four cherries, the pomegranate seeds and the vodka into a cocktail shaker and muddle for 20-30 seconds.  Strain that mixture into a rocks glass and then add the sparkling water on top.  Lightly stir then garnish with the last cherry and a lemon wheel.  Refreshingly sweet, tart and sparkling.

The Soda Stream Fizzi One Touch is available now at and at other retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Home Depot, Target and Williams-Sonoma. 

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In Cocktails Drinks Entertaining New York City New York City Events Pride2019 Smirnoff Summer Drinks Vodka World Pride

Home Is Where The Bar Is: Smirnoff House Of Pride Party June 27, 2019 NYC

June 27, 2019 There's only a few things that go on in New York City during the Summer and most of them involve, rooftops or sidewalk soirees, fighting for grass & seating in a public park and swapping out anything indoor for the outdoor.  The hot is traded for the iced, the AC becomes mechanical gold and the city becomes surprisingly a little less manic.
But not this weekend!  As the host city for World Pride 2019, New York City, which has seen its fair share of antics, stunts and bacchanal behavior, is kind of certifiably electric.  So what's one more traffic jam, crowded train or temporary über fare hike if it means epic parties, wall to wall bodies and endless liquor flowing?  Well, thankfully I didn't run into any train delays or fare hikes, but the Smirnoff House Of Pride party did cause a traffic jam yesterday evening.  Smacked right on one of the city's most renowned streets last night, Smirnoff orchestrated six exciting rooms set up as a unique pop-up experience to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community.  Appropriately called House Of Pride, it played up ballroom, bar, brothel, house party, Americana, camp and disco themes all centered around the LGBTQIA+ community's past, present and future.  

The party, hosted by Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness, with vamped-up drag performers, wonderfully eclectic appetizers, Timo Weiland spinning on the 1s & 2s and interactive campy props in each of the room all conspired together to enhance the perfectly curated cocktails all made with the well-crafted Smirnoff.  I mean, a party where Van Ness emerges out of a rainbow taxi like a saucy Venus DeMilo all while passersby and drivers gawk, stare, smile, regard in peculiar bewilderment then go back to their normal Thursday evening routines is classic New York behavior, no?  It was a strong message of pride in that no one should be deterred from living their truth and all of our truths can and should coexist together be it on a frenetic Canal Street in NYC, any Smalltown USA or globally.  No house is perfect, since thats boring.  Our collective differences teach us about our diversity more than anything and a little Smirnoff on ice only serves to make learning and discovering each other that much more cheeky.  

The two limited-edition Smirnoff "Welcome Home" and "Love Wins" bottles are part of the "Welcome Home" campaign celebrating and promoting inclusion and acceptance of all for all.  There are six versions of the "Welcome Home" bottle where on each the word 'Welcome' is spelled out in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian and Mandarin to honor the global LGBTQIA+ communities that were done especially for House Of Pride party, however the only bottles that are available for retail now are the 'Love Wins' bottles.  And as always, the top shelf taste of Smirnoff, loving yourself and who you choose is always a win! 

*Some photos courtesy of Getty Images

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