In Alcohol Review Cocktails Drinks Food and Drink Mens lifestyle Sauvage Upstate Vodka Vodka Wines and Spirits

The City's Nice, But The Beauty Is Upstate: Upstate Vodka By Sauvage Distillery

You may have missed it if you were too busy figuring out which way to wrap your scarf that day, but the first day of Spring happened this week.  Tell that to certain Massachusetts residents that received a few inches of snow a couple days ago.  You may also get looks of skepticism from certain Northeastern residents who have been eagerly waiting for the mild to usher in and the cold to slide on out.  However, fear not, the milder weather will be here before you know it which will then turn over into disturbingly hot weather which will have you seeking air conditioned temps rivaling the temps  currently outside.  The point is you have to deal, better times are ahead and good things come to those who wait.  

Well what if I told you that the good times you seek are perhaps just a sip away?  What if I prodded you with the reminder that whether its frigid or fired up outside, the comfort of a perfect cocktail makes the extreme cold and the excessive heat seem all the less intolerable.  Then what if I went further and told you that I recently had the pleasure to discover a new vodka made from apples right here in New York State?  That is exactly what Upstate Vodka is.  Appropriately distinguishing itself from the infused and flavored vodkas, Upstate Vodka is the latest brilliant effort from the Sauvage Distillery in Oneonta, NY that has produced a clear and lively vodka made from New York State apples.  The result produced a notable vodka experience marked by its clean refreshing color, faint & comforting apple aroma and a taste that starts with a slight jolt of fruit sweetness and then as the spirit expands across your tongue and down your throat, you're left with a warmth and almost herbaceous finish.  What comes through here is that the root of this vodka is not traditional grain or potato.     Upstate Vodka is quality-controlled by being expertly handcrafted in small batches to really allow this spirit to stand apart as a benchmark vodka.  It's subtle in the enduring presence of the apple and has a definite depth with its 90 Proof, 45% Alc/vol rating which allows it to be a clean perfect sipper over ice and paired with clean foods like mild cheeses, roasted veggies and fish as they are light with delicate flavor.

So for the time being it would appear that New York State has still got its cold weather lingering, but it now also has a wonderful vodka birthed from the spoils of its own land with Upstate Vodka.  Now while I highly suggest you sip it to experience the satisfying subtleties of the tenured apple and clean distillation, but I couldn't leave you without suggesting some cocktails to get your through your day.  Check out these two martini recipes below using the pleasant Upstate Vodka:

Upstate Comfort Martini 

3 ounces          Upstate Vodka
2 ounces          Carpano Dry Vermouth
6                      Cardamom seed pods
8-10                 Clover pods
2                      Cinnamon Sticks
1                      Apple skin sliver

Into a shaker place ice, vodka, vermouth, cardamom seed pods, clover pods and cinnamon sticks.  Shake for about 20 seconds.  Strain in a martini glass.  Skewer garnish with one of the cinnamon sticks from inside the shaker and a sliver of apple skin.

What a lovely way to experience this vodka.  The thinking was that it may lose to punch since the apple is delicate, but that is the loveliness to Upstate vodka.  The pleasant apple essence of the vodka still held its own again the spiciness of the cardamom and cloves and the presence of the dry vermouth. 

Almost Spring Martini

3 ounces          Upstate Vodka
2 ounces          Carpano Dry Vermouth
1/2 ounce         St. Germain Liqueur
1 tbspn             Fresh chopped ginger root
2 ounces           Fresh chopped apple
1                       Flat slice of apple
1                       Spring of rosemary

Place the apple and ginger into a cocktail shaker and muddle for 30 seconds.  Add vodka, vermouth, St. Germain and ice.  Shake for about 20 seconds.  Strain over a martini glass.  Garnish with the apple slice cut down the center.  Lightly stir with the sprig of rosemary then lay it across the top of the glass.

This cocktail was inspired by the changing of the seasons.  Again the Upstate Vodka held its clean and unique flavor profile against the heat of the ginger and was in a way amplified with the presence of the muddled apple.  The sprig of rosemary was a nice verdant touch  to symbolize Spring with some nice depth and heat from the ginger to remind you that warmer temps are ahead.

Upstate Vodka is now available at your finer wine and spirit retailers including Columbus Avenue Wine & Spirits, Ambassador Wine & Spirits and Cabrini Wine & Spirits in NYC in 50, 375 and 700ml bottles.  Check with your local wine and spirits retailer and also click on the link below to see the growing number of locations Upstate Vodka is available at in New York State so you too can enjoy this new walk into a vodka with depth and flavor.  Depending on how you look at it, it's something to warm you up for the Winter or cool you down for the Summer straight from the natural deliciousness of the Empire State.

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In Alcohol Review Drinks Entertaining Food and Drink Mens lifestyle Provence Rose Group Rosé Summer Drinks Wines and Spirits Winetasting

Three, The Easy Way: Provence Rosé Group Chateau De Berne and Ultimate Rosé Wines

Have you ever thought about some of the labels that spirits receive?  Tequila gets the blood boiling and can make you want to fight.  Brown liquor gets your drunk quicker.  Vodka makes the world and your head spin around.  Well I say, if it's believed that those spirits can do all those things then I say that wines can put you in a mood too.  Outside of all the hang-ups and notes about tannins and acidity, a great wine can put me in a good mood.  That mood, particularly at the end of a hectic workday, is one of relaxation and a savory unwinding where problems slowly exit as the wine enters.  

So how fittingly appropriate that at an event last week I discovered a trio of truly stellar rosés.  Fitting since I love rosés and appropriate since the event came on the heels of a long and sensorily busy workday.  Rosé serves as the light pink bit of grown and sexy grape that conspires to uplift your spirits and lighten your mood.  So when I first tasted a rosé entitled Romance, it was almost a reminder that spring was right around the corner where love and newness bloom.  It was one of three rosé wines highlighted from the esteemed Provence Rosé Group.  Romance comes from the Chateau De Berne, Provence and has a fruity & fresh taste, peachy & floral aromatics and pale pink color with a bright and pleasant taste to seemingly evokes its namesake.  

Then came a rosé with a stellar smoothness and a texturally silken quality that just flows clean enough to leave the mind free to be inspired.  Inspiration, also from Chateau De Berne is a wonderful rosé that has aromatics from the garden with berries, flowers and herbs that are lovinglay balanced with a satisfyingly light sweetness and herbal freshness.  Finally there was Ultimate Provence, a truly special rosé that reminds you how even while being light and airy, a wine can be bold and complex.  This brightly colored rosé has notes that were kissed by the salty sea air and  when paired with berry and spiced notes creates a nicely blended beautiful full-bodied wine. 

These three rosé wines together have something for all rosé and wine connoisseurs.  Each have the essential beauty of the Provencal grapes together with tenured methods from a renowned winemaking region.  Then there's also the fact that the varieties of the trio offer relief for whatever kind of day you've had.  At least some not so great days can have a rosy ending.

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In Comfort Foods Cooking Food and Drink Mens lifestyle Purely Elizabeth Vegan Vegan Foods

Life Can Be A Cup Of Oats: Purely Elizabeth Vibrant Oats

Leave earlier!  How many times have you heard that from a teacher in high school when you walk in late with the excuse that the train was moving with delays only to hear the sharp retort, "Leave earlier"?  Admittedly some days I was too busy making a mixtape to leave on time and other days the train was literally dragging its caboose through the tunnel as though it had no intention of sticking to any schedule.  When on a life-cycle of the mad-dash sometimes you hardly have time to eat.  Then if you wake up, reflect, stretch, exercise, make a shake then shower before leaving in the morning like I do, then a delay is just not on your schedule.  

With such little time that it seems at times like time is not your own, I guess every second counts.  This is why when I come across products that speak to my inner efficiency-expert, I rejoice.  Such is the case with Purely Elizabeth Vibrant Oats, an on-the-go cup filled with oats flakes, quinoa, flax and chia with a separate cup of granola topping.  All you add is hot water and all it gives you is a healthy dose of fiber, heart health goodness non-GMO ingredients and depending on the favor, antioxidant rejuvenation from the Blueberry Lemon and anti-inflammatory comfort from the Coconut Turmeric.  It's very handy to prepare and then have on your commute or enjoy at your desk or even just relaxing at home.  Purely Elizabeth Vibrant Oats have a natural sweetness and a fresh zesty fruit kick with their Blueberry Lemon and a comforting toasty earthiness from the Coconut Turmeric.  At least now I can take comfort in my satisfying breakfast while running late.  For more information on Purely Elizabeth Vibrant Oats and their other products check out their website here.

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In Comfort Foods Cooking Entertaining Food and Drink Kumana Avocado Sauce Mens lifestyle Vegan Vegan Foods

Rethink Your Avocado!: Kumana Avocado Sauces

Call me lazy if you will, but sometimes I don't even feel like opening a packet of ketchup for my fries.  Some days when the schedule is more manic than blasé I skip food places where I have to tip someone in lieu of the quick and fresh that I can eat while walking to the subway.  Then there are days that the oven heat-up takes too long and the microwave becomes my bestie just as there are days I wish Seamless delivered to bedside and not just curbside.  What can I say, the life of a busy New York cosmopolitan can get so frenetic to where you just need to cat-nap & go and eat & go.  So when life comes along and presents a way to make it easier, not only do my ears perk, but I may even just get a couple more minutes to relish in my day.  

So often I find myself frustrated with my hectic schedules that leave me not buying avocados since they'll probably go bad before I have the chance to quietly sit and savor them on some oat nut toast with Roma tomatoes, truffle salt and chili flakes.  Then just when I think that my palette has to be content with my crazed lot in life enters Kumana Avocado Sauces, a line of rich sauces made with real avocado and spices.  Born in Venezuela and raised in Los Angeles, Kumana Avocado Sauces are a skillful blend of creamy avocados, onion, bell peppers, vinegar and spices that take the beloved avocado to new heights by positioning it as a qualified contender as a condiment worthy of shelf, table and pantry space.  Kumana is blended perfectly and really allows the avocado to shine with the natural flavors of the peppers, spices and vinegar to create a very special alternative to an actual cut avocado that is flavorful and exciting.

I found myself putting this on everything.  Quick and easy avocado toast became so plausible, a verdant dipping sauce for my tostones emerged as nirvana and a zesty topper to my vegan deli sandwiches brought excitement back to my quick on-the-go menu.  This should seriously be stocked on tables alongside ketchup and mustard as they are so flavorful, tasty and neutral enough to become a viable option on pretty much any kind of savory food.  There are three varieties, Kumana Original, fresh and lively, Kumana Be Mango, sweet and salty satisfaction and Kumana Be Hot, peppery sharp loveliness.  How many foods can you find to awaken with this wonderful new way to enjoy the taste of avocado especially when you can't get to the grocer to snag some?  For more information head on over to Kumana's website here and broaden your perspective on the amazing avocado.

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In Fashion Mens Clothing Mens Fall/Winter 2019 Review Mens Fashion Mens lifestyle Menswear New York Fashion Week Studio One Eighty Nine Sustainable Sustainable Fashion West African Fashion

When The Artists Come Into The Studio: Studio One Eighty Nine Fall/Winter 2019 Menswear

Sure minimal is great, but what about broadening your perspective?  When white shoes before labor day went out the window so did many of the mores of menswear that have long keep men in the protected realms of navy and grey.  Now, you can wear stretch fabrics in the board meeting, it just depends on what you're meeting about.  You can rock a slim shrunken and abbreviated suit at the party and look right at home next to the kat donning the oversized hoodie with kicks that look as though they were ready to set sail.  As global fashion gains more of a voice and efforts to diversify and include come center stage, there will be greater undertakings so that brands come to where someone is within own their aesthetic rather than indoctrinating them to forgo their own aesthetic.  When respect is upheld, balance is met and new perspectives are birthed.

What a refreshing show from the relatively new New York Fashion Week wünderbrand Studio One Eighty Nine.  The brand has been offering up artisanal clothing that utilizes the techniques of hand-dyeing, hand-batik and kente-weaving from West Africa to create lively collections that are not only exciting but also sustainable and socially-aware.  Co-founded by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Studio One Eighty Nine achieves this by employing the skills of West African craftsmen to create original pieces with silhouettes, techniques and themes that take non-Western perspectives and make them inclusive into a Western market.   

The pieces Studio One Eighty Nine offers are always striking and approachable with outcomes that provocatively go against the grains of New England plaids and nautical stripes.  They happily offer and infuse a plausible and attractive way to look at the idea of Western sportswear through a West African lens.  For Fall 2019, Studio One Eighty Nine showcased a collection that was eclectic and, as per their aesthetic, really gave the consumer a sense of the vision of the brand.  Their energetic, electric and charismatic batik-dyes and prints, textures and traditional techniques all placed onto staple silhouettes like  charismatic trench coats, trim button-downs, laid back trousers, suave jumpsuits and eclectic blazers on sustainable denims, mud cloths and cottons.  Styled with a sense of confidence and ease, the collection had a clear message of familiarizing West African narratives thereby making further strides to solidify the artistry and greatness that is often overlooked from this region on the great continent of Africa.

There's something to be said of a fashion brand that makes strides to adhere to many things honorable.  Creating a livelihood for West African artisans, doing so with fabrics and materials that reduce carbon footprints, waste & honor sustainability and expanding the conversation about the magnificently melanated beauty that lies in tradition and craft takes a lot of work.  It's not effortless, but thankfully Studio One Eighty Nine makes the effort so that you can look and feel at ease. 

*Special thanks to Glasgow Skinner for the photos

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