Tag Archives: food and drink

The Hottest New Destination for American Craft Beer

Move over, Wisconsin: Another state is making a name for itself as the destination for beer lovers. The craft beer industry in upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region has been undergoing explosive growth over the past several years, and there’s no better time to visit than now. Peak foliage and locally sourced brewskies? Don’t mind if we do.

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The Rise of Beer Country

In the past four years alone, the Finger Lakes have become home to an additional 54 breweries, bringing the region’s total to 70. The Finger Lakes Beer Trail, a local trade group, expects another twelve breweries to open in the coming months.

The region attracts beer lovers from all walks of life and boasts unique brews thanks to its ability to source most ingredients locally, reports the New York Times. Clean water, hops, malted barley, and other ingredients for beer-making are all available from the region’s farms and natural resources. Wannabe brewers have an extra incentive to take advantage of this local bounty: New York’s Farm Brewery law (signed into effect in 2012) gives breweries tax breaks and lets them serve beer on site in exchange for utilizing local ingredients.

Among the many breweries cashing in on these ideal conditions are:

  • Abandon Brewing Company, a farm brewery that includes a functioning fruit farm. The brewers source locally grown hops, barley, fruits, herbs, and honey for their beers.
  • The Brewery of Broken Dreams, which offers a variety of American-style beers including India Pale Ales, porters, and pilsners.
  • The Boathouse Beer Garden, a family-owned establishment that features views of Cayuga Lake and is a favorite among locals.
  • Cider Creek Hard Cider, which boasts award-winning, gluten-free craft ciders derived exclusively from New York state apples.
  • Grist Iron Brewery, a new brewery on the block (it opened in the spring of 2015) that provides a high-quality dining and sipping experience with views of Seneca Lake.
  • The Syracuse Suds Factory, a microbrewery established in 1991 that credits itself with “[bringing] locally brewed beer back to the City of Syracuse.”  

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With 70 local breweries and counting, the region offers something for virtually every palate.

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Planning Your Trip

Overwhelmed by all the choices? Your best bet is to concentrate on a particular segment of the Finger Lakes region, such as Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake, the Southern Tier, the Western Finger Lakes, or Ithaca.

Ithaca makes for a particularly great home base thanks to its lively downtown, variety of budget-friendly hotels, and proximity to several of the region’s local breweries. Check in at the Hotel Ithaca, the Homewood Suites by Hilton Ithaca, or the Courtyard Marriott Ithaca, all of which offer pleasant accommodations and convenient locations at reasonable rates.

After settling into Ithaca, it will be easy to visit some of the area’s best breweries, including Bandwagon Beer, Scale House Brewery and Pub, Ithaca Beer Company, and Stouthearted Brewing. Visit them over the course of a few days, or if you’re feeling industrious, head to all four breweries in the same day and use the rest of your trip to visit breweries that are within a few hours’ drive of Ithaca. Find a full list of the Finger Lakes’ breweries here.

No matter which breweries you choose to visit, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Most breweries with tasting rooms will charge a nominal fee for tastings, typically in the range of $3 to $5.
  • Many of the area’s brew pubs will offer tasting flights, but some serve only pints.
  • Some breweries require advance reservations for groups of more than six people. If you’re not sure whether a reservation is necessary, check with the brewery before arriving.
  • Remember to always drive responsibly; it’s a great idea to choose a designated driver for each day of the trip. In more metropolitan areas (including Ithaca), you may be able to enlist taxi services to shuttle you between breweries.

Craft beer and brewing may just be one of the best things to ever happen to the Finger Lakes. Not only is the practice allowing small-scale brewers and brew pubs to thrive, but it’s supporting local farmers and economies. When you head to upstate New York and sample their brews, you join with the brewers in celebrating all that the region has to offer.

Alaska Ferries Eliminate Famous And Beloved Bars

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Spending four days on a choppy boat with no Internet sounds daunting, especially when it’s spent on a deck chair and not in a cabin. But Alaska’s ferries offer an odd but charming mix of local culture, scenic views, and until recently, cheap drinks.

The Alaska Department of Transportation recently announced that they will be eliminating the famous and beloved bars on the ferries operated by the Alaska Marine Highway system. According to the Department, the bars have been losing $100,000 annually, and the estimated $750,000 that will be saved by closing them will contribute to alleviating a $3.5 million deficit. Gift shops on the ferries will also be eliminated, but it has been stressed that there will be no layoffs because of the cuts. Bartenders and gift shops workers will be assigned to other duties onboard the ships.

Many worry that the budget deficit will eventually lead to reduced service as well, despite the reassurances of the Department of Transportation. Alaskan residents who live in remote towns and islands such as those of the Inside Passage and the Aleutian chain rely on the ferries for transportation.

Out of town travelers may be affected as well — they usually pack the ferries in the summer months and provide much-needed tourism dollars to Alaskan businesses. The lack of bars may prove a disincentive for travelers to use the ferry system at all.

In the end, it’s not so much the booze as the bar culture that ferry riders will miss. Ferry routes can last as long as four days, and the bars allowed people from all occupations and walks of life to mix and converse in a relaxed atmosphere on extended trips. The bars were also famous in their own right. The tiny Pitch and Roll Bar lives aboard the Tustumena, which serves a notoriously choppy route from Homer to Kodiak Island. The 1970s decor scheme, which includes red carpet on the walls, also features barf bags and convenient railings. Its charm and distinctive qualities led Esquire to name it one of the 10 best bars in the world in 2007.

Wine and beer will continue to be served during meal hours in single-serving sizes, but it won’t be quite the same. Tony Tengs, the Alaska Marine Highways’ senior bartender, sums up the ineffable quality of the onboard bars: “There are things that have value that just can’t be equated and which people will never forget. Like the folks who got married in the bar on the Taku and the many who have gathered there on their way to and from funerals.”

Although the bars will be closed, the six ferries that once possessed them (Kennicott, Matanuska, Columbia, Tustumena, Malaspina, Taku) will remain in service. On a positive note, the news of the bar closings can also serve as a reminder to travelers contemplating Alaskan trips to take advantage of what is perhaps the world’s most beautiful and unique transportation system.

Will Travel For Coffee: Iced Coffee’s Popularity (Where To Get The Best Brew On The Road)

When jetting off for the final vacation of summer, there’s one thing everyone needs: a good iced coffee. Luckily there’s no shortage of cold brews, iced americanos, or classic iced coffees across the U.S. to guarantee a refreshing caffeine fix on any trip.

Despite cold coffee’s recent popularity, sip this: Dunkin Donuts has actually has been selling iced coffee for more than 25 years, and Starbucks’ famous Frappucino came to counters back in 1995. We can thank the youngin’s for iced coffee’s recent spike. Thirty eight percent of 18-24 year olds drink iced coffee, which is way higher than any other age group. Still, only 20 percent of Americans drink iced coffee, while 83 percent consume hot coffee.

The types of iced coffee jet setters can discover are pretty much divided into three groups: the classic iced coffee, frappuccino (or “coffee drinks”), and cold brew.

The classic kind, otherwise known as “The Japanese Method,” is when hot coffee is brewed and immediately poured over ice. This is the easiest way to make iced coffee, and produces a lighter and sweeter taste. Frappuccinos are when baristas grab a blender and mix a shot of espresso with cold milk, ice, and a bit of sugar. This’ll result in a frosty coffee treat. Cold brew is a coffee snob’s haven when it comes to coffee. Here, grounds are mixed with water for at least 12 hours; soaking the grounds this long makes the drink way more diluted and caffeinated.

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We’ve rounded up some of the best cold coffees around the country, along with a recipe for jet setters to make themselves when on the move:

Iced Mint Mojito. Philz Coffee, San Francisco, CA

Philz Coffee is known for their unique spin on a classic summer rum drink: the iced mint mojito. No rum this time (but just as good!) mint leaves are added to espresso and milk or cream, which makes it both rich and refreshing. Stay at Le Meridien San Francisco and be less than a five minute walk from one of the many Philz Coffee’s in the city.

Iced Mocha. Barista Parlor, Nashville, TN

For a hipster and chocoholic twist, try this iced coffee that’s (obviously) served in a mason jar. The espresso is mixed with a specialty chocolate ganache and served over ice. It’s sweet and rich, and will make anyone want to go back for another.

New Orleans Iced Coffee. Blue Bottle Coffee, New York City and San Francisco, CA

Get a taste of NOLA at any of the Blue Bottle Coffee’s in New York City or San Francisco.
The New Orleans iced coffee is cold-brewed for 18 hours with roasted chicory and cane sugar. Pro tip: Add a bit of whole milk to cut the bitterness. Hotel Stanford, steps away from the Empire State Building in New York, is also only a few blocks from one of three Blue Bottle’s in Manhattan. Goers can also purchase their own kit to take back home or make in the hotel room.

Pure Black. La Colombe Torrefaction, Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago, D.C.

La Colombe coffee roasters, which are scattered throughout the States, has done something awesome: This iced coffee looks like beer, but is actually our favorite caffeinated beverage. Pure back is a type of cold brew that’s pressed and filtered twice after being steeped for 16 hours in a stainless steel wine tank.

Angeleno. Intelligentsia, Chicago, IL

Ready for this? The Angeleno is made with four shots of rich, espresso, creamy whole milk, and a generous squeeze of agave. The end result is a smooth and downright yummy drink that’s a sweet tooth’s favorite way to caffeinate.

Iced Almond Macadamia Latte. Go Get Em Tiger, Los Angeles CA

The superstar in this drink is house-made almond-macadamia milk, that’s mixed with espresso and (once again) served in a mason jar. Consider staying at Ginosi Hudson Apartel and be less than a 10 minute drive from this addictive drink, which is also considered the best latte in the U.S.

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Want to see if a DIY brew can trump any of these places above? Save a few bucks (and see if a new career of being a legendary barista is the future…) by learning how to make iced coffee at home. Better yet, check out this article, hack your hotel room coffee, for an extra bit of buzz before taking on the day. This recipe is also perfect for a drink on-the-go when heading to the airport for the next adventure.

Measure and stir: Combine 1 part coffee to 4.5 parts room-temperature and filtered water. Give it a nice stir.

Let it brew: Place the container of coffee in the fridge overnight. This is the “brewing” part of the process—no boiling water included—and needs this much time!

Strain: To make the iced coffee concentrate, take a coffee filter or French press to strain the coffee. This removes the grounds.

Just add water! The coffee just brewed will be super concentrated, so add water depending on how strong you like it (the standard is about 1 part coffee to three parts water). Add ice, and drink up!