I had the decided pleasure of being asked to lead, in part, an amazing and talented team to create a dreamy, bucket-list-worthy evening for fans ofElizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) at the Woodlands in Philadelphia. Normally an outdoor event in August is a dance with the devil here in Philadelphia, but this particular Sunday evening held a cool, delicate, fragrant breeze in the air and the perfect soft light dancing through the tree branches. It was pure magic.
The Woodlands is a property near-and-dear to my own heart. So many great memories have been made there. I coordinated my very first photo shoot here after a friend introduced me to the space, and I fell in love with its rich history and vibrant heartbeat. The Woodland’s energetic Director, Jessica, has made this once-derelict property a new hub for “community” in every sense of the word. She’s working tirelessly to bring the Woodlands to the forefront of many folks’ minds and raise funds to restore its amazing buildings and tell its engaging story.
I’m not the only one smitten with the peeling paint and crumbling stone in this special space. Elizabeth Gilbert was searching for a setting for her most recent book, The Signature of All Things, about two and a half years ago. She’d toured just about every historical property in Philadelphia (and there are many!), seeking inspiration, and, in her own words, “barked with joy” when she pulled up to the Woodlands’ mansion. So many of the key settings in the book — the sweeping front lawn for the fete, the columned portico, the gracious mansion, the binding closet (!!), Alma’s moss study in the stables — are very real spots at the Woodlands!
Recently, an donor stepped forward and offered to contribute a very sizable sum to help restore the beautiful, yet crumbling, old stables if the Woodlands could raise matching funds. The idea of a very special dinner with Elizabeth Gilbert seemed the perfect opportunity to kick off this tremendously important fundraising effort. And so many fans of Elizabeth’s (and of Alma, the book’s main character) showed their marvelous support, some flying in from as far as California to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I really had a blast dreaming up the perfect decor for this evening. The book is, after all, one focused on botanical adventures. I also knew that Elizabeth is an avid gardener and a fan of loose, wild and wispy things. Moss is Alma’s main pursuit so of course moss was strewn everywhere at the event. We had a blast tucking in little details like poppy pods, skeletonized leaves, and odd-looking calendula seeds among the feathery runner of green. The flowers were all grown at our farm of course and really were the perfect snapshot of high-summer blooms in all their beauty.
Perhaps the best compliment I have ever been paid in this line of work: When Elizabeth and I were introduced early in the evening and she was told I was responsible for the flowers and the look for the whole shindig, she immediately threw her arms around me in the biggest hug and jumped for joy (at the same time), shouting “Thank you, thank you, thank you! It’sperfect!” A girl could get used to this!
I am so grateful to the amazing team that brought it all to life. Birchtree Catering created the most creative, beautiful, and delicious meal (Chef Rasa is truly a rock star!). Maggpie Vintage Rentals provided the perfect tables, chairs, bar, and greenhouse props and styling to make it feel like we were truly transported to fictional White Acre for the evening (our flowers should always be so lucky as to live on a Maggpie farm table!). Art in the Ageliquored us up with some lip-smacking botanical cocktails that left no hangover (must be the detoxing effect of the herbs). Emily Wren/The Little Photo Booth captured all the details and candid moments (I’m positive her images are gonna be way better than mine,and I can’t wait to share!). And Weckerly’s made sensational seasonal frozen treats that were the perfect ending to the perfect evening! And I’m also very grateful for the help of Lindsey and Amy on my own crew for the evening.
I’ll take collaborations like these any day!!!
If you haven’t visited the Woodlands, please make sure you do! And if you are a fan of historical properties and preserving their important stories for generations to come, please consider donating (even a small amount) to the Woodlands so they can reach their super important fundraising goal. You can follow this link to make a donation online — easy peasy! When you make your donation, please put “Love ‘n Fresh Flowers — Stable Restoration” in the comment box and we will match your donation in full!!
August 6 marks National Root Beer Float Day and the only thing I love more than the dessert beverage is the idea of turning it into a boozy one. Fortunately our friends over at Loft & Bear artisanal vodka were one step ahead of me and created one at their downtown Los Angeles distillery, naturally calling it the RootBEAR Float (I also love a good play on words). Let’s just say I know what I’ll be drinking tonight.
In July, Bittered Sling Extracts creators and co-proprietors Jonathan Chovancek and Lauren Mote travelled to New Orleans to take part in the annual Tales of the Cocktail festival. Here is Chovancek’s diary from The Big Easy:
July 25, 2014:This was our fourth time taking part in Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC), with two “Tales On Tour” events in Vancouver and one incredible trip to Buenos Aires already on our resume. This year we threw a Disco Inferno; a ‘saloon on the move‘ tasting room event which played on the excitement of the nightclub and funk era of the 1970s mixed with our signature brand ofBittered Sling action.
Our Canadian crew was spectacular, representingToronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. With returnees Evelyn Chick (Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar), Grant Sceney (Fairmont Pacific Rim), Danielle Tatarin (Keefer Bar) and Robyn Gray (Reflections) as well as Bittered Sling newbie but TOTC veteran Robin Goodfellow (Bar Isabel), we brought some coast-to-coast camaraderie from the True North to the Deep South.
Lauren developed a trio of cocktails and famed cocktail consultantCharlotte Voisey (William Grant’s, NYC), Freddy May of Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whiskey and Brian Bartels of New York’s Fedora contributed a recipe each too. We wanted to give TOTC attendees a chance to dance, drink, sample and take our whole ‘psychedelic saloon’ experience back home with them too so the cocktails needed to be both in “to order” samples and “take-out” bottles too.
Each Canadian bartender batched the recipes and helped execute the stations along with Rachel Furman of Art in the Age Organic Spirits, Freddy and Brian. The tasting room event turned out to be so popular that support staff and security from the Hotel Monteleone host venue wandered down to party alongside the guests and delegates. Bittered Sling’s massive T-shirt and bitters station was consumed by the happy throng, and we ended up serving 900 cocktails in 45 minutes — no sweat!
TOTC is where professional bartenders, chefs, writers, distillers and patrons rub shoulders and bend elbows together to share stories, techniques, products and hospitality; we’re always honoured to be able to travel the world as Canadian ambassadors for the cocktail and culinary arts, and show people what innovative and inspired recipes are available both on the plate and in the glass. This year’s TOTC was even more special as our team was joined by about 20 other Canadian bartenders as well as our American colleagues. We ate, drank and learned together in the awesome setting that is the city of New Orleans, and the convivial backdrop of Tales of the Cocktail — the world’s biggest cocktail party.
We’re looking forward to hitting the road with Bittered Sling again at the next TOTC ‘On the Road’ destination of Mexico City and arealready in the process of preparing and planning for a return trip to TOTC proper in New Orleans in 2015.
We missed First Friday last month. (Thanks a lot, 4th of July.) But now the unofficial holiday is back and better than ever with the glory of August. Pop your head into any of the following opening receptions, family affairs or retail outings on Friday, Aug. 1.
If your need for speed just cannot be contained, the Speed Raceway in Horsham, Pa., has the solution. To celebrate its second anniversary, the go-kart facility is offering half-price races all day, from noon until 10 p.m. with a chance to win a $250 gift card.
For a garage sale that’s actually in a garage, head to West Chester, Pa.’s Chestnut Street Parking Garage from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. to shop for vintage home goods, accessories, clothing, repurposed jewelry, and other up-cycled goods. A jazz band and food vendors will also be on site throughout the evening.
Chemistry has never seemed so fun. Before you go reeling, hear me out: Chemistry-themed games that hit every age group (and education level) will be the entertainment of choice at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Old City, try out the Foundation’s virtual chemistry lab app, ChemCrafter, available for use via iPad. It’ll transport you back to high school chemistry class, only you won’t be falling asleep at your desk.
Don’t just stand around waiting to get your hands on the guide to one of the city’s premier arts festivals. Take some action at FringeArts’ space on Columbus Boulevard. While you’re there, experience live, plant-generated music (can’t make this stuff up, people) and dance performances from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Born in the USA, these goods were. Meadowsweet Mercantile, Bombyx Vintage and American Menswear will showcase their American-made products at Old City’s Art in the Age from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., where they’ll be serving Spodee White Pina Coladas, and a RHUBARB cocktail.
Perhaps one of the most intellectually stimulating options for your evening is Paul Cézanne’s still lifes are interpreted into sound at The Barnes Foundation from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The artist’s impact on future creators is discussed, and a DJ rounds out the night to bring visitors back to earth at the Parkway museum.
Pop artist Romero Britto will bring his colorful and optimistic work to Margot and Camille Optique in Old City from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for display and purchase. Get your hands on animal figurines or a signature Romero Britto umbrella.
In the age of the pop-up, artist Kevin McNamee-Tweed is putting an artistic spin on the ever-popular entertainment trend. His latest exhibit “Books” will feature a “pop-up” bookstore at Little Berlin in Fishtown, complete with totally fake books from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Starting at 8 p.m. at Harrisburg, Pa.’s Midtown Art Center is a dance party 30 years in the making. Your best ‘80’s attire is requested at this dance party.
Women over 40 and dudes ages 21 to 29 can enter the jungle that is Boogie Nights in the Tropicana in Atlantic City, N.J. for their First Friday Cougars and Cubs Ball. Doors open at 9 p.m. and you get in free prior to 11 p.m.
Alrighty right, ATL! We’ll be hitting downtown this summer with Yelp Atlanta’s largest event of the year and sponsored by Tabernacle and benefiting The Georgia Foundation for Public Spaces and Georgia Lawyers for the Arts.
It’s all happening on Saturday, August 9th from 7-10pm! We’ll be coming at you LIVE from Tabernacle (yelp.com/biz/tabernacle-…) with tons of food, fun, drinks, live music, and tons of yelptastic memories.
This event is completely FREE to attend and all you need is a Yelp Profile to RSVP (RSVPs open on July 22nd – See Below)
Wanna know more? Here we go!
**The Octopus Project
FEATURED VENDORS (More to come! Stay tuned and check back for details)
Presented by MillerCoors and Tenth & Blake
**Blue Moon (bluemoonbrewingcompany.c…)
**Crispin Hard Cider (crispincider.com)
**Coors Light (coorslight.com/AgeGate)
**Spodee Wine (spodeewine.com)
**Tito’s Hand Made Vodka (titosvodka.com)
**Buffalo Trace Bourbon (buffalotrace.com)
**Chai Pani (yelp.com/biz/chai-pani-d…)
**The Flying Biscuit Cafe (yelp.com/biz/the-flying-…)
**smashburger (yelp.com/biz/smashburger…) (smashburger.com)
**Pretzel Crisps (pretzelcrisps.com)
**Oberto Beef Jerky (oberto.com)
**Instacart (Sign Up Here: instacart.com)
**CaJa Popcorn (yelp.com/biz/caja-popcor…)
**KIND Snacks (kindsnacks.com)
**Revolution Doughnuts (yelp.com/biz/revolution-…)
**Ratio Bake Shop (yelp.com/biz/ratio-bakes…)
**Frozen Pints (frozenpints.com)
**The Ice Cream Bar (theicecreambar.com)
**Atomic Ice Cream Sandwich (yelp.com/biz/atomic-ice-…)
**Hokulia Shave Ice (hokuliashaveice.com)
**Honest Tea (honesttea.com)
**Onli Beverages (onlibeverages.com)
**Zico Coconut Water (zico.com)
**Red Bull Energy (redbull.com/en)
**Aviary Organic Beauty Collective (yelp.com/biz/aviary-orga…)
**Miracle Beauty Salon (yelp.com/biz/miracle-bea…)
**So Worth Loving (shop.soworthloving.com)
**SkyView Atlanta (yelp.com/biz/skyview-atl…) – $5 Rides (plus tax) All Night for attendees of Yelp: LIVE.
**Brittany Wages (BrittanyWagesPhotography…)
VIDEOGRAPHY by the ever-so dapper AWAL Media (awalmedia.com)
TABLE PRINTS Sponsored by brightfire (brightfire.com)
VENDOR TRANSPORTATION Sponsored by Zipcar (zipcar.com)
OFFICIAL RADIO PARTNER
**X107.1 FM – Atlanta’s New Alternative (x1071atlanta.com)
A suggested minimum donation of $10 at the door will go to The Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces (affps.com) and Georgia Lawyers for the Arts (glarts.org) These two organizations work to empower, support, and foster artists across all mediums and levels and help provide the means for their passion to grow and be well-represented.
The Philadelphia style scene is BOOMING. From store owners collaborating with clothing companies to trunk shows at favorite Center City stores like Knit Wit (who hosts at least 2 trunk shows a month) to Art in the Age in Old City (which hosts it’s infamous First Friday events with indie artisans), there is a boom of style happening in the city.
This past weekend, South Street’s Headhouse District’s P’s & Q’s apparel company hosted a Dip-n-Dye event with Tretorn shoes. Guests dipped and dyed their white canvas Tretorn Nylite sneakers and turned them into colorful kicks. This was the first of many events at P’s & Q’s new outdoor patio. This event presented an opportunity for local bloggers to interact directly with a major brand like Tretorn and of course, it was open style savvy Philadelphians and P’s & Q’s customers.
Popular local bloggers, including Sabir from Men’s Style Pro & Quentin from Avenue Swank, dyed a pair of shoes prior to the event to help spread the word about this opportunity with Tretorn to style savvy Philadelphians (I dyed a pair in advance, too!).
Philadelphia based brands are also expanding into outside markets and shedding light onto Philly. Sabir frequently collaborates with clothing brands and regularly appears in GQ, DETAILS and Esquire. He’s always happy to post about cool Philadelphia events and brands – like the Dip-n-Dye at P’s & Q’s.
Another style push happening in Philadelphia is Hotel Palomar’s new “Shop Like A Local” retail guide. The hotel reached out to me to coordinate, style and pen the guide, which lives on the hotel’s website and iPad concierge. Guests can effortlessly navigate the retail scene surrounding the hotel by using the guide that focuses on Philly-based stores. During the production of the guide, I drove an Enclave around Center City to pick up the clothes for the shoot. The red exterior stood out as I went back and forth from retailers and the hotel. Driving in style while styling the hotel guide… Count me in!
Have you spotted any style collaborations in Philadelphia? Share them on social media and tag @DistrictDrive!
If you think punch is just a mash-up of cheap booze, fruit juice, and Sprite, think again. Made right, it’s a sophisticated drink, nuanced in flavor and low in alcohol – perfect for entertaining. Punch came to the West via Indian trade routes and its name likely derived from the Hindi word panch, meaning “five” – a nod to the drink’s five requisite and complementary components: alcohol, citrus, sugar, water, and spice. Though the traditional base is rum, it’s easy to experiment. “You can apply any spirit to the concept of punch’s five basic elements,” says Frank Cisneros, whose Brooklyn bar The Drink has a punch menu. The best part? Serving punch saves you from taking drink orders all night. Just make a few pitchers before your guests arrive and keep pouring until everyone is properly soused. Here, Cisneros shares a bourbon-based favorite, while Warren Bobrow, author of Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today, offers a gin option and a take on a traditional milk punch. “Punch differs from cocktails in that it’s not meant to be sipped and dwelled on,” Cisneros says. “The idea is to down several glasses while you hang with your friends.” Hear, hear.
The Drink’s Ye Olde Gunwale Recipe (makes one 32-oz pitcher)
Make tea syrup by brewing 6 oz of strong chamomile tea, then add 6 oz superfine sugar and mix until blended. Once tea has cooled, combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir with ice. Pour into chilled cups with ice. Garnish with wedges of grapefruit and lemon.
Cocktail Whisperer’s Milk Punch Recipe (makes one 32-oz pitcher)
Make simple syrup by adding 2 cups sugar to 1 cup boiling water and mixing until sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Add all ingredients into the pitcher, sparkling water last, and pour into glasses over ice.
Sage Caribbean Summer Punch Recipe (makes one 32-oz pitcher)
Grill pineapple spears (optional). Set aside to cool. Combine simple syrup, Sage, grenadine, pineapple juice, lime juice, and orange juice in a pitcher. Top with prosecco. Serve in glasses over mango coconut ice. Garnish with pineapple.