redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

Posts for whiskey

Friday Night In – Boggle & Pizza Party

FUN

*this blog post includes affiliate links

I’ve had two kinds of pizza so far this evening, frozen CPK Sicilian pizza and the best cornbread crust pizza by Vicolo. I’ve also enjoyed one highball, which is a glass of La Croix plain sparkling water topped with High-West Rye Whiskey, and have watched the first part of episode two of The OA with Dan. All the elements for a perfect “Friday Night In” survival kit. Later, we will be busting out Boggle and seeing how well we can spell with a few glasses of whiskey in our system.

I love words but have major spelling insecurity. Dan is an impeccable speller but isn’t as confident with word selection.  I feel this helps to even the playing ground. This week I became a Grammarly affiliate! I love Grammarly because it helps me feel a little more confident before I hit publish. I was using the free version for over a year, but last month I purchased the premium subscription after I made a mistake on whether a sentence was supposed to say ” Bekka and me” or “Bekka and I.” When I was a child I was a terrible student; I was tested for ADHD and Dyslexia because I would disrupt the class and be terrible at my spelling exams. I won’t go into the details of my childhood and education, but at the end of the day, because I rebelled in school while I was supposed to learn the fundamentals of grammar and spelling, I grew into an adult not knowing any of the rules. I excelled at reading comprehension, and I was enrolled in AP English classes. My love for words and knack for patterns helped me pass, as my essays were acceptable and although my grammatical errors were circled in red, Word Doc corrected all my weak spelling. Now, with Grammarly, I’m able to learn all the rules while I am writing. I absolutely love the program and can proudly say this blog is powered by Grammarly.  It tells you when a word is overused or writes in a passive voice. My writing is getting stronger because I finally have a responsive teacher, it’s always been the nuances of grammar that has eluded me but Grammarly takes away that mystery.

I wasn’t intending on writing about Grammarly this evening, but my Boggle filled future made me want to share about this awesome program. If you haven’t installed Grammarly’s free program for Google Chrome, you should ASAP – you’ll never mess up their, there or they’re again!

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Austin Adventures | SXSW Day Three (part two)

DAY THREE – FRIDAY MARCH 20 | PART TWO

sxsw day 3 rain
We arrived 30 minutes before Viet Cong started, thinking that would be ample time to get checked in and into the show. WE WERE SO WRONG!! Our check in went smoothly and we were even treated to express lane wristbands. But the line was long and slow. Standing in the rain, the water poured down on Bowerbird and I for 45 minutes. I felt terrible for Dan who was jacketless, but we had received guest spots from the singer, and I had no desire to bail. Fortunately someone came by selling plastic ponchos and I scooped one up for Bowerbird, making the remaining thirty minutes ever so slightly more bearable. We heard Viet Cong start as we waited for security to let more people into the Fader Fort. Unfortunately, between the rain and the street, we couldn’t hear their set with as much clarity as the Stubbs Bridge. And of course in the nick of time, we were given access to the fort and ran towards the stage dodging mud puddles. For the remainder of their set we wormed our way into the dense crowd of people who were clearly there to see a following hip-hop act, and were able to reach the center with a few hundred people in front of us.

Viet Cong sxsw day 3

The show was worth every raindrop. Viet Cong dropped into a wicked game of riffs and played Death, an 11-minute song off their 2015 album. The bands energy was high despite the majority of the crowds lack of interest. My face was plastered with a beaming smile, as we caught about four songs. After the set was done, I wanted to explore what the Fader Fort had to offer in branded experiences. Sadly, they were mostly outside. A chalkboard wall with a car in front of it, a bottle painting station to promote the use of glass, and a Dell ‘lounge’. Bowerbird was over it. Even though the rain had stopped he was soaking, and I’d like to make this my formal THANK YOU to him as he humored my curiosity. Inside the Fader Fort was a little warmer and we found some choice seating to ‘dry off. Figuring out our next move, we didn’t know of another show so decided to head to the Dresden, one of Austin’s oldest hotels, for a Manhatten.

sxsw day 3 II

sxsw day 3 III
While walking to the hotel we heard an interesting band coming out of a juice bar and ducked in. The nice thing about SXSW is there are a lot of venues where you can just pop in. Parties that you don’t need to RSVP too with smaller bands. It’s a place made for those that enjoy new discoveries. By the time we were inside the juice bar, the band had finished. But this bar was EXTRA toasty, so we paused again to ‘dry off’. I’m using dry off in quotations because I think it took three hours for Dan to dry completely and a majority of the drying took place in the Dresden hotel. His plastic poncho started to create its own ecosystem and condensation billowed underneath. We waited around for the next band to start and picked up some spicy curry tacos that warmed us internally. Austin is all about the food trucks. After about two songs of the new band, we left again to head to the Dresden.

dresden hotel sxsw day three
The Dresden is a gorgeous hotel. Bowerbird and I really have a thing for old hotels, not haunted hotels, but hotels with a lot of character. Maybe one day I’ll do a blog post about the places we’ve stayed. We headed to the bar, which was packed with industry people wearing official SXSW badges, and order our whiskey beverages. With drinks in hand, we tried to find seats in the crowded lounge area. Finding an open chair and the second half of a love seat couch, we asked if they were reserved and plopped down next to two other gentlemen. We all started chatting about music and who they had gone to see. One of the men had a wicked mustache and deep voice with a thick Texas accent, I was mesmerized. Noticing the artist wristband on Dan’s arm, the men asked what band he was in and where they had played. Surprisingly they happened to be at the Levitation party the day before. And when their third friend came back from the bar, we figured out they were all there the same time Flaamingos was playing. The third friend had actually watched their set. It was so cool, I’m still in awe of the fact my boyfriend played SXSW. He had a decent size crowd, people cheered, AND we ran into someone who had seen his set and genuinely enjoyed it. Not that I don’t think Dan’s music isn’t amazing, he is wicked talented, but what are the chances we meet someone who actually saw his set.
Later that night we saw one more band and then eventually headed back to the hotel early. Catching Thoroughly Modern Milly on cable, eating bread and cheese for dinner. Friday was an epic day! One of those days for the record books. I stayed in Austin an extra two days with my beautiful friend Lauren, and without Dan. Lauren treated me to an amazing day in the park, Barton Springs, a much-needed juice after all the alcohol and salty food I’d been eating, and her sweet friendship. Those extra two days in Austin, even without Dan, really made me want to move to the city. We’ll see….

So it’s finally up, my full SXSW Austin Adventure – 2 months later – to the day.

SXSW day 3 banner

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KY : The Bourbon Trail – MAKER’S MARK

bourbon trail makers mark

OCTOBER 13, 2014 | DAY 12 of #ONTHEROAD1014

I’m playing Ryan Adams to get me in a Kentucky mindset, and I have to share the somber cloud that hovers over my heart. It was recently announced Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams are getting a divorce. They were my favorite celebrity couple, even more than Brad and Angelina, and I just thought they could make it work. Now with 5 years of marriage being thrown into the celebrity wind, I have to take a moment for over-dramatic mournful silence.

***

Now back to the bourbon trail. While driving down the bourbon trail we saw large square buildings with windows, scattered across rolling hills. If a corporate building and a country barn had a baby, it would be these boxes.  They reminded me of something out of a horror movie, where all the zombie are kept or is storage for twisted experiments. Now the sky was cloudy and gray that day, and since I’m fairly morbid my imagination got a little carried away. In actuality, they are rack houses, where the bourbon goes to age and rest. So I guess technically it is storing an experiment – in awesome flavor!

bourbon resting house

We made the last Maker’s Mark tour and were the first to purchase our tickets. Letting us have that magical alone time the early bird gets to savor. The waiting house is a real Disney style attraction, with talking picture reciting the history of Maker’s Mark and a replica kitchen showing how Margie Samuels, the wife of T. Williams Samuels came up with the signature Maker’s Mark bottle. Margie was a marketing master and designed the Maker Mark’s bottle inspired by the unique shapes of cognac bottles. She wanted Maker’s to be distinctively different from the other bourbons on the market. It was also her idea to have the distillery painted black, as she was tired of it always looking dirty.  See there is a naturally occurring fungus that grows around distilleries called, Baudoinia Compniacensis, and it turns trees and objects black. Margie was annoyed with fighting the fungus so she painted the buildings black with red trim, and her branded esthetics has lasted through the decades.  Oh yeah, the distillery you tour is the same one that produced the first bottle of Makers in the 1950’s, how cool is that!!!

Makers Mark Kitchen

Makers Mark Distillery

Of course, there have been upgrades, like the beautiful copper distillers. But the room which ferments the sour mash was totally vintage. We got to poke our finger into the brew, which looked like captain crunch and tasted like sweet watery white bread. We also got to take home our own Maker’s Mark label, made on the same printing press from their early days. These kinds of true to tradition touches gave the distillery real charm. Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of Maker’s Mark. I enjoy rye bourbons, and I found out they don’t use any rye in their recipe. Just corn sour mash and red winter wheat. So the tasting was a little underwhelming to me, but still very enjoyable.

Makers Mark Distillers

makers mark sour mash

We found out there is an ambassador program you can join, where they mark a barrel of bourbon with your name on it, and in 7 years you can purchase ‘your’ bourbon. I was so excited about this program, I told Bowerbird that I would need to plan my ovaries around the ambassador program, because I wouldn’t want to be pregnant when our bourbon was ready. I also said this out loud, and one of the other gentlemen on the tour remarked it was the best statement he’s ever heard.  What can I say, I love bourbon.

The coolest thing, about bringing home a bottle of Maker’s Mark from the distillery, is that you can dip it in the hot wax yourself. This was our epic road trip across the country, so we had to experience a dipped bottle. I was nice and let Bowerbird be the dipper, and the second it was cooled and handed to us I tried to carve the date into the wax, but it was too solid. Unfortunately, there was too many liabilities when it came to carving the wax when it was still hot. I hid a few of my road trip postcards in the gift shop too, and was tweeted on the road a week later from a fella who found it in a feminist book. Getting tweets while on the road was so cool. I still wonder about the postcards floating out there.

dipping makers mark in red wax

It was a bummer we were unable to go to any additional distilleries. Bowerbird was really looking forward to Four Roses, but we both agreed Maker’s Mark was worth it. We had been told it was a must see distillery, and for not even liking Maker’s that much, I absolutely loved my experience there. The bourbon trail hands out these passports you can get stamped at all the distilleries, new life goal is to get it filled. Bulleit distillery, you’re next on my list.

cute couple at maker's mark

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KY: The Bourbon Trail – Heaven Hill

Bourbon Trail Heaven Hill

OCTOBER 13, 2014 | DAY 12 of #ONTHEROAD1014

Bowerbird and I have decided to stay off the booze and abstain from spirits in 2015*. Not because either of us has a drinking problem that has made our lives unmanageable. But because we both really dislike the lethargy and mild headaches that just one glass of alcohol can induce. 2015 is a big year for the both of us, and we want to be on top of our game. So it’s a good thing we hit the Bourbon Trail in 2014. We are both sad to be giving up whiskey and bourbon, our favorite spirits because of the aroma and smooth finish. Yet I don’t think we will be able to top the sampling of a $400 bottle of Evan Williams either.

The portion of the bourbon trail we visited was in Bardstown, which is only thirty minutes from Louisville, and where essentially most of the bourbon distilleries reside. Also the ‘trail’ is a paved highway, just for clarification. Welcoming us to the Bourbon trail was a sign propped on the front lawn of a lovely house that read, “Bourbon destroys lives.” Our first stop on the trail was Heaven Hill distilleries and Bourbon Heritage Center. It had great interactive displays of how Bourbon is made, with buttons and knobs that lit up and made noises. At the touch of a button one of the displays released the sharp and hypnotizing scent of bourbon. I felt like a kid in a science center. There was also a history of distilling bourbon; describing why corn is used as the mash, and the ways it was hidden from officers during prohibition. Bowerbird and I were mostly just interested in a tasting, and not the full 2 hour tour of the distillery, so with our souvenir tasting glasses we enjoyed an array of premium Heaven Hill bourbon.

Bourbon Heritage Center

Heaven Hill Bourbon Tasting

Sadly I can’t find my notes from the tasting, and apart from knowing that one of the bottles (seen below) is $400 and only sold in Japan, I don’t recall the specifics of the other bourbons. But they were delicious. First enjoying them neat and then with a dash of water. The water changing the flavor ever so subtly. I remember one of the bourbons evaporated on my tongue. Another one tasted sweeter after the drop of water, giving a more caramel and syrup quality to the bourbon. We were with three other couples during the tasting and it was fascinating hearing everyone’s take on the flavors.  It was so much fun to geek out with other bourbon and whiskey nerds.

Evan William Bourbon Trail

adding water to bourbon

By the time we left Heaven Hill we could only make one other distillery and another couple from the tasting highly recommended seeing Maker’s Mark. As you drive up onto the Maker’s Mark property, the buildings and trees are all black, windows trimmed with red. I didn’t know much about Maker’s Mark before my tour, but I’m so happy we went there.  The history and marketing behind Maker’s would make any feminist fan of branding drool – and that’s basically me.

I’m going to break this up into two stories as the tale of Maker’s Mark deserves a post of its own.

Tell me what’s your favorite bourbon? Have you been on the bourbon trail?

*Exceptions to our 2015 resolution includes vacations and one double date to a whiskey bar we couldn’t get to in 2014. Update: 9/20/15 – our resolution went out the window in March, although we are currently not drinking. Go figure.

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Weekday Roundup!

FUN

I started off this week with a 2 year anniversary! My boyfriend and I hit the 2 year mark, which is  pretty surprising as before him, my dating life had a 30 day expiration date.

He prepared an amazing prime rib-eye steak dinner and bought me the most amazing candle. I love candles, but I’m particular about the scents and unfortunately most of them tend to make my throat itch after being burned.  Knowing how picky I am, the fact he picked the perfect scent all on his own…well that means we are soul mates, right? Plus no allergic reaction after being burned!

sydney hale candle grapefruit and orange

Sydney Hale C0. – Grapefruit + Orange  Candle 

I also made some progress on planning the road trip, oh yeah I’m planning a roadtrip…but more details about that later. I’m a whiskey, bourbon, scotch drinker. The boy even bought a 15 year old scotch to celebrate our anniversary. So I’m excited to  say say I discovered there is a Whiskey Museum in Kentucky! Also there is a bourbon tour, where you visit all the distilleries in Kentucky. I swear in my past life I was an aspiring country sing who died of a broken heart.

 

whiskey bottle Mary Kate McDevitt

DesignInspiration

And since I am planning an epic road trip that means I am committed to cut my spending and save money. Do you ever find when you start trying to save money, you come across a million items you must own. Followed by the craziest explanations and justifications for why that item has to be in your life.  This backpack from Filson is one of those items. Fortunantly at $290 it makes it easier for me to just say no. But seriously I’d look adorable wearing this in Colorado or down in Texas. Just imagine me trotting along with my moleskin and disposable camera… a girl can dream.

filson rucksack

Filson Rucksack 

Finally I saw this makeup tutorial on Alex Chung. I have expressed my love for her before, and not just because she is perfection personified, but she has a personality to boot! Warning watching a nearly flawless women have makeup applied to her…god damn…oh yeah that f*d up my self esteem.  Had to hold myself back from purchasing the nude lipstick mentioned in the video, it was $5.50 and that is just money I don’t have to waste. If you are brave enough…ugh….

But like all things in life, comparing yourself to others is quickest path down personal dissatisfaction and depression. So I leave you and end my week with this image!

don't compare yourself art

Comparison is the Thief of Joy – Art Print

Wishing you a fantabulous weekend!

 

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