Cheers Sippin Gypsy Team Vodka! This post comes to you while enjoying A Florida Mule, featuring vodka, mule mix and recipe all from the St. Augustine Distillery!
The Ancient City: St Augustine blends everything I love about a small town getaway. There is a delightful blend of history and culture mixed with modern comforts and indulgences that make this town a true escape. The town is easy to conquer in two to three days, but the surrounding area and a day or two at the beach could easily make St. Augustine a fun four day weekend! Historic St. Augustine is very easy to navigate, however those charming historic cobblestone walkways can do a number on heels, so pack comfortable shoes and layer, you will be dipping in an out of outdoor weather in indoor air condition. I really enjoy St. Augustine at the holidays. The city lights up for what is called Nights of Lights. As usual, before listing some of my favorite spots to explore, here are a few quick tips:
1. St. Augustine is not an open container town. Plan out where you want to sit a while and sip. With both a Distillery and Winery within walking distance to the historic city center, simply pick up a bottle or 10 to enjoy back at your room one evening.
2. There are a lot of eclectic and unique artisan shops in the Ancient City. Give yourself time to find unique gifts for an upcoming holiday, birthday or anniversary.
3. St. Augustine offers a lot of museums and historic land marks packed into this town. If your stay is short pick one or two for this trip and spread out your history lessons over multiple visits.
4. If possible, make a trip to St. Augustine in December to enjoy Nights of Lights The city is so enchanting with millions of lights! Many of the Bed and Breakfast Inns partake in the holiday decorating festivities which can make the stay even more magical! See my suggestions for some beautiful Bed and Breakfast options on my Sipping Gypsy Quick Tips for Restin': St Augustine.
5. Visit St. Augustine offers a free app for your phone that I found so helpful when navigating where to go and what to do at various times. The app is well organized and allows you to filter through activities and dining options quickly.
1. TourSt. Augustine Distillery
I love to support small business and local! The team at the St. Augustine Distillery is fun and passionate about their spirits. The tour is free and includes a tasting!! You may want to drive to the distillery so that when you select the many bottles to take back to your home bar, you don't have a long walk with cartons of liquor that could be heavy. They also sell great bar tools and delicious mixes, so should you want to recreate a cocktail from your tour. Save time to stay a while on property and visit Ice Plant, one of best bars in northern Florida.
2. Tour the San Sebastian Winery
Again, support local and tour the beautiful facility of the San Sebastian Winery. The tours are free and include a tasting, and you can stock up on great wines for your home bar and gifts. If possible tour the winery on the weekend so you can visit their Wine Cellar Upstairs for live music and memorable views (especially at sunset).
3. You know I am a big fan of local tours for your first visit to a city. There are several tours available by foot, train, hearse or boat to learn more about this charming town. Personally I'm a sucker for ghost stories and experiencing the darker side of the city, so my first destination was the Ghost and Gravestone Tour. But if you're not in a spooky mood, or want to make seeing the Ancient City easier on your feet, the Old Town Trolley Tours or Red Train Tours both take you around to landmark destinations and offer on and off privileges through the day.
4. Museums and Historic Landmarks
The Fountain of Youth, The Oldest Wooden School House, Pirate and Treasure Museum, Lightner Museum, the list goes on an on! Each museum and landmark offers a glimpse into the past. This is one area you want to plan for. You could easily fill a whole day submerged in history and experiencing each of these historic snapshots. Since St. Augustine is such an easy walking city, you could indulge in at least two or three adventures to enrich your experience.
5. Live Music
Several bars host local live bands to wrap up your evening with a sip and a song. I really enjoyed the ambiance and music at Prohibition Kitchen. Another fun setting outdoors was Colonial Oak Music Park. If you're lucky, you'll hear a captivating tune while simply strolling the streets, keep a few dollars available to thank these musicians for adding to the charm and beauty of St. Augustine.
Cheers to my Sippin Gypsy Team Vodka! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sipping Gypsy Peach Sorbet Sparkler inspired by the Peach Bellini I enjoyed from RPM Italian in Chicago.
I have always loved Steak or Tuna Tartare. RPM Italian's Black Truffle Beef Tartare left me speachless. I just leaned back in my seat and savored the flavors. I wanted to order a second and third. Instead the rest of my Chicago adventure began a mission to try Steak Tartare whenever it was offered just to see if my enchantment of RPM's Black Truffle Beef Tartare really was that impactful. Nothing compared. Four days of truly amazing food experiences in Chicago and still that Black Truffle Beef Tartare at RPM Italian burns in my memory and pallet. Well done RPM Italian, thank you for my Best I've Ever Had: Steak Tartare!
Cheers Team Vodka! This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy Spicy Vodka Sip.
Wow Chicago, you have no shortage of creative, refreshing and innovative restaurant and bar options. I was almost overwhelmed with the quantity of truly memorable adventures for my pallet. It was hard to narrow down a list for this post, but below are a few spots that really left a lasting impression on me in both food and beverage offerings without compromising quality and the art of their craft.
1. Raised Bar
A swanky bar with sweeping views of Downtown Chicago and some of the best cocktails I've had. Raised Bar is a definite must do in Chicago. I would easily label it one of the best rooftop bars in Chicago. Raised Bar filled up quickly with friends and co workers meeting for an after work cocktail, while others were enjoying this rooftop spot as a way to start their evening out. Raise Bar is located in the Renaissance Hotel and an easy stop if your travels take you through the Chicago Loop neighborhood.
Step back into time into the Chicago Athletic Club, once a club for Chicago's elite, now turned hotel with several unique bars to enjoy with my favorite easily being Cindy's. This rooftop bar is another one of the best bars in Chicago in my opinion. Cindy's was a modern add on and offers beautiful views of Millenium Park. Cindy's was packed every time I visited with good reason, the drinks are well crafted and beautiful, the food is delicious and the views are simply breathtaking.
Suggested by a friend, I stepped into a dark and chic restaurant and then down a candle lit staircase to a hidden gem and one of the best bars in Chicago. With subtle nods to prohibition days, this secretive spot has some of the best cocktails I've ever tried. Bavette's not only knows how to prepare delicious food (steak is one of their specialties) but this spot also delivers on ambiance and creative cocktails.
4. The Purple Pig
This spot came recommended by my concierge for lunch before my flight home. What a way to end a trip in Chicago. The foods were amazing and creative. Chef Jimmy Bannos is clearly not afraid of bold flavors. The Bone Marrow was incredible, I almost ordered a second. Located right off Michigan Ave. Purple Pig seemed always packed with a variety of locals and tourists. Their wine list was impressive with carefully selected labels from various regions. This quickly became a spot I always visit when in Chicago.
5. True Food Kitchen
I usually try to seek out smaller local spots, but the mission behind what True Food Kitchen as a business stands for really resonates with my personal preferences in food and health. I was glad my first experience for True Food Kitchen was in Chicago. Their detail to seasonally fresh options allows each dish to really shine.
6. Cochon Volant
We found this spot by simply passing by. The ambiance was so cool and inviting and the menu beckoned us in. This is a place to indulge in proteins. Steak Tartare, Roasted Bone Marrow and the most amazing slice of Bacon I ever had #thickcutbacon. The staff was very engaging and the bartender crafted some amazing cocktails just by asking our flavor preferences. There was so much more on the menu I look forward to trying on my next visit.
7. Green Street Smoked Meats
I think this spot was made for me. Rustic and casual with with a food flavor that raised my standard for smoked and bar-b-que meats. Every bite was so bold with flavor and the cocktails were well crafted and stood up to the loud flavors from the meats. The whole neighborhood boasts charming restaurants and bars and seems a great place to spend the evening bar hopping.
8. RPM Italian
Landing in Chicago late, but not wanting to compromise on quality and ambiance, RPM Italian was ready and willing to delight. RPM Italian seemed one of those places to go to celebrate with your girlfriends or have a romantic dinner. Currently the holder of the "Sippin Gypsy The BEST I Ever Had" for their Black Truffle Beef Tartare. Every dish was well flavored and resonated with classic Italian influence. Their cocktail menu was nicely edited to offer variety without overwhelming.
9. Tortoise Supper Club
I wanted live music, great drinks and something tasty to pick at after a few cocktails. Tortoise Supper Club gave me all of that in a charming setting. Chicago has no shortage of great spots with live music and well crafted cocktails, but the staff here made the experience all the more enjoyable. My first interaction with the staff started with the owner, Keene Addington, it was clear he had a passion and dedication for his business. He invited us back for the live music the following night and even reserved a table for our party. Tortoise Supper Club is on my list to visit for dinner on my next trip, but as far as ambiance, detail and cocktails, this place was memorable and definite when in Chicago.
I knew this place would be great when I saw tour busses bringing people here. We stopped in twice and both nights the music was great and the place packed with locals and tourists. The drinks were well made and overall this was a great spot to just step up to the bar, order your favorite cocktail and simply enjoy pure jazz.
I love Halloween. One of my favorite holidays. We go all out every year decorating the whole house and celebrate with friends and neighbors. For this Halloween I was a Vampire, so I wanted a cocktail that celebrated my friends of the night. It was easy to batch for my Halloween Party, then simply add the red wine just before serving. Cheers Team Vodka and enjoy your own First Bite!
2 oz. Citrus Vodka
1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
Juice of 3 squeezed Lemon Wedges
Juice of 2 squeezed Lime Wedges
Dash of Orange Bitters
Shake vigorously until tin is cold to the touch then strain into a glass with ice and top with red wine.
Happy All Hallows Eve! One of my favorite holidays: Halloween. This post comes to you while enjoying my Sippin Gypsy seasonal cocktail for Halloween: The First Bite. Cheers Team Vodka!
After throwing an amazing Halloween party, my family and I ventured to New Orleans to celebrate all things haunted in the Crescent City. I feel like New Orleans is like a second home, so I felt comfortable going to one of the biggest parties the city throws second only to their own Mardi Gras. Much of the cities festivals took place the same weekend of my Halloween party, so we missed a few events, but there's always next year. Arriving Monday the 30th, the city was still in full Halloween celebration mode. Some of the cities guests (ourselves included) boldly walked around in costumes a day early. We took our time enjoying the boutiques within the Vieux Carre. Every corner we turned we found vintage costume shops or mask shops. We could've easily put our Halloween costumes together from the great finds right there in the city, but this year we had already brought several options. For dinner we chose Felix's. Oysters and Shrimp and Grits, the perfect first meal in New Orleans. After dinner we tucked the kids in for the night and the adults headed back out to explore. As always, the music is great. I had to stop at Bourbon O for my favorite Ramos Gin Fizz. From there it was in and out of various spots, following our ears, popping in to enjoy live music and grab another drink.
Halloween Day was unforgettable. We had so much fun. Our day started at another New Orleans favorite spot of mine: Creole House. I had to have the Oysters but this time we also shared a Pick Three platter that allowed us to taste their own versions of Gumbo, Etouffee and Jambalaya. After a History Tour and getting a little spooked by the ghost stories of the LaLaurie House, Muriel's and the Ursuline Convent, we enjoyed Biegnets then ventured to the Garden District to tour Lafayette's Cemetery then Trick or Treating. The homes in the Garden District were beautifully decorated and the neighbors friendly. I loved all the fellow Sippin Gypsies out with their Martini Glasses and Wine Glasses while their kidos Trick or Treated. It was a great way to see the historic homes. I used a walking tours map to help us find homes including the Buckner Mansion from American Horror Story and the former Anne Rice home. The night ended with adults only time again. The party on Bourbon Street was like nothing I'd ever seen. Thank you New Orleans for an amazing Halloween. See you soon!
Lover of travel to charming places dusted with unique flavor. Join me as I explore the world sip by sip. Cheers!