Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

How to Survive Dry January This Year

Have you made a resolution to eat healthier, drink less and get into better shape… just like last year? It’s that time when we need to reverse the indulgences of the holiday season and our pandemic binges over the past two years.

Some add vegan eating to this clean-up effort, but I’d suggest that you focus first on one of our guiltiest pleasures, drinking. In this case, the concept is Dry January to reinvigorate a healthy lifestyle for a month by abstaining from alcohol.  And, frankly, if it works for you, there’s no reason not to make at least some version of this a permanent part of every month going forward.

Courtesy Trinchero Family Estates

To kickstart this “new you” process, I’ve put together some suggestions that will fill in the blanks with taste and variety leading to the psychological and physical rewards you’ll experience after you complete your foray into clean living. You may not know it, but if you’ve turned into a pandemic insomniac, this might actually be your ticket to a better night’s sleep and better-looking skin!

Bars and Mocktails

Bars in New York City are jumping on the wellness bandwagon (not just for Dry January), tuning into our desire to scale back.

Le Crocodile ©Meryl Pearlstein

Concord Hill in Brooklyn invites you to dabble in innovative drink and flavor combinations with a deliciously fresh and spicy mocktail named Cruel Summer. Blending mango and orange juices with simple syrup gives a sweet contrast to the chili-based Chamoy hot sauce and Tajin rim. Williamsburg’s Le Crocodile mixes Ghia non-alcoholic aperitif with soda, Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic, rosemary and grapefruit juice. Brooklyn’s Bohemien Bar expands their cocktail offerings this month with a curated N/A cocktail menu. Welcome to Paradise blends fennel juice and pomegranate molasses. Using a base of Ritual Tequila, The Roselle adds bitter orange cordial, lime, and hibiscus to create a margarita-like alternative.

Courtesy Spiritless

For a wintry cocktail at home, you can create your own bourbon-ish drink with the popular Kentucky-made AF spirit, Spiritless Kentucky 74, enjoying the caramel, vanilla and oak flavors on the rocks, or combined with AVEC mixers and cherries for a Faux Old Fashioned.

Courtesy Greenbar Distillery

Thanks to California’s Greenbar Distillery, you can stock your refrigerator with a range of canned mocktails. Bitters + Soda lovers will enjoy the Earl Grey version made with black tea and bergamot orange. For hard spirit substitutes, try the UnRum + Cola or UnGin + Tonic.

Elixirs, Mixers and Sparkling Water

Courtesy Curious Elixirs

Curious Elixirs are complex booze-free cocktails, handmade in the Hudson Valley with all-organic ingredients. Instead of adding sugar, the drinks are infused with adaptogens. The seven-bottle series has versions of classic drinks like a pomegranate negroni, a spicy margarita, a dark & stormy fusion, the craftily named Curious cucumber Collins, or a more refined Champagne cocktail that has a base of Chardonnay grapes.

Courtesy HOP WTR

Offered in three flavors, Classic, Mango and Blood Orange, HOP WTR is a non-alcoholic brew of crisp, bold hops, sparkling water and mood-boosting adaptogens and nootropics crafted without calories or sugar. The tasty beer alternatives are bright and refreshing, perfect for Superbowl parties or anytime during Dry January or beyond.

Courtesy FREE RAIN

FREE RAIN is a line of adaptogenic sparkling waters that will become your new go-to when it comes to grabbing a drink with your meal. FREE RAIN comes in four fun flavors: Focus: Blood Orange Ginger with Ashwagandha for a clear mind, Arousal: Pink Grapefruit with Maca for a frisky feeling, Calm: Blackberry with Passionflower for a mellow mood and Energy: Cherry Lime with Siberian ginseng for energy.

Courtesy Found Bubbly

A newcomer to the sparkling beverages category, Found Bubbly is said to be the first sparkling water created through Earth’s “naturally occurring mineralization process.” Packed with minerals and electrolytes, the beverage has been “dropping” new flavors sequentially so you can look forward to another flavor in February. For now, you can try natural, cucumber minty, elderflowery, lemony and watermelon.

Courtesy Casamara Club

If you’re a fan of Italian amaros, you don’t need to sacrifice the bitter state of an after-dinner digestif if you’re observing Dry January. Casamara Club is a club soda crafted like a cocktail, mixing amaro bitters made with botanicals with citrus, salinity and a touch of sweetness. The five flavors, Alta (like a Negroni), Como (like a traditional amaro with mint), Onda (an herbaceous lemon drink), Isla (like a rum and ginger ale) and Fora (a strawberry and spice mix), are refreshingly different.

Courtesy AVEC

For a wide range of mixers that double as mocktails, AVEC mixers offers five canned cocktails: spicy marg AVEC ( jalapeño and blood orange), paloma AVEC (grapefruit and pomelo, vodka soda AVEC (yuzu and lime) mule AVEC (ginger), and cran vodka AVEC (hibiscus and pomegranate).

Courtesy Shrubbly

Shrubs, vinegar-based infusions, have been the rage on health-oriented drink menus for years. Now you can have them at home, too, with Shrubbly, a new non-alcoholic beverage full of flavor (shrub base, high antioxidant berries, and a few bubbles) and wellness (prebiotics, apple cider vinegar and wellness shot ingredients). Try the lemon-ginger and pomegranate flavors. Each is 100% organic, gluten-free, fat-free and low in calories, sugar and carbs.

Courtesy SomethingElse

Tea lovers will enjoy this new aroma-focused collection from SomethingElse, masters at creating non-alcoholic beverages using the expertise of chefs and sommeliers. Kally is an innovative blend of teas, fruits, herbs and spices with acidity similar to most alcoholic drinks. The beverages are designed to pair with food and come in four varieties, No.11 Jasmine Spice, No.23 Orchard Sage, No. 70 Vanilla Smoke and No. 93 Berry Fennel.

AF Wines and Beer

Luminara wines © Meryl Pearlstein

Love California wines? Then you’ll enjoy FRE alcohol-removed wines by Trinchero Family Estates. These wines are made using traditional winemaking methods, but then the alcohol is gently removed. You can try their nine varietals including Moscato, White Zinfandel, Rosé, Chardonnay, Merlot, Red Blend and Cabernet Sauvignon and two sparkling versions also available in cans, a Brut and a Rosé. Drink them straight or invent a winter-perfect, alcohol-free libation like Mulled Wine using Fre’s Cabernet Sauvignon as a base. Trinchero also has two new upscale Luminara wines, a Chardonnay and a Red Blend, produced with 100% Napa Valley grapes.

Courtesy Surely

Sonoma Valley also has a lovely alcohol-free wine collection. Surely’s non-alcoholic wine is also made from wine with the alcohol removed. A favorite in their line is their Non-Alcoholic Cabernet Sauvignon, bold and full-bodied, and made with 100% Sonoma Valley grapes.

Courtesy Prima Pavé

For a quick alcohol-free trip to Italy, Prima Pavé Alcohol Free Sparkling Wines are made with a mix of varietals, adding to their complexity and designed for harmonious pairing with food. Handcrafted in Italy with no sugar or chemicals added, Prima Pavé showcases terroir and an intoxicating depth of flavor. Dealcoholized through a proprietary, all-natural process, the sophisticated bubblies come in Rosé Brut, Blanc de Blancs and Rosé Dolce.

DRY Reserve Courtesy DRY

DRY Botanical Bubbly Reserve is perfect for any celebratory toasts you have. The sophisticated alcohol-free Champagne-like beverage ups the flavor game, too, with Lavender 75 and Spiced Pear. More than typical sparkling wine or sparkling apple cider, these two options will look beautiful in your Champagne flutes.

Courtesy Clausthaler

Clausthaler craft non-alcoholic beers taste just like the real brew. The German brewery has the pedigree, too, as they are an exclusively N/A brewery in existence for more than 40 years with a patented process for making beer that doesn’t create alcohol. There are dry-hopped beers, IPAs, and, for a kick, try their new grapefruit beer or their special holiday Santa beer.

Courtesy Bravus

Brewed in California, Bravus alcohol-free beer is a line of flavor-filled, no-alcohol beers that span the range from IPAs and amber ale to dark peanut butter and oatmeal stouts. You can order a set and try them all. Bravus produces craft beer styles taste exactly like their alcoholic counterparts but with less than .5% ABV, thanks to a proprietary brewing process.

Courtesy BrewDog

You’ll never run out of choices with BrewDog’s creatively crafted and creatively named non-alcoholic beers. The brewery has versions continually coming online, some limited like the Ganache AF cherry stout, and others that are mainstays like the flagship Nanny State. Don’t limit yourself – buy a four-variety bundle and sample a bunch.

Courtesy GRUVI

For the dabblers out there, Denver’s GRUVI offers a line of beers AND wines that are all alcohol-free. You can mix it up and have an AF IPA, Pale Ale, Stout, Sour Weisse or Golden Ale one week, then switch over to wines and sparkling beverages with their non-alcoholic dry Seco, dry Bubbly Rosé, or Seasonal Red Blend (which conveniently comes in a can). Or have a beer one day, a wine the next, and so on. Dry January is meant to be fun and tasty. I’m excited about this one, as I love sour beers and this is the first non-alcoholic one I’ve seen.

Travel to Mindfulness

If you’re seriously lacking motivation and could use a bit of non-Zoom, in-person fitness instruction as well, perhaps these alcohol-free resorts in the Berkshires will motivate you.

Courtesy Kripalu

Kripalu is a popular choice for those desiring a no-alcohol, no-frills, all-vegetarian well-being retreat. Days are filled with activities like yoga, dance, forest bathing and spa treatments. Seminars can include lessons in healthful cooking and mindfulness. Beautiful plant-based food choices also include beverages like hibiscus-lavender iced tea.

Courtesy Canyon Ranch

Canyon Ranch offers January programming with learning sessions, fitness classes, healthy meals, mocktail hours and more. The no-alcohol wellness resort also has vegetarian and vegan dining to help you stick to your January resolutions. The resort offers life-enhancing “pathways,” curated programs of varying lengths that include mindfulness, fitness and spa treatments.

A Dozen Delicious Ways to Celebrate the Eight Days of Chanukah in NYC

Hungry for Chanukah treats? Here are a dozen places to grab some latkes, sufganiyot, brisket and more. Chanukah goes through December 6.

Manhattan

Veselka © Meryl Pearlstein

Veselka

Late-night revelers know Veselka in the East Village. The Ukrainian restaurant has been addressing munchies and warding off hangovers with their hearty borscht and pierogis since 1954. But, truly, it’s their latkes that are a standout for Chanukah. Dense and packed with potato flavor without any trace of greasiness, Veselka latkes have mastered the art of the potato pancake. You can sit outside in one of their private booths with heat lamps or join the party spirit indoors with the cool kids.

Courtesy Dagon

Dagon

Light your Menorah and then then head to the Upper West Side to the new Levantine restaurant Dagon from Chef Ari Bokovza. The pandemic-be-damned restaurant is serving up fresh grated potato latkes with a choice of three creative sides for their first Chanukah meal. Have it your way with a choice of horseradish-za’atar yogurt, smoked salmon, silan (date) and ginger apple sauce, pastrami-spiced short rib marmalade, harissa ketchup, tahini-amba (pickled mango), roasted bone marrow or American paddlefish caviar.

Courtesy The Regency Bar & Grill

The Regency Bar & Grill

Well-known among NYC’s power brokers, The Regency Bar & Grill on Park Avenue welcomes all with its Festival of Lights celebrations for lunch and dinner. Spice up your meal with classic Matzah Ball Soup and Carrots or a stack of potato latkes as you discuss the fate of the world and NYC business.

Courtesy Zou Zou’s

Zou Zou’s

In the new Manhattan West development behind Penn Station, the lively Eastern Mediterranean restaurant from Chef Madeline Sperling joins Executive Sous Chef Juliana Latif to celebrate Chanukah with an updated take on potato latkes, Zou Zou’s Crispy Latkes with Frizzled Thyme.

Courtesy Balaboosta

Balaboosta

Star of Israeli-Persian-Yemenite cuisine at her Meatpacking District restaurant, Chef Einat Admony has added holiday specials to Balaboosta’s menu. You can order Sufganiyot, the Israeli jelly donut staple of Chanukah, here filled with savory chicken liver mousse and topped with sweet amarena cherry compote. Additionally, try the Zengoula, a fresh Middle Eastern take on Chanukah sweets. The crisp funnel cakes are made with rose water, saffron honey and pistachio.

Courtesy PJ Bernstein

PJ Bernstein

Delis are a no-brainer when it comes to finding latkes on the menu year-round. Steve and Eugene Slobodksi’s PJ Bernstein on the Upper East Side has one of the best choices with more than half century of experience. Served up with apple sauce or sour cream, the latkes are delicious and worthy of ordering a bunch to go to freeze for the week. I’d prefer that you ignore the sour cream and just let the potatoes and apple combination work its magic.

Courtesy 2nd Ave. Deli

2nd Ave. Deli

The Second Avenue Deli may no longer be located on Second Avenue, but no matter, this is the real deal when it comes to deli dining and especially latkes. The latkes at their two locations on the Upper East Side and Midtown have been perfected over the deli’s 65-year history and it shows. They’re crispy with no trace of oil. The deli even uses them to create a crazy sandwich worthy of sharing, the Instant Heart Attack: it’s a mountain of a creation with corned beef, pastrami, turkey or salami between two latkes. I’m not sure that apple sauce would work with that.

Who’s Jac W.? © A. H. Reiss Photography

Who’s Jac W.?

This upstart restaurant featuring a mashup of styles and nationalities is offering latkes for their inaugural season. Indeed, Chef Joel Reiss’s latkes continue the inventive theme with Scallion Latkes turned into a meal with braised short rib, horseradish sour cream, natural jus and chive oil. For a sweet spin on a beverage to accompany, the Who’s Jac W.? sangria is made with Manischewitz wine, brandy, apple pucker, berry syrup and cranberry juice.

Courtesy Samesa

Samesa

Brisket is the name of the game at this Mediterranean fast-casual eatery at Rockefeller Center. After a day of skating or watching the light spectacular on the façade of Saks Fifth Avenue, head indoors to Samesa to warm up with this rib-sticking version made Mediterranean-style with apricots, dates, leeks and oranges as well as the usual holiday root veggies.

Courtesy Butterfield Market

Butterfield Market

Technically, Butterfield Market isn’t a restaurant – it’s where you order your takeout to create your at-home “restaurant.” Lucky for us, Butterfield Market doesn’t restrict selling their fabulous latkes to Chanukah. The light and golden potato pancakes are a tad on the pricy side but they’re worth it. And Butterfield’s homemade apple sauce is truly a thing of gastronomic beauty. Be sure to order a large portion of that as well, as you’ll want to eat it by the spoon even after you’ve finished all of your latkes

Brooklyn

Courtesy Olmsted

Olmsted

The acclaimed Prospect Heights restaurant from Chef Greg Baxtrom is offering a Giant Latke at their popular weekend brunch. Each Giant Latke is served in its own cast iron skillet and is topped with lemon crème fraiche and trout roe, very much Olmsted-style and very much delicious.

Courtesy Clinton Street Baking Company

Clinton Street Baking Company

Combining a brunch staple with a Hanukkah twist, the Time Out Market restaurant-bakery entices you to Brooklyn with its rich Latke Eggs Benedict. Chef Neil Kleinberg poaches cage-free eggs, pairs them with house smoked salmon and adds a bath of classic Hollandaise sauce, all served over crispy potato pancakes.

Show Your Support for NYC Women During Women’s History Month

March is just a starting point to honor the women who contribute so much to New York City. Here are some places to visit and entrepreneurs to support in recognition of these ladies’ achievements.

Where to Visit

Two New York City parks invite you to enjoy their glorious outdoor spaces while you show your appreciation for the contributions of women.

Bella Abzug Park - Courtesy NYC Department of Parks & Recreation

On Manhattan’s Far West Side near Hudson Yards, Bella Abzug Park honors feminist, civil rights activist, lawyer and U.S. Representative Bella Abzug.

Shirley Chisholm State Park

Shirley Chisholm State Park - Courtesy NY State Parks


Brooklyn’s Shirley Chisholm State Park was named for the first African American congresswoman and the first woman and African American to run for President, Shirley Chisholm

Where to Shop

Courtesy The Lit. Bar

Book lovers can thank Bronx native Noëlle Santos who opened the borough’s first and only indie bookstore, The Lit. Bar, in the borough. The Afro-Latina-owned shop has garnered much attention, bucking the Amazon trend especially when Barnes & Nobles closed its Bronx doors, and offering an inviting wine bar where patrons came to sip and read. When the pandemic hit, Santos jumped into gear, bringing virtual programs to our homes to keep us connected and enlightened.

Courtesy The Sill

Plants have enlivened many a quarantine apartment over the past year and Eliza Blank has made our spaces just a bit more pleasant.  Her plant shop, The Sill plant shop, has storefronts on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Upper West Side, and in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, but importantly, she also offers a plant delivery service. For those craving some gardening advice, she has created online workshops to teach us plant parenting.

Where to Eat

Female chefs and restaurateurs are true survivors who know their way around NYC kitchens, enriching us with their passion and compassion.

Courtesy LoLo's Seafood Shack

Lolo’s Seafood Shack

Leticia Skai Young-Mohan created a Harlem favorite, LoLo’s Seafood Shack, which fuses Cape Cod and the Caribbean in a delightful mashup. Leticia took advantage of her kitschy urban backyard during the pandemic and didn’t miss a beat. She has so much faith in New York City, in fact, that she recently signed a lease for a new restaurant-concept called LoLo’s Taco Shack, inspired by her family roots in the Yucatan. We love the name: LoLo’s stands for Locally Owned Locally Operated.

Courtesy Pizza Loves Emily

Pizza Loves Emily

Emily Hyland is the co-founder and partner of the hugely successful Pizza Loves Emily restaurants, Emmy Squared and Emily. Introducing Emily’s Detroit-style pizza to NYC was a brave step given the competitiveness among pizzamakers here. Distinct from usual Italian varieties, Emily’s pies have a pan-fried crust and a crispy cheese rim. Her oversized Emmy burger is another must-try. As a result of COVID, Emily launched and led virtual cooking classes, teaching hungry New Yorkers how to make pizzas and burgers.

Courtesy Kaia Wine Bar

Kaia Wine Bar

Suzaan Hauptfleish brought the taste of her native South Africa to the Upper East Side ten years ago. Home grown with a staff that includes her mother, Suzaan’s Kaia Wine Bar is a popular after-work stop for its South African wine list, small plates and mains. During the pandemic, Suzaan pivoted and provided options for the community – from a weekend farmer’s market to meal kits and takeout cocktails. When outdoor spaces were allowed, Suzaan was ready to build a structure but there was no wood to buy. Undaunted, she bought wooden doors and created a cafe.

Courtesy La Palapa Cocina Mexicana

La Palapa Cocina Mexicana

La Palapa has been a neighborhood favorite for more than 20 years. A star when it comes to helping out those in need, chef/owner Barbara Sibley mustered her staff at La Palapa Cocina Mexicana in the East Village and her two La Palapa Taco Bar to create and orchestrate delivery of more than 17,000 meals to frontline and hospital workers through partnership with Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen and Hospitality Workers United and to The Brooklyn Hospital Center with the Gotham Organization.

Courtesy Mario’s Restaurant

Mario’s

Mario’s Restaurant has offered classic Neapolitan fare in the Bronx’s “real Little Italy” for more than 100 years. Facing community upheaval when the pandemic hit, owner Regina Migliucci-Delfino assumed her role as queen (“regina”) of Belmont, continuing the tradition of Italian hospitality and family by donating everything she could from the kitchen to her staff and community.

Courtesy Bean & Bean

Bean & Bean

Bean & Bean set out to be a different kind of coffee bar. Rachel and Jiyoon Han, the BIPOC mother-and-daughter duo who run the show, are committed to lessening the gender gap in coffee. Currently, more than half of their coffee is female-powered, and their goal is to reach 100% within the year. Embraced by locals, Bean & Bean has grown from its first location in FiDi adding three more in Manhattan and Queens.

Courtesy Make My Cake

Make My Cake

Aliyyah Baylor is a baking sensation serving up signature creations like German chocolate cake, Red Velvet cake and sweet potato cheesecake from her two Make My Cake locations in Central Harlem and the Upper West Side. The pandemic hasn’t slowed her down one bit. Baylor is planning a third location and the I Like it Black Coffee Shop. If anyone has ever been called a “mensch,” that’s Baylor. She gives back to the community through organizations that improve the lives of New York City’s seniors and children including City Meals-on-Wheels and Black Women for Black Girls Giving Circle.

Where to Stay

Women have contributed much to the design element and management of New York City’s hotels.

Courtesy Boro Hotel

The Boro Hotel in Long Island City is both owned and operated by women. Owners and sisters Liz and Antonia Batalias and General Manager Mary O’Sullivan oversee the property. Their indy touch is felt in the hotel’s industrial décor and breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.

Courtesy Lotte New York Palace

The Lotte New York Palace, led by General Manager Rebecca Hubbard, is a hotel-palace in view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. The landmark property has a hidden bar, a grand staircase and a Bridgerton-like presence, creating a feeling of royalty throughout.

Courtesy The Whitby Hotel

Steps from Fifth Avenue, The Whitby Hotel is led by General Manager Kathrin Apitz with design by hotel founder Kit Kemp whose affinity for color and drama is seen in each individually decorated room and suite.

Courtesy Williamsburg Hotel

The splashy Williamsburg Hotel is owned and operated by Toby Moskovits and General Manager Julita Kropiwnicki.

Your Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Fans of New York City

Tours and Books

Steinway Factory experience - Courtesy New York Adventure Club

Here’s a way to share your love of New York with tours you can take from your living room. Do you have a love of the piano? Sign up for the Steinway Factory experience. Are you curious about how the subways came to be? Become a savvy straphanger learning about the city’s transit history. Did you know about New York City’s various evolutions as the Center of Jazz in the US? The diverse virtual tours from the New York Adventure Club explore the special nooks and crannies of NYC. An egift card is your ticket to adventure. This might just be the start of a brand- new love affair.

Courtesy John Donohue's All the Restaurants in New York

Brooklyn-based artist John Donohue has created the perfect gift for a foodie, particularly one who’s pining for the pre-pandemic NYC dining experience. Donohue’s signed, limited-edition prints of many of New York’s favorite restaurants are a creative tribute to the city’s dining establishments. They’re also a feel-good gift: you’ll be supporting the city’s badly hurt restaurant industry with your purchase. Fifty percent of print-sale profits go to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.  If you’re as obsessed with these illustrations as I am, John’s book, All the Restaurants in New York, will look fabulous on your coffee table, too.

Courtesy Betsy Polivy

Walking Manhattan Sideways by Betsy Polivy is a compilation of the author’s years of chronicling the small businesses on Manhattan’s side streets. The beautifully photographed book will warm your heart as you read about the entrepreneurs who make up the city’s independent and enduring character. The book is a love letter to the melting pot that is New York, and a vicarious trip through the Big Apple.

Cakes, Cookies, Chocolates and More

Courtesy Bake Me A Wish! New York

Celebrate your love this Valentine’s Day with a gourmet, heart-shaped cake from Manhattan’s Bake Me A Wish!  New York. Available in two sizes, the larger ten-inch cake can be customized with the name of your special someone or a very personal romantic message.

Courtesy Levain Bakery

In time for Valentine’s Day, Levain Bakery is finally shipping their Two Chip Chocolate Chip cookie, a decadent take on a classic chocolate chip cookie sans nuts and brimming with semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips. You can skip waiting in the bakery line for your fresh treats:  these oversized cookies are baked for immediate shipment and are packed in a whimsical blue gift box. If you sweetie drools over Levain’s original Chocolate Chip Walnut or Oatmeal Raisin flavors, you can order those, too.

Courtesy MarieBelle Chocolates

Indulge your sweet tooth with MarieBelle Chocolates’ artisanal ganache collections. Each ganache is artfully decorated with a Valentine’s Day design that tells a beautiful love story. Special for the holiday, the MarieBelle Valentine Truffle Box is an assortment of European-style truffles in dark chocolate, matcha and Champagne. The packaging, designed by renowned fashion illustrator Izak Zenou, is a Valentine’s Day collectible. Champagne is always better when it’s wrapped in chocolate.

Courtesy Bushwick Farm

Is your honey sweet, salty or spicy? Bushwick Farm has foodie gifts to sass up your holiday menu for any taste preference. Born in a test kitchen in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Bees Knees honey comes in a delightful gift set as do the company’s Trees Knees maples and Weak Knees srirachas. Go for the ultimate buzz with the Threes Knees Spicy Trio for a signature tasting experience.

Courtesy Coffee Project New York

The coffee, candles and macarons gift box from Long Island City’s Coffee Project New York puts a coffee-centric finishing touch on an at-home romantic meal. Light the coffee-inspired candle, pour a taste of three coffees (or just one if you prefer) and linger over strawberry verbena macarons from Le Petit Paris, a French bakery also in Long Island City. Maybe pour a spot of Cognac for an added kick.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility - Courtesy Open House New York

Tired of roses and Champagne? On February 14, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and Open House New York host a virtual Valentine’s Day tour of the city’s largest sewage plant, the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, where wastewater from storm drains and toilets and sinks of more than one million New Yorkers is cleaned each day in a complex system, including eight giant stainless steel digester eggs. This tour sells out every year, so you’d better hop online NOW. For 2021 it’s virtual – but, next year, you’ll want to reserve the in-person event as soon as it goes on sale. Seriously.

Renew Your Vows - Courtesy Times Square Alliance

Times Square Alliance invites couples each year to renew their vows on Valentine’s Day on the iconic red stairs in Duffy Square. This year’s event is a bit different. Only a few couples will be able to participate live due to social distancing requirements, but you can show your love online by registering for a virtual space. It’s still the ultimate NYC way to avow your commitment to each other anew.

DUMBO in Brooklyn - courtesy Dumbo Improvement District

For a professional holiday photo memory, free of charge, head to DUMBO in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day weekend. No, it’s not to grab the influencer shot you see all over Instagram with the Manhattan Bridge in the background. A Heart Sculpture, designed and fabricated by Bednark Studios, has been installed on the Empire Stores patio, creating a perfect picture frame. Strike a romantic pose in the middle of the lipstick-red art piece for a photo via the Self Portrait Project, courtesy of the Dumbo Improvement District. From 5-9pm on Saturday and Sunday photos will be projected on the Manhattan Bridge at dimensions of 65 by 40 feet. A link to digital photos will be available on the @dumbobrooklyn Instagram account on February 20. To keep you warm, you’ll also receive commemorative Valentine’s Day hand warmers.

Drink Up with Special Valentine’s Day Botanicals, Wines and Cocktails at Home

Valentine’s Day is a time for love, hearts and, of course, great beverages.  Here are a few intriguing choices that also make great gifts.

Restaurant Faves and Canned Cocktails

Courtesy Dante

Drink your berries and chocolates in the comfort of your living room with Dante’s limited- edition Valentine’s libations, “The Rose” (Lillet Rosé, Raspberry Eau de Vie, raspberry, rose) and “the Heart of Gold” (Rémy Martin VSOP, Cocchi Torino, Oloroso, chocolate bitters, cocoa). The team at this Greenwich Village Italian has assembled aphrodisiacal cocktail kits with bottles of these two special cocktails along with sensual additions like gold-rimmed martini glasses, illustrated coasters, matches, a hand-poured Negroni candle and a specially curated playlist.

Courtesy Ocean Prime NYC

Ocean Prime NYC offers their fizzy favorite, “Berries and Bubbles,” (Belvedere Citrus Vodka, Grand Marnier, marinated berries, fresh lemon and Domaine Chandon Brut) and a spicy “Prime Manhattan” with Woodford Reserve Private Selection, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Amaro Nonino, Rosemary Grapefruit Peppercorn Bitters to set the mood for your Valentine’s Day evening. The attractively designed kits for two are one-and-done with supplies for shaking and serving the cocktails, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a recipe card and a Valentine.

Princess Peach at Cote - (c) Gary He

Michelin-starred Cote pairs a meat-centric feast with a cocktail indulgence in their Valentine’s Day to-go- package. The Asian-inflected steakhouse menu includes an indulgent selection of “Steak and Eggs,” a Butcher’s Serenade (filet mignon, Nantucket Bay scallop, 45+ day dry-aged ribeye, American Wagyu, Japanese A5 wagyu ribeye and grand cru galbi), longevity noodles and soft serve. A sparkling accompaniment, the pale pink “Princess Peach” is an aromatic blend of Casa Dragones Blanco, Cocchi Rosa, lemon, peach syrup and La Caravelle Rosé Champagne.

Courtesy Social Hour Cocktails

Brooklyn-based Social Hour Cocktails gives you three fresh choices for your Valentine’s Day cocktail hour. Created by bartenders Julie Reiner and Tom Macy, the cocktails in a can are all New York in origin. The “Gin & Tonic” and “Whiskey Mule” are made with premium local spirits from the New York Distilling Company, also from Brooklyn. The more adventurous “Pacific Spritz” is crafted with ingredients sourced from the Finger Lakes for an unusual blend of Aperitivo liqueur and rosé with passionfruit and grapefruit flavors.

Gift a Lesson in Becoming a Sommelier or Mixologist

Courtesy Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Wine School

Are you and your significant other secretly yearning to be a sommelier? Join a wine class led by one of the foremost wine educators in the world, Kevin Zraly, creator of the world-famous Windows on the World Wine School. Your evening destination on February 15 is California for a day-after Valentine’s Day red-wine immersion. The One Hour California Red Wine Expert Class is offered through The School, now online. You’ll learn about the state’s various wine regions as you sip and swirl a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Merlot and a Zinfandel. If the spirit so moves, there are three more classes available to complete your pre-somm education.

Courtesy Sotheby’s Wine

To prepare for the class, I suggest a visit to Sotheby’s Wine, New York online or in person. Even last-minute, the experts at the auction house’s elegant wine shop are adept at sourcing whatever vintage you might want or need. They’ll also help create the  perfect dessert and wine pairing for a romantic finale to your evening. Try the lovely Canard Duchene Brut Rosé NV 3 for its fresh strawberry notes, or splurge on Chateau Rieussec 2015 sauterne, bright with oranges, lemons and strawberries.

Katie Sips Cocktail Box (c) Katie Auth

If mixed cocktails are more your preference, NYC-based bartender Katie Auth will create a boozy bespoke evening at home from Katie Sips.  Katie’s Valentine’s Day program is an interactive, online class built around your choice of drinks. If you don’t have a preference for a particular cocktail, Katie will inspire your inner mixologist with her cocktail creativity. A cocktail kit is provided in advance. You’ll get everything you need for a perfect beverage —  syrups, garnishes, mixers and more – except the liquor. How about a Valentine-appropriate “Turkish Fizz” made with Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice, pistachio-rosewater orgeat syrup, egg whites and soda, garnished with dehydrated rose buds; or a retro “Pink Lady,” also made with gin and egg whites but enhanced with applejack and a few dashes of grenadine.  Both are pretty and pink and deceptively powerful.

Continue your “Dry January” Resolution with a “Calm February” Valentine’s Day

Courtesy Proteau

Red is the color of love, especially dark red. Proteau botanical beverages are dark-red, non-alcoholic drinks in a beautiful cut-glass bottle. Created in New York City from extensive research into Italian amaro, fortified wines and vermouth, and enhanced by years of cocktail creativity at noted speakeasy PDT, cocktail master and Proteau creator John deBary removed the alcohol but left an intriguing blend of botanicals that is every bit as intoxicating as their alcoholic inspirations. For Valentine’s Day,” zero-proof Ludlow Red” is a balanced concoction of bitter, floral, and fruity with notes of blackberry, chrysanthemum, black pepper and dandelion. “Rivington Spritz” offers a sparkling version that is refreshing and bright with hints of hibiscus and chamomile flowers, Chinese rhubarb, gentian, strawberries and a touch of artisanal vinegar. The two-pack gift set is a refreshing gift for those days when alcohol is not on the menu.

January 11 is National Hot Toddy Day – Here’s Where You Can Sample Some of the Best in New York City

Dining outdoors is fun but chilly. You need to pick your menu carefully so food stays warm. Think piping hot French onion soup, boeuf bourguignon and a bowl of spicy chili to stick to your ribs. Your drinks of choice need to stand up to the cold as well. Fortunately, winter is a time to imbibe hot toddies, a beverage famous for its abilities to ward off shivers and the flu, attend to nascent coughs and sniffles, calm a sore throat and provide an overall feeling of warmth. A hot toddy, also known as hot whiskey in Ireland, is typically made with a base of whiskey or rye (or even rum) enhanced with water, honey, herbs and spices. It’s served hot in a glass or mug that will warm your hands as well. The hot toddy is so popular, in fact, that it has its own holiday on January 11, but feel free to order these at any time. They’re just what we need to stay comfy (and healthy) outdoors during the long, dark winter ahead.

Here are six choices in New York City that will keep you toasty through these chillier months.

MANHATTAN

Upper East Side

Amali - Lovers and Liars

Amali (115 E. 60th St.) takes a traditional hot buttered toddy and gives it a Mediterranean twist with peach brandy, Rockey’s liqueur, hot orange saffron tea, honey and butter. If you’re not familiar with it, Rockey’s liqueur is a delicious blend of green apple, pineapple, green tea, black tea, and citrus inspired by classic, clarified milk punch. Pair this with the restaurant’s black cod gyro, their labneh flatbread or any of their pastas, for a mini trip to Italy and Greece. The drink is called Lovers & Liars for reasons that you’ll have to figure out after you’ve had a few.

Theater District

Haven Rooftop

Haven Rooftop above the Sanctuary Hotel (132 W. 47th Street) in Midtown has put together an inventive Hot Toddy menu with versions like Apple Cheer Hot Toddy with lemon, cinnamon syrup, black tea, apple cider and bourbon; Bailey’s Hot Toddy with black tea, agave and Bailey’s Irish Cream; and Hibiscus Hot Toddy with black tea, hibiscus syrup, lemon, agave and bourbon. The drinks pair well with Haven’s eclectic menu of small plates, pizzas and steaks. To warm you up upon arrival, Haven offers a welcoming non-alcoholic shot of hot chocolate or hot tea, a wonderful option, too, if you’re observing Dry January.

East Village

Kissaki - Tokushima Toddy

Putting a Japanese spin on a hot toddy, elevated sushi favorite Kissaki (319 Bowery) features the Tokushima Toddy with Maker’s Mark, passionfruit, yuzu, sake, apple caramel and ginger beer. While hot sake is just so mundane, adding it to a Hot Toddy makes a lot of sense. It also goes surprisingly well with cold sushi and sashimi like chef’s creative nigiri and futomaki fat rolls.

The mixologists at cocktail mecca Death & Co. (433 E. 6th St.) have also embraced the Asian spirit, adding Japanese whiskey with dashi kombu, soup stock made with dried kelp, to their toddy. While bar seating isn’t currently offered, you can order the drink via Tock or Caviar from Death & Co.’s to-go and delivery menu. If you choose to dine on your balcony or in the park, The Super Cult Toddy is guaranteed to keep you happy.

BROOKLYN

Williamsburg

Ainslie

Italian sensation Ainslie (76 Ainslie St)  has a Sip, Stir, Cuddle hot toddy from mixologist Jessica Dure, made with Vecchia Tres Botti brandy, rye whiskey, Amaro Montenegro (from Bologna), honey, lemon, baking spices and Angostura bitters.  This is just the right drink to sip in their outdoor sidewalk patio or in their expansive beer garden with its open roof. Pair it with Ainslie’s shareable saltimbocca pizza, with just the right amount of prosciutto and sage adorning the melty cheese, or the lasagna with Bolognese sauce and linguine vongole.

Ten Hope - Todd’s Hot Date

Nearby, Ten Hope Outdoor Garden (10 Hope Street) offers a hot toddy called Todd’s Hot Date made with brandy, bourbon, date molasses, lemon and clove perfect for enjoying on the open-air, vine-laced patio. The Mediterranean restaurant’s flatbread with zaatar oil is a perfect accompaniment.  Naturally, there are heaters throughout to keep you toasty on the outside, too.

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