Duffy’s Sports Grill invited us to check out some items from their menu, new and old. Duffy’s Sports Grill consists of 35 locations throughout Florida (including Orlando!) and more than 80 TVs in each location. It is the perfect place to catch your favorite team game or sit back and enjoy a great meal.

Of course, it was after work and the weekend began so we decided to check out some drinks. We discovered with delight that ordering the S’mores Girl Scout Cookies specialty Martini comes with cookies. Who doesn’t like an adult version of milk and cookies? The martini is very tasteful and nice for a night with the girls.

If you are not too fond of a milky liquor, how about Pear…fect Martini? Or two because Duffy’s Sports Grill offers 2 for 1 drinks all day every day. Music to your ears, right?

Loaded Potato Skins include bacon, scallions, jack & cheddar cheese, and sour cream. Textures ranging from smooth/creamy to crispy creates a nice touch to the savory flavors.

Crispy Calamari is dusted in seasoned flour and garnished with crispy cherry peppers, served with marinara and spicy kickin’ bayou sauce. They weren’t kidding when they said the spicy kicking’ bayou sauce had a kick to it, but is nice with the appropriately seasoned calamari.

Seasame-Crusted Ahi Tuna is seasoned, seared in sesame oil and served with cucumber salad and Soba noodles in Asian dressing. Each item on this plate is chilled and has its own flavor unique to one another. I’m not mad we ordered this dish and would order it again!

These ribs are dressed with Duffy’s Sports Grill’s new Korean BBQ Sauce. The ribs have tender parts and crispy sections depending on where you take your bites. The delicious sauce has a balance between sweet and spicy. Also, I hear it is great on wings when it comes to watching a game or in general.

Of course, I can’t go to a sports grill without ordering wings. This is a plate of hot boneless wings served with blue cheese and celery. The hot sauce here is on the vinegar side of the hot sauce spectrum.

Blackened Beef Tenderloin Tips served with Horseradish cream sauce and the options of two sides. Here, we decided on grilled zucchini and sweet potato fries as our sides. The tips were room temperature, but delicious; it would be a greater delight if they were hot. The grilled zucchini were fresh and had a crunch to them, which was to my liking. The sweet potato fries were made well and sapid.

As there is the S’mores Girl Scout Cookies specialty martini mentioned above, there’s a S’mores Girl Scout Cookies specialty involving cupcakes that you could order for dessert. $1 from each order of the cupcakes and/or martinis will go towards Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida!

For more information  check out the Duffy’s Sports Grill website.

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This Thursday, Orlando Weekly celebrated the Great Orlando Mixer – Orlando’s largest cocktail party in the city’s most elaborately decorated vintage venue – the Church Street Saloon, complete with 1920s costumes, hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment, and craft cocktails from the city’s top bars and bartenders.


The winner of the 2015 Great Orlando Mixer winner was The Church Street Tavern – whose bartenders created a gin sticky, which included Cinnamon syrup infused grilled orange slices and St. Augustine gin blended with fresh squeezed orange juice – garnished with a cinnamon stick and orange twist.

The Hen House at Wall Street Plaza was runner up with an honorable mention going to Prato.


St. Augustine Distillery provided much of the liquor for the evening, offering a Florida cane vodka, made with Florida-grown sugar cane, and a New World Gin, made with a blend of coriander, juniper, lemon peel and cassia.


Food was provided by Seito Sushi at Baldwin Park, the new Urban Tide at Hyatt Regency Orlando, Segofredo, and Paxia.


For more info, visit:


Participating establishments included:

Dexters Thorton Park
Lil’ Indies
Olde 64
Santiago’s Bodega
Stardust Video & Coffee
The Church St. Tavern
The Hammered Lamb
The Hen House
The Rusty Spoon
The Treehouse
World of Beer Downtown

Church Street Tavern
120 West Church Street Orlando, FLO 32801
Templeton Rye Cocktail Madhatten – Muddled fresh basil in a jalepeno syrup. Stirred Templeton Rye with a dash of the most original bitters and garnished with a cherry tomato. St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Gin Stickey – Cinnamon syrup infused grilled orange slices. St. Augustine gin blended with fresh squeezed orange juice. Garnished with a cinnamon stick and orange twist.

Lil Indies
1036 North Mills Avenue Orlando, FLO 32803
Templeton Rye Cocktail Vira Jira- Earthy, rich cumin accents light oak and spice notes of Templeton Rye. The addition of lime juice gives this approachable cocktail the spirit of Middle Eastern flavors.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail The Martingale – Nutty, bitter notes of Cardamaro and Averna draw out the flavors of hand ground herbs in the St. Augustine Gin moving the bright citrus notes of the gin front and center. The habanero shrub gently warms the earthy notes in the sumptuous sipper.

Dexter’s Thorton Park
808 East Washington Street Orlando, FLO 32801
Templeton Rye Cocktail The Templeton – A warming mixture of Templeton Rye Whiskey with rosemary infused maple syrup and fresh squeezed lemon juice
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail The New Pear Fizz – A perfect blend between Ginger and pear smashed and served with fresh lemon juice and St. Augustine Gin.

Luma on Park
290 South Park Avenue Winter Park, FLO 32789
Templeton Rye Cocktail A Little R & R – Rhubarb bitters, powdered sugar, egg whites, soda & rhubarb stalk.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Ponce de l’Orange – St. Augustine Gin, blood orange, grapefruit, agave & basil.

Olde 64
64 North Orange Avenue Orlando, FLO 32801
Templeton Rye Cocktail The Settle Down – 2 sugar cubes, 2 large basil leaves, 3 blackberries, dash of grated cinnamon, 3/4 oz of Templeton rya, 1/4 oz of Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz of Club Soda garnished with a slapped bay leaf.
St. Augustine Cocktail The H.M.S. – 2 cardamom pods, pinch of kosher salt, 3/4 oz of St. Augustine Gin, 3/4 oz of jasmin green tea, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, 1/2 oz Agave nectar, garnished with crushed bay leaf.

124 North Park Avenue Winter Park, FLO 32789
Templeton Rye Cocktail The Muddled Mexican – Templeton Rye, Mexican cola reduction, vanilla syrup, muddled orange/cherry & orange/cherry bitters.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Berried Treasure – Blackberry, rosemary simple syrup, lime & lemon bitters.

Rusty Spoon
124 North Park Avenue Winter Park, FLO 32789
Templeton Rye Cocktail Templeton Rye: AZ-85 – Templeton Rye, ginger syrup & lemon juice.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail St. Augustine Gin, fresh blueberries & lemon verbana.

Santiagos’ Bodega
802 Virginia Drive Orlando, FLO 32803
Templeton Rye Cocktail 12 Days – Templeton Rye, Cinzano Vermouth Rosso, fresh orange, cinnamon, Angostura bitters, orange bitter, and agave.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Aviles Street – Mandarin napoleon, luxardo cherry, lemon, fresh basil, raw honey.

Wall Street Plaza 15 North Orange Avenue Orlando, FLO 32801
Templeton Rye Cocktail Al’s Vice – A classic whiskey cocktail enhanced with homemade honey grapefruit syrup, orange bitters and a twist.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail First Flower – St. Augustine gin mixed with homemade vanilla lavender syrup, lemon juice and lavender bitters. Spring has arrived!

Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 Winter Park Road Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 623-3393
Templeton Rye The Sting – Templeton Rye, fresh habanero/peach puree spiced with cardamom and secrets, fresh squeezed orange and angostura bitters garnished with a citrus peel.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Gidget Goes Hawaiian – St. Augustine Gin with muddled fresh ginger root, passion fruit juice and fresh squeezed orange, orange blossom water and grapefruit bitters garnished with a fresh basil sprig.

The Hammered Lamb
1235 North Orange Avenue Orlando, FLO 32804
Templeton Rye Cocktail The Lamb Mae – Cherry, vanilla bean, and sage infused Templeton Rye Whiskey served over a king cube garnished with a lemon twist, sage leaf, and cherry.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail The Lamb Jam – St. Augustine Gin, a pineapple sage syrup and seasonal Jam served over ice cubes.

The Hen House @ Wall St.
11 Wall Street Orlando, FLO 32801
Templeton Rye Cocktail Templeton Moon-RYE-se – A whiskey infusion of organic apples, cinnamon and vanilla. A hen house secret recipe.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Florida Fizz – A new school take on the old gin fizz, with some Florida twists. Made with locally sourced Florida Orange flower oil, Florida honey syrup and of course, St. Augustine Gin.

The Treehouse
68 East Pine Street Orlando, FLO 32801
Templeton Rye Cocktail Blackberry Lemonade – Templeton Rye Whiskey, muddled blackberries, lemonade and mint.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Cucumber Gimlet – Gin, cucumber, lime, elderflower, and jalepeno.

W XYZ (a loft hotel)
500 South Orange Avenue Orlando, FLO 32801
Templeton Rye Cocktail Compass Rose – A modern twist on a classical Admiral with rosemary lemon juice and Templeton Rye.
St. Augustine Gin Cocktail Ginarita – A refreshing spring time twist on a classic margarita, muddled cucumber and lime mixed to make this a must.

World of Beer Downtown
431 East Central Boulevard Orlando, FLO 32801
Templeton Rye Cocktail Capone’s Hideaway – Templeton Rye Whiskey pairs perfectly with a lemon-verbena shrub topped with champagne and garnished with a torched lemon peel.
Templeton Rye Cocktail Florida Sky – Florida take on an aviation cocktail made with St. Augustine Gin, creme de violet, hibiscus honey simple syrup, lavender bitters, and key lime juice.








The team at the new Urban Tide restaurant at Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive
The team at the new Urban Tide restaurant at Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive













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Lately there has been a lot of commotion downtown and sports bar, this could be frustrating when you just want to go out for a nice night of drinks whether by yourself or with a couple of friends. Luckily, Smokey Bones have been pouring out some new drinks to accompany their entrees- that way you can avoid all the heavy traffic of one way streets or overly dedicated sports fan.

I actually attended two different nights at Smokey bones to try out their new drinks, the first night was a intense show off game of Beer vs. Wine

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Pretzel & Cheese Dip: Soft salty pretzel with beer infused cheese dip 
Harpoon IPA 
vs. Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon
There was a little of a cheat for this one since the beer (of course) complemented the beer cheese very well. 

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetNutty Salad: Fresh greens with goat cheese, sweet apple slices, and pecans and walnuts – dressed in honey mustard dressing (my personal favorite)
Sierra Nevada Kellerweirs Vs. Kung Fu girl Riesling
I was pretty split between this decision, but in the end I went with the wine for it’s lightness didn’t overwhelm the salad.
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetBBQ chicken & Coleslaw: super juicy dark meat chicken smothered in the house BBQ sauce with a refreshing side of creamy coleslaw
Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA vs. Charles & Charles Chardonnay
Although the wine paired well with the coleslaw, the IPA just makes more sense with the BBQ sauce of the main component.
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetBrisket& BBQ beans: slow braised brisket that’s incredibly tender with sweet BBQ baked beans.
Rogue Dead Guy Vs. Velvet Devil
I, personally, preferred the merlot over the beer. However, the crowd went with the beer – I guess it also made sense.
Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetDonut: house made dough nuts with chocolate and raspberry sauce. The dough nut was super light and fluffy!
Stone Imperial Golden Stout vs. Lunetta Prosecco
This could also be because of my bias but- I went with the beer for the desert. The stout was actually infused with (shhh) bananas! and I’m just not a big fan of bubbly wines/ Champagne so my heart immediately went with the beer for the desert.


On another night, I went back for more drinks!


 Peach Buzz Margarita
1800 Silver Tequila & Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur.
peach purée + lime sour + fresh red raspberries + a salted rim

DSC00477Cucumber Citrus Smash:
Hendrick’s & St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
muddled cucumbers + lemon and lime sour + topped with soda.

DSC00488Purple Haze Sangria:
This was one of Smokey Bones’ special mixology recipes that they shared with us (it’s the also the one I made in the previous photo!)

1.5 oz of Viniq Shimmery Liqueur
0.5 oz PAMA pomegranate liqueur
4.0 oz Lunetta Prosecco Sparkling wine
0.5 oz Monin Red Passion Fruit syrup
1.0 oz Cranberry Juice
1 Orange Moon
2 Lime Moons
1 Cherry

Shake together the Viniq Shimmery Liqueur, PAMA pomegranate Liqueur, Monin Red Passion Fruit Syrup, and cranberry juice. Pour over ice. Top with Punetta Prosecco Sparkling wine. Garnish with the orange and lime moons and the cherry.

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill
303 N. Alafaya Tr.Orlando, FL 32828

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Photos and Words by Unique Michael

“Men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, Author of The Great Gatsby 

Remember those magnificent parties Gatsby put on for Daisy in The Great Gatsby? On Saturday, March 8th 2014 Orlando Weekly hosted the largest cocktail party, The Great Orlando Mixer at The Cheyenne Saloon at Church Street Station. Hundreds of folks dressed in extravagant 1920s attire and partied to 1920 remixes of today’s pop hits.

If you’ve never been inside The Cheyenne Saloon, you’re missing out. The interior is reminiscent of a western saloon where the winner of a “showdown” drank to celebrate their victory. When you first walk in, you’ll notice the mirrors behind the side bars. They reflect the entire Saloon, showcasing the beauty in whole. As you move closer to center of the room, your eyes immediately float to the beautiful wood floors, paneling, and railings. If that isn’t reminiscent of a beautifully designed saloon, the stained-glass fixtures and windows bring out the real western appeal where folks would drink and smoke for hours.

Despite the photo of everyone dancing and socializing from the mass amount of alcohol consumed, hundreds of drinkers judged Orlando’s top bartenders by trying each of the bartender’s unique cocktails, ultimately crowning one bartender as the winner of The Great Orlando Mixer.

Christina Eglin of Prato in Winter Park served up some truly dynamic vodka and moonshine drinks. Her original recipe for everyone to create at home is the Melone Picante.

Melone Picante Recipe:

-1.25 ounces Nolet’s Gin
-1 lemon wedge, squeezed
-0.75 ounces Canton Ginger Liqueur
-1 ounce fresh watermelon juice (adding simple syrup to taste)
-3 dashes habanero bitters

Jerid Johnston from Luma dazzled the crowd with his snazzy mustache and beautiful cocktails. His original recipe for everyone to create at home is the The Firm.

The Firm Recipe:

– 2 ounces Gentleman Jack
-1 ounce Blood Orange San Pellegrino
– 0.75 ounces soda water
-0.5 ounces agave nectar
-3 dashes grapefruit bitters

Alejanddro Munoz from Kasa wowed the crowd with their cocktails – one even had apple pie on the rim. His original recipe for everyone to create at home is the the Cinnamon Suspension Martini.

Cinnamon Suspension Martini Recipe:

-1.5 onces vanilla vodka
-2 ounces lemonade (homemade sour mix)
-Couple of dashes of cinnamon powder

Michael Studley from DTA electrified the crowd with his refreshing cocktails – one had cucumber. His original recipe for everyone to create at home is the the Real Mccoy

Real Mccoy Recipe:

-1.5 ounces Nolet’s Finest Gin
-1 ounce lemon juice
-0.5 onces Grapefruit San Pellegrino
-1 sprig rosemary
-1 ounce simple syrup
-0.5 ounces egg whites

The dancers put on a show, the music grew louder, and laughter filled the air.

Among the many food vendors, German Backhaus, a German bakery and deli (formerly Yalaha Bakery) in the Lake Ivanhoe District, served up mouthwatering breads, apple strudel, and a black forest dessert.



Photo by Orlando Weekly 

At the end of the night, the many revelers at The Great Orlando Mixer voted for Rene Nguyen of Hanson’s Shoe Repair as the Winner. His original recipe for everyone to create at home is the the The English Channel

The English Channel Recipe:

-1.5 ounces Plymouth Gin
-1.5 ounces Carpano Bianco Vermouth
-2 dashes orange bitters
-Cynar rinse

Specific Instructions:

1) Chill serving glass with ice. Combine gin, vermouth and bitter with ice and stir for 30 seconds.
2) Discard ice from chilled coupe glass and rinse with three dashes of Cynar.
3) Strain cocktail into Cynar-rinsed glass.
4) Take an orange peel and express oils over the surface of the cocktail, rim the glass using the peel and garnish.

Thank you Jessica Young from Orlando Weekly for inviting Tasty Chomps to The Great Orlando Mixer!

More photos of The Great Orlando Mixer by Kim Buttons of www.kimbutton.com








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From the same owners/chefs who brought you The Table Orlando, comes their latest restaurant concept—Pharmacy. This 1920s “speakeasy” is now open to the public—if you can find it.

Tyler Brassil, Loren Falsone and Dominick Tardugno have spent more than a year secretly planning this concept that would transport guests back in time to the 1920s Prohibition era. Pharmacy is their take on a modern day speakeasy. From its mysterious unmarked entrance to its celebratory menu of locally sourced ingredients and handcrafted proper cocktails, Pharmacy is a secret place where guests can come and escape to a comfortable/casual atmosphere with moderately priced appetizers, entrees and bar selections.

While the menu selections will change throughout the year, their founding principles remain constant with the use of local, seasonal, organic and most importantly sustainable foods. Some of their recently featured menu items include Clams Arrabbiata, Hudson Valley Foie Gras Torchon, Whole Garlicky Cape Canaveral Rock Shrimp, Roasted Whole Seeley’s Arc Thyme Chicken and a selection of their own Neapolitan Pizzas.

Behind the bar features full liquor, handcrafted proper cocktails, custom blended barrel aged classics, beer, wine, house-made tonics, sodas and fresh herbs, fruit and produce.

Pharmacy is open Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and is located at 8060 Via Dellagio Way in Orlando’s Restaurant Row.

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Columbia Crest is world renowned for crafting affordable, highly-acclaimed wines that consistently over deliver in quality. The winery’s portfolio includes Red Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay, all of which are perfect for holiday occasions.


Founded in 1983, Columbia Crest has grown from a small winery in a relatively unknown wine region to
one of the most significant wineries in the U.S. and a major force behind Washington state’s emergence
as a world class wine region. One of the Northwest’s largest wineries, Columbia Crest is acclaimed by
critics and consumers alike for crafting wines that are food-friendly, approachable, affordable, and
consistently over-deliver in quality.


Winemaker Juan Muñoz Oca comes from a long lineage of winemaking; and at the young age of 36, his winemaking experience spans 20 vintages in five world-class wine regions including Bordeaux, South Australia, Mendoza, Spain and Washington state.

Juan Muñoz Oca is the head winemaker at Columbia Crest Winery in Paterson, Washington. As Head Winemaker, Muñoz Oca is responsible for producing the winery’s portfolio of Reserve, H3, Grand Estates and Two Vines wines. He joined Columbia Crest in 2003 and was named head winemaker in 2011. Prior to 2011 he was dedicated to the winery’s red wine program where he worked alongside Ray Einberger whose 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon became the first Washington wine to be named ‘Wine of the Year’ by Wine Spectator in 2009.

Raised in Mendoza, Argentina, Muñoz Oca came under the tutelage of his grandfather, cellar master at Bodegas Toso winery, at a young age. The older man instilled in him a love and respect for wine, as well as for his family’s Spanish culture, that was to become the root of a lifelong passion for winemaking. He picked his first grapes at the age of eight, later took an after-school job in a wine cellar, and spent his vacations helping his grandfather with harvest.


Although his winemaking experience stretches across the globe, it is his time at Columbia Crest that has been the most meaningful.

“Washington state is a very special place to grow grapes for many reasons,” says Muñoz Oca. “The perfect grape-growing climate, the best viticultural practices and people committed to crafting the best bottle of wine vintage after vintage is what Columbia Crest’s winemaking is all about. My time in Washington has been the most meaningful to me, I fell in love with the wine and the people, and that’s why I’ve been here since.

According to local historical records in 1857 rancher James Kinney was camping in the range of hills in
south-central Washington. When he woke up to discover his herd had wandered up a mountainside
and into an upland plain where they were munching on succulent bunch grass. “surely this is Horse
Heaven,” Kinney commented. the area has been known as the Horse Heaven Hills (H3) ever since.


Location south central Washington state along the columbia river in Paterson, Washington, home of columbia crest winery
Size – 570,000 acres
Planted Vineyards – 6,040 acres
Columbia Crest vineyards – 2,500 acres
First Planting – 1972, Mercer vineyard
Elevation – 200 feet at the area’s southern boundary to 1,800 feet at its northern boundary
Soil – loamy sands, sandy loams and silt loams
Climate – semi-arid; annual rainfall averages 9 inches
Vineyards – 20
Wineries – 5 – columbia crest, chateau ste. Michelle, canoe ridge estate, alder ridge, Destiny ridge and Zefina
Major Grape varieties – chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon Blanc, cabernet sauvignon, Merlot, syrah


“ This Moscato from Washington state opens with aromas of lychee and white rose. Bright flavors of peaches and tangerine are joined by the youthful sweetness of ripe honeydew and are deftly balanced with acidity. This semi-sweet wine can be enjoyed as an aperitif or as a refreshing complement to fruit salad or light cheeses.” – Juan Muñoz-Oca


Vineyards: Horse Heaven Hills
Blend: 97% Cabernet Sauvignon
2% Merlot
1% Cabernet Franc

Food Pairings: Tomato-based sauces
such as Bolognese and Puttanesca, intensely and richly flavored foods such as
grilled meats, braised lamb shanks or pot
roast, and strongly flavored cheeses


“This elegant, medium-bodied Chardonnay opens with aromas of apple, pear, spice and a
typical Horse Heaven Hills minerality. Hints of toasty coconut join a host of orchard fruit
flavors, ending with a lengthy finish of vanilla and cream.” – Juan Muñoz Oca, Wine





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Interview with Wódka founder James Dale

James Dale, a native of New Zealand, and still giddy from his homeland’s recent win in the Rugby World Cup, sat down and talked to us at TastyChomps.com about the new Wódka, a cheap premium vodka that has made a big splash here in the states. The brand has recently been picked up by Publix here in Orlando, making it one of the newest and fastest growing markets for the new alcoholic beverage. I recently sampled some of the Wodka and I must agree that it is a very smooth, delightful vodka. Definitely going to go well to warm up those cold winter holiday nights.

Tasty Chomps: What inspired you to go into the business and what was the most important lesson you’ve learned from your time in the business?

James Dale: I’ve worked in the spirits business in some fashion for over 20 years and have always loved it (the business and the booze) – it’s a far more complicated business that anyone gives it credit for and there’s a tremendous amount of creativity involved at every level, but at the end of the day I’m a salesman, I love to sell my brands, even as the CEO of Panache Beverages. Lessons? Humility, toughness and respect, this business is tough and it will beat you up – you have to respect the business and the competition but believe you can do it better than anyone else.

T.C.: What are the origins of Wodka and how is it produced?

Wodka was actually owned by the polish government after the war – they stopped making it a long time ago.  We discovered it while we were at our distillery in Poland and brought it back to life. We have one of the original bottles and labels from the 1950’s – keeps us remembering the egalitarian roots of the brand. Wodka is distilled three times from quality rye – its smooth, really smooth.

T.C.: What inspired you to bring Wodka to America?

We’re actually in 5 countries so I’d like to think we’re bringing Wodka from Poland to the world. People have changed since 2008 – people need and appreciate true value. We felt we has something that people really wanted rather than launching something you have to convince people they need.

T.C.: How do you think Wodka tastes compared to its competitors?

Our quality and taste is unmatched in the industry for the price – we were the first brand you can purchase for under $10 that the Beverage Testing Institute awarded 90 points to. Take Wodka Vodka and then taste some cheap vodka – actually, scratch that – taste Grey Goose and then taste Wodka Vodka – you’ll be shocked.

T.C.: Why do you think Wodka is one of the fastest growing vodkas in America right now?

We’re offering something to people that they want and we’re not trying to be something we’re not – we’re a great vodka for a really low price that doesn’t take itself too seriously. People like the taste, it doesn’t kill their pocketbook and they get a laugh when they see the marketing. It’s a recipe that’s working.

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A mysterious e-mail arrives in my inbox one autumn day. An invitation to visit the illustrious Omni Resort Hotel at Championsgate, just outside of Orlando a few exits south of Disney World on Interstate-4. The reason? To try out some new drink menu items on their bar menu and be whisked away for a mini-staycation at the hotel. Hmm…I thought…this sounds enticing…


On that pre-arranged date, ten strangers assembled on the steps of the lobby of the Omni Hotel, greeted by Ms. Jackie of the Zimmerman Agency, the ever smiling Mrs. Kelly Burnett (Follow her official Omni Resorts twitter here @kdburnett), Director of Leisure Sales for the Omni Orlando resort, and Mr. Mel, head of food and beverage at the hotel. Some of the guests this evening come from Orlando Style magazine, Orange Appeal, and local blogs like ourselves and our friends at MEGAYUMMO.

All of it seemed too much like out of a summer mystery novel to me: strangers meeting at a hotel, invited by a unknown mysterious host, having a delightful time, a lovely overnight stay…only to awaken in the morning to find out one of the guests has mysteriously disappeared overnight and the whole hotel is locked down while an old detective with a checkered past is brought in to figure out the crime and solve the mystery.

Luckily for us, things did not require a detective in the morning. Things actually went quite smoothly and relaxing.


A beautiful view of the family pool and the golf course at Omni Resort at Championsgate

First off, the drinks. Omni Hotel has a nice little bar area on the left of the lobby near Zen restaurant where a piano player is set up for light enjoyable piano music. Here, the bartenders have assembled a presentation area where they whip out the latest “organic” and “local” creations from Omni resorts including the Sweet Honey Dew Foam made of Monin pure can syrup, Highland pepper, Berry ron-dezvous, Southern Basil Smash, and New Age Juleps. My favorite of the evening was the Berry Ron-dezvous, a very sweet yet also very potent mixed drink that packs a punch right after the unassuming sweetness settles in.

Below are the recipes for the new drinks at Omni Resort at Championsgate.

Sweet Honeydew Foam
(topping for the New Age Julep Recipe)
8oz Orange Juice
4oz Monin Pure Cane Syrup
2oz Organic Pasteurized Egg Whites
1. Pour ingredients directly into iSi Gourmet Whip Plus Canister* 2. Place the lid on and screw tightly 3. Screw on the CO2 cartridge, you should hear a hissing noise during this
step 4. Shake the canister well 5. Completely invert the canister upside down 6. Last, pour the foam at the side of the glass and top your cocktail
*an iSi canister is also known as a whipping cream bottle/canister
Highland Pepper
Glass: Highball Method: Muddle/Shake & Fine Strain
Ingredients: 1 each Jalapeno Slice
Muddle above ingredients
1each Dash of Celery Bitters
1.5 oz Patrón Silver
.75 oz Fresh Squeezed Florida Grapefruit Juice
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz Monin Agave Nectar
Shake above ingredients with ice
Garnish: Fine Strain over Ice
Jalapeno Slice Grapefruit Wheel
Southern Basil Smash
Glass: Rocks Method: Muddle/Shake & Fine Strain
2 each Fresh Strawberries (hulled & sliced)
3 each Basil Leaves
Muddle above ingredients
1.5 oz Woodford Reserve
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz Dry Sack Sherry
.5 oz Monin Pure Cane Syrup
.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Garnish: Fine strain over ice
Berry Ron-dezvous
Glass: Martini Method: Shake with ice & fine strain
2 each Fresh Blackberries
4 each Fresh Raspberries
Muddle above ingredients
1.5 oz Bacardi Superior
.5 oz Grand Marnier
.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz Monin Pure Cane Syrup
Garnish: Fresh Blackberries
Glass: Rocks Method: Muddle/Shake
New Age Juleps
Ingredients: 8 each Mint Leaves
Muddle above ingredients
1.5 oz Absolut Vodka
.75 oz Plymouth Gin
.75 oz Monin Honey Sweetener
1 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Shake above ingredients with ice Strain without ice
Garnish: Top with Mint Sprig
Sweet Orange Foam



After the presentation, we were treated to a very amazing dinner at David’s Club, a kind of relaxed pub type restaurant inside Omni hotel, best known for their steaks. Right next door is Zen, a fusion Chinese pan-Asian restaurant, whose dishes were also presented that evening. My favorites included the Chinese style barbeque spare ribs, the Zen roll, and the Florida sushi roll from Zen as well as the short rib ossobucco from David’s Club. All in all, the food was magnificent and the company was great.

Zen Restaurant  – Pan Asian cuisine



Seafood Bird nest


The Chinese style bbq spareribs – must try!


Lobster Tempura


Amazing, fresh sushi rolls


Short rib ossobucco


The Lamb chops 


Swordfish steak

In the morning, we ventured out into the Trevi restaurant, traditionally a Italian restaurant, but also a breakfast spot in the morning where they have a full blown breakfast buffet as well as select specialty menu items such as the french toast, eggs benedict, etc.




French toast


Bacon, bacon, bacooonnn


Salami cuts and charcuterie

Omni Resort at Championsgate is pretty much all you could ask for in a staycation trip: great food, a nice little lazy river to lounge in, a huge pool for the family, and a giant golf course, all within 30-45 minute drive from downtown Orlando. You definitely feel at peace at this place and away from all the noise and traffic of the City Beautiful. Check it out some time if you can!

Luxury and relaxation.
Lazy river at the Omni
For more information visit:
Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate
1500 Masters Blvd
ChampionsGate, Florida 33896
Phone: (407) 390-6664, Fax: (407) 390-6600
Special thanks to the good people at Omni Resorts, Kelly and Mel, and Jackie of the Zimmerman Agency for setting up this beautiful event! And to the great staff at Omni resorts for doing such a fine job in hospitality and guest services.

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