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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Drink Up: Unconventional Bar Snacks To-Go at the Monkey House

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2020 at 6:21 PM

Maple-Whiskey Lemonade and a Cup of Noodles to-go from the Monkey House - JORDAN BARRY
  • Jordan Barry
  • Maple-Whiskey Lemonade and a Cup of Noodles to-go from the Monkey House
The Monkey House opened back up Thursday with drinks to-go — and a disclaimer. The Winooski bar's website, which is now set up for online ordering, states that every order with one or more alcoholic beverage "must include at least 1 Hot Dog or 1 Cup of Noodle." 

Bar snacks were a pretty random category to begin with, but Gov. Phil Scott's directive allowing delivery and takeout of alcoholic beverages from restaurants and bars during the COVID-19 pandemic — as long as they're purchased with a meal — has brought the land of popcorn and peanuts to a whole new level. 

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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Drink Up: Eggnog at Monarch & the Milkweed

Posted By on Sun, Dec 15, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Eggnog at Monarch & the Milkweed - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Eggnog at Monarch & the Milkweed
Stevie Wonder was singing "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" when I arrived at Monarch & the Milkweed on a recent evening. If I'd been worrying, Stevie's Latin-funk groove and inspired intro ("Paris, Beirut, Iraq, Iran ... I speak very very, um, fluent Spanish"), would've chilled me out and lifted me up.

I wasn't worried about the parking meter: It's free holiday parking season in Burlington, even if some shoppers are at their computers. And after an eggnog hunt conducted mostly by phone, I was no longer worried about finding the seasonal cocktail that delivers spirits as a liquid dessert. 

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

Drink Up: Vermont Wine and Food Pairing Workshop

Posted By on Sun, Nov 10, 2019 at 7:36 PM

Fable Farm Fermentory and Iapetus wines at the Vermont Wine & Food Pairing Workshop at Hotel Vermont - JORDAN BARRY
  • Jordan Barry
  • Fable Farm Fermentory and Iapetus wines at the Vermont Wine & Food Pairing Workshop at Hotel Vermont
How do you convince a thirsty diner to choose marquette over malbec, or la crescent instead of Chardonnay?

At an industry-only workshop on Wednesday exploring how to pair Vermont wine with food, servers, chefs and business owners were given a great piece of advice: "The first step is getting it into the glass."

That advice came from Matt Canning, the food and beverage manager at Hotel Vermont. Canning led the workshop together with Doug Paine, executive chef of  Juniper Bar & Restaurant and Bleu Northeast Seafood. The workshop was a partnership between the hotel and the Vermont Fresh Network. It was held as part of the Vermont Wine Project, a grant-funded initiative managed by the Vermont Fresh Network with support from the Vermont Grape and Wine Council.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Drink Up: Yappy Hour with the Dogist

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 4:59 PM

Layla and the Dogist - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Layla and the Dogist
I put on my party shirt Monday evening, grabbed a matching leash and hitched Layla to the end of the blue rope. We had a date downtown for Yappy Hour, a canine-forward gathering at Hotel Vermont.

Taking a dog to a bar is kind of like dragging a toddler there. They'd have more fun in the park. It's not ideal for you, either.  You have to pay attention to something other than the beer in your glass and the person next to you. That's especially true if a crowd of dogs and people convene — and there was a crowd Monday on the Juniper patio.

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Drink Up: Vermontte

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 9:08 PM

Vermontte special at Brio Coffeeworks - JORDAN BARRY
  • Jordan Barry
  • Vermontte special at Brio Coffeeworks
International Coffee Day is this Sunday, September 29. To celebrate, coffee shops in the Burlington area are taking a decidedly local approach and offering a series of unique coffee drinks, all dubbed the Vermontte.

Coffee drinkers will see Vermontte specials around town, with flavors, ingredients and concepts going beyond the usual espresso and steamed milk:  carrot juice at the Great Northern; maple matcha at New Moon Café, strawberry cheesecake with goat milk at Brio Coffeeworks; spicy maple at Uncommon Grounds; Japanese sweet potato at Scout & Co.; maple, pear and sage at August First Bakery; ginger infused maple at Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co.; apple cinnamon cascara at Carrier Roasting Company; chaga mushroom and maple at Nomad Coffee; and a cardamom and honey pour-over at Blank Page Café in Shelburne. 

The Vermontte event is organized by the coffee pros who run the @vt.coffee Instagram account, Maya Nguyen and Gianni Paradiso, together with Lisa Espenshade, the director of donor relations at Grounds for Health, a Williston nonprofit focused on cervical cancer prevention in coffee-growing countries.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Drink Up: Major Jackson with Major Jackson at Leunig's

Posted By on Fri, Sep 13, 2019 at 5:09 PM

Major Jackson - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Major Jackson
A cocktail, like a poem, has to have the right ingredients, the poet Major Jackson said. With each, “you want to curate an experience: one that speaks to the past but is also firmly rooted in the present.” Both a drink and a poem, Jackson continued, should be “disorienting and yet steadying at the same time.”

He pointed out, too, that each endeavor gains something when practiced in fellowship. “Poetry is created in a solitary space, but it’s ultimately art that is meant to be shared,” Jackson said. He elaborated on that idea before adding: “Just like no one wants to drink alone.”

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Drink Up: GOBO at Caledonia Spirits

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 10:47 AM

Burdock grown at Cate Farm in East Montpelier is the basis for Caledonia Spirits' new GOBO. - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Burdock grown at Cate Farm in East Montpelier is the basis for Caledonia Spirits' new GOBO.
There is probably not a gardener, outdoors enthusiast or dog-owner in Vermont who is unfamiliar with burdock. The deep-rooted plant seems to thrive everywhere; its burrs enmesh themselves with Velcro-like tenacity in your pet’s coat, your kid’s hair, your shoelaces.

At the new Montpelier headquarters of Caledonia Spirits on September 9, employees wore tongue-in-cheek boutonnières of the dreaded burrs, but the private event was actually a burdock lovefest.

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Drink Up: Taco Gordo

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 4:09 PM

Ariana Grande, chips and salsa, jicama salad - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Ariana Grande, chips and salsa, jicama salad
There are a few ways to tell when a restaurant or bar has become a hangout. Signs of that status have emerged at Taco Gordo:

A woman who grew up in Chittenden County and left long-ago — for college in Montreal, traveling in India, living in NYC, raising kids in the country — comes back to town for a visit. My friend and I meet at Taco Gordo in the Old North End and the first words out of her mouth are something like,  "This place has more hipsters than Brooklyn.”

The number of dogs lazing around the street corner that’s home to Taco Gordo — that ONE beacon where North Union St. dumps into North Winooski Ave. — is on par with the number of picnic tables outside the restaurant.

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Drink Up: The Beach House

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 9:32 AM

Painkiller cocktail and patrons at the Beach House at North Beach - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Painkiller cocktail and patrons at the Beach House at North Beach
The bartender at the Beach House studies data analytics at the University of Vermont. She put her expertise to work the other day at her summer job at the North Beach bar, where she mixes and serves drinks for barefoot customers.

Christina McLaughlin, 21, didn’t need a spreadsheet or business intelligence  software to assess the drinking preferences of the Beach House crowd. “Definitely the Painkiller,” McLaughlin told me, naming a $10 cocktail on the house list.

This was interesting to learn, because it pegged me as a conformist when it comes to Beach House booze. Before McLaughlin revealed the bar's analytics to me, I had ordered a Painkiller.

I’m not sure if I made the choice because it’s the first drink on the menu or because I’ve had my share of Tequila Sunrises. The day was moving toward dusk, and a Painkiller called to me.

The bar’s setting itself is likely to kill any pain you might have. I parked on the street by Burlington High School and walked downhill along North Beach Campground, passing through the culvert under the bike path. (Any time you can walk through a culvert to a bar, do it!)

The fenced-off  space that forms the Beach House — a little tiki bar and a collection of tables — is about 30 paces from the water. The bar offers a view of the beach and all that comes with it: sunbathers, speedboaters, kids playing in the sand, grown-ups getting their analytics tracked by smartphones.

The people at the table next to mine had Rollerbladed to the Beach House on the bike path from south of downtown. They were barefoot, their Rollerblades set on the pebble-covered ground beside them.

Chris Butch, an ICU nurse and one of the bladers, was shirtless and color-coordinated.  His towel, bathing suit and JammyPack all bore the stars and stripes. He was welcome at the Beach House without the usual restaurant attire and without spending a penny: He drank ice water.

“I don’t like to wear a shirt or shoes,” Butch said, “which is why I like coming here.”

His friends, who drank spiked seltzer, said they enjoyed having a drink option on the bike path, at the beach, in a casual and welcoming setting.

Back at my table, McLaughlin had delivered my cocktail and these words: “I hope you enjoy your Painkiller.” (I enjoyed it so much, I suggested Butch offer it at the ICU.)

The Painkiller at the Beach House at North Beach - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • The Painkiller at the Beach House at North Beach

The rum-based drink, a spiked fruit punch, is the color of a hazy sunset. It’s foamed up with a coconut cream and spiced with  nutmeg. Served with an umbrella and a slice of orange, it's a hometown vacation in a plastic cup.

The owner of the Beach House, Sani Pasagic, pulled up a chair and talked with me for a bit about running a seasonal business, the rigors of being a restaurant cook and his son’s Church Street cheesesteak cart.

“People are finally finding out about this place,” Pasagic said of his beach business.

Maybe more people would find the Beach House if parking were permitted in the BHS parking lots. But signs warn that cars will be towed from the lots. My vote: Let people park in them for free. School’s out, and the parking lots are mostly empty. Shouldn’t people be encouraged to walk five or 10 minutes and through a culvert to a city beach?

Friday, September 14, 2018

Drink Up: Monarch & the Milkweed

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 3:45 PM

Tonka Puff at Monarch & the Milkweed - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Tonka Puff at Monarch & the Milkweed
On a recent night at Monarch & the Milkweed, there was a When Harry Met Sally moment. It happened when bartender Eddie DiDonato set my drink on the marble bar in front of me. The foamy cocktail towered over the top of the glass at an artful angle, a straw balanced on top like a seesaw.

“So what do I have to order to get one of those?” a man at a nearby bar stool asked. “It looks amazing.”

No one has to fake an orgasm, a la Meg Ryan in the aforementioned Hollywood hit, to get what I got. But it does take a whole lot of shakin'.

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