Wednesday, January 30, 2019

2019 Beer Bracket Coming at Ya!

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2019 at 10:22 AM


Folks, let's all raise a beer! The 2019 Beer Bracket Challenge is returning February 11th. Duking it out for the title of Best Beer of Memphis 2019 will be Crosstown, Meddlesome (last year's champ!), Wiseacre, Memphis Made, High Cotton, and Ghost River.

The bracket has been shaken up a little this year, with new categories.

Toby Sells, who is in charge of the editorial side of this gig, explains, "Instead of limiting selections to just dark, light, IPA, and seasonal, we want to let our breweries choose which four beers they want to compete. It’ll be a sort of Royal Rumble, winner-take-all kind of thing."

Sells says, "This year, we’re giving each brewery on opportunity to change one match-up they don’t like. Is your beer up against 201 Hoplar (last year’s winner)? Breweries can swap with another beer in another match up. But they can only do that one time."

Voting begins Wednesday, February 13th with the first round. Rounds last two days, with the last and fifth round running through February 22nd. Basically, it's Beer: Thirty all the time!

Beers face off NCAA-style. The beer with the most votes moves on. The final two beers left go head-to-head. The winner will be announced on Thursday, February 28th via Facebook Live.

And if that's not interactive enough for you, you can get in on the action by taking a picture with one of the competing beers to be entered for a prize. And, all those who vote are entered to win a prize.

But wait that's not all! All Memphis beer fans are invited to Aldo's Downtown to watch the seeding on Monday, February 11th, at 4:30 p.m. p.m. And then back again at Aldo's for the awarding of the VanWyngarden Cup to the winning brewery on February 28th, 3 p.m. Be there!

"We started the Beer Bracket Challenge to promote (and have fun with) Memphis beers and those who make it," says Sells. "Brewers are fun and hard-working folks and they're making some of the best damn beers in the U.S.of A. right here in Memphis, Tennessee."

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Vive le Brooks! coming this spring

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2019 at 3:03 PM


Meet Vive le Brooks!

It’s the newly rebranded Memphis Wine + Food Series for 2019 for Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Twenty-seven years ago, the Art of Good Taste series began and later became the Memphis Wine + Food Series. The fund-raising success of the series has grown over the years. It surpassed all records in 2018 with its guests chefs, winemakers, and artists.

But it was time for a change.

The museum is slated to move from Overton Park to Downtown in five years. “As we set our sights on the bluff and the building project, we just want to have a cohesive, recognizable identity for the fund-raising event,” says Brooks major gifts officer Lindsey Hedgepeth.

The new branding will “ensure the longevity” of the series, she says.

“We’re excited to refresh the series and rebrand as it gets bigger, better and continues to break records,” says Brooks executive director Emily Ballew Neff.

Meet the Winemaker, which will be held March 28th at Brooks, will kick off the series. Following a happy hour, guests will sit down to a dinner prepared by Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman. The food will be paired with hand-selected wines from the 2019 Vive le Smash (formerly Brooks Uncorked) winemaker Jesse Katz, a rising star in the Napa Valley with three labels: Aperture, Devil Proof, and The Setting.

The North Berkeley luncheon will be held May 17th at Catherine & Mary’s, one of the restaurants owned by Ticer and Hudman. Courses will be specially paired with hand-selected wines from Billy Weiss’ portfolio of North Berkeley imports.

The Grand Artisan’s Dinner will take place the same night on the terrace at Brooks. It will include a five-course dinner prepared by Hudman and Ticer that will feature select wines from Heitz Family Cellars, which has been one of the dominant producers in Napa Valley for the last 55 years. Guest chefs will include Ryan Prewitt of New Orleans restaurant Peche Seafood Grill.

The Grand Auction, which will be held May 18th at Brooks, will include a happy hour before bidding takes place on more than 50 live auction lots. These will include rare and high profile wines, exotic trips, jewelry, fine art, private dinners, and tastings. Ticer and Hudman will create the cuisine. Wine will be provided by the featured vintners Katz and Heitz Family Cellars. Charlie Hanavich will be the featured artist.

Vive le Que! - the popular fall barbecue event - will return in the fall. More info to come.

VIve le Brooks! Is the premier fund-raising endeavor of the Brooks. Proceeds will make the arts accessible to children and adults across the Mid-South. The series contributed more than $5 million in net revenue to Brooks over the past 27 years. The money directly supports the museum’s educational and community-outreach programs.

David and Sarah Thompson and Bradley and Emily Rice are the 2019 Vive le Brooks! chairs.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Freedom Whiskey to Enter Memphis Market

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2019 at 4:54 PM

Freedom Whiskey founder/head sampler Zach Hollingsworth at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President's Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Freedom Whiskey founder/head sampler Zach Hollingsworth at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President's Gala.

Freedom Whiskey is slated to be introduced in Memphis in February, says founder/head sampler Zach Hollingsworth.

It’s the “shot of freedom,” says Hollingsworth, 33, who served with the Marines in Afghanistan.

I met Hollingsworth and several of those connected with the Wilmington, Ohio-based Freedom Whiskey Co. - appropriately - at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President’s Gala, which was held January 30th at The Peabody.

The whiskey was served during the party and at the game.

Hollingsworth told me a bit about the whiskey at the party. I called him back to get more information.

He spent 2010 to 2012 in Afghanistan. “The longest we did was 69 days without a shower,” he says. “Stinky. You know what? It’s only bad for the first two weeks and then you kind of get used to it. We used to joke that we smelled like ‘freedom.’ The smell of freedom is two months on the front lines without a shower.”

If they ate or drank something they liked, they’d say, “That food tastes like freedom. That beer tastes like freedom.”

After he got back home, Hollingsworth and some of his buddies were on the back porch drinking bourbon. Everyone shouted, “Let’s do a shot of freedom.”

Hollingsworth realized “freedom” was a great name for a bourbon and he should trademark it. He went to the trademark website and couldn’t find any bourbon named “freedom.”

Outside of just loving bourbon, Hollingsworth didn’t have any experience in making it. “None whatsoever. I took off just searching what you had to do, the licenses you have to have and just started talking to everybody I knew in the business. And 90 percent of them told me to pound sand. And 10 percent that talked to me told me what I needed to do.

“I honestly just wanted to make bourbon and bring vets together and have the camaraderie we had during service. Marines enjoy their whiskey. It would be a place people could come and work. And cuss as much as they want and not get in trouble for it.”

He wanted to not only hire vets, but “hire their families and use a portion of our proceeds to help out veteran’s causes.”

Unless you’ve fought in Afghanistan, you won’t understand the closeness he and his fellow Marines feel, Hollingsworth says. “Honestly, I think any time you are in a high risk situation, shared suffering brings people together. But the way I always compare it if people ask me what’s my best time was in the Marine corps, I say Afghanistan, hands down. It’s just one of those things. You join the Marine Corps ‘cause you want to be in the fight. Nobody joins the Marine corps cause they don’t want to be out there. The Marine corps was created to fight. That’s it.

“It’s like basketball. If you practice every single day and you don’t ever play again, why be on the team? Afghanistan — that’s like our game.”

They put everything in practice, including the hours spent on the rifle range, in Afghanistan. “Eight months of getting to use your skills you develop and actually apply them.”

Asked how long it took him to get the bourbon business running, Hollingsworth says, “It took me about a year and a half from the day I started to the day I got approved to actually sell. I had partnered with a friend of mine who had a distillery already. A Navy vet. He started making our whiskey for us before we were licensed. They’d been making it since 2013. And I kind of jumped in with them in 2016.”

Freedom Whiskey is in 12 states now, Hollingsworth says. “And we’ll be in 16 by the end of April.”

They now just make bourbon, but, Hollingsworth says, “We have a barrel-aged gin that is coming out in the next couple of months.”

Their whiskey is “the smoothest 90 proof you’ll taste. A high corn mash. You’re 75 percent corn, so it’s going to have less bite than some of your more well-known whiskies. It’s a whiskey anyone can drink and it really appeals to the masses.

“We, by no means, try to articulate our whiskeys as being any fancy words. It’s smooth and damn good. Beyond that you can use any fancy words you want.”

Asked how they happened to be at the President’s Gala, Hollingsworth said they were invited by someone with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. “It was awesome. It was a really good time. Much more fancy than what me and my crew are used to. We all took showers and put on a suit.”

And, he says, “We just wanted to be a part of the Liberty Bowl and part of its veteran’s cause and get our name out there.”

Former AutoZone Liberty Bowl president and City Gear president Mike Longo told him about Freedom Whiskey, says AutoZone Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart. He called him one day and said he ran into these Freedom Whiskey guys. He told Ehrhart: “They’re veterans that came back from Afghanistan. They created their own whiskey and their own distillery and I want to support them. And I had them send me a bottle and I really liked it.’”

Ehrhart called the Freedom Whiskey Co. and told them about Longo is an Army vet and went to West Point. “I said, ‘You’ve got the patriotic theme and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl is all about freedom.’”

He told them, “We’ll furnish some of your product at the the gala.”

“And the product was in some of the sky boxes during the game. We really appreciated them coming on board as sponsors.”

Jake Ittel, Zach Hollingsworth and Lawrence Ryefield at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President's Gala. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jake Ittel, Zach Hollingsworth and Lawrence Ryefield at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl President's Gala.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Greyhound is Now Open

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2019 at 1:51 PM


The Greyhound, in the new Hilton Garden Inn Downtown on Union, opened last Thursday.

This chic bar, which claims to be the first of its kind in the city, specializes in craft gin cocktails.

The name is a nod to the bus station that once stood in the same location. Greyhounds abound in the bar. Two statues of the dogs, named Danny and Jude, guard the door. Ice for the drinks can be stamped with an image of the dog, and you can buy stickers with greyhounds on them from an old stamp machine.

This a bar less about the drinking than it is about the experience. A bar trolley is used, so drinks can be made table-side. The cocktails are served in pretty Waterford crystal glasses with little tin straws. A smokebox is available so drinks can be infused with a smoky flavor. And the bar menu has a page with a circle on it for placing your drink — to frame it just right for social media.

Kel's Bells
  • Kel's Bells

The Greyhound carries some 50 gins. Bar manager Kendrick Cook says you can't really beat gin for its versatility. You can make it sweet or bitter or spicy, he says, it all works.

Among the signature cocktails are the Greyhound Station (Hayman's Sloe Gin, mint, grapefruit, Aperol, oleo); Memphis Grizzlies (Botanist gin, creme de violet, lime, and seasonal berries); and the Keeper, which is a nod to the new soccer team, with Brugal rum, Cynar, Orgeat, and tiki bitters.

And there are the classics, such as the Gimlet, the Martini, Last Word, and Sazerac, as well.

The bar menu features twists on Southern classics, including a Jack Daniels' BBQ brisket sandwich, Southern chicken with grilled chicken and pimentos cheese, chicken wings, and house-made pub chips.

The Greyhound opens daily at 4 p.m.


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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Midtown Donuts Opening February 1st

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 4:37 PM


Midtown Donuts, at the site of Donald's Donuts, is set to open February 1st, according to owner Ly Touch.

Touch's family runs Howard's Donuts on Summer, but Touch says that Midtown Donut will offer more than Howard's Donuts.

Touch says that Midtown Donuts will offer the same donut menu as Howard's Donuts, but also offer breakfast sandwiches, salads and sandwiches for lunch. There will also be iced coffee drinks as well.

The space will offer outdoor seating. The inside looks similar to Donald's. There's definitely more seating.

Midtown Donuts will be open from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Rizzo's Closing (temporarily) for Repairs

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 1:55 PM

Obsidian PR
  • Obsidian PR

Rizzo's on South Main will close for about a month for repairs. The last service will be Sunday (January 20th) brunch.

A tree growing into the north wall of the restaurant's building necessitated the repairs to the wall and the floor.

But, Rizzo's will go on in a series of pop-ups.

The first pop-up is at Fuel, Friday-Saturday, January 25th-26th. Rizzo's Michael Patrick says that he hopes to do a vegan or vegetarian dish or two, "As a nod to Fuel and as a thank you."

Fuel closed in late December, though it still runs its food truck and catering operations. In Fuel's announcement of its closing, they stated that they wanted to host pop-ups.

After Fuel, Rizzo's will move on to the 409 Main food hall. This pop-up will run from January 29th through February 21st.

Patrick says that one of the reasons he's doing the pop-ups is to keep his valued staff close by and employed. "I have a great team," he says. "I don't want to lose them."

Patrick has no set menu yet for the pop-up. He says to check his Facebook page for updates on that point. The pop-ups will be prixe fixe, $50 for three or four courses.

Patrick says the goal of the repairs is to make the restaurant safe. He's not planning any new, fancy bells and whistles.

Of the pop-ups, he says, "I encourage people to come see us." 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Westy's Expands into Midtown

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2019 at 11:35 AM


Having a late-night craving for some that famous Westy's hot fudge pie, but cannot — cannot! — put on shoes?

Well, you're in luck. Westy's has expanded into Midtown and is now offering delivery.

Westy's owner Jake Schorr says he recognized a transition in the restaurant industry and that meant delivery.

The restaurant, in the old Beeker's space at 1607 Madison near Pho Binh, has a small dine-in area and offers pick-up as well.

Schorr says Westy's Express will eventually offer the full Westy's menu as well as some additional items, including a package meal, such as country-fried steak with three vegetables, and a number of dessert items.

Westy's Express opens at 4 p.m., but will eventually be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Westy's is using its own drivers, but Schorr expects to sign up with Door Dash.

When asked why he's opened an second location, Schorr jokes, "I don't know better."

He says, "I wanted to expand our presence but I couldn't do that Downtown. That's how I looked at it."


Friday, January 4, 2019

Best Bets: Three Kings Epiphany Cake

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 3:07 PM

Three Kings cake for Epiphany - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Three Kings cake for Epiphany

I like to be the one to find the king in the “King Cake” during Lent. This is the green, yellow, and purple-frosted coffee-cake-like concoction, which sometimes is filled with cream cheese. It usually is decorated with Mardi Gras beads and other knick knacks. A little plastic baby, which symbolizes Jesus, is hidden in the cake.

Whoever is first to find the baby is supposed to buy the cake the next year. I just like the thrill of the hunt.

If you just can’t wait for the King Cakes to arrive, you can buy a “Rosca de Reyes,” also known as the “Three Kings” cake. It’s an Hispanic tradition for the feast of Epiphany. And it's another chance to find a plastic baby in a baker’s confectionery.

Kay Bakery, which also makes King Cakes, makes “Three Kings” cakes. This year, they’ll make about 400 cakes, says owner Queo Bautista.

The cake symbolizes the Three Wise Men. “When they brought gifts to Baby Jesus,” Bautista says.

A plastic baby is hidden in the cake, which symbolizes hiding Baby Jesus from King Herod. According to the Bible, Herod, who didn’t know where Jesus was, wanted to kill all baby boys who were born about the time Jesus was born to make sure he’d get rid of him. He was afraid Jesus was going to one day become the new ruler.

Unlike the fancy “King Cake,” the “Three Kings Cake” basically is “bread with some fruit on top,” Bautista says.

The sweet fruits on top of the cake are candied figs, cherries, and strips of green, yellow and red candied papaya, which symbolize the gifts the Kings brought Jesus. They were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Dollops of yellow sugar icing also adorn the top of the cake, which is made from a slightly sweet dough.

The cake is round to symbolize that “Jesus has no beginning and no end,” Bautista says.

In Mexico, the cake traditionally is served on Epiphany Sunday, which, this year, is January 6th. Children receive small gifts — “Not as big as Christmas” — to symbolize the gifts, which the kings brought Jesus. “Gifts to the new king.”

I love the subtle, sweet taste of the Epiphany Cake. And, to make things even sweeter, I instantly found the plastic baby. Unlike the little pink ones usually in a seated position in the King Cake, these babies are white and in a standing position. My editor said the baby looked like an “android.”

You can order Epiphany Cakes through January 5th  at Kay Bakery. Small, which serves 12, is $18; medium, which serves 20, is $25; and large, which serves 30, is $30.

Kay Bakery is at 667 Avon Road. Call: (901)-767-0780.

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