Sunday, February 19, 2017

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" - TWO urban licks

Our evening at TWO urban licks was beyond anything either of us could have expected! 

Welcome back to our Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", a new monthly series by wanderlust ATLANTA and super-popular food Instagramer atlantafoodie! Our second stop on this 10-restaurant tour was TWO urban licks, the first time either of us had been.

What we believe is a unique spin on 'Top 10' lists, we're not counting down, but instead we're showcasing some of Atlanta's restaurants with numbers in their name! Some we've been to before and others will be a first-time experience. We're going to make all of them FUN!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Instead of discussing the dishes in the order they came out of the kitchen to our table, I want to talk about the biggest surprise, for me, of the evening's featured dishes. 

After perusing the menu, our totally awesome server, Allea—pronounced Allie—asked if there was anything we didn't want. Nikki and I eat pretty much everything—and wanted a "Chef's Choice" experience—however the Steak Tartare wasn't speaking to me, so I asked that we enjoy anything except that, but I'm sure it's a lovely dish.

As it turns out, the only other dish on the menu I would have skipped were the oysters. I've only had a few in my life and those weren't these. The "Baked Oysters", with leeks (a favorite ingredient), dill, bacon and grana padano (an Italian cheese), were amazing! I never, ever thought oysters could be so delicious! 


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

The 'bread for the table' is a wonderful indicator of just how fabulous your meal is about to be. The exotic flatbread and house-made ricotta with olive oil is a dangerous start...only because it's so fantastic that one could easily fill up on it before the main meal arrives. But don't dare skip this exquisite bread and luscious ricotta.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie

Nikki said, "I was really blown away by the Salmon Chips. The flavors and quality of salmon were excellent and the portion size is almost ridiculously generous!

The Salmon Chips have been on the menu since TWO urban licks opened nearly 13 years ago and I got the feeling that there would be a revolt if they're ever removed from the menu. Chef Michael Bertozzi told us that if something works and guests love it, he's not going to change it!

The Salmon Chips are served on an elevated plank and they are indeed HUGE! They're made with mountains of smoked salmon, chipotle cream cheese, caper and red onion. Personally, I love salmon, and these were a major treat!

Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie

I'd never had Poke, but Nikki's been talking about it for some time, so I was already primed and anxious to try it...not knowing it was going to be on the evening's offering.

The Tuna Poke dish features black barley, granny smith apples, a smear of avocado, crispy noodles, sesame, and miso vinaigrette! 


This combination of flavors is magnificent...I hope no one witnessed it, but I was doing a happy dance right there in my chair. Seated, of course. 


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

TWO's Kale Salad has currants, pine nuts, goat cheese, sherry honey vinaigrette and it's topped with an insane amount of crispy prosciutto! This was only the second time I've enjoyed Kale Salad and I truly, truly enjoyed it...not just because of the insane amount of crispy prosciutto. I totally could make a meal out of this salad. Like the other dishes, the portions are quite generous!

Early on in our dining experience, Allea called one of the dishes "rad", an 80s slang word I'd not heard in years...especially coming from a young person! Allea is incredibly delightful and highly professional. She's magnificent at making guests feel special, as Nikki and I did. Allea used the word "rad" a couple other times that evening...totally awesome!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Nikki said, "The Seared Flounder with English peas is a simple dish, but it has a  good flavor." 

I used to live in Jacksonville, Florida, where Chef Michael is from, and enjoyed quite a bit of Flounder, but never any as delicious as this! This dish is comprised of early English peas, green garlic, black trumpet mushrooms (I LOVE mushrooms!) and Sorrento Lemon curd.

A little research will reveal that the Sorrento Lemon is the lemon of choice for the Italian treat Limoncello. In fact, Chef Michael shared that he had just put up a batch of Limoncello...that will age for 80 days before it's ready to serve! I need to mark my calendar!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie

You can't miss the wood-fired and rotating rotisseries when you enter the restaurant...they're in the middle of this warehouse-turned-restaurant opulent establishment.

The Beef and Broccoli dish is superb! It's comprised of 48-hour short ribs, charred broccoli, romanaesco (that bright green broccoli that looks like a perfect representation of a fractal equation), rainbow carrots, pickled kumquats (I thought these were tiny yellow tomatoes, but was grateful to get something with so many health benefits), and sesame ginger. 

I'm not one who usually seeks out charred or smoked dishes, but this dish has converted me into a seeker. The flavor profile of this dish is, without question, pure brilliance!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie

Nikki said, "I liked the unusual combination of duck, Hoppin' John and salsa verde, and especially loved the spices."

Chef Michael shared with us that it's not only the customers who ask for the Hoppin' John to go back on the menu when it returns to in-season status, it's also his staff. And I totally get it! 

I honestly can't remember even a single Hoppin' John dish that I've had, but this one I will never forget. Count me in, Chef Michael, with your customers and staff who chant, "Bring it back! Bring it back!" There's not actual chanting that I'm aware of, but I'd be right there with them...this Hoppin' John is quite memorable!

I've always thought of duck as an East-meets-West dish, although other cultures have embraced duck and perhaps perfected certain cooking methods, France being one of them. Duck is a dish that I enjoy ordering when I'm out and about. I was thrilled to see duck arrive at our table...the succulent breast meat is not to be missed.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie

When Allea brought the Monkfish to the table and shared with us its ingredients, our ears pricked up! This dish is so much more than monkfish...it features Seared Szechuan Sausage, baby bok choy, snap peas, watermelon radish (a beautiful, tasty vegetable!), and mushroom dashi.

Chef Michael stopped by almost immediately, fortunately because we were curious about the sausage—Nikki wanted to know what made it 'Szechuan' and I was curious how it met certain Georgia laws regarding house-made sausage. Chef's explanations were spot on and we greatly enjoyed this dish...to the point of almost total annihilation! 

The sausage alone could be a meal for me, but I do love a dish that's a symphony of flavors, colors and textures...and that comes with a story!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Chef Michael visited our table three times—we are so grateful for the VIP treatment and for how incredibly sweet Chef Michael is. Speaking of sweet, his third visit was to deliver the dessert course. He knew we were beyond full from dinner, but said that his Pastry Chef would not forgive him if we weren't served dessert...I'm so glad we were! Wow!

This dessert—Butterscotch Creme Caramel—is as fresh it comes! The Butterscotch Creme is silky and the butterscotch subtle...you totally get the flavor, but you're not being bombarded with too much sweetness. The Winter Oranges are bright and evidently picked at peak ripeness. The Walnut Cookie...I wish they sold these by the pound! 

BONUS SECTION - Cocktails!


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie

Nikki arrived early and she didn't waste any time diving into the evening's dining experience. She nestled up to the bar and ordered a cocktail. 

Before I move on, let me point out that Nikki did not use the restaurant menu as a coaster. The bartender did. You see, their menus change frequently so the out-of-date menus are re-purposed. Some of them end up as coasters for the bar and some as "candlesticks" for the dining tables...quite clever, I think! They're a great conversation starter, whether it leads to discussing what's on that day's menu or commending the restaurant for their sustainability efforts.    

The first item on on the craft cocktails list is the "Jack's Alexander", built with Four Rose's Bourbon, house-made orange syrup, creme de cacao and cream. "I really loved my first drink, the Jack's Alexander. It was rich and creamy and chocolaty and felt like a dessert. The reason I chose this drink was because a portion of the proceeds go to Atlanta Community Food Bank," said Nikki.

When I arrived and Nikki told me what she was drinking, I was shocked! She's not really a sweets person, but....she was loving this drink! She commented that she was "having dessert first", which is something I've never heard come out of Nikki's mouth. I'm totally having one when we go back! 


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: atlantafoodie

We were there to explore, so later in the evening Nikki enjoyed a second craft cocktail, "The Wise Man", built with Sage infused gin, house-made blackberry syrup and lime juice. 

Nikki said, "'The Wise Man' is designed for the more seasoned gin drinker. The Sage infused gin had a lot of great, complex flavors. I'd have liked to try it mixed with something a little less sweet." It sounds delicious to me—especially the blackberry syrup—but, I'm more of a sweets person than Nikki.


Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers" | TWO urban licks | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I started with a craft cocktail. When reading the drinks menu, being the space geek that I am, I stopped as soon as I came across the "Fly Me to the Moon". That it happened to be a vodka drink was a total bonus! This one is built using cranberry and orange infused vodka, house-made cranberry syrup, pink peppercorns, cardamom (one of my favorite spices!), and allspice. It sounds complicated, but my palate found it to be positively luxurious.

After the first one, wanting to keep a clear head and fully experience the food, I switched to Sauvignon Blanc, which was excellent. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name. I asked for one that was dry and crisp and that's exactly what Allea bought me.

TWO urban licks boasts the country's first 26-foot wine tower, which we unknowingly passed when we came in. It's pretty cool...if you're drinking white wine, like I was, it's poured directly from a barrel on that tower! 

The "Wow!" factors at TWO urban licks are well beyond what I've written. I highly recommend that you make reservations here for your next special occasion or even if you just want to share a special evening or brunch with someone. 

"Compliments to Chef Michael Bertozzi!" And compliments to Allea. Our first TWO urban licks experience was most incredible...it certainly won't be our last!

THINGS TO KNOW before going to TWO urban licks:
  • When you get close to your destination, there's a trek through 'Gotham' that you have to make before finding the valet. It's not difficult, just follow the signs to "TWO".
  • There's no parking lot, but their complimentary valet is quick!
  • On the way to your table the host or server will hold your menus in the air while you follow them to your table. I didn't ask why, so when you do, will you let me know?
  • Reservations are a good idea, but not required. 
  • Excellent for special occasions and lots of space for groups!
  • TWO is on the Atlanta Beltline and offers spectacular skyline vistas!
  • In the warmer months, definitely ask to experience the beautifully appointed patio!
  • Brunch features live music and awesome views of the Atlanta skyline.
OF NOTEBob Amick, founder and owner of Concentrics Restaurants, of which ONE midtown kitchen is a part, won the Georgia Restaurant Association's Lifetime Achievement Award at its 10th Annual GRACE Awards Gala this past November.  

Here's our planned Top 10 Atlanta Restaurants "By the Numbers", one per month in 2017:

ONE midtown kitchen
599 Dutch Valley Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30324

TWO urban licks
820 Ralph McGill Boulevard, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Local Three Kitchen & Bar
3290 Northside Parkway, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327

Bar Margot at Four Seasons
75 14th Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

5Church Atlanta
1197 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30361

Six Feet Under
437 Memorial Drive, SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Seven Lamps
3400 Around Lenox Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30326

8ARM
710 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30306

Nine Mile Station
675 Ponce de Leon Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

10th & Piedmont
991 Piedmont Avenue, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

Disclaimer: If you live in Atlanta or visit on a regular basis, you know how quickly the Atlanta restaurant scene can change. Our lineup is subject to change based on the Atlanta restaurant landscape over the first 10 months of 2017. Also, all opinions are our own and not at all influenced by the restaurant owners, staff or PR firms, whether we treated ourselves or were hosted by the said restaurant.

If you're enjoying this series, please follow:

atlantafoodie on Instagram
wanderlust ATLANTA on Facebook Twitter Instagram

Thank you for coming along on what we think will be a FUN food journey over 10 months in 2017. Our selection of restaurants is a subjective selection of what we think will be an exciting new way to experience Atlanta restaurants: "By the Numbers". Please, tell your friends and family what we're doing and invite them to also come along for the taste tour!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Crucible...1692, 1953, 2017

When I interviewed Jonathan Horne (John Proctor) last October he shared, "I'm getting the chance to live out one of my longest running theatrical dreams by playing John Proctor in 'The Crucible' at Actor's Express." 

Johnathan is magnificently fulfilling that dream in The Crucible at Actor's Express through Sunday, February 19. A Suzi Bass nominee, Jonathan is making a remarkable and most memorable Actor's Express debut. Do...not...miss...this...play!   


The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski
The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski

I've had the honor of seeing Shelli Delgado (Abigail Williams) in at least three other plays over the last two years. She's incredibly talented and plays a expansive range of roles.


You know those actors that you 'hate' because they performed the role of a villain so well? They convinced you wholly that they're that horrible person they're portraying? That's Shelli in this play...you can't help but 'hate' her in this play! 

Shelli portrays Abigail Williams, the 11 year old (she was portrayed as 17 in the 1957 film) that history tells us was one of the two ring leaders that when rumors of witchcraft started circulating in their town they started to accuse people—that they didn't like or found an impediment to their own desires—of being witches to divert suspicion from themselves. In 1692-1693, nearly 20 accused were killed and several more died in prison.

Fortunately, I've also seen Shelli play Little Red Riding Hood and know her to be funny and wholly delightful. She's a true gem in the ranks of Atlanta actresses. I think you'll love 'hating' her in The Crucible, too! 


The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski
The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski


I knew Arthur Miller was a playwright, but have—embarrassingly—never seen any of his works (especially surprising as much theatre I've seen throughout my life). It was during my budding fandom of Marilyn Monroe—they were once married—that I learned of his career. I can say with great enthusiasm that after seeing this production of The Crucible I will seek out other Arthur Miller works. 


The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski
The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski

From the Actor's Express website:
"The witching hour is at hand in the tight-knit community of Salem. Personal vendettas collide with lust and superstition, fueling widespread hysteria. Do witches walk among us, or has revenge created a monster? As paranoia grips the tiny town, reason takes a back seat to fear—and all hell breaks loose in this visceral new production of Arthur Miller's riveting masterpiece."
I love that so many Atlanta actors are supportive of each other...they're like a huge extended family. You don't see that in every profession. 

Before the play began, I had the opportunity to briefly chat with Diany Rodriguez who I've also seen in a number of plays, including one with Shelli Delgado. Diany was there as a theatre-goer like myself. She's absolutely delightful.

I also me actress Yolanda Asher. I wasn't eavesdropping, but heard her talking about another play that I wasn't wholly sure I wanted to see, but after hearing her description of it, I got tickets and went the next night. I'm filled with gratitude for the opportunity to get to meet so many of Atlanta's actors and love that they're consistently wonderful people!


The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski
The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski

The cast in this play is large, and filled with great talent. A few of my other favorite performances were by Courtney Patterson (Elizabeth Proctor), Greta M. Glenn (Rebecca Nurse), and Tamil Periasamy (Rev. Hale). Each of them bring great intensity to their respective characters.

Courtney, as John Proctor's wife, was a perfect balance to Jonathan's powerful portrayal of the conflicted farmer. Her inner battle between broken heart and loving wife was as mesmerizing as it was convincing. 


The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski
The Crucible | Actor's Express | Photo: Christopher Bartelski

"Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life...I have given you my soul, leave me my name!!!"

Jonathan Horne convinces you through your breaking heart that he's feeling John Proctor's pain, that losing his battle the with wanting to live is giving way to being a man of integrity, a man of goodness...his releasing of a lie that would end his life was worth his eternal soul.

The Crucible won a Tony Award for Best Play in 1953 and was nominated for Best Revival of a Play in 2016 (that Tony went to another Arthur Miller play). In my humble opinion, Jonathan Horne gives a Tony Award-worthy performance in this run of The Crucible at Actor's Express

This is the final week to see the play. Use everything at your disposal to get tickets to see this show...it will definitely be recognized as one of the best in Atlanta for the season.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017

On a Friday evening not too long ago, the great cosplay talent of Dragon Con was invited to join the chivalrous talent of Medieval Times, at their Atlanta Castle. The evening was filled with festivity, joviality, a knighting ceremony, a King's Feast, a noble display of falconry, a glorious tournament...and a cosplay contest!


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Xavier (photo above) won the grownup cosplay competition, and took home quite the treasure chest of awesome winnings. Congratulations, Xavier of Ebony Warrior Studios

I don't know most of the characters from the contest, but if you are one of the one's I post (here or in the Facebook album), or you know someone I post here, please feel free to message me your name and website or professional Facebook page and I'll be happy to tag you!                  

A young lady dressed head-to-toe in a Tardis dress won the children's cosplay competition. Congratulations, Riley!


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Ta ylor

I'm not sure who this is, but he's a regular at Dragon Con, and quite the talented cosplayer!


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I love a good mashup! And this one is quite clever...The Purple Power Ranger mashed up with Prince! We were among royalty at Medieval Times, so it's only befitting that the Purple Ranger is a Prince! Gotta love clever!


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I recently game a friend the gift of a Knife Skills class at Cook's Warehouse...this is how he came back! Just kidding, of course. I love the spikes coming from out of the shoulder pads and of course the shield! Is that a shield? Who is this? 


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
This is how I feel every Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times....it's so much fun!!! Who is she, I wonder...


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I don't know this character or person, but I do know that a LOT of work went into this awesome costume...and that I wouldn't want to be on his bad side.


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
I can't be sure, but it looks like this Victorian diver has the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

This cast from Peter Pan was amazing! It is a feat in and of itself to get a group to select a theme to cosplay, let alone pull it off as well as this band of merry cosplayers did!


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

Ariel from The Little Mermaid, the first of the Disney classics I ever saw on the big screen, was awesome! She was very much in-character the whole time she was on stage...and what a great smile!


Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Dragon Con Night at Medieval Times 2017 | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

These youngsters (above) were totally awesome! They cosplayed the Knights and Villain from the tournament and they looked like they were having the best time! Well done!

In case you were wondering about the tournament that had taken place in the arena, immediately prior to the cosplay contest, it was on the Friday night immediately prior to Super Bowl Sunday, so you can imagine how excited everyone was when the Black & White Knight (who wears elements of red on his surcoat), won the tournament, surely a gesture wishing that the Atlanta Falcons would win only two days later.

I love this annual event because it mashes up two of my favorite things, Dragon Con and Medieval Times. Thank you to both organizations for bringing us fans so much fun throughout the year!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sea of Common Catastrophe

Showing at 7 Stages in Little Five Points through this Sunday, Sea of Common Catastrophe is a beautiful performance piece that moves the mind and heart. It shows not just the horror that so many who were affected by Hurricane Katrina, but a vast array of emotions—and lack of emotions—the natural disaster wrought on New Orleans.

Sea of Common Catastrophe | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: Stungun Photography
Sea of Common Catastrophe | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: Stungun Photography

"7 Stages presents New Orleans' based ArtSpot Productions ensemble as they lead a consideration of the profound transformations that have swept through New Orleans in the decade since Hurricane Katrina, and of our own roles and responsibilities as artists in the realities of gentrification and displacement. A dream-world imaging of a community inundated by a flood of change and upheaval."
The cast's performance and symphonic movement is outstanding. There was one cast member who I was most moved by...Lisa Shattuck, who plays Tobias. Her facial expressions perfectly presented what she was feeling in every scene. Every look, every turn, every nuance is tethered to your own heart...there's no escaping feeling what Tobias is feeling.

The performance is approximately one hour and the evening I went there was a "Talk Back" session with Heidi Howard, Artistic Director at 7 Stages, and Jeff Becker who conceived, directed and designed Sea of Catastrophe, as well as the entire cast! 

I love 7 Stages' "Talk Back" sessions...they're an opportunity for the "community" of theatre-goers that evening to share what they felt and to ask questions. It totally enhances the evening's experience...it greatly expands what you just witnessed.     

Sea of Common Catastrophe | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: Stungun Photography
Sea of Common Catastrophe | 7 Stages Theatre | Photo: Stungun Photography
I personally did not at the time know anyone affected by the disaster. When one particular, unassuming, segment of the play showed two friends talking on the phone, presumably miles apart and away from New Orleans, enjoying jovial conversation and sipping on their over-priced, long-winded titled coffees, it took me back to remembering...to feeling...how helpless I felt watching the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on the news and feeling a guilty for not doing at least a little.

I don't pretend to think that everyone can help someone else in every horrible situation, but our collectively doing even a little can have a significant impact. I encourage you to challenge yourself to make even the smallest of gestures to help someone next time you see a life or lives affected by something like Hurricane Katrina. That's what I took away from this performance. 

7 Stages hosts a regular podcast by "a couple of crunchy 7 Stages interns, Sarah Summerbell and Ryan Williams," called "Cereal". In this episode, they discuss Sea of Common Catastrophe and gentrification. Have listen... 


I did not get to see this show opening weekend, thus the reason I'm writing about it so late in the run, but if you're reading this post by this Sunday, I highly recommend getting tickets and going to 7 Stages to see Sea of Common Catastrophe. And check out the rest of their season!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Touring Old Fourth Distillery

The first legal distillery in Atlanta since before Prohibition, Old Fourth Distillery, located in Old Fourth Ward, has a fascinating history and offers a fine tour!

I was there just last week with my friend Nikki, the night before her birthday, and several other friends, some new and some I've known for a while. This visit was part of an uber-fun evening!


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Started by five guys—two are brothers—who left their technology and real estate jobs, Old Fourth Distillery (O4D) has been a great success and they're growing. I hope to see them around for a very, very long time!

They currently offer two tours. You can get the basic, highly informative tour (with four tastes) for only $10 or you can get the same tour (you all go at the same time) plus a souvenir package for only $30. Our friends went for the basic tour and Nikki and I opted for tour + souvenir. Nikki's souvenir was a bottle of O4D Gin and mine was a bottle of O4D Vodka. 

I also purchased a book, "Prohibition in Atlanta", which I can hardly wait to read. There's also other merchandise—hats, t-shirts and the like—available for purchase. Handsome items, I might add.


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

This copper still is stunning. Copper is used for a specific reason, but that aside, it's just beautiful. 

O4D currently has three libations available, O4D Vodka (which is amazing!), O4D Gin (I don't drink gin, but this was excellent!) and O4D Lawn Dart, a ginger-lemon spirit akin to limoncello. Lawn Dart is a slightly heavier on the ginger, which I love! 

The have a delicious O4D Bourbon coming out in 2019, but you can get a taste of the early batches on the tour! I'm not a bourbon drinker either (I'm a vodka man.), but this bourbon evaporates on the tongue leaving magnificent flavors that will take you to a place where you'll delightfully contemplate the universe. It's transforming...figuratively and literally.


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Lights out! I forget what it was that our tour guide William was showing us when he turned the lights out...I was too caught up in the beauty of these stills and missed it. If you too are mesmerized and miss the explanation, kindly ask your tour guide to repeat it, which I'm sure they'll gladly do. Impressive machinery! 


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Our tour group was so much fun! That's William, our tour guide, in the hat. The couple on the right were tourists visiting from Australia and the couple of the left were locals out for a fun evening. I was with the five ladies in the middle, of which one was visiting from Michigan and another is in her first year at Georgia Tech (she was good and didn't participate in the tasting).

Our visit had started with just wanting to check it out. When we finally scheduled our visit, it became part on Nikki's pre-birthday night celebration—one of the most fun of five stops that evening!. 


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Part of our tour included the manufacturing process of gin, including the opportunity to see and smell the herb ingredients used in making O4D Gin. William explained that Juniper Berries make up approximately 50% of the herb mixture. Also in mix is Angelica Root, Coriander, Pink Peppercorns, and Cardamom.

I'm totally not a gin drinker, but this was quite spectacular! I was shocked, not being a gin drinker, to say the least.

Did you know that Pink Peppercorns are actually not peppercorns? Because of their size and shape, they're marketed as peppercorns, but they're actually the ripe berries of the ornamental Brazilian pepper tree.

Cardamom is one of my favorite spices. If you don't use it, pick up a small jar of it sometime and stir some into your peach jam then spread that on a toasted butter croissant...tell me it's not a little piece of heaven! Yum!


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

I'm a techie. I was in telecommunications when I was in the Navy and my college degree is in technology. So why did the corking machine mesmerize me so? I have no idea, but it was fun to see it in operation. Much of the process is done by hand, as is this part.

I admire the graphic design for Old Fourth Distillery. Whether you're a history buff, a steampunk enthusiast, or a graphic design professional—or just like you libation base in a handsome bottle—I think you're going to love O4D's branding. My minor in college was Graphic Design, so I know what a challenge—and great fun—designing a whole new product can be.


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
When you go on your tour, I recommend taking a snapshot of this diagram. It was recently created by one of the staff and it fully describes the manufacturing process. When reading it after I got home, it was remarkable how much it felt like reliving what William had shared with us. There are a lot of entertaining details like this throughout the modestly sized space.


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There has been much speculation that pre-Prohibition Rufus M. Rose is connected to the founding of Four Roses Bourbon in Kentucky. There's not a lot of evidence either way, but one curious fact can't be dismissed...Founder Paul Jones, Jr. got his start in distilling right here in Atlanta!


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

There are many antique jugs on display in the Distillery, some of them bearing the R. M. Rose, Co. name. 

Now terribly dilapidated, The Rufus M. Rose House, one of the last Victorian mansions on Peachtree Street, was built in 1901 and was home to Mr. Rose until he passed in 1910. The House has since seen many lives. It's been a residence, a rooming house, offices, and at one point, for many years, was an antique store and Atlanta Museum! That museum boasted unique artifacts including furniture belonging to Margaret Mitchell, personal items of Bobby Jones and a Japanese Zero war plane!


Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor
Old Fourth Distillery | Photo: Travis S. Taylor

You're going to find a degree of cleverness here, too. Toward the end of our tour, one of the guests asked where the nearest restroom was, pointing toward neighboring businesses. Turns out it was right in front of us...it just looks like a bookcase. Brilliant, right?

If you need a little more convincing to visit Old Fourth Distillery, check out this AJC article by my friend Leslie Peterson of 365 Atlanta Family.

You can find Old Fourth Distillery libations all over Georgia, just go to the "Find It" tab on their website to find a restaurant, store or bar convenient to you. Just know that there's nothing like getting it from the source...their tour is fantastic, especially when you opt for the tour + souvenir and that souvenir is a bottle of vodka!