Ken Gargett

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  1. Ken Gargett


    in wine, you'd be thinking capsicum, herbal and perhaps even rotting leaves.
  2. The 15 Best Bourbons of the Past 20 Years Bourbons have become increasingly collectible. Here are the ones you need to stash away. By Dan Dunn on September 18, 2018 There’s much to love about the world’s great Japanese, Scotch, and Irish whiskey distilleries. But when it comes to innovation, the wily bourbon producers in the United States have been leading the way for years. In Kentucky and beyond, purveyors of America’s native spirit have refused to let the excellence of their existing products stand in the way of coming up with new ones. And over the last decade and a half, a plenitude of incredible new whiskey with a mash bill of at least 51 percent corn and aged in charred new oak barrels—the house rules for a whiskey to be called a bourbon—has come to market, some from brand-new producers, others new expressions from venerated houses. Here are 15 of the best bourbon releases of the past 20 years. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Four Roses Al Young 50th Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon from Four Roses Released in June 2017 to commemorate Kentucky Distillers’ Association Hall of Famer Al Young’s 50 years of employment at Four Roses, this is as fine a tribute as you can get. A blend of four distinct proprietary recipes, the “Al Young,” as it’s affectionately known ($150), exhibits aromas of sweet caramel and floral honeysuckle. The palate offers fresh peach and apricot flavors, encompassing luxurious, warm fig and rich oak, with a hint of mint on the finish. It was originally priced at $150, but expect to pay significantly more on the secondary market. Barrell Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Barrell Craft Spirits Barrell Bourbon Batch 009 Barrell Craft Spirits was founded in 2013 and quickly became one of the most buzzed-about producers of American whiskey. Barrell Bourbon Batch 009 ($90) arrived in stores in 2016 and sold out everywhere virtually overnight. Today it can be acquired only on the secondary market. You are hereby advised to get some. Distilled in Tennessee and aged in Kentucky, it’s a 112-proof flavor bomb, offering everything from tropical fruit to thick clotted cream. This bourbon possesses a familiar warmth, like a favorite old blanket or pair of wool socks. The boundless finish is reminiscent of sweet buttered caramel corn. Angel’s Envy Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Angel’s Envy Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Bourbon Finished in Port Barrels Legendary master distiller Lincoln Henderson released this Angel’s Envy cask-strength expression ($180) to great acclaim in 2012. It turned out to be his swan song. Henderson passed away in September 2013, leaving a legacy of artistry and innovation that will not soon be forgotten. The Port Barrel–finished whiskey is a magnificent testament to his abilities. After six years spent resting in new white American oak, the spirit was refined in 60-gallon ruby port barrels made from French oak and imported directly from Portugal. European influence aside, this is still the epitome of complex, bold Kentucky bourbon. The palate teems with flavors, from raisin to banana to rich dark chocolate. A clean and lingering finish offers a hint of Madeira that slowly fades. At 124.5 proof, it packs a serious wallop. Russell’s Reserve Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Russell’s Reserve Russell’s Reserve 1998 In 1998, before master distiller Jimmy Russell’s 45th anniversary at Wild Turkey (and assumed retirement), his son Eddie set out to create a fitting tribute to his father’s legacy. Enter Russell’s Reserve 1998 ($250). Ole Jimmy can still be found at the distillery today, but his “retirement whiskey” is another story. Just over 2,000 bottles of this 102.2-proof bourbon were released in 2015 and sold out immediately. Of course, when it comes to running down impossible-to-find bottles, there’s always a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy . . . just be aware that that guy will want some serious coin for this collector’s item. As with most bourbon this mature, it’s woody and a tad dry. But Eddie made sure to halt the aging process in time to retain the vibrant caramel, vanilla, and fruity notes for which Wild Turkey is so famous. Of course he did—his dad wouldn’t have it any other way. High Wire New Southern Revival Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of High Wire Distilling Co. High Wire New Southern Revival Straight Bourbon made with Jimmy Red Corn Jimmy Red is a legendary moonshiner’s corn that had all but become extinct until a South Carolina farmer brought it back to life in the early aughts. By 2016 the folks at High Wire Distilling in Charleston, who felt that many of the “big boys” in the industry weren’t paying enough attention to the quality of corn used in the mash, were using Jimmy Red to make truly unique bourbon. The Jimmy Red Corn Straight Bourbon ($99) smells of nutmeg and toffee. The first sip is nutty, sweet, and mineralic. Swish it around a bit to unbind banana and butterscotch flavors. It boasts an extremely high oil content, yielding whiskey with an unusually creamy mouthfeel. High West American Prairie Bourbon Founded with a single 250-gallon still in Park City in 2006, High West has grown from a tiny operation to an internationally recognized brand for a simple reason: its excellent whiskey. American Prairie ($35) is a blend of straight bourbons aged from two to 13 years. Rich and earthy on the palate, it possesses pleasant notes of candy corn, honey nougat, and sweet corn bread biscuits, closing out with a flash of Granny Smith apple. Every purchase comes with a karmic boost, as well—High West donates 10 percent of profits from the sale of each bottle to the American Prairie Reserve, which is dedicated to protecting and preserving America’s natural resources. Knob Creek Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Knob Creek Knob Creek Limited Edition 2001 Part of the first wave of so-called “small batch” bourbons that now command the market, Knob Creek was introduced in 1992 by the late great Jim Beam master distiller Booker Noe. Booker ran the show at Beam for more than 40 years and did yeoman’s work to help revitalize the flagging bourbon industry in the 1960s and ’70s. In 2001, Booker retired and was replaced by his son Fred. This limited-edition expression, released in 2016, marked that historic passing of the torch. Knob Creek Limited Edition 2001 ($130) was offered in five batches, each with robust oak and char notes balanced by sweet vanilla and warm brown spices. The finish is long, rich, and glowing. Mic.Drop. Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of PM Spirits Mic.Drop. Set aside any misgivings you might have about liquor named after a worn-out Internet meme, and just enjoy the delicious blend of 20 different casks of eight-year-old whiskey. This spirit offers multifarious flavors highlighted by maple syrup, coconut, cloves, and dark fruit. Mic.Drop. ($100) came out of nowhere in 2017 and now resides on the back bars of some of the country’s most prestigious drinking establishments. It’s easy to spot, too, with an eye-catching label designed by comic book artist Chris Batista. Word is that all 3,358 original bottles are spoken for, but fret not, for Mic.Drop.2 was just released on Sept. 1. Okay, maybe fret a little—there will be but 140 bottles, which will retail for $450 a pop. John E. Fitzgerald Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Heaven Hill John E. Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve 20 Year Old Whiskey lovers tend to speak of the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery in hushed, reverential tones. Before being shuttered in 1972, the facility produced brands such as Larceny, Old Fitzgerald, Pappy Van Winkle, and Weller’s Cabin Still. John E. Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve 20 Year Old ($300 for 375 mL) contains wheated bourbon gleaned from 12 barrels produced at old Stitzel-Weller that had been designated for use in Old Fitzgerald. The John E. Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve offers a host of tastes that go great together, from cocoa to lemon to banana cream pie. The finish is lengthy and refined. A few years back, Heaven Hill released a miniscule amount of 375 mL bottles. They claim that’s all they had, yet there are whispers—hushed and reverential—that a secret supply still remains. Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection 2009 Seasoned Oak Finish In the early 1800s, Woodford County Distillery owner Oscar Pepper and master distiller James Crow pioneered key bourbon-making processes such as sour mashing, copper pot distillation, and charred oak cask maturation. To be sure, they done good. Woodford Reserve’s Master’s Collection ($129) is the belated thanks they get. Were either still around to sample this rich amber-colored delectation, surely they’d revel in the 2009 Seasoned Oak Finish’s robust oakiness and spice, as well as the keen notes of fruit jam, toasted almond, and dark chocolate. The homestretch lolls pleasantly, offering sweet butter and a hint of cool lemon custard. Be forewarned—finding a bottle is darn near a mission impossible. Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Jefferson’s Reserve Jefferson’s Twin Oak Custom Barrel Founded in 1997, Jefferson’s is committed to crafting innovative small-batch blends, as evidenced by its slogan “alchemy is everything.” The brand is definitely onto something, and the 2018 release ($80) may well be its most ambitious whiskey yet. For six years Jefferson’s worked with the Independent Stave Company to develop a proprietary flash-charred barrel made with grooved staves that allows for maximum exposure to oak at the peak of flavor. The result is a well-balanced, mocha-tinged whiskey that coats the palate with sweet and spicy goodness. It has a medium-length finish with a touch of cedar and tart lemon. Parker’s Heritage Collection Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Heaven Hill Parker’s Heritage Collection Cask Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey This whiskey was created in tribute to Heaven Hill’s longtime master distiller, Parker Beam. Beam himself personally selected the barrels that were used for the Heritage Collection Cask Strength’s first edition, released in 2007. Beam, who passed away in January 2017, endeavored to make classic Kentucky bourbon. There’s no better example of stellar old-school hooch than this. It’s full-bodied, brimming with dried fruit flavor (figs and raisins) and possessing ample oak and tannins. Originally priced at $80, a bottle can now go for several thousand dollars on the secondary market. Maker’s 46 Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Maker's Mark Maker’s 46 Maker’s Mark bottled its first run in 1958 under the distinctive dipped red wax seal that was the brainchild of founder Bill Samuels Sr.’s wife, Margie. They made one whiskey, one way. Then, in 2010, Maker’s released 46 ($40), its first new expression in 50 years. In bourbon circles, this was a seismic event, and more than a few skeptics were ready to pounce. Boy, did legendary distiller Bill Samuels Jr. ever rise to the challenge. He intensified the natural flavor notes of classic Maker’s—the vanilla, caramel, and spice—and created a more complex, richer-tasting bourbon with a creamier mouthfeel and lengthier finish. There’s no bitterness. It’s eminently approachable and easy to enjoy. Hudson Baby Bourbon Introduced in 2006, Hudson Baby Bourbon ($50) is the first whiskey produced in New York since Prohibition and is the first commercially available bourbon ever to hail from the Empire State. Made with locally sourced corn at the Tuthilltown Spirits distillery in the Hudson Valley, the whiskey is aged in charred new American oak barrels, which imparts a strong, smoky wood quality. Beyond the char there’s a harmony of flavors, including vanilla toffee, pepper spice, and a bit of honey, raisin, and mint. It’s a eupeptic, buoyant whiskey that is easy to digest. It makes for an ideal maiden voyage for unseasoned adventurers. Willett Family Estate Bourbon Photo: Courtesy of Willett Family Estate Willett Family Estate Bottled Bourbon Willett Family Estate Bottled Bourbon was introduced in 2008 as part of the family’s Private Barrel Selection program and was an immediate hit with the professional drinking class, which includes critics, bartenders, and flat-out whiskey nuts. It’s an un-chill-filtered, barrel-proof, straight bourbon whiskey of unusual depth and complexity. Though it weighs in at a hefty 124.8 proof, Willett Family Estate Bottled Bourbon drinks surprisingly light. Pear, cocoa, and cherry are among the more prominent flavors. Bottles from the original release, which went for $100 at that time, go for upward of $4,000 now, if you can find them
  4. Ken Gargett

    Review - Montecristo No. 4

    why is this up twice?
  5. the plastic bottles has been answered many times. wine bottles? presumably just empties that will soon be disposed of.
  6. the clue is in the title working. so you can rule out kiwis.
  7. · EATER TRAVEL Is This the Most Magical Meal on Earth? A table at Disneyland’s 21 Royal commands an elite $15,000 price tag for what’s billed as the ultimate in Disney wizardry by Carlye Wisel Sep 17, 2018, 9:00am EDT All photos by Frank Wonho Lee SHARE The thing about Disney magic is that you either feel it, or you don’t. You either swell with inexplicable joy watching Tinker Bell fly past Sleeping Beauty Castle and cruising through a tunnel of international child-bots singing on repeat, or you just power through it for the kids. The signature brand of Disney whimsy — too earnest to mistake for kitsch or irony — either drives you to spend hundreds for the privilege of wading through a sea of tourists high on manufactured glee, or sends you running. There’s little room for apathy in the Disney universe, and I should know — a casual bachelorette trip spurred me into a Disney fanaticism so rabid it manifested as a career in theme park journalism. 21 Royal’s main dining room For those of us who buy into the Mickey Mouse club, there’s nothing quite like it. Themed Caribbean cruises, Hawaiian getaways, jaunts to China simply to ride on the back of a TronLight Cycle — when Disney sorcery is good, you’ll spend whatever it takes to get the purest uncut taste of it. So while it was a surprise to learn that Disneyland was turning its formerly inaccessible Dream Suite into a private dining space where, for $15,000, a dozen friends could eat and drink in luxury a few floorboards up from Jack Sparrow and his animatronic pirate pals, the fact that the place is still open — and thriving — is not. These days, Disney fandom knows no economic boundaries. The upper crust loves its Donald Duck and Darth Vader as much as the next guy, and the company has been steadily broadening its brand to embrace its ultra-high-end clientele. At $1250 per person, 21 Royal is not even their most expensive offering. Club 33, Disneyland’s historic high-roller club, has expanded to Orlando, where individually themed lounges throughout Walt Disney World serve truffled popcorn and craft cocktails to guests allegedly forking over a $50,000 initiation fee. The Golden Oak residential community at Walt Disney World, which boasts its own members-only restaurant, has already built more than 200 multimillion-dollar mansions, some of which share amenities with the Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, a favorite of well-heeled travelers. Disney’s AAA four-diamond Grand Californian Hotel and Spa Even Disney fanatics with significantly fewer zeros in their bank account will shell out. According to Touring Plans, since 2013 the price of single-day tickets for Orlando’s Magic Kingdom has risen four times faster than it would have if it had been tied to the rate of inflation, with attendance increasing on both coasts along with theme park expansions, broadened holiday offerings, and new food festivals. With a price tag that makes it arguably the most expensive dinner experience in the country, 21 Royal has been steadily booked multiple nights a week, not with corporate groups and celebrities (though they have had those), but with diehard Disney devotees celebrating birthday parties, baby showers, and other milestone events. The grand staircase entrance to 21 Royal But in terms of cold, hard cash, what does one actually get for a reservation the price of a 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage? First off, VIP status for yourself and 11 friends along with valet parking at Disney’s Grand Californian hotel, “park hopper” tickets for all (about $166 each), and an elaborate seven-course meal — with tax, gratuity, wine pairings, and a couple of cocktails included. You are also paying a premium on par with an event rental space, rendering 21 Royal in a different category than Saison’s $298 tasting menu or Masa’s $595 omakase, especially as its 19th-century-French-inspired interiors and waterfront views of Disneyland’s serene Rivers of America can only be visited during this mega-money meal. That exclusivity hints at the true value of 21 Royal, which lies not in the overall quality of the food and wine — delivered via customized menus for each party by executive chef Andrew Sutton and his team — but the degree of Disney magic folded into the package. So, when I was given the chance to experience the full Royal treatment as part of a small media group hosted by Disney public relations, I bit. After all, if anyone is able to judge whether a theme park hideaway offers enough of a Disney rush to splurge your life savings on, it’s someone who has already dedicated their life to it. On a recent Tuesday afternoon, our group boards a black coach mini bus from Disney’s Craftsman-style Grand Californian hotel to be transported about one mile “backstage” — Mickey-speak for the industrial, unthemed areas not visible by guests — and cross over the Disneyland Railroad tracks into New Orleans Square. It’s here, through a nondescript side gate into a literal magic kingdom, that we meet Paul, one of three professionally trained butlers on hand for the night. Here, Paul makes the first of several allusions to people thinking we’re celebrities. It’s a mood that prevails as our group, dressed in crisp, clean evening wear, saunter past strollers and bathrooms and sweat-drenched summertime parkgoers toward 21 Royal’s chained-off staircase perched atop the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. We enter the salon and are handed a cool towel and cold beverage (Champagne and creme de violette). A short speech is given and portrait taken (videography is not allowed) and then we’re invited to roam the space, which is less a restaurant and more like an open house. Other than Club 33, 21 Royal is the only place alcohol is served within Disneyland Park 21 Royal includes a sitting room complete with carousel horse and antique furnishings The apartment layout and cozy interiors are a holdover from the location’s past iteration as the Disneyland Dream Suite, a promotional prize offered to contest winners sleeping overnight in the park as recently as 2015. Intended to be Walt’s upgraded in-park residence prior to his passing, Imagineers drew upon famed production designer Dorothea Redmond’s original mid-’60s sketches to bring the vision to life during the last decade’s remodel. (His actual studio above the Main Street Fire Station still stands.) Until 2007, though, this second-story flat was operating as an art gallery, selling oil paintings of Daisy Duck as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and other fan accoutrement, with many of its structural bones still intact. The pastel-pink patio, with a water feature bookended by the Disney family crest, was — according to personal accounts — used as a lunch stop on group tours, and the wrought-iron balcony for ticketed dessert parties with prime views of evening entertainment at under $100 a pop. Now, both are reserved for Disneyland’s flushest guests, who wander between museum-like rooms playing house in Walt’s would-have-been retreat. The Victorian living room, with its patterned chairs and striped settee, serves as a nod to Walt’s muses for Disneyland: Strewn about the space are a half-size carousel horse, a miniature tiki bird cage, and a fresco of Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle — the supposed inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle. There are other conspicuous magical winks, too, like “hidden Mickeys” sewn into the rug and a grandfather clock programmed with synchronized music, lights, and effects. A grandfather clock comes alive throughout the night with scenes and music from various Disney classics The courtyard patio at 21 Royal Hors d’oeuvres are passed — smoking slices of seared tuna on dry ice, tiny duck spring rolls — and the quaint patio unfurls to an open bar, serving a choice of bourbon Manhattans or a spiced gin fizz named in honor of Walt’s wife, Lillian, beneath strung lanterns and trees with firefly lights. The two bedrooms are where the magic happens: Push a “Good Night Kiss” switch and a model train chugs to life around ceiling-height shelves of trinkets and toys, mermaids float within an illustrated grotto, and stars flicker over the master bathroom’s delicately tiled tub. Only, you can’t sleep beneath the canopied wooden bed or luxuriate in the spa jets because this Empire-style escape is purely for show. One of two bedrooms in the 21 Royal suite The Jacuzzi soaking tub complete with starry night light effects anchors the master bath After a seemingly brief cocktail hour, we’re ushered into the dining room. It’s neoclassical by way of New Orleans, all jewel-toned wainscotting and aquamarine velvet chairs with idealized murals of the park’s Mark Twain Riverboat churning through open waters and the famed Haunted Mansion in all its antebellum glory. A floral eruption of sunset-hued ranunculus, roses, and sprigs of rosemary on the table would almost have you forgetting you’re a stone’s throw from mouse-shaped beignets until a candelabra on the mantle is magically lit by, what else, fairy dust. Sommelier Matt Ellingson does most of the talking throughout the night, with lengthy backstories for every pour, including our first — a Dom Ruinart champagne named for, as we’re told in detail, the 18th-century inventor of “wine with bubbles.” The first course lands, Osetra caviar offset by an acidic yellow tomato sauce and Alaskan king crab with a delicate potato mousseline crepe. The wine and food pairing isn’t just nice, it’s nearly unprecedented: Save for Club 33, nowhere at the original Disneyland Park sells alcohol, for now. A king crab and Osetra caviar starter Disney’s iconography of numbers is on full display here at 21 Royal. Gilded forks are etched with its symbolic crest, golden charger plates boast the ornate badge, and wax seals on each monogrammed menu bear its emblematic form. Upon being directed toward the restroom I am excitedly told I’ll be “breaking the seal” of a numerical insignia impressed upon the start of the printed toilet paper roll. I tear off the triangle and shove it into my pocket. From hotel rooms to roller coasters, storytelling is at the core of every Disney Parks experience, an aspect of 21 Royal promised right on its website. But strip away the decor and the meal’s theming was rather minimal — no single narrative linking the dishes, no dishes masquerading as mossy logs or enchanted forest floors, not even a rogue character-shaped butter. A seafood soup gets covered in sea urchin foam Wine service comes complete with one-of-a-kind decanters Instead, it came through in small moments, like in the presentation of a seafood “soup” inspired by chef Sutton’s childhood memories of tidepooling. At the exact moment he describes a wave crashing over sea creatures, a choreographed team of waiters pours sea urchin foam over morsels of Santa Barbara spot prawn, red abalone, and Kona kampachi. Generally, Disney’s childlike sense of whimsy almost antipodes elegance, but here, the refined theatrics made for the evening’s best dish. After the third course — roasted foraged chanterelles dusted with ramp salt atop corn-egg dumplings — and fourth — A5 wagyu transformed into delicate slices of Kobe pastrami — we’re given a luxurious 10-minute break. We sit on the patio, the sunset and pinot noir settling in. The assortment of flashy wines (including a bottle of St. Eden from Napa Valley that goes for upwards of $400 a pop) is almost as varied as the staff’s bewildering set of decanters, each more whackadoo than the next. We learn the sommelier made 24 painstaking attempts to find the perfect red to serve with our spicy curried pheasant dish (red wine with curry is, we’re told, a traditional pairing no-no). The entirety of our meal feels a bit like an ability flex, which, given that the menu was customized for an audience of food writers on assignment, is not surprising. Other dinners, which can be tailored to requests, have included accommodations for pregnant diners, food allergies and aversions, and even french fries showered in freshly shaved truffles for the world’s fanciest tweens. Bison tenderloin with hay-roasted vegetables After a dish of buffalo tenderloin with vegetables roasted in hay, we’re given a grand finish by way of a singular albeit heavenly peach “snowball” for dessert. Then, once cappuccinos and upon-request digestifs are in hand (I was initially told the bar was closed when I asked for something stronger than coffee, but they eventually obliged), the event caps off with a balcony view of Fantasmic!, Disneyland’s long-running waterfront nighttime bonanza. It’s magic incarnate, and the park’s grandest extravaganza quickly becomes the highlight of the night. Peach “snowball” dessert From ground level, Fantasmic! is a rousing multimedia mix of beloved characters, villainous battles, and pyro-theatrics viewed amidst a hurried crowd — but up here, tipsy and primed for revelry, nothing delights more than Mickey Mouse spewing golden sparkles out of his white-gloved fingers. After an evening of whim-catering and decadence, it’s hard not to feel like this cavalcade of characters on the back of a riverboat are waving only to you. This, Disney fans, is what you pay for. Not the caviar. A premium view of Fantasmic! from 21 Royal’s balcony After a round of fireworks, I’m given a branded maroon gift bag (containing a commemorative lapel pin along with tea, pastries, and coffee beans for the morning) and told we can spend more time on the patio — an empty gesture considering the booze has already been packed up. I opt out of the bus ride back and, as some fellow diners accept the offer of complimentary travel flats (tipsy women teetering in heels on concrete is a liability, natch), we head toward Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for a Disney-approved nightcap before the park closes. The wait is 40 minutes and I stand in line, sweating, yearning for that upstairs hideaway and not fully ready to be among the vacationing masses once again. A fountain bookended by the Disney family crest on the courtyard patio of 21 Royal The five-hour experience certainly reaches beyond its price tag, creating an evening that cannot be replicated anywhere else. But, while 21 Royal’s service may be extraordinary, the pace was too quick. Each course, on average, took 19 minutes; I never saw the bottom of a wine glass, which would have been an unfortunate turn for an indulgent evening if its ending wasn’t utterly spectacular in pure Disney fashion. Round out Joshua Skenes’s onetime $1000-a-head woodsy Sonoma escape with the joy of balling out within a literal nostalgia daydream and a free park ticket, and 21 Royal’s $1250-per-person price tag doesn’t feel so crippling. Still, I found myself itching all night for things I should be able to do for that whopping price. Cinderella’s illuminated glass slipper on display For $15,000, I should be able to take a video, an object of my choosing, or at least a bath. For 15 grand I should be allowed to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with a FastPass, but also into the wee hours of the night. For that much coin I should get a piggyback ride around Fantasyland on Goofy’s shoulders and arise by Mickey gently singing “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” in the morning. But a night at 21 Royal won’t get you any of that. It won’t even get you a final cocktail after the show’s water projection screens dissolve or a hand-delivered Dole Whip, regardless of how half-jokingly you ask. For some diners, namely those enthralled by balled-out meals and envy-inducing Instagrams, it’s not enough. But for 21 Royal’s target audience, even with a subtle shortfall of culinary whimsy, nothing else will even matter. It won’t matter that Chef Sutton spent seven years helming a famed Napa Valley kitchen or that one of the wines was made by a couple who found each other in a hurricane or that the Osetra caviar was sourced by some guy named Chuck. Spending the night — even without spending the night — in a place with a thread of association to Walt, standing on hallowed ground that cannot be accessed otherwise, feeling like Cinderella while staring at her actual glass slipper illuminating as a magical grandfather clock chimes “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” — it’s plenty. It’s enough. And $15,000 is all it will take.
  8. Why Are So Many Australians Working in American Coffee? The success of Aussie cafes might be more about the people than the flat whites and avocado toast by Tim Forster@timothyjforster Sep 17, 2018, 10:47am EDT SHARE Pouring a flat white at Aussie cafe Sweatshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Sweatshop/Facebook Australia has given the world so much: Nicole Kidman, the Hemsworth brothers, flat whites, and (some say) avocado toast. At least two of these imports made Australian coffee shops a slow-burn trend of the 2010s — by 2016, a flat white and an avo toast, along with single origin brews, savory dishes (not just pastries), full service, and a clean design aesthetic all became shorthand for this particular style of establishment. Australian chains like Bluestone Lane — and those Aussie coffee workers themselves — now dot cities like New York and Los Angeles. Earlier this year, Vogue announced that“coffee [had] percolated seamlessly with Australian culture,” suggesting an odd role-reversal where ultra-cultured New York is looking to smaller cities like Melbourne for tips on being cosmopolitan. It seems that Australian cafes have developed a cult of personality as their followings have grown: In particular, that personality is of the server with a laid-back attitude — no “hi, my name is Jane, and I’ll be your server” here. Back in 2014, New York Times coffee critic Oliver Strand noted this as a highlight, writing that Australian cafes’ casual style of table service has “a sunny disposition so genuine it could disarm the most brusque New Yorker.” Strand was onto something. The success of these cafes — NYC has at least 31 different Aussie-owned shops — is arguably thanks to a non-consumable import: The Australians hired to staff the cafes and provide that “sunny disposition” that’s become a hallmark of the Aussie cafe experience. To many cafe owners, importing Australian workers is less about highly developed coffee skills and more about cultivating a certain casual, cool vibe. “When you walk in to an Australian cafe it’s going to be fun, lively, welcoming, you can kind of go there and feel comfortable and not feel like you’re walking into a science lab… it’s that mentality that we’re trying to replicate here,” says Ryan de Remer, owner of Sweatshop, which opened in 2014 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and now counts 11 Australians on staff. “Back in Melbourne you don’t go for the biggest coffee with the most caffeine, everyone sits and chills. The American coffee gets too focused on the product.” Despite Portlandia’s depictions of the mustachioed, self-serious American barista, Aussie coffee shop owners say it’s not that Americans don’t know how to be friendly (or that they don’t know good coffee). Rather, it’s just a stylistic difference, as Giles Russell and Henry Roberts, owners of Manhattan’s Two Hands, tell Eater. “If we have American staff, they learn that style of relaxed service from the Australians.” The fact is, Aussies are more than happy to claim those jobs, too: Josh Evans, the owner of Greenwich Village cafe-restaurant Banter, says he gets emails from Australians most weeks inquiring about jobs, and he routinely gives them interviews: “Word gets out back home,” he says. Two Hands also noted that they’ve typically been happy to hire Australians. There’s more than one relatively easy way for Australians to get work visas to the United States. One special visa category makes it easier for Australians with special skills to be hired in the USA: the E-3, a visa just for Australians, created as part of a free trade agreement that was a “thank you” to Australia for sending troops to the Iraq War. Anyone with job offer for a “specialty occupation,” usually a job that requires a specific university degree, can get an E-3. But it’s not that Australians bring visa-worthy special coffee skills with them (after all, baristas can be found in the U.S. as well). In addition to the E-3, the J-1 visa — called an “exchange” visa — is open to a specific set of mostly younger people (often new university graduates) who pay for a visa sponsor from a long list of approved organizations. With the J-1 visa, the sponsor isn’t an employer, so once the year-long visa is approved, those Australians can work wherever they please. Both are much less competitive than the H-1B visa most non-Americans would apply for — and while President Trump is pushing for the H-1B to get even stricter, there’s no sign that the E-3 is going to face a crackdown. Many Australian coffee shops have taken advantage of the E-3 visa. Per the Department of Labor database, the rapidly expanding chain Bluestone Lane appears to have filed the initial labor certification paperwork for an E-3 application 28 times. This doesn’t mean Bluestone Lane actually received 28 visas for staff, as some applications might have been rejected or withdrawn, but it does mean the company has actively tried to hire plenty of Australians. They’re not alone. Over half of the Australian coffee shops in New York filed such paperwork at least once in the last three years, apparently seeking visas: chainlet Toby’s Estate put in nine such applications; Hole in the Wall, with two Manhattan locations, and Sweatshop each filed seven of them. Most of them are for professional-level jobs: designers, marketing professionals, analysts, fitting with the visa requirements. But a handful of coffee shops appear to have tried to nab them for jobs that certainly don’t require a degree: Brunswick in Park Slope filed a request for a server, to be paid $10.50 per hour, while nearby Seven Point Espresso filed one for a barista, paid $9.61 per hour. According to Sauer, these latter applications were probably rejected: He says anybody at the level of restaurant or coffee shop manager or below wouldn’t be considered professional enough. But fresh college graduates, eager for a taste of life in New York and wielding the J-1 visa, could fill those slots. It seems like the influx of Australian cafe workers is likely to continue, at least for a few years. With an injection of money from a venture capital firm, Bluestone Lane (already the biggest Australian coffee shop chain in the U.S.) is planning to expand to 60 stores. And while smaller cafes like Two Hands don’t have the same kind of grand expansion plans, owners Giles Russell and Henry Roberts say they suspect some bigger hospitality groups from Australia might try to make a move over the Pacific. “We’re assuming it’s going to happen, so it’s important for us to stay relevant,” says Russell. His prediction seems to be coming true: In recent days, a much larger Aussie company, Sydney’s Bourke Street Bakery, announced that it would be taking on the New York marketthis fall. So one might infer that the Aussie brand of “casual cool” will continue to be relevant for brands looking for an edge in a global marketplace with endless competition. But with plenty of visas still available, and plenty of areas in New York and beyond without Australian coffee shops of their own, Sweatshop’s Ryan de Remer says there’s still plenty of space for flat whites to keep flowing. “If people are creating this for their micro communities, I don’t think there will ever be oversaturation.” Except, perhaps, when it comes to avocado toast.
  9. maybe. but this sounds like a deliberate decision, designed to make a point. whatever it might be. if he did have mental issues then surely there would have been evidence of it before this moment. everything i read suggested he had is decided he'd had enough, and if so, fair enough to retire (although better to have done it earlier). but have the decency to hold on, even if only on the sideline, for another half. a bi like that rower, sally lie-down.
  10. the right decision? not probably. definitely not. unbelievably poor. most certainly disrespectful. finish the game or at the very least, tell your coach and team that you are not up to it and at least support them from the sideline but do not just walk out of the stadium. he couldn't hang around another 90 minutes? there is no version of this where this bloke deserves a shred of respect from anyone. retire at the end of the game? fair enough. not during. the act of a grub.

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