Jul 20

We want you to be a part of an epic project

As part of our goal to become a collection of the world’s recommendations, we’re asking people to make one recommendation every week. This week’s little thing is children’s books. We’re asking you to tell us what your favorite book was growing up as a kid. We believe this could turn into a fascinating and ruminative project because it’s the little things, which when woven together, paint a terrifically curious picture. 

Over time we want to be able to place you go to find out everything, from Richard Branson’s recommendation on best business books to Jack Dorsey’s favorite spots for a power breakfast.


What was your favorite book growing up?

              
         “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”
        ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Children’s books are curious things. When we’re toddlers we read them for the pictures. When we’re a little older we read them for the stories they tell. When we’re much older it’s to be reminded of simple truths. They’re age indifferent. It’s curious and magical the way they stick with us and shape us through different stages of our lives. 

Oftentimes you ask people what their favorite book is, and you get some version of how a book they read a month ago happened to change their life forever. But what about those lifelong friends? The guys who fundamentally rocked our perception of the world? Alice, Max, Mowgli, The Who’s, Harry…

         “Kids don’t know about bestsellers. They go for what they enjoy. They        
          aren’t star chasers and they don’t suck up. It’s why I like them.”

             ― Maurice Sendak

The profound effect this literature has on our lives hits us when we’re much older. We’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and we thought it’d be a fun exercise in nostalgia to map our collective childhood through books. We want to know:

         What was your singular favorite book growing up?  

Let’s remember those mythical giants that helped us define what’s possible. Let’s also help out new parents and build an epic collection of children’s books for them and make their lives a little easier :-).


If you’re down, here’s how you can share your favorite book:

Step 1: Go to Awessome! and click on the big Twitter button. Takes approx 47 seconds.

                                       

Step 2: Tweet your favorite book and why you loved it with the hashtag #awessome.


"The Phantom Tollbooth" - Fun & witty read about the power of words. Classic! awessome.com/recommendation… #awessome

— Nima (@Nimapt) July 19, 2012

 

Step 3: We automagically pull your tweet into your profile on Awessome! This is how it’ll look:

                                                 

Step 4: We’re reaching out to folks like Steve Case, Jack Dorsey and Margaret Atwood to ask them their favorite books. Follow @awessomeapp or the #awessome stream to find out what their favorite books are and shoot us suggestions if there’s someone in particular you want to hear from! 

Here’s to the wild ones…

           
(Photo: Brains After Hours)

Jul 11

Awessome! got in bed with Twitter and the love child is magical!

So Anderson Cooper tweeted this earlier today:

Just finished another very good book #BeautifulRuins. I recommend it.

— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) July 11, 2012


The tweet is now dead. Apart from the users who saw it, it is gone. A byte of code buried in the graveyard of tweets on a server farm somewhere where most of the tombstones contain the words “Justin Bieber”. 

Which means that the recommendation Anderson Cooper made for the book Beautiful Ruins is lost as well. My guess is that over time hundreds of thousands of people would be interested in knowing his personal reading recommendations.

Unfortunately the only people privy to this knowledge are the one’s who were lucky enough to see this recommendation fly across their twitter stream.

Not anymore. Starting today whenever you tweet a recommendation, just include the hashtag #awessome and the recommendation will be automagically saved to your Awessome! profile (you need to sign-up for Awessome! with your twitter account first of course). 

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Go to Awessome! and sign-up using your Twitter account. Takes approx 47 seconds.

                                         

Step 2: In the future whenever you tweet a recommendation, include the hashtag #awessome. All the information you include in your tweet will automatically be saved. If your tweet doesn’t include an image, then the system will take a best guess and select a picture from Google Images. 

                                            

Step 3: This is how the tweet will appear on Awessome!

                                            

Step 4: Over time, you build a rich repository of all your recommendations.

           

It’s magic. 

Awessome! was built with the goal of making finding recommendations ridiculously easy. We just took another huge step in that direction. 

If a recommendation is good enough to tweet. It deserves to be saved. Sign-up here and get started :)

The tweet is dead. Long live the tweet. #savethetweet

Jun 29

Featured Blogger: Theresa Cortes

Introducing Theresa:

Theresa Cortes, an Orange County based blogger, is hands down a jill of all trades. She is currently majoring business at Cal State Fullerton, and when she’s not studying she’s busy blogging her baking and fashion adventures. Not only does she have undeniably awesome taste in food but her sense of fashion is completely unique. We talked to her about her blogging beginnings, everyday inspirations and what she loves about Awessome!.

                                                  

Tell us about your blogging beginnings. How did you get started?

I started blogging right after high school. My blog’s definitely come a long way since then. Initially, all my posts were rants because I wasn’t sure what to write. Eventually I stumbled upon Lookbook and discovered this whole world of fashion blogging. Drawing inspiration from Lookbook, I started blogging my favorite street styles and outfits. People really responded to that and I was able to build conversations with them about fashion. It was really cool. I realized what I could do with the blog and the potential it had to translate my love of food and fashion into conversations. 

What everyday things inspire you? How do you turn those inspirations into blog posts?

Once I realized the potential my blog had I really made it my own. Usually, the things I post go along with whatever I’m doing that day. I’ve always had a passion for cooking and trying out different styles so my blog’s more like an extension of my life. Even now, I have a so many baking recipes and pictures lined up that I need to post. 

When it comes to inspiration for fashion obviously living in socal helps - the beach and laid back LA culture constantly inspires me. If you check out my blog though you’ll see my taste in fashion incorporates a little bit of everything. I draw a ton of inspiration from other bloggers who are doing similar things by checking out their street styles. I’m told my style is pretty unique compared to the typical LA scene - guess that’s a good thing :). 

                                                  

Since you’re a fan of Awessome! what are some of your favorite recommendations?

                       
                       

Jun 20

Why we’re fucking better than Zagat

283 people reviewed Murphy’s. 

283 different experiences.

283 distinct set of tastes.

283 individual stories. 

Above we have the stories, experiences and tastes of 283 people distilled into an 87 word summary (Technically the summary represents the views of 30 of the 283 reviewers since they were the people who left comments. The other 253 users just left a rating).

Nevertheless, this the premise behind Zagat - to take the 283 reviews like those provided for Murphy’s and spit out a summary “with high standards of accuracy”.

How valuable and useful is it though?   

How valuable is it to take 283 different experiences, each with its own unique voice, and turn it into a data point? To then take those data points and reflect one whole, rounded number? 

Conversely, how valuable would it be if a close friend recommended the place? A friend who would provide context and suggest her favorite dishes and wine and the kind of company she would go with.

We’re not in the business of turning your experience into a data point. You want that - go to these sites. Get a whole, rounded number. Feel good about yourself. We provide friends. And we provide context. 

We’re in the business of discovery. And discovery doesn’t happen when you’re on a restaurant page on Zagat and see 283234534 reviews and an overall rating of 321509328. We don’t give a shit about the collective consciousness of all the people who went there and how it matches up to the collective consciousness of the people who went to the restaurant next door and which in the end is the most mathematically sound option. 

Discovery happens when you hear a story that moves you. When you hear about a cool experience that you then want for yourself. When the person doing the talking is someone who you think is hands down awesome. 

Stay tuned.

Jun 12

Why we’re fucking better than Foursquare tips

A tip by definition is a “helpful hint”. 

Being helpful is a good deed. 

The “tips” above are essentially saying “go die”. 

Dying ≠ good !

With us so far? 

To the douchemonkeys telling us to “go die” we say stfu because:

For some time now Foursquare has been in the process of transitioning from an app focused on gaming (checking in & collecting stickers) to exploration (discovery via places, people and “personalized recommendations”). Check out this and this article for more info.

This new transition means Foursquare’s putting much more emphasis on its content (comments; reviews; “tips”) then it was before. These “tips” by definition “are generally things you’d recommend to others” with the intended goal of always having “something interesting to do nearby.” 

Still with us?

Because you see, some random people up above just told us to launch ourselves over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. That’s neither in our best interests nor at all fucking sane. It’s neither a useful recommendation nor helpful suggestion. By definition then, it’s not a tip

So why is it still there? The first “tip” is from Sept 2010 - almost two years ago. It shouldn’t be there. Nor should the others. 

The thing is, our communities are only as good as our worst, dumbass, bullshit spewing, kitten killing members. Let them thrive, hell let them exist, and your community turns to shit. There’s been talk of Foursquare directly competing with Yelp. In that vein, we wouldn’t be surprised if not long from now we see people going on Foursquare just to bitch about a place. 

Would hate to see that happen. 

At Awessome! we’re trying to fix this from the start. Even our name - it sets a bar for entry:

Awesome community. 

Orgasmic content. 

Your mom’s not allowed. 

Our mission is to save the fucking kittens. 

This is what a “tip” should read like:

With us so far? 

Good.

Jun 05

Why we’re fucking better than Google reviews

The review above is of the Daiquiri Factory in Atlanta. Found it on imgur between a picture of Kim Kardashian’s ass and feline superheroes. Confused we checked to see if someone flagged it inappropriate. Nope, it’s still there. 

So yeah… we crafted a message for Google. But before you read on please take a look at the next video for context. We apologize in advance for the brain cells dying part:

And with that, ATTN Google:

When your content ends up on imgur… 
IT’S NOT FUCKING GOOD FOR YOU BRO!


Can we please fucking hold ourselves to a higher standard than this bullshit? Provide content that doesn’t make us die inside?

Jun 04

“They’ll like you when you win”

May 22

Why we’re fucking better than Amazon reviews

… the fuck?

There’s a special place for people who write reviews on no-slip, stick-on bathtub frogs. It’s the “I bitch about life to get through life” club. They meet up every Monday at noon because they don’t go to work. Their only skillset is to bitch, complain and whine. Their days are filled with leaving user comments and reviews. The bad kind. 

Here’s a lesson for members of this special club: 

Some things don’t have to be discussed to death!! Some things don’t need your review and approval. Your kid wants some no-slip, stick-on bathtub frog tattoos? Then get your kid some fucking no-slip, stick-on bathtub frog tattoos! They’re “good looking but don’t last long”? They’re $4.99! How long did your cheapass expect them to last? Hell, use our Amazon Prime account for free shipping if you care that much.

Point is: WHO GIVES A SHIT?! Don’t speak unless you have something valuable to say. Because every time you spew superfluous bullshit from your mouth, somewhere in the world a kitten goes deaf. So hear our plea and please save the kittens.

Was this review helpful to you? 

Yes?

Good. Because we’re in the business of giving a shit about things that fucking matter. Let’s get beyond discussing things for discussions sake. Say something because it’s that fucking important. Recommend something because you love it that fucking much. The act of sharing (your voice) should spill over from a natural love of the thing itself. 

It’s this mentality that drives us to do better here at Awessome!. We hope you enjoy the ride.

This is part of our series “Why the fuck we’re doing it better”. Check out the first blog post here where we tear into Yelp. Cheers!

May 18

Why we’re fucking better than Yelp

“People don’t want to read anymore.” 

Those are the words of Alexis Maybank, Co-Founder of Gilt, speaking at Digital Summit 2012 last week. When discussing why at Gilt they put so much emphasis on compelling imagery (they have 12 studios littered across Manhattan), she explained it’s “because people don’t want to read anymore.”

This is true. Fact is: people don’t want to think anymore. We have the attention span of gnats and are constantly searching for the smallest possible nuggets of information to help us make decisions and find what we’re looking for. This is where the existing models (Yelp, Amazon reviews, etc) fail. 

A recent study showed that when people make purchasing decisions, they consult online marketplaces such as Amazon and online review sites like Yelp more than they do traditional word-of-mouth channels like friends and family:

Where Amazon’s focus is on products, Yelp is a treasure trove of reviews on restaurants, nightlife, shopping and entertainment. The problem is when you get reviews like this:

If you read closely you’ll notice this user was displeased with his experience at El Pollo Loco. Yet he rated it 5 stars. Here’s a suggestion for Yelp: Next to “Was this review…?” add a tab for “Coma Inducing” because this guy just fucking fried our brains like philly blunts. 

To understand why reviews like this even exist, you have to first understand how Yelp works

  1. They favor long form reviews - Yelp is optimized for SEO which means the longer the reviews the better. These aren’t easy to digest.
  2. They allow biased reviews - Many of Yelp’s reviews are written by the owner, friends and family or the competition. There’s an incentive by business owners to get their ratings up. 
  3. They emphasize ratings - What does fuck 3.5 stars mean anyway? And how is that different from 3.6 stars? What if my friend highly recommends a place but it has 1 star on Yelp? Which carries more weight? Just sayin’, friends give hugs. Stars are cool but they don’t give hugs. 

Now, we know this goes against the “we need to make this so easy my mom could use it!” mentality but we like to assume people (including our less than tech savvy mothers) are smart. A smart person would know that the El Pollo Loco review above is bullshit. That person would also learn to take these reviews with a grain of salt to avoid such bullshittery. They’ll start triaging reviews and ask themselves things like: 

  1. How many people have reviewed this place?
  2. Does this review sound biased?
  3. Can I trust this reviewer?

The list goes on…

This process, grain of salting, requires more thinking - that which these platforms should be trying to eliminate. We believe this can be done by bridging the gap between traditional word-of-mouth recommendations and online reviews. Recommendations should be built on trust, guide you in the right direction and help you find what you’re looking for faster. When recommendations serve their function, they naturally eliminate thinking. That’s just fucking common sense. 

With Awessome! we’ve built a platform where you save and share things you love with your friends. Since you know your friends, it removes the “trust problem”, and the only things posted are those that have a 6 star stamp of approval. There are no ratings or grades or numbers. Just an image and a short, positive, and easy to digest review made by the people you trust. Take for example the recommendation below. Our buddy Kiran (a chef), recommended Tasty China in Atlanta. These are the kinds of recommendations that are useful. They’re personal, have a point of view and just make us fucking happy.

We’re not trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. We want to help people make qualitatively better decisions by providing reviews that are, as Rocky so eloquently put it, “personally relevant, not universally irrelevant.”

And that’s why we’re just fucking better.

May 01

What’s Cookin, Atlanta? Pt. II

                                                                          Bacchanalia 

“Food’s become cool in the past 20-30 years. What people are demanding now is authenticity. Who grew this vegetable? How was it cultivated? What route did it travel to my dinner table?”

This post contains excerpts from an interview with Kiran Patel. Check out Part I here.

Continuing our journey… where would you go for dinner?

Dinner

Atlanta’s become sort of a melting pot. It’s in that spot where it’s still figuring itself out so there’s nothing that specifically characterizes our food here as truly Atlantaian. This isn’t more clear than on a drive down Buford Highway which is a smorgasbord of good ethnic food. Most people associate Atlanta with southern / soul food though and that’s a big part of it.

I like to think of soul food as substantial yet uncomplicated. It’s simple, unpretentious food that’s always filling. My top two picks are local dinosaurs, Busy Bee Cafe and Paschal’s. Not only is the food hearty but when you walk into these places, you feel that they’re steeped in history. There’s decades of food and conversation absorbed in the furniture and walls.

                                              Paschal’s                                                                            Busy Bee Cafe 
 

After that though, the best of what Atlanta has to offer covers a wide range of cuisines. One spot that’s highly underrated is Tasty China. It’s a hole in the wall dump, more Schezuan than Chinese and most authentic Chinese food you’ll get in Atlanta. The food there is numbingly spicy and incredible.

                                      Tasty China                              
 

Another one of my favorites is a Thai spot called Little Bangkok. The kitchen is tiny, ram packed full of old Thai ladies making food.

                                   Little Bangkok

If you’re into BBQ, I’d recommend going to Fox Brothers. When you go there ask for the tips. These are the ends where all the fat, flavor and juice is. Usually those parts are discarded. Also, ask for their brisket and cheek. The best part of any animal’s head is the cheek.

                                Fox Brothers BBQ

My pick for the best restaurant in Atlanta has to to go Bacchanalia (pictured at top). The masterminds behind this place are Chefs/Owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison. The food is top notch and they have a five-course prix fixe menu. What’s fantastic is Anne and Clifford own a farm in Cartersville and much of the produce they use is sourced from there.

How’s the food scene Atlanta changing right now?

One thing that’s funny and unique here is this pizza war that’s going on. Ever since Varasano’s came down there’s been a one-upmanship with pizzarias like Fritti, Mac Coal’s Oven, Antico’s and Versano’s. It’s this behind the scenes pizza war and all in good jest. One of them tout’s they use the best kind of water and the other brags about their locally grown heirloom tomatoes. It’s great because it forces each of them to push their boundaries further and make a better product.

Of all of them, Antico’s is my favorite. Not only are their pizza’s great but they have this cool atmosphere that encourages food camaraderie. You end up sitting next to people you don’t know, chatting them up, trying their pizza and they try yours. It’s all very fun.

                                            Antico’s

There’s also a boom of next-gen Korean restaurants in Atlanta. It’s probably one of the only cities, outside of LA, where we have this burgeoning Korean population that’s becoming wealthier. They’re opening up more plazas and restaurants. Hands down my favorite is Book Chang Dong, a Korean BBQ spot on Pleasant Hill. Try their spare ribs and and fried sardine - it’s an actual whole fried sardine.

                                 Book Chang Dong

Honey Pig is another good next-gen Korean place. They cook your food on these cast-iron lids at your table and throw on huge chunks of pork and render it down right in front of you. Everything they do there is fantastic. It’s in this special, growing section of the city where the food just keeps getting better which each new restaurant because there’s a growing ethnic population there - each of them further pushing their culinary boundaries. 

                        Honey Pig
 

Finally, food’s become cool in the past 20-30 years. What people are demanding now is authenticity. Who grew this vegetable? How was it cultivated? What route did it travel to my dinner table? A part of this is the “slow foods” movement which local Atlanta chefs, slow on the uptake, have started to embrace in recent years. Their menus are driven by what they can get their hands on that week or what’s in season. Sometimes you see chefs who source produce from their own farms, as is the case with chefs Anne and Clifford from Star Provisions. This is a direct response to people wanting to know where their food is coming from. You’re seeing more ingredient-driven menus and people who come there just for that quality.

Apr 27

What’s Cookin, Atlanta? Pt. I

                                                   Cafe Gourmandesis

This post contains excerpts from an interview with Kiran Patel.

Tell us a little about yourself…

I remember the first time I got my own place. My parents dropped me off at my apartment in college and my first thought was “I have my own kitchen now! I can cook whatever I want.” This was a profound moment for me. I’ve had a love affair with food ever since I was a kid. I was fascinated with learning how to cook. I love seeing what happens when you mixed ingredients and that buzz you get when someone loves your creation. Here I was now with my own kitchen and it gave me the opportunity to dive deep into my penchant for cooking. I quickly realized this was my passion.

So naturally I ended up leaving the University of Georgia for Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta. After graduating there, I managed Fresh to Order in two locations for three years (started as a line cook, quickly moved up). In the last few months I’ve branched out to start my own catering company providig dessert bar services for weddings and small events, specializing in chocolate truffles and candies.

Where do you love eating in Atlanta? Take us through a day long adventure :)

Breakfast: 7 - 10 AM

My guilty pleasure for breakfast is The Flying Biscuit Cafe. I’m not usually into chains but this is one local emerging chain that I’m really liking. Everything they do - they do very well. Get the Hollywood omelet. 

                              The Flying Biscuit Cafe                                                                 Highland Bakery
  

Highland Bakery in Midtown also serves up a rich and decadent breakfast. Their baked goods are always fluffy, flaky and awesome probably because they mill the grain that goes into their bread themselves.

“Elevenses”: 11ish AM 

There’s always this odd time between breakfast and lunch when I get hungry. I call this a case of the “elevenses”. My solution: Cafe Gourmandesis (pictured at top)

One of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta was Au Pied de Cochon. After they shut down I sought out the guys who used run the place. One of them, Chef Christophe, moved to Suwannee and opened up a small bistro called Cafe Gourmandises. Even though it’s outside the perimeter, it’s worth the drive. 

Gourmandises serves up the best authentic French food I’ve ever had. The food is fucking amazing - everything from the lamb to deserts to quiches. He makes these crispy steak lamb sandwiches that are phenomenal. The lamb’s thin, bacon-like and retains a juicy quality. (this is imp. because lamb can easily become tough if overcooked). It’s made with quality bread, topped with simple, fresh ingredients and Dijon mustard. Blows my mind. He also makes one quiche a day which are always fantastic. 

Lunch & Farmer’s Markets: 1 - 4 PM

Float Away Cafe is a perfect spot for a light lunch. Their menu changes constantly. The last time I went they served up a fusion of southern and Mediterranean food.

                                Float Away Cafe                                                                                   
 

After lunch I go pick up a few things at the market. Although it’s a chain, Hmart is one of my favorite places to go shopping. If you haven’t been to one, then it’s a huge learning experience. They carry everything you’d possibly want. The place sparks excitement and wonder. For example, you can find any organ part here - among them - a pig’s uterus and eggs that are partially developed. I’d love to sneak into the houses of the people buying these things and see how they’re using it in their food.

                                              Hmart

For people into locally grown food or fans of the “slow food” movement, there are two great farmers markets in town. The East Atlanta Village Farmers Market is open from 4-8 PM on Thursdays and The Whistle Stop Farmer’s Market in Norcross is open Tuesdays from 4-8 PM. It’s places like these where you get to meet people who are growing their own fruits, pickling their own veggie and making their own jams and soaps. You get a sense that they have a real connection with what it is that they’re making. 

                    East Atlanta Village Farmers Market                                         
  

When you go to a grocery store and buy all the same stuff week after week - you have no connection with that food. You have no idea where it came from, who made it and who grew it. What we’re seeing happen with the mainstream food culture today is people want to understand where their food came from because they value their health. When you meet people who grow their own fruits and veggies, they give you a level of detail about that product that you can’t get elsewhere. They’ll tell you if a specific batch grew out really well or if it needs a few more days to ripen. That conversation that then gives you an instant connection with what you’re buying and an understanding of where it came from.

                       Whistle Stop Farmer’s Market

When you meet people growing their own plants, it’s always a good time hearing their stories. One time I met an old lady at the Norcross farmer’s market who was growing these heirloom tomatoes that were huge. Whenever she walked by her plants or tended them, she literally talked to them. She told me how she gave them the same love and attention she would her children. It’s fascinating.

Part two of this interview covers dinner and emerging trends in the food culture in Atlanta.

Apr 23

The Game Day No One Knows About

                                                                  Keeneland race track

“Horse races are a passion of mine. It’s not about the betting. I hate gambling. I’m likely the most risk-averse person on the planet. But you go there, smoke a few cigars, drink some bourbon, tailgate all day, and put $2 on a horse so you can yell something - that’s what it’s all about.”

This post contains excerpts from an interview with Scott Underwood.

Introducing Scott:

Scott is a native Kentuckian, now living in Atlanta. When we saw the captivating recommendations he made for a horse race named Keeneland we were super-intrigued and just had to find out more! So we interviewed him. 

Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky is apparently home to two big races. The first races are held in April and the next batch of races are held in October. Scott makes it a point to go at least one weekend a year. He drives up from Atlanta on a Friday and drives back on a Sunday.

He was kind enough to answer some questions for us and guide us through a weekend at Keeneland. In essence, it’s an event for grown-ups to relive the debauchery from college game-days.

When did you start going to Keeneland?

Growing up in Owensboro, KY, I was raised around horse races. It started with the Kentucky Derby and Oaks when I was younger. Later, I started going to Keeneland throughout high school and during college at Western Kentucky University. There were other race tracks nearby but no one went. For example, the Kentucky Downs was only 20 minutes away from college but there was no history there, no atmosphere and thus no reason to go. It wasn’t as cool. Twice a year though we’d drive all the way down to Lexington to go to see the races at Keeneland instead. 

As soon as you step foot into Keeneland you get chills. It’s a completely different atmosphere from other races. When you step foot inside, you see the old brick buildings, the clock towers and the hedges flanking the tote board. It’s truly one of the few racing facilities that’s retained its historical integrity.

What do you do when you get there?

Friday, Day 1

6 AM - 1 PM: Drive from Atlanta to Lexington

On the drive up from Atlanta you hit Versailles Road which is a long stretch of picturesque countryside houses, rolling green hills and white picket fences. It’s super cool and adds to the overall atmosphere. 

2 PM - 7 PM: Go to Bardestown & do the Bourbon Trail

Once you get into Lexington, you’ve got every good bourbon distillery in the world within driving distance. Authentic bourbon is only made in Kentucky and most of it is made in Bardestown. Bardestown is the big one - the mecca of all badass bourbons. All the bourbons you’ll see there, you won’t find anywhere else. Bardestown is about 30 minutes away from Lexington and they do this Bourbon Trail which is fantastic. It’s a tour of the six big distilleries in town: Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve, Jim Bean, Heaven Hill and Four Roses. But that’s not the half of it - there are many other smaller bourbon distilleries in town, and they’re all are gems - each with their own story to tell.

                                                   Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport

Pappy Van Winkle is the best bourbon on the planet. You can’t find it anywhere else. They only make about 7,000 cases a year. Even in Atlanta which is only six hours away - you’d be lucky to find a drop there. But in Kentucky, especially Bardestown, you can get it at the liquor stores by the bottle. Another bourbon at the top of my list is Elmer T. LeeIt’s very very smooth and is a little more full than a Basil Hayden or an Eagle Rare. Highly recommend trying both if you’re in the area.

                Pappy Van Winkle                             Elmer T. Lee                                 
 

8 PM - Late: Dinner & drink in Lexington

Once we’re done with the Bourbon Trail it’s back to Lexington for dinner and a night out. Two fantastic restaurants I always go to are Ramsey’s and Malone’s

                                             Ramsey’s                                                                                      Malone’s
Ramsey's 

Ramsey’s is an awesome southern restaurant with character. There are four locations but the original Ramsey’s on E. High St. is the best. They have 3 for 1 drink specials for starters - I’ve never seen that anywhere else. On top of that, when a fire truck rolls by with sirens on everyone gets a free drink. If you want to tuck in though go to Malone’s - the best steakhouse in Lexington.

Saturday, Day 2

9 AM - 2 PM: Hit the tracks & tailgate

Saturday we get dressed up. Keeneland is a Bonobos fucking runway show. You’ll probably see guys wearing those hideous red pants but that’s part of the fun. Guys - blazer and bow tie . Ladies - sun dress and big hat.

Next we do breakfast downtown, throw in a mimosa and bloody mary round to get the day started and then we get to the track. That’s when the fun begins and we tailgate for a few hours beside the track and play some corn hole.

2 PM - 8 PM: Grandstand!

Admission tickets to get into Keeneland are about $5 per person. This is definitely not like the Kentucky Derby where they charge upwards of $40 for a ticket. Once we get our tickets and move in, it’s all about having a good time.

The races start at about about about 3-4 PM. We usually find a spot in the back, chill and watch races for the rest of the day. Basically we’re there to drink and have a good time so I always place low bets. I never bet more than $2 or $3 on a horse. I’m not going there to lose $200 - $300. It’s not about the betting. You go there to smoke a few cigars, drink some bourbon, tailgate all day, and put $2 on a horse so you can yell something - that’s what it’s all about.

8 PM - Late: Downtown Lexington

After the track, Nick Ryan’s Saloon is a perfect spot for dinner. It's is in a part of town that's quintessentially southern. In some cracks of the pavement you can still see the old brick street and the building itself looks like it's straight out of the 19th century. When you walk in there's a bar (with awesome bourbon selections). The menu here is unbelievable. The shrimp and grits (chopped up w/ andouille sausage in them) is fantastic. The Southern cob salad is also very very good. 

                                             Nick Ryan’s Saloon

For drinks, Bigg Blue Martini in the downtown Hilton lounge is a great place to start the night. Usually follow that up with drinks at one Sky Bar - my favorite bar in Lexington. Right around Sky Bar are tons of other great bars to hit up as well. Downtown is where you want to stay when you go to Lexington so you can go out at night.

                                     Bigg Blue Martini                                                                              Sky Bar
 

Sunday, Day 3

10 AM - Late night: Tailgate @ Louiseville Parking Lot

You really understand the breadth of the amount of people there when you’re tailgating. They open up the farms when the races are on so as your eyes scan across the landscape, thousands of cars cover the hills. It’s unbelievable. If you’re lucky enough to get a spot in the Louisville lot - that’s when you can hang out right by the track. That’s why we usually do that on Sundays because it’s too damn hard to get there on Saturdays with the crowds. That’s where you want to be though when you’re tailgating. It’s a perfect spot.

We had excellent positioning. This is on the side of the track where no one really spends a lot of time because everybody wants to get inside to place bets and drink. This is good for Sundays when you want to take it easy. This picture is cool though because I’m right on the rail. It’s unbelievable seeing the horses up close like that. It’s a different way to experience the races.

Why do you go back every year?

Keeneland is truly unique and represents what Kentucky’s all about. There are other race tracks. Louiseville is only 60 miles away from Lexington and if you get too bored you can go there but it takes the Kentucky spirit out of it. Anything we have that’s worth a damn is horses, bourbon and Keeneland.

Apr 05

Akshay:

Seville is the most aesthetically beautiful city on the planet. The city is awash with wide cobblestone streets and beautiful tiled courtyards. Every street in the city is a treasure trove unto itself, a photographers dream. Even if you leave the architecture aside, this city embodies the Andalucian spirit - a Joie de vivre which is palpable everywhere. The people here are laid back, make fabulous food & wine and truly enjoy their beautiful city. The best time to experience the city is during the “April Fair” when the entire city comes alive in what can only be easily explained as their Carnival - http://www.andalucia.com/festival/seville-feria.htm

Akshay:

Seville is the most aesthetically beautiful city on the planet. The city is awash with wide cobblestone streets and beautiful tiled courtyards. Every street in the city is a treasure trove unto itself, a photographers dream. Even if you leave the architecture aside, this city embodies the Andalucian spirit - a Joie de vivre which is palpable everywhere. The people here are laid back, make fabulous food & wine and truly enjoy their beautiful city. The best time to experience the city is during the “April Fair” when the entire city comes alive in what can only be easily explained as their Carnival - http://www.andalucia.com/festival/seville-feria.htm

Apr 03

Kiran:

The Balvenie Single Barrel is a 15 year old single malt which is drawn from a single traditional oak whisky cask of a single distillation. Whilst each cask is subtly different & each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 350 hand-numbered bottles - so each bottle is unique and unrepeatable.
NOSE: Fragrant aroma of vanilla, honeyed sweetness, hints of heather and dry oaky notes. 
TASTE: Rich and complex, suggestive of years of careful ageing, it has a honeyed maltiness with vanilla, oak flavours and delicate spice notes. 
FINISH: Long and complex with a touch of liquorice.

Kiran:

The Balvenie Single Barrel is a 15 year old single malt which is drawn from a single traditional oak whisky cask of a single distillation. Whilst each cask is subtly different & each bottling forms a limited edition of no more than 350 hand-numbered bottles - so each bottle is unique and unrepeatable.

NOSE: Fragrant aroma of vanilla, honeyed sweetness, hints of heather and dry oaky notes. 

TASTE: Rich and complex, suggestive of years of careful ageing, it has a honeyed maltiness with vanilla, oak flavours and delicate spice notes. 

FINISH: Long and complex with a touch of liquorice.

Mar 29

Chris: 

Some of the best shaving products are from this place. Originally I found them on Etsy. Really high quality… The whiskey shaving cream but the tobacco aftershave is the best!

Chris

Some of the best shaving products are from this place. Originally I found them on Etsy. Really high quality… The whiskey shaving cream but the tobacco aftershave is the best!