Whistling Andy Distilling in Montana

Sipping Montana Moonshine at Whistling Andy.

This grain to glass distillery was founded with the aim of crafting small batch spirits that reflect the character of Montana.

Whistling Andy creates moonshine, whisky and gin with ingredients from local farmers at Bigfork, Montana; a town where glacial melt water cascades into the largest freshwater lake West of the Mississippi River.

While visiting Glacier National Park last year, we decided to visit their distillery to sample some moonshine. we were fortunate enough to get more than just a tasting, we were treated to a distillery tour and some of their custom cocktails.

whistling andy whisky barrel

VISITING THE WHISTLING ANDY DISTILLERY

The small building houses their entire operation and is dominated by a large copper still in the back.

The distillery uses corn, rye and wheat grown just mere miles away, and the tour-guide explained how they’re used to create Whistling Andy Straight Bourbon and Whistling Andy Harvest Select Whisky using age old recipes.

whistling andy distilling copper still

We then headed to the barrel-room where the spirits mature slowly in charred barrels rested on their sides. While most of these are virgin American white oak barrels, there are a few that have been used to age other spirits in the past like Port and Chardonnay.

The bar upfront is decorated with Western themed art and solid wood furnishings. The highlight is a huge slab of wood cut from a single tree that serves as the bar counter.

The friendly staff is also more than willing to let you sample some of their spirits (even before it’s bottled!) so you could decide on your favorite bottle to take home.

whistling andy moonshine distillery

WHISTLING ANDY SPIRITS

Of course we took up their offer to “meet the perfect spirit” and had a sample of everything that was in stock that day!

Their Straight Bourbon and Harvest Select Whisky are excellent for sipping side by side and comparing their similarities and differences.

Whistling Andy Straight Bourbon; sweet corn notes are made more complex by notes of rye and fresh cut grass.
Harvest Select Whisky; compared to the bourbon, this whisky has more of a dried fruit sweetness with a finish dominated by pleasant oaky flavors of vanilla and caramel.

Both whiskies lend themselves well to the Old Fashioned Cocktail; in fact the Whisky West is just a variation of this drink with agave nectar instead of sugar.

whisky and bitters old fashioned cocktail

It was no shock that I would find great craft distilled whiskey in Montana.

The surprise was the two uniquely flavorful gins; the smooth and vegetal Whistling Andy Cucumber Gin and the complexly curious Pink Peppercorn and Pear Gin.

cocktails with whistling andy gin

Martini lovers have more than just gin to work with since their Hopschnop, distilled from a Blackfoot Brewing Company IPA actually creates the perfect Montana Moonshine Martini.

moonshine martini

As a rum lover, I had mixed feelings about their Hibiscus Coconut Rum; on one hand I was really looking forward to a rum aged in the Rocky Mountains in barrels that previously held their whisky.

So I was a bit disappointed at the fact that their only rum offering was flavored;

But it was unique among flavored rums; there was no cloyingly sweet fake hibiscus flavor or “tropical-kitch” coconut sweetness.

Notes of fermented tropical fruit and toasted coconut had me thinking about how well this rum will work in a daiquiri or a Mai Tai.

whistling andy rum cocktails

All in all, the Whistling Andy Distillery has something for any responsible drinker, from the casual drinker who simply wants to enjoy a few cocktails after a day on the lake, or a whisky connoisseur who enjoys sampling the local tipple in every new city or town.

Check out their cocktail recipes to try out some of the drinks that we sampled.

Here’s the original article on CestLaVibe.com

Discover Ireland wants Star Wars fans to visit the first Jedi Temple

Discover Ireland seeks to woo Star Wars fans to the Skellig Islands; two wave battered rocky islands off the coast of Ireland that have suddenly become famous for (spoilers ahead) being the planet featured in the final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Ruins of a real-life monastery in Skellig Michael, Ireland are serving as the location for the first Jedi Temple on the planet
Ahch-To.

“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.” – Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: A New Hope.



Sometime after Ben Solo became Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker went to the planet looking for answers on Ahch-To. Did he find them? We’ll see in Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Tourists flocking to their favorite movie locations is nothing new. every year fans of Lord of the Rings fans head to New Zealand to have second breakfast and see locations from scenes on the Tolkien based film series.

Harry Potter fans are no different.

We did our share of Star Wars tourism last year when we visited Star Wars and The Power of Costume at the EMP Museum in Seattle.

The exhibit has since returned to the Smithsonian.

Discover Ireland wants Star Wars fans to visit the first Jedi Temple was orginally published on CestLaVibe.com

FIVE REASONS TO USE AIRBNB

Airbnb is a unique website that offers accommodation in over 34,000 cities in over 190 countries. This community marketplace actually doesn’t own any of the properties that it connects its guests with.

Since it was founded in 2008, the company has connected millions of budget travelers with unique, affordable lodging. If you’ve never checked out Airbnb before it’s definitely worth checking out when planning your next trip.

FIVE REASONS TO USE AIRBNB

Airbnb headquarters Toronto - picture via Wikipedia

1 – HOSTS HAVE LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Sure it’s fun to explore New York City or any other new destination with other travelers that you met at the hostel, but most likely they’re just as clueless as you are about local things like how to find the best pizza or great spots for craft beer
.
Airbnb hosts are usually invaluable sources of local wisdom and they know all of the customs of the area.

You Airbnb host will ensure that you avoid all the tourist traps.

2 – IDEAL FOR BUDGET TRAVEL

Just scroll the price range bar to whatever amount you’re willing to spend and you’re almost guaranteed to find a room (or a tent, or a hammock) that’s probably less than the price of a similarly located hostel and definitely less than a hotel.

3 – YOU COULD LIVE LIKE ROYALTY

For less than $150 a night you have a choice of quite a few castles to sleep in. You could do a Euro-trip and only stay in castles! There are Castles listed in Ireland, England, Croatia, France, Spain, Italy and even Colorado.

There are also many other luxury accommodations if a castle is not really your style.

Stay in a castle with Airbnb

4 – PRIVACY ON A BUDGET

The The social aspect of a hostel is great, but everyone enjoys some quiet time and Airbnb is perfect for that.
Unlike couchsurfing, you have no obligation to hang out with your host so you could relax on your own whenever you want to.

5 – IT’S NOT THAT RISKY

Travel is always risky. From getting your luggage stolen to getting ripped off by a cabbie; anything could happen to you while you’re on the road. You need to be constantly cautious with everything, and that inlcudes booking with AirBnb.

The internet is filled with Airbnb horror stories, but there are also tips on staying safe. Read all customer reviews of the place that you want to stay, ask your host questions and search for them on social media to learn more about them.

Trust your instincts and make smart decisions for the duration of your stay, and leave if it seems unsafe.

So there they are, Five Reasons to use Airbnb. Whether a European castle for a week or a South American villa for a month, there really is nothing like the Airbnb experience.

Need another reason to use Airbnb? Here’s an Airbnb Credit

There are also Five reasons for staying in a hostel. So when it comes down to budget travel, remember that you have more than one choice!

RELAXING AT BUBBLE BEACH SPA IN DOMINICA

The Bubble Beach Spa in Soufriere Bay

lets your enjoy the beach and a spa for the perfect post-hike experience

The Nature Isle is renowned for many things; amazing hikes, therapeutic hot springs and crystal clear beaches, but there’s only one spot on the island where you could experience the the islands warm water and gently crashing waves at the same time.

Welcome to Bubble Beach

Bubble Beach Spa in Dominica is a small area in Soufriere Bay where the geothermic activity of the island causes the water near the shore to be warm, and even pleasantly hot in some spots.

Dominica Travel Tips - Bubble Beach

The beach has been blocked off with stones to trap as much of the warm water as possible. Even on a rainy day (like the day that the below picture was taken), the beach provides enough warmth.

Bubble Beach Spa Dominica

The small bubbles of gas escaping from beneath the hot stones lend to the “Bubble Beach” name. Similar bubbles can be seen when snorkeling at the more popular Champagne Beach.
The stones nearest to the shore are piping hot, and the water gets cooler as it gets deeper allowing you to choose a perfect place to relax.

Unlike the over-priced, touristy hot springs like Screw’s Spa and Tia’s Spa at Wotten Waven; the Bubble Beach Spa is free to the public although a small donation would be appreciated.

Dominica Rum Punch at Bubble Beach

You could make a small donation and still buy two cups of homemade rum punch (the coconut and the passion fruit are my favorites but still try all!), you would have still spent less money than if you visited Screw’s Sulphur Spa.

Soufriere Bay at night

And you definitely will not get this splendid view of Scotts Head from Wotten Waven at twilight! Other than sweet views like that as the sun sets, the Bubble Beach Spa really stands out because the pleasant and sublte change of temperature caused by the motion of the waves is unlike anything else in Dominica.

The BUbble Beach Spa is not the only place in Dominica where you could bask in therapeutic warm water, check out Three places where you could experience Dominica’s Hot Springs for free

Guide to Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches

Unlike the other islands of the Caribbean, Trinidad hardly inspires images of beaches with pristine white sand.
The island’s dependence on oil instead of tourism means that the beaches are hardly advertised and are mostly known to locals or foreigners with some connection to the country.

This means that the beaches remain a secret.

The North Coast Beaches are considered to be the best on the island, and they’re also extremely diverse.

They range from crowded beaches packed with tourists, to empty stretches of sand that are accessible only by hiking through the rain forests of the Northern Range.

Here’s a guide to some of Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches

 Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches Guide

Maracas Beach

Maracas beach is definitely the most popular beach on the island of Trinidad. It’s always packed with locals and foreigners alike.


This popularity is due to the fact that Maracas Beach is less than an hour away from the Capital City of Port of Spain via a scenic drive on the winding North Coast Road…..

But also because it’s the most famous spot on the island to get bake and shark;

Trinidad Street Food; Bake and Shark

Bake and shark consists of battered and deep-fried shark meat placed in a fried flat bread and then drizzled with spicy local sauces.

The crispy, golden slices of shark meat are tasty enough, but the sauces are what gives this sandwich its kick.

In the Trinidad episode of Bizarre Foods, host Andrew Zimmern called it the best sandwich he ever had.

Eat it like he did and skip the mustard and ketchup, but make sure you slather it with garlic sauce a garlic flavored mayo, tamarind sauce a sweet chutney that’s somewhere between barbeque and general tso, and chadon beni a pesto like sauce make with the culantro plant.

Las Cuevas

Meaning “The Caves” in Spanish, this beach is just a short drive after Maracas. It’s much less crowded than Maracas and less commercialized. The caves that this beach is named after provide some shade from the tropical heat.

Unless you want a bank and shark, it’s always worth the extra few minutes to get to Las Cuevas beach.

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches, Las Cuevas

Blanchisseuse

Even further along the North Coast Road, there is the village of Blanchisseuse. This quiet fishing village is home to scenic coves and secluded beaches.

One of the best swimming spots on the island is where the Marianne River meets the ocean. There’s also a beach that’s accessible via a small flight of concrete stairs next to the road. Avocat Falls is located minutes away from this beach and is a fun, relaxing hike.

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches, Blanchisseuse

Paria Beach

The trek to Paria beach begins at Blanchisseuse and follows a trail through mountanous forest.

The hike winds along the cliffs of the Northern Range and offers spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea.

Paria Beach is also accessible by boat, but the scenis hike is well worth is; especially since you pass scenis landmarks like turtle rock and the Paria arch.
Hiking to Paria Beach

Turtle rock is a long jagged rock formation that juts out into the ocean, and the Paria arch is a large natural arch that marks the beginning of Paria Beach.

Nothing beats a swim at the beach after hiking through sweltering rainforest.

Turtle Rock, Paria

Macqueripe

Unlike the other beaches on this list, Macqueripe is west of Port of Spain.

Instead of driving along the winding North Coast Road, this beach is accessed by driving towards Chaguaramas and then heading North along the Tucker Valley Road.

The mouth of Macqueripe Bay is leeward facing, meaning that the water is always exceptionally calm; calm enough to wade into shoulder-depth water while holding coconut daiquiris and not spilling a drop or getting sea water in.

With sea turtles and manta rays crusing through the green water, Macuqeripe is also ideal for snorkeling.

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches and Bays

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches,Macqueripe

Trinidad’s North Coast Beaches may not have white and pink sand beaches like the rest of the Caribbean, but where else in the Caribbean can you enjoy huge areas of beachfront without a single other soul on the beach?

Get the Full Starbucks Coffee experience in Seattle

Any Starbucks Coffee afficionado will have Seattle on their bucket list of places to visit.

The iconic, international coffee chain got its start at 1912 Pike Place Market. That first store, now dubbed Original Starbucks still has the original appearance due to design guidelines that govern architecture at the marketplace.

The retro looks makes it appealing to more than just coffee lovers, and the convenient location means that there’s (almost) always a long line of people waiting to get in.

However, the Full Starbucks Experience in Seattle goes beyond just visiting this one iconic store.

Here are some #TravelTips on getting the Full Starbucks Experience in Seattle

Tips for getting the best Starbucks Experience in Seattle

Get to Original Starbucks Early

That’s the only way to avoid a ridiculously long line on a narrow strip on curb. Having a look at the Original Starbucks Store as well as the organized chaos that is the Pike Place Market. Don’t buy any coffee just yet though? At this point you’ll just want to pick up a souvenir mug that features the Starbucks siren as the looked on the 15th century engraving that she was based on.

Pike Place Starbucks Memorabilia

Head over to Starbucks on 2nd and Lenora

Just a short block away; this Starbucks outlet is decorated in the traditional brown instead of the trademark green. The iconic “Pikes Place Blend” coffee beans are also ground and served here. Better than the Original Store, you could actually buy a cup of coffee and sit down for a while since there’s adequate seating. The solid wood tables are the perfect place to fine-tune your plans for the day.
Pike Place Blend coffee beans on display

Visit Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room

If the original store at Pike Place represents the past, this special store represents the future of Starbucks Coffee. This shrine to coffee is the first of many stores just like this to be opened across the globe.

How to get the Full Starbucks Experience in Seattle

At the Roastery and Tasting Room, select coffee is sourced from around the globe. Master roasters unlock the inherent flavor and characteristics from these beans onsite.

The air is alive with coffee, roasting and brewing

The Full Starbucks Experience in Seattle with Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room Baristas
Beans take center-stage in these bespoke beverages. There are multiple options for getting your coffee brewed (Pour-over, Coffee-pres, Espresso, Clover brewed), and flavored syrup takes a backseat.
Enjoying a cup of coffee here is quite an experience.
Latte at Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room

So while Seattle may be behind Seoul, New York City, Shanghai, and London in terms of Starbucks Locations, none of these other cities can boast of anything close to these three iconic Starbucks locations.
Starbucks outlets that don’t just serve up coffee, but also some Starbucks history and the ultimate Starbucks Experience in Seattle.

Latte and croissant at Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room

HOT “G” DOG – A Chicago Food Review

One of my highlights of visiting Chicago a few years ago was standing in a two hour line waiting for gourmet hot dogs and duck-fat fries from Hot Doug’s, the world famous sausage and encased meat emporium.

The long wait for these amazing sandwiches gives you a chance to trade tips with other Chicago visitors and get advice for locals.

When I decided that I wanted to attend Lollapalooza 2015, the only downside to my trip to Chicago was that Hot Doug’s had closed their doors permanently in 2014.

I kept my hopes up that someone would recognize the huge vacuum in the hot dog market that came about due to Doug’s departure. Lo and behold, someone did. Not just anyone, but two former chefs who got Doug’s blessings to continue his legacy of exotic hot dogs and duck-fat fries.

According to Doug Sohn “They’re total pros in the kitchen,” and “They made Hot Doug’s as much as a success as I did.”

I checked out the menu of their new joint; Hot “G” Dog and saw some of Hot Doug’s classics as well as some new ones.

GETTING TO HOT “G” DOG

Doug kept his establishment outside of downtown Chicago. Could you imagine the line if he was located in the Loop?

Hot “G” Dog is in uptown Chicagom just a few stops going North on the Red line.

Wrigley Field home of the Cubs

Baseball fans could check out Wrigley Field on the way to Hot “G” Dougs.

As much as I wanted to try everything on the menu, I limited myself to four carefully selected Hot Dogs.

I’ve had duck fat fries a few times before and I wanted to sample the hot dogs more than anything else.

It was difficult, but I managed to decide on four that stood out. These are the four that I tried from Hot “G” Dog:

1- CHICKEN BACON SAUSAGE

with Cheddar Sauce, Fried Tomato & Mozzarella cheese

The sharp tomato flavor provides a nice contrast to the creamy cheese. Everything in this hot dog reminded me of a good cheese burger or really good pizza. In fact, this hot dog seemed alot like a classic fast food mash-up; hot dog inspired by a bacon cheeseburger pizza.

Hot G Dog cheeseburger hot dog

hot g dog review

2 – YAR PORK SAUSAGE

with Italian beer sauce with with Marinated Mushrooms & Feta Cheese

Quite spicy sausage but it was a bit dry. The mushrooms and cheese five it a tangy zest that overpowers the beer sauce a bit. I’m glad this one was the biggest of the four that I ordered because it took a while to grow on me.

Yar pork sausage from hot g dog

3 – GARLIC VENISON SAUSAGE

with Dijon Mustard with Garlic, Cherry Peppers & Goat Cheese

Not really a fan of the cherry peppers so I had most of mine without them. I love goat cheese and felt like the peppers were stealing the show from the cheese. Everything works well for a tangy, garlic-flavor packed hot dog.

hot g dog exotic meat sausage

4 – DUCK SAUSAGE

Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel

The duck sausage is perfect. Charred on the outside, but still moist and flavorful. Years ago when I ordered Doug’s version if this with the sausage fried, he actually suggested that I take it grilled instead. The mousse and aioli are extremely rich and creamy with delicate flavors. Perfectly decadent. This was amazing at Hot Doug’s and it’s phenomenal here.

duck sausage with foie gras

Hot "G" Dog

THE VERDICT

Some reviews of Hot “G” Doug went out of their way to find fault, such as the sausage of the Chicago Dog feeling a but loose and not having enough snap to the casing. I feel like their food is so good, that is the only way to find fault; to actively seek it. In any case, even Hot Doug’s could never beat Portillo’s when it came to a perfect Chicago Dog.
Two of the dogs that I tried were decadent and rich, and these were my favorite because it felt like they somehow managed to capture a gourmet meal in a humble street food. The other two were probably just not my kinda hot dog, they captured the “dragged through the garden” feel of the Chicago Dog and even had a tangy element to replace the pickle slice. In this regard, Hot “G” Dog creates not just gourmet hot dogs, but gourmet hot dogs that are distinctly Chicago.
So far, there’s one major factor that makes Hot “G” Dog much better than Hot Doug’s, and that is that there’s virtually no line!

Check out The original article at CestLaVibe.com