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CurEat Craft Cocktails Like a Boss (or CurEater)

In Raleigh, NC, it feels like we skipped over spring and steam rolled right into summer. That being said, you’ll find us drinking fresh, craft cocktails on breezy patios or in cool (cold) bars. This spring/summer whether you’re in the mood to go out and socialize with a big group or pick up some beer for your backyard barbecue, we know exactly where and what you should be getting.

For the person who wants to hit the town…
The Punch Room
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Image via The Punch Room

Located inside the Ritz Carlton hotel in downtown Charlotte, The Punch Room is the perfect place to grab craft cocktails made by CurEater and master mixologist, Bob Peters. He is a Charlotte native and winner of the 2015 Global Bartender of the Year for the Ritz Carlton, is the head mixologist at the Punch Room. Thanks to Bob, the charlotte beverage scene is on the up and up, and all we can say is that you don’t want to miss out.

What to get?

Roman Punch: Brandy, Dark Rum, Lemon, Raspberry Syrup, a Splash of Port and Prosecco.
For the beer-loving barbecue master…  
Tasty Beverage Co.
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Image via Citizen Times

If you’re throwing a porch party or a hosting barbecue this season in Raleigh or Asheville, NC, might we suggest picking up some beverages from CurEater Johnny Belflower’s Tasty Beverage Co. Tasty Beverage Co. has locations in Raleigh and Asheville and is dedicated completely to beer. The best part? You can place an order online for pickup or delivery. Game changer.

What to get?

Jam Band Berry Ale: It’s a fruit wheat beer with blueberry, red raspberry and tart cherry flavors.
For the DIY cocktail lover…
Crude Bitters

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If you’re the type that loves to make your own cocktail, we have the ingredient that will crush your cocktail game. CurEater Craig Rudewicz’s Crude Bitters, a North Carolina-based cocktail bitters company creates handcrafted bitters and syrups that are just the thing to take your craft cocktails to the next level. The Crude Bitters website features a recipe section, and we’ve found the perfect spring, craft cocktail recipe and we’re passing it on so you can turn those 

What to make?

Ol’ Rita: with Tequila, Lime Juice, Orange Juice, Cointreau, Crude Bitter, Marriage bitters and one drop of “Tiki” bitters
For the day drinker/bruncher…
The Lakewood Restaurant
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Image via The Lakewood

CurEater Phoebe Lawless’ The Lakewood Restaurant is the place to go on the weekends for crisp, craft cocktails. You can enjoy a house cocktail at the bar or grab a table on the rooftop for bites and drinks. One of the coolest parts? The Lakewood is in a historic building that was home to Durham, NC’s Davis Baking Co. for more than 60 years! Our personal favorite is the tin ceiling! 

What to get?

Fizz:  Aperol, egg white, lemon and soda

CurEater Jason Alley: A Pioneer in the Richmond Food Scene

“We got into the Southern food game early, when people were realizing it was a vibrant and important cuisine.”

CurEater Jason Alley, of Comfort, Flora, and Saison in Richmond, Virginia proves that restaurants are more than a delicious meal (though he has that covered, too). His first restaurant, Comfort, uses reinvented southern classics, putting Richmond on the map as a culinary destination. After years of serving acclaimed classics and drinks (like their Dolly Parton themed drink menu), Alley decided to give back. As of March of 2018, Alley and his team started donating all profits from Comfort to FeedMore a Virginia food security charity.

“After being an active part of the Richmond Community for the last 15 years, we have decided that now it is time that we give back in a more permanent and meaningful way.” he wrote on Facebook, “We will donate our all of our net profits from the restaurant to fight food insecurity in and around Richmond.”

RECIPE: Jason Alley’s Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

After the success of Comfort, Alley opened Pasture, a southern small plate restaurant with an emphasis on local ingredients. Like Comfort, Pasture earned accolades and gained a loyal following. For his next venture, Flora, Alley looked a little further south. The Oaxacan-inspired cuisine from chef Sergio Gomez features classics like shark tacos alongside bar food, which comes in handy if you’re catching a show — Flora is also a music venue. Chef Alley will soon add to his empire with a gastropub-arcade called Bingo in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood.

VIDEO: Flora brings Mexican flair to the Fan District

For more from Jason Alley, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Also worth reading: Jason’s moving essay about sobriety in an industry that can make it tough. To find out how Alley navigates Richmond’s burgeoning culinary wonderland, follow him on CurEat.

CurEater Alex Graf: ZZQ’s Pitmistress

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“Barbecue is the glue that holds us together.”

Lone Star BBQ in the Old Dominion? Alex Graf of Richmond’s ZZQ says absolutely! While not as famous as the headline grabbing ‘cue style of the Carolinas and Tennessee, Virginia has a style of pulled pork all its own–a style that was beloved by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. But Graf, a Virginia native, and her husband, native Texan, Chris Fultz saw room in Richmond for something different, something tasty: Beef Brisket.  

VIDEO: BBQ Interview – Chris Fultz & Alex Graf

Graf (the pitmistress) and Fultz (the pitmaster) got their start through a series of pop-ups in Richmond around 2015. One of their pop-up customers, Lars, gave ZZQ the name “meat church”, which is a pretty accurate description.  In addition to brisket ZZQ offers spare ribs, pork shoulder, and sausage along with sides like jalapeno mac and cheese, blackstrap molasses collards, and Texas caviar (they also serve smoked seitan for the carnivorously agnostic). Based on the early success of their weekly BBQs, Richmond locals’ appetites were ready for a daily supply.

In March of 2018 they got their wish when ZZQ opened in a gorgeous space in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood. Graf was part of the architecture team that designed ZZQ, as she worked with Fultz & Singh Architects until she retired from the firm in December 2017. (Fun fact: Graf also designed Brittanny Anderson’s kitchen at Brenner Pass.) To compliment their classic meat and sides, they offer a full array of drinks, including an outstanding cocktail program by Derek Salerno (try the ZZQooler: Sotol, Green Chartreuse, Cucumber, and Pineapple Gomme). They have a rotating selection of desserts (be on the lookout for the Graf’s Rhubarb crumble). In true Texas style, they even have some pretty killer belt buckles.

VIDEO: FULL TOUR of ZZQ

If you’re in Richmond see what all the fuss is about at ZZQ. See what they’ve been smoking on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. To find out which restaurants light Alex Graf’s coals, follow her on CurEat.

Best Cocktail Spots in Charleston (According to Our CurEaters)

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We spent five days in the Holy City for Charleston Wine + Food. Charleston is one of our favorite cities for food and drink in the South. That being said, we obviously enjoyed snacks and cocktails between events. You know as much as we do that good cocktails and beer are just as important as food. And thanks to our CurEaters, we had our fingers on the pulse of all the best cocktail spots in Charleston. For our time in Chucktown, we chose a cocktail spot from each of these 5 CurEaters’ lists.

“Best Bar in the Universe Ever…” // Terry Fox 
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Image via Man About Town

CurEater Terry Fox, Co-founder and Director of Charleston Arts Festival, made our decision to visit The Belmont super easy. He literally created a list dedicated solely to this cocktail lounge and bar. As a matter of fact if you check out The Belmont’s website, the first thing you’ll see is “A Fine Place to Drink”. After reading this Q&A with Fox, you’ll have complete understanding as to why we trust his opinion and his list.

“Charleston Beer” // Robert Donovan 
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Image by Jonathan Boncek

We know we’ve mentioned CurEater Robert Donovan a lot! But when you have lists as great as his, how could we not? Donovan has approximately five lists with the best cocktail spots in Charleston, along with breweries and bottle shops. We were intrigued by his “Charleston Brown Water” list, but we chose his “Charleston Beer” list to switch it up. Since Holy City Brewing made his list, it made it on our drink agenda.

“Bar Review CHS” // Cocktail Bandits 

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Pancito and Lefty has been on our radar for a while after we saw it on CurEaters the Cocktail Bandits’ “Bar Review CHS” list. We drank their Blood, Sweat, & Tequila cocktail, which is on draft, and the Estocada, which is mezcal, campari and beet.  We wish we would’ve had time for one more, but we had to keep the party moving!

“Drinks in Charleston” // Carrie Morey

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From CurEater Carrie Morey’s “Drinks in Charleston” list, we chose The Ordinary. It just happened to be located less than a block away from our hotel, so we actually visited a few times. I guess you could say it became our watering hole.  Carrie’s Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit also happened to be a few blocks away, so we’ll let you do that math on that one!

“Great Bars” // Randi Weinstein
Image via Southern Living

We love every minute we get to spend with CurEater and Founder of FAB Charleston,  is a minute well spent! We always have the best conversation over great cocktails. Before we left Pancito and Lefty, we pulled up her “Great Bars” list. We couldn’t choose because all the bars are, well, great, so we closed our eyes and put our finger down. It landed on Little Jack’s Tavern, which was perfect because we wanted their burger anyway. You know, that burger that bon appétit said was one of the best burgers of 2017. We will never turn down a burger, especially when it’s accompanied by a solid cocktail.

CurEater Jenn Rice: Culinary Arts and Travel Writer

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“I live for cheese, homemade tortillas, bourbon, exploring exotic locales, chasing sunsets, anything sparkling, drinking coffee on sun-drenched porches, and collecting hot sauce from all over the world.”

CurEater Jenn Rice is a writer, traveler, foodie, and all-around expert. Originally a beauty publicist, Rice’s career  evolved into freelance journalism. She started covering everything from weddings to wellness, nail polish tips and gorgeous trips. But, what interests us most about this polymath is her expertise in food and drink.

Jenn Rice for The Tasting Table: “Why Texas Pete Is The Best Hot Sauce”

A native North Carolinian, Rice now lives in and writes from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She also travels for a good story, with stops in Raleigh, New York, Europe and Salt Lake City in between. She now covers the culinary arts and travel for publications like Food & Wine, Vogue, GQ, Extra Crispy, and Domino. A glance at some of her stories tells you she has a particular fondness for her native Southern fare. To get you started we’re particularly fans of this ode to Kentucky’s favorite soft drink, Ale-8-One. We really like this story about Matt Register’s unconventional source material at Southern Smoke BBQ. This story about why Rice thinks a certain North Carolina chain can go toe-to-toe with the NYC and LA-based burger juggernauts is a classic. 

Jenn Rice for Food & Wine: “There Has Never Been a Better Time to Eat a Chicago-Style Hot Dog.”

If you want to see more of what Rice has been working on ( you definitely do) follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. To see her past work check out her website. And, of course, follow her here on CurEat.

 

CurEater Sean Lilly Wilson: Chief Executive Optimist of Fullsteam Brewery

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“(We’re) moving ‘full steam ahead,’ but we’re looking backwards to our agricultural traditions and our beer making traditions in the south.”

Sean Lilly Wilson is the owner and the self-styled Chief Executive Optimist at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, NC. Fullsteam, under Wilson’s direction, brews foraged beers with ingredients they source from North Carolina farms. Wilson got his start in beer, by changing laws. After starting the movement to raise the ABV limits in North Carolina, Wilson decided to create a distinctly Southern beer. Fullsteam, “A Beer From The Beautiful South” was born.

VIDEO: to cure: Presents – Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery

Wilson’s beautiful beer has won plenty of awards. Wilson himself has been lauded, too, including three nominations by the James Beard Foundation for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional. While others celebrate his work, Wilson makes to celebrate the work of others, including his support of North Carolina’s beer month.

VIDEO: Our State: Fullsteam Brewery Beers Showcase Plow-to-Pint Ethos

Fullsteam’s beers change with the seasons. When it’s hot, we like their Southern Basil. When the cold weather rolls through, we grab a First Frost.  The brewery’s “plow to pint” philosophy means they have a strong connection to farmers and growers. The brewery also focuses on the community, cultivating close relationships with makers and artists.

For more on Fullsteam check out their website or find them on Facebook. For more from Wilson, follow him on Instagram or Twitter. Finally if you want to see where he grabs a pint and a bite to eat, follow him on CurEat.

6 CurEaters Who Are Here for You on National Pizza Day

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It’s not a secret. We’re in love with pizza. If you follow us on social media, then you know we recently embarked on our inaugural “I Wish You Were Pizza” tour — inspired by CurEater Mattie Beason and Felicia Trujillo. While you may think we’re “pizza’d” out, we’re absolutely not. In fact, some of us eat pizza more than twice a week, which means we’ll definitely be eating a slice (actually slices) for National Pizza Day. If you want to follow suit, we found 6 lists to give you some inspiration.

Mattie Beason // “I Wish You Were Pizza” List 

CurEater Mattie Beason influenced the name of our pizza tour with his t-shirt and the name of his pizza list. To say Mattie really loves pizza is an understatement. If you are feeling really adventurous and you live in the Triangle, you can take your own pizza tour this week (maybe Valentine’s Day) with Mattie’s “I Wish You Were Pizza” list. And if you’re in Baltimore, you can check out Hersh’s Pizza.

Vivian Howard // “Inspiration for Benny’s Big Time” List 

CurEater Vivian Howard recently opened Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington, NC. (We’re already planning a road trip to the Big Time.) We were overjoyed when she created a list of pizzerias that inspired her. Vivian’s taste doesn’t lie, so we know that each place on her list definitely hits the pizza mark. From NYC to Phoenix, you’ll 100% find a spot to fall in love with pizza all over again.

Robert Alexander // “Pizza” List 

CurEater Robert Alexander is the Master Baker at H&F Bread Co. in Atlanta, so we know his pizza list is top notch. For all you Atlanta natives and those traveling to ATL, you now have 4 solid pizzerias to choose from to celebrate the National Pizza Day today and everyday.

Bob Peters // “My Favorite Pizza Places” List

Bob Peters is a cocktail artisan and the Creative Director of Bar Operations of The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC. When Bob Peters creates a cocktail, we know we are about to sip something that will change our lives. Literally. He knows how to make a solid cocktail. Seeing that we trust him to blow our minds with a creative cocktail, we trust he knows good pizza. He did create a list for his favorite pizzerias in Charlotte, after all.

Amber Faulisi // “Fav Pizza spots in the USA” List 

Pizzeria Faulisi in Cary, NC was the first stop on our “I Wish You Were Pizza” tour. We hearted everything about it, especially the interior. When it comes to finding the best pizza in the U.S., you can 100% count on Amber Faulisi to know the right spots. She has places listed from New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Oregon. Thank you, Amber, for making all our pizza dreams come true on National Pizza Day.

Kevin Getzewich // “Pizza N Breakfast or Lunch” List

CurEater Kevin Getzewich, Executive Chef at One Broad Street, gives you two pizzeria options in Charleston. Sometimes it’s better to have just a few options that you know for a fact will be amazing. We’ve wanted to try Luke’s Craft Pizza for a while now, and we plan on doing so when we are in Charleston for the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. We’re coming for ya, Luke!

CurEater F. Griffin Bufkin: Soul of the South

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“We keep it real. We stay with the wood and stay with our hearts and the craft of smoking.”

St. Simons Island is a barrier island along the coast of Georgia. About halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, it is in a great locale known for good eating from red rice to she-crabs, and now thanks to F. Griffin Bufkin classic, soulful barbeque. Bufkin is a third generation islander and a true polymath having worked as photographer, designer, and club operator before settling in to the low and slow life of a barbeque man.

VIDEO: BBQ Feeds the Soul on St. Simons

Along with Co-owner Harrison Sapp, Griffin Bufkin opened Southern Soul Barbeque in 2007. Acclaim followed, including an appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Just when the rest of the country was starting to notice what was smoking on St. Simons, Southern Soul suffered a serious fire. But, they rebuilt and were quickly back in the saddle. They also got back in the habit of picking up awards like Southern Living’s 2017 award for The South’s Best BBQ. Their menu has garnered acclaim for its blend of traditional soul food sides and classic, wood smoked pork, brisket, sausage, and poultry. They also have created a line of retail products including rubs, sauces, and a particularly epic bologna.

RECIPE: Southern Soul’s Brunswick Stew

Bufkin isn’t just a student of BBQ. He also cares deeply about the cultural of soul food from coastal Georgia and beyond. He’s active in the Southern Foodways Alliance, and Southern Soul’s website provides a list of supplier, organizations, and other restaurants that share SFA’s philosophy. Bufkin’s Instagram is another great source–he frequently posts dynamic images of chefs, restaurants, and meals from his region and beyond.

For more of F. Griffin Bufkin favorites follow him on CurEat.

 

Lists for the Slopes: Find the Best Places to Eat at the Top Ski Destinations

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Let’s face it, the best part of skiing is the après. We will put our fear aside and take on a black diamond if we know there’s an exceptional dish and libation waiting at the end of the run. If you’re packing your bags for a few more winter hurrahs on some of the top slopes before beach season, we’re 120% here to help you find the best places to eat and drink. These three CurEaters have lists in some of the most popular ski destinations in the country.
Jenn Rice // Where to get a drink in park city 
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Image via Firewood

This list is it. Aside from some of the best spots to grab an after-the-mountain drink, it’s also got some pretty good eats. Whether you want a glass of wine, burger and fries, cocktail, or elk loin, you’ll find a place for each on this list. Jenn Rice definitely has her finger on the top bites in one of the top ski destinations.

Kenny Gilbert // Telluride 
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Image via Smuggler’s Brewpub

CurEater and Chef Kenny Gilbert lists his favorite restaurants in Telluride, and they’re all extremely different. Looking for the pub vibe where you can sip a brewski and eat a burger to recover from a day on the mountain? Try Smuggler’s Brewpub. If you have a hankering for authentic Thai cuisine, check out Siam. Maybe you just want a classic cheese pizza that makes you feel right at home. Well, Brown Dog Pizza has you covered on that one. You never know what you’ll crave once you conquer some of the most difficult slopes. Clearly, Chef Gilbert’s cravings differ, so you’re in luck.

Carrie Morey // Jackson Hole 

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Image via Hatch Taqueria and Tequila
With 12 spots on this list, it will be hard to pick your favorite. We would definitely start our day at Persephone Bakery because their milk toast caught our eye. We’d absolutely find our way to Hatch Taqueria and Tequilas for, yep, tacos and tequila. There really is something for everyone in Jackson Hole, so let Carrie’s list act as your field guide.

CurEater Ashley Boyd: The Art of the Pastry

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“I come at the plate thinking of how to combine flavors and what are the different ways I can get them on the plate. It’s sort of painting with flavors in a way.”
VIDEO: Order/fire: Ashley Boyd

If it seems like Ashley Boyd is at home in the kitchen of Charlotte’s 300 East, it’s because she is. Her mother founded the restaurant, and Chef Boyd started working there at age 13. Her love for pastries came after she graduated from art school while working at a Brazilian steakhouse in Chicago. After living and cooking in Detroit, Atlanta and San Francisco, she moved back to Charlotte. In addition to her role at 300 East, Boyd joined Heritage in 2015 to put her unique spin on their desserts.

VIDEO: Ashley Boyd makes cheesecake and talks about her process

If you follow Boyd on Instagram you will see the influence of that fine art degree. She creates some of the most visually delicious desserts you’ll ever see. But they don’t just look good, they taste good too. Good enough, in fact, that Boyd was part of a team invited to prepare a dinner to honor Charlotte at the James Beard House. Boyd’s desserts are visually stunning combinations of the familiar and new. For example, Food & Wine recently highlighted her tres leches cake made with classic Southern ingredients like pawpaw and buttermilk.

VIDEO: Ashley Boyd makes the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Follow Ashley Boyd on Instagram, and 300 East on Facebook. Discover where Ashley Boyd likes to dine on CurEat.