Sunday, October 29, 2006

Here are a few Halloween alerts for thirsty trick-or-treaters who are just a wee-bit old for candy-begging door to door…

In New York:
Restaurateur Richard Sandoval celebrates Day of the Dead at two of his restaurants. Maya presents
Santa Muerte consisting of Don Julio Reposado tequila, roasted pumpkin puree with a champagne float. Pampano offers tequila flights.

In DC:
Urbana features a six-course pumpkin tasting menu - along with a Cider Pumpkintini featuring apple cider, 10 Cane Rum, and Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, topped of with a pumpkin foam.
Notti Bianche offers a spooky libation called Green Goblin.
Bar Rouge’s mistress of the bar, Shannon Bridget, created Black Tuesday.

In LA:
Hocus Pocus a new Syrah from Santa Barbara County complements your meal at Angeleno hot-spots: AOC, Campanile, Cafe Stella, Providence, La Terza, Patina and Cafe Pinot.
(Sipster tip: a full profile of the lovely Amy Christine, a LA sommelier who happens to be co-creator of this wine is coming soon on The Liquid Muse…)

Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale gets good reviews as one of the few good tasting pumpkin beers on the market.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Once you go black...

As seen in the October issue of my monthly cocktail column in Northern Virginia Magazine (and just in time for this weekend’s festivities) I want to share this fun drink idea with The Liquid Muse community!

Blavod Vodka, infused with Black Catechu, a Burmese herb, has a unique color, making it the must-have Halloween “spirit.”

Kandy Korn
(recipe and photo, courtesy of Blavod Vodka)
2 oz. Mandarin orange juice
2 oz. Tangerine juice
2 oz. Blavod black vodka

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in juices. Gently add Blavod. Garnish with candy corn on a skewer.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Great American Condom Campaign!

Stephen Sobhani is launching a global campaign to save the world, one sexual encounter at a time. In a time of social conservatism and the extremist religious right imposing their morals onto our bodies and health, I am grateful to see grassroots organizations like the Great American Condom Campaign take flight. (Speaking for myself, the HIV/AIDS cocktail is not on my "must-try cocktail" list...)

The GACC aims to reduce the spread of intimately spread infections via education, fundraising and supporting condom distribution. According to Stephen, the US “holds the odious distinction of maintaining the world’s highest rates of Sexually Transmitted Infections in the entire industrialized world.” (Talk about a

Sobhani, originally from Santa Barabara, California, has called DC home for the last 8 years. Passionately committed to this cause, he jokes that he and his gang are “condom pushers.” Stephen expressed his amazement at so much controversy “around a piece of latex” and finds “peer-to-peer methods of education and distribution” the most effective.

Saturday, October 28, from 8:00 pm – 12:00 am, the GACC presents the black-tie optional
Great American Masquerade Ball, marking the launch of the GACC website. The fully catered event will be held in a private mansion on Embassy Row (2507 Mass Ave.) and is expected to attract 200 guests. Additional attractions are live music, gift bags, a wine and champagne tasting lounge, two deliciously decadent specialty cocktails (recipes provided by The Liquid Muse) and an invitation to the after party at RNR Lounge. Tickets and details visit GACC.

(Safe) Sex On The Beach
1 oz vodka
1/2 oz peach schnapps
2 oz cranberry juice
2 oz grapefruit juice (guava or pineapple can be used)

Pour vodka, peach schnapps and juices
into shaker, stir. Best served with a colored condom, sunscreen and beach towel...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Celebrity Sips - Giuliana DePandi

Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Beautiful

Giuliana DePandi is one of those women who has it all… brains, beauty, charm
and a killer career! She hosts E! News, covering all the latest celebrity headlines, interviews A-List hotties (such as Clive Owen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law and the “that’s hot” girl herself, Paris Hilton), produces documentaries ("Nicole Richie: Her Simple Life") and released her first book in June of this year called 'Think Like a Guy: How to Get a Guy by Thinking Like One.’ She was also voted one of Maxim Magazine's Hot 100 of 2003, and featured in People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful of 2006 issue.

After spending an afternoon with Giuliana recently in Los Angeles (to write the December cover story of Washington’s Finest), I found that she is totally down-to-earth. With every justification to have a ‘tude, she doesn’t. That kind of class is how I define “cool.”

Born in Naples, Italy in 1975, Giuliana was six when her family moved to Washington, DC. It is rumored that, as a
youngster, she taught herself English by watching TV, which spurred her love of Entertainment. Later, while working on her Master’s degree in Journalism at American University, DePandi covered happenings at the Pentagon, Supreme Court, State Department, Capitol Hill and White House. Recounting a defining moment in her scholastic career, Giuliana says, “I was interviewing Ted Kennedy and told him that his fans want to know what was his idea of a good time. When I played the tape for the class, my teacher just looked at me and said, ‘You need to go into Entertainment.’”

Depandi’s first Hollywood job was in the mailroom of power agent Mike Ovitz. Today, she makes her living chatting with celebs at glamorous events, for a show aired in 120 countries. Her wardrobe consultant, Jose Camilo makes a full time job out of choosing outfits for the hostess, who can’t wear the same ensemble twice. When asked if she gets to keep the clothes, she jokes, “Well… I try to steal stuff!”

Giuliana shares that her most memorable interview is with longtime crush, George Clooney, during which she was so nervous, that she blurted out “Will you marry me?!” to which he sillily replied “No.” But, DePandi says that turned out to be a good
ice-breaker because it got him talking about his views on marriage. She reveals, “Every time I interview him, its still nerve wracking! I remind myself to stay cool. Even my producer, finally said, ‘This fawning over George Clooney has to end!’ But, he was my biggest crush!” Laughing, DePandi confides, “Later, I even replayed the part of the interview where he kissed me on the cheek.”

Her assistant, Matthew Allard, says that he loves working with Giuliana because every day is different. Sometimes they come up with ideas for the show together. Commenting on her high energy and work ethic he sighs, “If there were more hours in the day, she’d have her own radio show, too!”

E! News Executive Producer Peggy Abraham sums up the equation for DePandi’s popularity this way, “She is a combination of enthusiastic, intelligent and pretty – she’s the whole package. Celebrities respect her because she is prepared.” She explains that Giuliana’s “mass appeal” is non-threatening to women so they appreciate her, while she also appeals to men.

Of course, DePandi's Number One male fan is first-season “The Apprentice” winner, Bill Rancic, the first candidate hired on national television by The Trump Organization, and Giuliana's beau since earlier this year. In addition to running a Chicago-based Trump enterprise, Bill also fills in on the TV show to judge new contestants when George (Donald’s usual right-hand man) is away on business. When her honey's name came up during our chat, Giuliana gushed (through a big smile), “He’s so cute!”

And, (inquiring minds want to know) what was it like meeting “The Donald?” Giuliana says he is very warm and admits she was more nervous to meet Mrs. Trump, the stunning European model, Melania. Says DePandi, “Oh my God! I was so scared of Melania. But she is really nice. She told me that she gets all her entertainment news from my show. She’ll know lots of things we talk about on E! News, especially when we mention her!”

With her own fame on the rise, DePandi is a target of “celebrity gossip” to which she declares, “It’s weird! On a recent flight to New York, I was at the ticket counter trying to upgrade. A couple of days later, had a piece about me being at the airport 'freshly-botoxed.'” Considering she doesn’t do botox, Giuliana found it both humorous and
flattering. She comments, “I thought, Really? Thank you!”

Having dreamed of a career in journalism since age six, Giuliana’s role models include Katie Couric, Oprah and DC news anchor, Barbara Harrison, who was the first person to inspire her. Giuliana says, “I grew up thinking that she had the greatest life. I saw her once at White Flint Mall, in the middle of the day, and I thought, 'So, that’s what she does during the day!’ She had kids and an amazing job!”

Giuliana continues to dream of following in Ms. Harrison’s footsteps explaining, “My ultimate goal is to be an anchor
on local DC news. That’s my dream, to come full circle.” DePandi clarifies, “My family is there.”

And, though that left me mildly baffled (I'd call her current one the dream job...), if delivering hard-news headlines in Washington is her idea of a Hollywood ending, who am I to judge? It is safe to assume that with her many talents, her career options are limitless. The coast she calls home and the aspect of journalism around which she
throws up her white picket fence will surely be hers to choose.

Favorite watering holes? In DC, she frequents Cafe Milano. In LA,she likes Cut, Katana and Giorgio’s. Giuliana also loves Koi‘s great food but doesn’t want people to think she’s just there for the scene. She simply must have their crab roll!

Favorite cocktail: "I love a martini, straight up, with an olive."

Photos of Giuliana on the set of E! News, courtesy of Claire Barrett Photography

Friday, October 20, 2006

On Fire in Tucson!

I’m spending a few peaceful months in the gorgeous foothills of Tucson working on my cocktail book. However, just because I’m holed up (slaving over recipes and wordsmithing) don’t think I’ve become a hermit. This town has a lot to offer… and I’ve only just begun!!

Tucson may be known for notoriously HOT summers but, trust me, you’ll stay warm year ‘round judging by some of the fiery cocktails featured in local restaurants. Here is the first of my spicy extravaganza!

Firecracker serves Pan Asian influenced cuisine in a lively atmosphere. Their cocktail list has all the usual suspects with an unexpected flight of sake (which I thought was a novel idea). But, when our server, Matt, suggested the Chilitini, I knew I couldn’t resist.

2 oz. Tanqueray gin
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
3 drops tabasco
freshly squeezed lime juice

Mix, shake, serve, feel the burn!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Good Fortune and Cocktails Go Together!

Carla O’Brien, Australian Empress of fortune cookie-inspired Fortune Tees has been on my radar for a long while now.

I became aware of her saucy T-shirts, at the toll of the Chinese New Year in 2005, and was an instant fan. The first shirt I owned from her line was a white wife-beater featuring a big red rooster standing over the lettering “Year of the Cock.” Being both a Rooster (in Chinese Astrology) and a rebel (
in my own mind) I also bought the shirt in black, and a ski bonnet with a rooster patch sewn on.

Chinese New Year 2006 rang in “Year of the Bitch” at Fortune Tees, which I proudly sport (admittedly, for more reasons than one…). Other “Year of the Dog” slogans include “I like it Ruff!” for grown-ups and “Year of the Pup” for little tykes.

Needless to say, when Carla added the “
A cocktail is in my near future” to Fortune Tees earlier this year, she became my casual-wear Rock Star.

Carla, a fan of Asian culture, studied Mandarin for four years in high school. While she once read and wrote in Chinese, she laments, “Now, I can only sing Happy Birthday.” The Ozzy native (Melbourne) has lived in Los Angeles for eight years, and formerly worked in sales for an Australian travel company. Tiring of the corporate world, she longed for something more creative.

One day, in early 2002, while noshing Chinese, Carla opened a fortune cookie whose message read, “You’ll make a fortune with a friend.” Taking the message quite literally, she launched Fortune Tees with pal Megan MacEachern. (Luckily she didn’t add the obligatory “in bed” to the end of this fortune, or her career path may have gone quite differently…)

The ladies started off making fortune cookie-inspired T-shirts for babies. Messages include, “A nap is in my near future” and “A surprise will appear in my pants.” (Carla also gave me an adult-sized version on the latter for my husband, which connotes an even better fortune for me…) Moms-to-be shirts say, "Sleepless nights are in my future."

Like many home-businesses, Fortune Tees started small. In 2002, she and Megan schlepped to the Hollywood Farmers’ Market every weekend. Says O Brien, “I made 100 shirts. With that money, I paid for the next week’s stock.” And, so it continued for the first few months. Clients loved the concept so much that word-of-mouth got Fortune Tees into stores.

Within the first year, Fortune Tees made the Top Ten Celebrity Baby Gift List on E!, were included in the 2003 Grammy Award bags, featured on the Today show and included twice in Baby Stuff Magazine.

Carla says that the first year they took Fortune Tees to M.A.G.I.C. (a gi-normous trade show, focused largely on fashion, in Las Vegas) they offered a shot of sake to each buyer for good luck, which, she exclaims, “sure helped sales!”

Eventually, the ladies needed room to grow. Carla explains, “We started in Megan’s back bedroom. Then, we moved into a garage behind Fred 62. (a popular Silver Lake eatery) As fortune would have it, the space next to the restaurant became available.”

In June 2006, Carla and Megan had an amicable split, and Carla nabbed the retail space for the next phase of her budding business. Nestled into a superb location, near popular shops, bars and a movie theater, O Brien says, “Now I create things specifically for the store. If it’s
popular, I add it to my line.”

What does the future hold for Fortune Tees? Carla’s newest hot selling is the Kung Pao Combo for babies, an embroidered satin pants and top set. She is also adding lounge pants for kids and adults, and plans to launch some Fortune Tees especially for brides.

Where does Carla consume the “cocktails in her future”? Preferring places in walking distance from her home (also in Silver Lake) she frequents 4100, El Cid and Good Luck Bar (she says she can’t
resist the Asian theme).

What does she like to consume while wearing a cool "cocktail" T-shirt? Margaritas. “At
home, I make them with cilantro and fresh limes. The green bits get all over your mouth!”

**Mention The Liquid Muse and get a discount on "A cocktail is in my near future" T-shirt!**

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Slip into Something Silky…

SV Vodka, also known as the Russian Silk Vodka. Filtered fourteen times through mountain crystals, it is crafted with water found in 400 feet-deep Artesian wells, leaving its finish silky smooth. Our comrades at SV suggest the following cocktails:

Silk Stocking Vodka Martini
2 1/2 ounces SV Vodka
3/4 ounce Chambord
1/2 ounce lime juice

1 1/2 ounces sweetened lemon juice
Lemon twist

Pour into mixing glass, shake and strain into a champagne flute. Garnish with lemon twist.

Silk Teddy Vodka Martini
2 1/4 oz. SV Supreme Vodka
3/4 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
Lemon wedge

Pour ingredients into iced mixing glass, then shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass with sugared rim. Garnish with lemon wedge.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Do The Red Thing!

Being a pop-culture junkie, I admit that a large part of the information I ingest comes from places like The Jon Stewart Daily Show, Yahoo News headlines, The E! Network and Oprah. Today’s Oprah inspired me to share this info.

As we know, Bono is a huge advocate for helping Africans suffering from AIDS. According to him, in some African countries 1/3 of the population has AIDS. In Africa, 150,000 men,
women and children die each month, or as he pointed out, “the equivalent of 2 World Trade Center (casualties) a day.” He explained that the situation in parts of Africa is so bad that children who actually make it to a hospital sometimes sleep three to a bed, and are dying of starvation – in the hospitals.

Bono (being a mega celebrity activist, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and all) is one of the creators of a fundraiser of epic proportions. We (the fat, happy and rich-by-comparison American and European consumers) can now buy (RED) products, and an average of half the money goes to help provide food and medicine for Africans suffering from AIDS.

What does “red” stand for? Inspri(red), Admi(red), Empowe(red), Uncenso(red), Cente(red), Desi(red).

Some companies involved in this (RED) campaign include:

GAP - A denim jacket (modeled by Penelope Cruz) provides enough medicine to prevent 50 pregnant women from passing AIDS to their unborn babies. On the show Cruz stated, “When Bono called me, I was blown away by the idea… You can wear a T-shirt that will actually save somebody’s life.”

Proceeds from Christy Turlington’s outfit would help 58 pregnant women prevent the transmission of HIV to their unborn children. As a mother of two, Christy said, "It is unfathomable to think that women in Africa can’t provide medicine for their children."

CONVERSE - A pair of African print Converse (RED) sneakers gives an AIDS patient an entire month of anti-retroviral drugs.

Oprah and Bono check out the iPod Nano. For every purchased, one HIV positive child can be treated with pediatric drugs for two months.

MOTOROLA - One (RED) Bluetooth headset gives a child orphaned by AIDS hot meals and school supplies for one month—and 10 of them provide a year's worth of treatment for HIV/AIDS-related infections.

EMPORIO ARMANI - features T-shirts, sneakers and jeans and watches. Each shirt has an African symbol with meanings like "harmony" and "flight." One watch pays for one month of anti-retroviral treatment. Armani (RED)™ sunglasses also equal a year's supply of school supplies and hot food for an orphaned child.

Get involved with Bono, Oprah and join (RED) at:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Clothing of the American Mind – An Invitation into the Blue

In June 2004, I went from LA to DC to live with Jason (now, my husband).
Whew, two cities could not be more different… at least at first glance.

Finding myself in the Nations Capital a few months before the Presidential elections, I wondered how I could get involved in
a political revolt. (er, "movement.") The year before, I had marched in the California sun with thousands of others protesting a war that had no chance of being diverted. I mailed letters to Senators. Nothing made any difference. "Maybe I’ll find inspiration in Washington," I thought as I flip-flopped my way down Connecticut Ave in low-cut jeans and a Playboy T-shirt, bewildered by icy stares from makeup-less “womyn” in suits, and well aware that, freedom of expression aside, I wasn’t in Venice Beach anymore…

Around this time, some friends out West told me about Caitlin Blue, creator of Clothing of the American Mind. Her creative blending of politics and wearable art was making both fashion and political statements. She was on a grassroots, cross-county mission, registering young people to VOTE for the upcoming election, reaching out to them through clothing. Caitlin’s crew filmed a documentary during that trip, preserving celluloid snippets of the political climate. They’d arrive in DC in a few days and wanted to be part of a politically inspired event.

Having only been in the DC-area a week, with little idea of what was going on around town, I pulled on my publicity and event planning background, and created an event for them called “Free Speech IS Patriotic” outside the now-defunct Visions. I invited the fantastic spoken word artist Tonya “Ja Hipster” Matthews and was thrilled to find something that bridged my LA life with this strange new political (and politically correct) place.

When Caitlin stepped out of their well-journeyed tour bus, I knew she’d be one of the coolest gals I’d meet for a long time. Although my lack of contacts in DC at that time resulted in an underwhelming turn-out at the event, the dedication and philosophy behind C.O.T.A.M. left an impression on the people there, and ‘blue voters’ across the country.

Caitlin, a New York native who resides in Los Angeles, is an acclaimed set decorator for TV, by trade. She started Clothing of the American Mind in her ‘spare’ time in March 2003. She says, “At that time, there was a lack of good news outlets. Important ideas and issues were not talked about. Bush had the pulpit, literally.”

However, she noticed that people were excited to connect with others who were, like her, fed up with the current administration. She remembers, “I was having political conversations at Starbucks with the person behind the counter. T-shirts are a great way to start those kind of conversations, especially in LA which is a very visual city. I thought clothing was the best use of space.”

Some of the T-shirts in her line include slogans such as “VOTE,” “Electoral College Dropout,” “Stop Wars,” and my personal favorite “My Bush is Pro-Choice.”

The goal of her coast-to-coast trip in 2004 (which ended at the Democratic Convention) was getting people registered to vote. Caitlin explains, “Registering to vote is something I take for granted but a lot of people didn’t know how to do it. Each state has different rules. Many people don’t realize that when they move, even down the block they have to register again.” She notes that the democratic process is not stressed in school and most people learn how to vote through media, friends and family. She also found that a lot of people don’t know how to get involved in change. Her message is, “Political activism is as simple as a t-shirt.”

Caitlin describes her biggest challenge, still today, is connecting with the “marginalized.” She feels that the majority of Americans are against the Iraq War but are afraid to speak for fear of being labeled “unpatriotic.” She worries that people don’t see their communities represented in the White House. And, she is concerned about Americans losing rights, especially the right to privacy. She hopes the upcoming elections make Congress more Democratic, on many levels.

With a family (she gave birth less than two months ago!), a career and devotion to her cause Blue explains, “It is harder for me to be on the streets.” Luckily, her other baby, Clothing of the American Mind’s new flagship store, gives a home base to her movement.

Blue says that the store, which sits in the heart of where immigration marches took place this summer in LA, gives C.O.T.A.M. great exposure “in a community crossroads of hip and Hispanic.” Caitlin feels it is important to be in neighborhoods that are up-and-coming and “working class.” The Clothing of the American Mind store is a place where voters can get registered. It is a community center that offers movie screenings and holds yoga classes and wine parties to raise money for causes.

The Grand Opening party called VOTE 4 CHANGE, takes place:
- Saturday, October 14, from 8 – 11pm at:
- Clothing of the American Mind 1284 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90026 (in Echo Park)

VOTE 4 CHANGE, features DJ Lillyanne, comedienne Natasha Leggero and sketch comedy by The People Who Do That. Speakers include Holly Jacobson, co-director of Voter Action, and Sheri Myers, co-author of Cheated! The event benefits and aims to raise awareness, register and educate voters for the November 7th mid-term elections. Consider this your invitation, the public is welcome!

Click here for more information on Clothing of the American Mind.

PS – Caitlin’s favorite cocktail is the Margarita!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

PAMA - Pomegranate Liqueur

Pomegranate was all the rage a coupla months back, which is why I put this one on hold for a moment. Now that we can actually talk over the buzz, I would like to express my appreciation for this versatile liqueur... Sweet without tasting overly fruity, so far, my favorite way to imbibe PAMA is to incorporate it into a sparkling drink. And, don't forget, it is also super in food recipes. Below is a fruit salsa recipe (good for sweet or savory dishes). PAMA is one of those staples I plan to keep in my liquor cabinet at all times.

PAMA Champagne Dreams
1 oz. PAMA
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. fresh orange juice
3 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine

Pour PAMA, Cointreau and juice into a cocktail glass, with ice. Slowly pour Champagne while gently stirring to retain the bubbles and chill. Strain into champagne flute and garnish with orange zest.

Pink Perfection
2 oz. PAMA
1 oz. Plymouth gin
Splash of Fresh Orange Juice
Ginger Ale
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Splash of Egg White
Berries on a stick dusted with Powdered Sugar

Combine PAMA, gin, juices and egg white into mixing glass. Shake with ice. Strain ingredients into a highball glass filled with crushed ice, top with Ginger Ale. Garnish with Berries on a wooden pick dusted with Powdered Sugar.

PAMA Pomegranate Salsa
Award winning salsa from Café on the Bay, Florida, Serves 6

1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup of pineapple, diced finely
1/3 cup of strawberries cut into matchsticks
1 1/4 tablespoon jalapeno pepper finely diced
1 tablespoon of mint, chiffonade
2 squeezes of fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons of PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside until ready to serve. To use as a dessert salsa on ice cream or waffles, add more PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur and less jalapenos. Also great on chicken, fish and steak.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Personality Profile -
Reed Landry

** This post went up in the summer of 2006. The Liquid Muse does not endorse the group, or the people involved with it. When I spoke with Reed, LNS had just gotten off the ground and sounded like an interesting social network. Any subsequent reports on what LNS has become in the year since its inception have nothing to do with my interview. I stand behind this report of my pleasant conversation with Reed at the time it happened. If any unsavory people / actions / consequences have since come about with regard to LNS, it is not a reflection of my political or social opinions or The Liquid Muse. ~ Natalie**

I am pleased to highlight yet another young, smart-as-a-whip (and yes, good looking) Washingtonian with a super idea. After graduating from UVA, Reed Landry (a native of McClean, VA) toiled at a government contracting firm. In 2004, this enterprising fellow started his own Internet ad agency, Sugar Media Group, with his sister-in-law.

In February 2006, they launched Late Night Shots, an invitation-only social networking website which has enjoyed fast success. Reed comments, “We had no idea what to expect, and were surprised how quickly it grew.” He explains that social networking is hot on the Internet, and describes LNS as similar to myspace and facebook but fills the gap for a post-college crowd.

Prospective members of LNS have to be 21 to join. Many are in their 30’s, a few in their 40’s. Landry notes, “Sites like facebook and myspace get a bad rap because they have objectionable content. LNS is a closed network so we don’t have a problem with that. There are photos of people at bars but nothing offensive. I think that’s what drives away older people from other networks.”

According to Reed, most sites buy their users so there is no connection between the people visiting them. The invite-only model alleviates that problem. He explains, “The sites I go back to are the ones I know people on. LNS isn’t meant for random people. It’s for meeting with friends at happy hours, bars, etc. Most people on our site have already seen each other out. It’s unique in the social networking field.”

The other key to LNS is that it keeps a local focus. Once someone receives an invitation and joins, the next step is to list his / her regular watering holes, making note of the type of bar and neighborhood they frequent. They can also see which members go to which bars.

Members can also post articles of interest for others to read. And, bar owners can log in and edit the content on their pages, listing happy hours and drink specials. LNS newsletters go out once a week. 83% of those who receive it click on at least one of the articles which Landry says is unheard of for an email newsletter.

What does Reed say to those who criticize his site’s invitation system as exclusionary? “Too bad.” He clarifies, “The invite-only value in this system makes things more connected and spreads it without us doing anything. We’re going for a targeted demographic.”

With plans to expand into NY, LA and Atlanta, this could become the next hot list to be on…

Cielo Tequila
and the Heavenly Margarita

The first thing I do when I sample a new spirit is sip it straight. I want to know what it tastes like before it gets mixed up with other flavors. After all, every ingredient counts!

Cielo Tequila is a smooth sipper - up or over ice. I always prefer to sip anejo (aged) tequila straight - no mixers - as it is robust in taste, color and "pow" factor. I was not disappointed with Cielo's version. A tiny squirt of fresh lime - and it was perfect. To make cocktails, I go for the silver or slightly aged reposado tequilas.

I am in Tucson at the moment, so the hankering for a margarita was upon me. I never touch pre-mixed 'sweet and sour' from a bottle. (Please folks - life is too short...fresh lime juice only!) I found my way to a supermarket and picked up a big bag, then settled in to marvel at
the fire-red, orange and pink Arizona sunset...

Here is a refreshing recipe I came up with for that spectacular event!

Cielo Heavenly Margarita
1 oz. Cielo reposado tequila
1 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 freshly squeezed lime
1 tsp. organic sugar

Salt the glass rims (if desired). Shake Cielo tequila, juices, sugar and ice. Strain and serve up in a martini glass or over ice in a rocks glass.