Why? Bar 32!

Bar 32 at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown boasts the most incredible panoramic views of downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie. I had a chance to check out the views, the booze, and the food the other night thanks to Mouthwater Media. And I am clamoring to go back!

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I headed up to the 32nd floor of the Hilton Cleveland Downtown just in time to catch this gorgeous sunset glow over our city.

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And the interior of Bar 32 is just as lovely, with a sleek, modern vibe that blends lounge and bar well.

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I enjoyed one of Bar 32’s signature drinks, the cubed Old Fashioned, which is made with Bulleit Bourbon, Remy Martin VSOP, and Ron Zacapa 23. The drink was rich and warming and just perfect for winter!

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I think we can officially say that I like bourbon now. Cheers to that!

Our group also had the chance to sample items from both the small plates menu and the catering menu at Bar 32. The warm jumbo pretzel with smoked Gouda, maple Dijon mustard, and whiskey cheddar was a crowd favorite.

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I also really liked the flatbread with chorizo, Parmesan and mozzarella, and mixed greens. It packed a lot of flavor!

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We also enjoyed the pulled pork sliders, which are available on the catering menu. Bar 32 is available to be reserved for groups, with a side room that has both tables and chairs, as well as comfy couches.

Bar 32 is looking to heat up your winter, with DJs on the weekends, Cavs watch parties, and more. Check out all the new things in store at a party on Saturday, February 3 with DJ Mimo, plus of course the incredible views, food, and booze.

Bar 32 is open every night at 5pm, so it’s also a great after-work spot to unwind, watch the sunset, and wave to Justin Trudeau. Bar 32 literally raises the bar for drinking spots in Cleveland!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary happy hour at Bar 32. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

So, the theme for this past weekend is: “Staying in is the new going out.” It wasn’t even because of the weather…we just had a lot of plans to hang out at friends’ houses and it was pretty perfect!

Taco Bar Night

On Saturday, we hung out with friends Ritch and Denise and their kiddos. We had a build-your-own-taco bar and the kids had lots of fun playing their version of rock band…

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…and superheroes (I had some fun with that, too).

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I volunteered to bring dessert and made this delicious and easy apple crisp (recipe here).

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Top it with some Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream and you have the perfect sweet end to a fun evening!

Yoga/Brunch

The only thing more likely than yoga to pull me out of hibernation is the combination of yoga, brunch, and two of my best babes. I met up with Kimberly for Alicia‘s Yoga/Brunch at Dante Next Door on Sunday morning.

A perfectly-paced yoga flow centered on balance in the new year was followed by a perfectly chatty brunch.

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Alicia is such an inspiring and motivating teacher! And the chance for some good girl time and pancakes after class made this an even more wonderful Sunday morning!

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The berry pancakes at Dante Next Door are not to be missed! You can check out another session of Yoga/Brunch this Sunday, January 21 or Sunday, February 4, 11, or 25. Cost is $15 for an hour-long yoga class, plus a complimentary mimosa or coffee at brunch. Click here to register.

Pasta Perfection

Sunday evening, I stayed on the carb train with our friends Melissa and Tim. They make homemade pasta every Sunday and invited us over to not only eat, but help make the pasta!

 

I had never made pasta before and the process was really fun, especially sharing it with friends! And the end result was SO delicious!

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Melissa’s homemade sauce was the perfect compliment to the pasta. And after eating such fresh pasta, I don’t think I’ll ever eat boxed noodles again!

It was such a fun weekend and, except for the necessary yoga and mimosa, I’m pretty sure that staying in is the new going out! Who’s having us over next weekend?!

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Why? Weekends!

Other than our road trip to Columbus, there was plenty of other fun to keep us busy this weekend…

Duck Donuts

While we were down in Columbus, we took the recommendation of our fellow bloggers and made a stop at Duck Donuts. Duck Donuts makes hot, fresh vanilla cake donuts, to which you can add your choice of glazes, sprinkles, and drizzles.

They also make donut sundaes, which is what Matthew and I decided to order.

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The cake donut was moist and delicious, but what I learned is, much like Barrio or Happy Dog, I can’t be trusted to created my own delicious flavor combinations. I’m an order-from-the-menu girl.

Disney on Ice

Saturday night, we took Jeffrey to see Disney on Ice at Quicken Loans Arena. I can remember going to see Disney on Ice as a kid, so it was really special to be able to share the experience with Jeffrey.

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This year’s show is themed “Dare to Dream” and focuses on Disney’s strong female heroines, from Cinderella to Belle to Moana.

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Jeffrey loved the show! Disney on Ice is still at the Q for more performances from Thursday, January 11 through Sunday, January 14. If you click here and use code WHYCLE, you can save up to $10 on your tickets. It’s a fun family experience that’s full of magic!

Free Community Yoga with Awake to My Soul YTT

When I started practicing yoga, my first teacher was Ylonda, who spoiled me from the get-go by teaching an amazing blend of fired-up workout and soulful inspiration. Ylonda recently started her own yoga teacher training. And now her teacher trainees are offering free community classes every Sunday at Praxis Fiber Workshop in the Waterloo Arts District to help them gain teaching experience.

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Praxis Fiber Workshop is an awesome, artsy space and it provided the perfect location for a Sunday morning sweat session. If you’re interested, the free classes are offered every Sunday at 10:30am and will be taught by a different Awake to My Soul YTT trainee. It’s an awesome way to get some yoga in your day and help a future amazing yoga teacher, too.

Sunday Funday

Sunday evening, we had the perfect staying-in Sunday Funday with some of our favorite friends.

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We had lots of delicious food from Café Melissa

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…lots of laughs and catching up time and just a great evening belatedly ringing in the new year.

How was your weekend? Are you ready for this week’s “heat wave?”

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Why? Watershed Distillery!

On Saturday, Matthew and I took a little road trip down to Columbus for a tour and tasting at Watershed Distillery. We were already fans of Watershed vodka, so the chance to try more of their spirits with some fellow Cleveland bloggers was a big enough carrot to warrant a drive down 71 South.

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We were greeted at Watershed with a punch made from apple brandy, bourbon-barrel gin, bitters, lemon, and bubbles. The drink was clean, crisp, and nice balance of sweet and bitter flavors. And we got to enjoy at the lovely bar in Watershed’s Kitchen & Bar.

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Next up was a tour of Watershed’s distillery, which is founded in the idea that success requires hard work and that those who enjoy success should give back to the community. In fact, the name Watershed is the company’s shorthand for community and that theme extends throughout Watershed and into the surrounding community.

Watershed’s production facility is impressive and designed to create the highest-quality spirits.

Watershed uses corn and apples as the base for their vodka and those ingredients are sourced from Ohio. We got to sample the vodka; four-peel gin, which uses lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange peels for a more citrus-forward gin; and the distillery-exclusive Guild Series gin, which was finished with chamomile.

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My favorite of these was the four-peel gin, which has a light, citrus taste that made it more palatable to me than most gins.

We also got to sample Watershed’s barrel-aged spirits: bourbon-barrel gin, bourbon, old fashioned (basically the classic cocktail in a one-step pour), and apple brandy.

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I might have to take back everything I ever said about bourbon, because I drank this one straight and actually liked it! Oh, and the apples for the apple brandy come from a farm near Cleveland, so I think we’re obligated to drink a lot of it!

After the tour of the distillery and tasting the spirits straight (including the amazing Nocino, which reminds me of a spiced wine liquor), it was time for some snacks and a cocktail demonstration.

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Watershed’s Kitchen & Bar cocktail menu changes seasonally. Currently, the menu is creatively modeled on an IKEA catalog, down to the elements you need to create the drink, fun illustrations, and Scandinavian translations.

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The current Watershed cocktails are designed to be clean and minimalist, following the Scandinavian IKEA concept.  Rather than garnishing the glass with fruit, which creates a lot of waste, Watershed makes sprays of the various fruits to mist over the drinks when they are finished.

I enjoyed all three of the cocktails we got to sample, but my favorite was the Stock Home Syndrome, made with apple brandy, lemon, orgeat, and allspice dram, with a mist of Laphroaig. The drink is modeled after a late fall day and smelling leaves burning and it hits all the right notes!

The snacks from the Kitchen were delicious too!

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We enjoyed fried Brussel sprouts with black pepper honey, lemon, and mint; pork rinds with malt vinegar, Parmesan, and fermented hot sauce; crispy fingerling potatoes with roasted garlic, Parmesan, and rosemary aioli; and braised meatballs with stewed tomatoes, mixed grains, and cabbage.

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All of the food felt comforting and familiar, but also with enough of a twist to make it interesting. The Kitchen menu changes frequently, but you can check out a sample here.

If you’re down in Columbus, stop in to either the Kitchen & Bar for a drink and bite or take a tour of the Distillery (or both)! And the next time you’re shopping for spirits for a party, a gift, or just your average Tuesday, remember this carefully-crafted, incredibly-delicious, locally-committed company!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tour and tasting at Watershed Distillery with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Swensons Drive In!

You know how a place gets built up in local legend? You’ll hear it whispered about reverently. You’ll see people Instagram pictures of gooey cheeseburgers and thick milkshakes. You’ll know that the food has received national acclaim, including being names Forbes’ best burger in 1999.

And yet, you still wonder if it can possibly live up to the hype. Then you pull up to your first Swensons Drive In. You’re immediately charmed by the old-school concept of someone coming out to your car (in these frigid temps no less) to take your order. You put your “Lights On for Service.”

You order the Galley Boy, the storied Swensons signature double cheeseburger with two special sauces, an order of French fries, and a mocha shake. You apologize to the freezing server who had to wait while you debated the merits of peanut butter/chocolate versus mocha for your milkshake.

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The food arrives on a tray that hooks to your car. You immediately feel the urge to put on the oldies radio station.

You dive in to the cheesy, saucy burger and in one bite understand why everyone raves about Swensons. The toasted bun, the melty cheese, the sauces that compliment without overwhelming the burger itself…it’s all magical and delicious and a perfect slice of Americana.

You also pay less than $10 for all this glorious food and wonder why you’d ever “fast food” anywhere else.

Swensons Drive-In now boasts 8 locations, including ones in Seven Hills and University Heights that are dangerously convenient for us Clevelanders. The menu includes burgers and cheeseburgers, as well as chicken, fish, bologna, and pork sandwiches. You can also get shrimp, fish, and chicken dinners; salads and soups; a variety of fried sides; and desserts. I suggest going classic for your first trip, but I’m a traditionalist that way! Leave your lights on for service!

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Why? The Corner Alley!

Matthew took the week in between Christmas and New Year off, so we were on the hunt for fun things to do as a family. We decided to go to The Corner Alley in Uptown for bowling, beer, and burgers.

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It was pretty crowded with other families who had the same idea of holiday break fun, so we killed some time waiting for our lane in The Corner Alley’s arcade. Jeffrey enjoyed playing air hockey and more, but I think he’s spent too much time at Chuck E Cheese, because he kept checking the machines for prize tickets!

We were there during happy hour, which is every day from 2-6pm at the Uptown location. That meant $2 off beers and appetizers, as well as free shoe rental for bowling. An hour of bowling fun during happy hour only cost $15!

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Jeffrey had a great time and we all benefited from the bowling bumpers. Even with the bumpers, my 3.5 year old still beat me at bowling!

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We stayed for dinner after bowling. Jeffrey and Matthew both enjoyed cheeseburgers and I had the fried chicken sliders with honey mustard and slaw, served on cheddar-jalapeno biscuits. Matthew and I also shared the Wild Turkey sweet potato bourbon fries.

All the food was really good! And while there were some hiccups in the service on that busy evening, The Corner Alley made it right by picking up the pace and then taking 20% off our bill.

For a fun family or date night, with legit food and a nice selection of local craft beers, head to The Corner Alley in either Uptown or Downtown. And if you’re in the medical services profession, take advantage of the Medical Discount at the Uptown location!

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Why? New Year’s Cleveland Resolutions!

OK, let’s get real: I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve. Or should I say, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve celebrations, which is so strange since glitter and champagne top my “Things I Love” list.

All that said, I do appreciate the chance to take stock as the year comes to a close and think about the year ahead.

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So, I have some Cleveland resolutions I want to make for 2018:

Finally Eat and Drink At…

Cleveland has so many great restaurants and so many new spots that it can be hard to keep up. Here are some that have slipped through the cracks, but I want to make sure I hit in 2018: Cru Uncorked, Saucy Brew Works, Salt+, Hook & Hoof, and Marble Room Steak and Raw Bar top the list.

Fully Utilize Our Memberships

I’m a big fan of museum memberships, so we belong to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, Lake Metroparks Farm Park, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the Western Reserve Historical Society. While we get a lot of use out of memberships through regular visits, I want to take more advantage of special events, exhibit previews, and the like this year!

Listen to More Live Music

We had a pretty full concert schedule this past year, but I’d like to check out smaller venues, music festivals (hi, Brite Winter), and the Cleveland Orchestra both with and without Jeffrey.

What are your Cleveland resolutions for 2018? Hope your 2017 closes out with sparkles and bubbles, too!

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Why? Black Box Fix!

A brand-new sandwich spot just opened at Legacy Village with a great menu of tasty offerings: Black Box Fix.

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This bright and inviting location features some seating, but is also great for a grab and go sandwich.

The menu of unique, gourmet sandwiches was developed by Chef Eric Rogers, who you might recognize from “Guy’s Grocery Games” on the Food Network. The sandwiches range from a variety of Philly sandwiches to burgers to chicken, many of which have a Creole inspiration.

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All of the sandwiches are served with fresh cut fries available in 4 different varieties: garlic Parmesan, Cajun, Creole butter, and plain.

Jeffrey and I stopped in earlier this week for lunch. He enjoyed a classic cheeseburger and fries. I had the Mr. Martin, a gigantic sandwich with buttermilk fried chicken breast with house made agave BBQ and sweet onion vinaigrette slaw. Juicy, tender, and a perfect balance of sweet and tangy.

I also definitely want to try Black Box Fix’s signature sandwich: the Famous OMG Philly, a chicken philly topped with Creole grilled shrimp. OMG is right!

Black Box Fix is now open on Main Street in Legacy Village from 11am-10pm on Monday-Thursday, 11am-11pm on Friday, 12pm-11pm on Saturday, and 12pm-6pm on Sunday.

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events, for which I receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Heck’s Cafe!

For years, Heck’s Cafe has been my favorite burger restaurant in town. Their cozy and cute cafe in Ohio City makes delicious burgers and recently expanded their reach to a second cafe in Avon.

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But Heck’s Cafe is a lot more than just burgers, as I found out last night. I was invited to a tasting event that sampled not only Heck’s Cafe burgers, but also some of their most popular appetizers, dessert, and drinks.

Our drink choices were the Cranberry Sparkler, with vodka and house made cranberry syrup or the Hot Cider, with house made cider, brandy, and Grand Marnier. Both were seasonal and so good! And I loved how the main features in the drinks were made in-house!

We got to sample the popular tuna nachos, which feature light and delicious wonton crisps, pickled jalapeno, sweet soy, wasabi aioli, sesame seeds, and tuna.

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These are a great balance of sweet and spicy! We also sampled the tender calamari with two kinds of aioli: spicy and basil. Yum!

Of course, Heck’s Cafe’s famous burgers were on last night’s tasting menu, with slider versions of a plain cheeseburger and the Avon Burger, which has balsamic candied onions, bleu cheese, and baby arugula. These burgers are flavorful, meaty, and altogether delicious!

And to end the evening on a sweet note, Heck’s Cafe’s seasonal salted caramel soft pretzel bread pudding.

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Salty, sweet, and like a soft pretzel and a dessert had a decadent baby. The creme anglaise and caramel sauce just put it over the top!

Heck’s Cafes in Ohio City and Avon offer full menus of delicious appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts. The Ohio City location also boasts an adorable private dining area with a mini bar that is perfect for a party!

And the new Heck’s Express downtown offers everything from breakfast to pastries to juices to snacks to burgers. Plus, starting January 8, you’ll be able to save on your meals at any Heck’s location with your CLESeats app!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tasting event at Heck’s Cafe with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? red e vodka!

A lot of you are probably familiar with the wineries in Ashtabula, but did you know that there’s a distillery out there too? Red Eagle Distillery is creating craft spirits that make delicious cocktails.

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I got a chance to visit Red Eagle Distillery and chat with Eddy specifically about red e vodka, which is made from concord grapes that grow on vines you can see from the windows of the distillery. Talk about a hyper-local product!

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red e vodka is so tasty in cocktails, like this peppermint concoction above. Matthew also whipped up a holiday beverage with pomegranate liquor, St. Germaine, and red e vodka.

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red e vodka has a smoother mouth feel and sweeter taste than most neutral vodkas. I took a sip of it straight and didn’t make the “yuck, straight alcohol” face! While it’s sweetness doesn’t lend it to use in a drink like a bloody mary, red e vodka is surprisingly versatile and compliments a lot of cocktails.

The production of Red Eagle Spirits takes place right on site and ensures high quality and yummy spirits that are a great (and fun) way to shop local.

Red Eagle Distillery also makes bourbon, rye, brandy, and a very unique and delicious red maple spirit. If you stop in to Red Eagle Distillery, you can enjoy a menu of craft cocktails that incorporate these different spirits.

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You can also find red e vodka at select stores and restaurants in Cleveland and Columbus, including Collision Bend Brewing and The Flying Fig.

And if you want to take a trip out to Ashtabula County this winter, there are plenty of things to enjoy:

The wineries aren’t just great for summer and Ashtabula County offers more spirits than just wine, too. Check it out!

***Disclosure: I was invited to tour the Red Eagle Distillery. I received complimentary tastes of spirits, as well as a bottle of red e vodka and glasses to take home. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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