Saturday, June 24, 2017

Warren-Washington beverage trail awaits Cuomo's signature

If Governor Andrew Cuomo approves, as expected, a bill that passed both house of the State Leguislature before recess, a regional craft beverage and winemaking trail for Warren and Washington counties would be designarrated under a state Department of Transportation (DOT) program.

The Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce worked with State Sen. Elizabeth Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) on the  bill that each introduced in their respective chambers. What it would entail is placing signs along state roadways directing motorists to craft breweries, wineries and distilleries, as well as including such a trail in the state's advertising and marketing of the craft beverage industry.

The effort was buoyed by Travelocity and The American Distilling Institute recently putting the Glens Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area in its new index of top 10 small U.S. metro areas for craft spirits tourism.
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bill would make NYS beverage tastings sales-tax-exempt

A bill passed by both houses of the State Legislature has been sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo to
give licensed breweries, distilleries, and cideries the same sales tax exemption for tastings that wineries now have.

The bill would allow the exemption even if vendors he state Senate and Assembly have passed a bill charge for the tasting. Under current law, any wine, beer, cider, or liquor tasting that is provided free of charge is exempt from having to impose the state sales and use tax. However, wineries are granted a sales tax exemption even if they charge for the tasting.

“As the number of breweries and distilleries increases across New York, including many farm-based operations, we must ensure that we provide a level playing field for those in the industry,” said Erie County Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan, (R-C-I). “Right now, these businesses don’t enjoy the same sales tax benefits provided to wineries. That’s not fair to them or their customers.”
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Food and drink aplenty on Saratoga Race Course schedule

Eating and drinking often are part of having fun, and the calendar of 40 special  events released today for the upcoming thoroughbred racing season at the Saratoga Race Course proves that once again.

The event schedule from The New York Racing Association Inc. is loaded with food- and drink-centric events, the majority of them to take place in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion.

The schedule includes the expansion of the Taste NY series to four days. The on-track market of New York food, fashion and artisan vendors, previously held exclusively on Sundays, is being expanded to Saturdays. The full schedule (florid descriptions courtesy of the NYRA):

OPENING DAY: Friday, July 21: The 2017 annual summer meet will kick-off with the Grade III Schuylerville and Grade III Lake George.

TASTE NY: CRAFT BEER: Every Friday beginning July 21: Taste NY: Craft Beer will allow track patrons the opportunity to sample numerous craft beers produced exclusively by New York State breweries. The tasting will be held each Friday from noon to 5 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will enjoy five samples for $5. Must be 21 years or older to participate.

WOODFORD RESERVE FRIDAYS AT THE POST: Every Friday beginning July 21: Racing fans will be invited to continue their day at Saratoga with Woodford Reserve Fridays at The Post, the lively bar and entertainment spot located adjacent to the paddock. Each Friday of the meet will feature a DJ and dancing, cocktail samplings and trivia at The Post following the day's final race.

TASTE NY: FOOD & ARTISANS: Every Saturday beginning July 22: An on-track market of numerous food and artisan vendors featuring products made exclusively in New York State. The market will be held each Saturdayfrom 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about NYRA Bets and the all-new NYRA XP mobile app.

KETEL ONE PARTY AT THE POST: Every Saturday beginning July 22: The fun will continue each Saturday of the season with the Ketel One Party at The Post. Saturday evenings at Saratoga will feature music from a DJ following the day's final race, cocktail samplings and giveaways.

26TH ANNUAL HAT CONTEST PRESENTED BY HAT SATIONA! BY DEI: Sunday, July 23: The "crowning" achievement of opening weekend, visitors will go head-to-head for prizes in the annual Hat Contest. Categories will include one designated for children, one for the most fashionable millinery and one for the most creative headwear. The contests will take place after the second, third and fourth races of the afternoon. Prizes are provided by Hat sationa! by DEI.

TASTE NY: FOOD & ARTISANS: Every Sunday beginning July 23: Taste NY: Food & Artisans is a lively on-track market of numerous food and artisan vendors featuring products made exclusively in New York State. The market will be held each Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will also have the opportunity to learn about NYRA Bets and the all-new NYRA XP mobile app.

BERKSHIRE BANK FAMILY MONDAYS: Every Monday beginning July 24: The Berkshire Bank Family Mondays series will feature a wide variety of family-friendly activities, games, attractions and educational activities each Monday of the meet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion.

CELEBRATE MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY: Wednesday, July 26: Saratoga Race Course will pay tribute to active military members and veterans in appreciation of their sacrifice and service to our nation. The Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion will feature exhibits and activities throughout the day.All veterans and active duty military will receive free Grandstand admission with military ID.

TASTE NY: CIDER, WINE & SPIRITS: Every Thursday beginning July 27: Taste NY: Cider, Wine & Spirits will allow guests the opportunity to sample varietals of cider, wine and spirits from numerous New York State distilleries and wineries. Live music will accompany the tasting each Thursday of the meet from noon to 5 p.m. in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion. Guests will enjoy five samples for $5. Must be 21 years or older to participate.

TEQUILA & TACO THURSDAYS: Every Thursday beginning July 27: Each Thursday of the season, guests will enjoy specials on margaritas and tacos at The Post, as well as live flamenco guitar performances following the day's final race.

COLLEGE & ALUMNI DAY: Friday, July 28: This year's College & Alumni Day will feature the first-ever College & Alumni Handicapping Tournament at the Spa. College students and alumni will be invited to test their handicapping skills in a live money tournament for the opportunity to win up to a $5,000 scholarship for their alma mater from the New York Racing Association. Advance registration is required to participate in the tournament. Special group rates are available. To register your group of 10 or more, email rvsvp@nyrainc.com. Registration deadline is July 21.

PERMANENTLY DISABLED JOCKEYS' FUND AWARENESS DAY: Saturday, July 29: Saratoga Race Course will unite with racetracks across the country on Saturday with autograph signings and photo opportunities as part of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys' Fund (PDJF) Day Across America.

CELEBRATE IRISH-AMERICAN DAY: Wednesday, August 2: Saratoga will bring racing fans extra luck during Irish-American Day. The day-long celebration of culture and heritage will feature traditional Irish music, dance, food and entertainment at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHITNEY DAY AND THE FASIG-TIPTON FESTIVAL OF RACING: Saturday, August 5: The Grade 1, $1.2 million Whitney, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic, will pair with the Grade 1, $500,000 Test for 3-year-old fillies, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya for turf fillies and mares on the first "must-see" card of the meet. Also on Saturday are two additional turf stakes: the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Lure and the $100,000 Fasig-Tipton De La Rose for fillies and mares.

JOCKEY LEGENDS DAY: Sunday, August 6: Some of the greatest riders in the history of thoroughbred racing will gather at Saratoga Race Course for the fourth annual Jockey Legends Day. The day's activities will feature special appearances by some of the Spa's most accomplished riders and autograph signings.

SARATOGA CHALLENGES: Wednesday, August 9 & Thursday, August 10: The pair of live money challenges will occur as two separate one-day contests and will guarantee a minimum first place payout of $10,000, as well as awarding entries to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge (1) and the National Handicapping Championship (2) to the top three finishers, based on selection by order of finish. Both challenges will consist of wagering exclusively on Saratoga races through the following pools only: Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Quinella, and Trifecta. The entry fee into either challenge is $1,000, with a maximum number of entries at two per day, per person. For more information about the Saratoga Challenges, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/saratoga-challenge.

CELEBRATE BREW CENTRAL NY DAY: Wednesday, August 9: The day-long event in the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion will feature activities, exhibits and entertainment which showcase the renaissance of craft beer, hard cider, spirits and wine in Central New York and celebrate the region's history as a prominent hops producer. Guests will enjoy five samples for $5. Must be 21 years or older to participate.

FABULOUS FILLIES DAY: Thursday, August 10: Saratoga Race Course will celebrate women and their contributions to the thoroughbred industry while raising funds to support The Breast Cancer Research Foundation on Fabulous Fillies Day. The centerpiece of the day will be the Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon, presented by Vineyard Vines, beginning with an elegant champagne reception hosted by Moet & Chandon, and featuring gifts provided by Spa Mirbeau. This year's luncheon will honor Sheila Rosenblum of Lady Sheila Stable.

CELEBRATE ADIRONDACKS DAY: Wednesday, August 16: Saratoga Race Course will highlight the majestic Adirondacks region, including the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid. The day-long event at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion will feature activities, exhibits and entertainment which showcase the great attractions of the Adirondacks in upstate New York.

LUSTGARTEN FOUNDATION DAY: Saturday, August 19: Saratoga will honor the legacy of trainer Dominic Galluscio with a day to benefit The Lustgarten Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance scientific and medical research related to pancreatic cancer. The day will feature an autograph session with various Saratoga trainers.

CELEBRATE FIRST RESPONDERS APPRECIATION DAY: Wednesday, August 23: Saratoga Race Course will honor police officers, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics during First Responders Appreciation Day. The Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion will feature exhibits and activities throughout the day. All first responders will receive free Grandstand admission with proper ID.

STEWART'S ICE CREAM EATING CONTEST: Wednesday, August 23: Racing fans will compete in the ultimate in chilly contests at the annual Stewart's Ice Cream Eating Contest. Contestants will be divided into three age groups - kids, teens and adults - as they battle to see who can eat a pint of ice cream the fastest. Saratoga season passes are currently on sale at nearly 160 Stewart's Shops locations.

NEW YORK SHOWCASE DAY: Friday, August 25: Travers weekend will kick off with New York Showcase Day, featuring six stakes races exclusively for New York-breds, including the $250,000 Albany for 3-year-olds and the $150,000 West Point, presented by Trustco Bank, on the turf.

TRAVERS DAY: Saturday, August 26: The 148th running of the $1.25 million Travers will be the centerpiece of a supercharged Travers Day. Joining the Mid-Summer Derby for 3-year-olds will be five other Grade 1 stakes: the $1 million Sword Dancer Invitational at 1 ½ miles on the turf, the $500,000 Ballerina for filly and mare sprinters, the $600,000 Forego at seven furlongs, the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial, formerly known as the King's Bishop, for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs, and the $700,000 Personal Ensign for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles. Rounding out the blockbuster card is the Grade 2, $400,000 Woodford Reserve Ballston Spa for turf fillies and mares.

CELEBRATE ITALIAN-AMERICAN DAY: Wednesday, August 30: The charm and spirit of Italy will come trackside when Saratoga Race Course hosts Italian-American Day. The day-long celebration of Italian culture and heritage will feature traditional Italian music, dance, food, entertainment and games at the Berkshire Bank Saratoga Pavilion from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

FAN APPRECIATION WEEK: Wednesday, August 30-Monday, September 4: The New York Racing Association will thank its most loyal fans, season pass and season ticket holders, with an exclusive series of special events, activities and offers during closing week of the 2017 season at Saratoga Race Course.

CLOSING DAY: Monday, September 4: The 2017 meet will come to a close with the traditional final feature race, the 113th running of the Grade 1, $350,000 Hopeful for 2-year-olds, which affords racing fans a preview of potential standouts in next year's Triple Crown series and Travers.
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Monday, June 19, 2017

For National Tequila Day, a basic guide to Mexican spirits

Sangrita and a tequila sampler (Photo: Bill Dowd)
National Tequila Day this year rolls around this coming Saturday. That will mean many people who never experienced the iconic Mexican spirit will do so for the first time because any smart tavern will have specials available.

Unfortunately, it also means people who had bad tequila experiences while drinking cheap versions as raucous college students will hold their noses and shy away, forgetting that they probably also had bad experiences with beer and vodka back in the day but today still drink them.

So, what to do? How about sharing some basic information the tequila-curious might find helpful before setting out to actually enjoy the spirit?

Here’s a basic guide to all things tequila (and its cousins), with a few pronunciation tips thrown in.

Three foundational requirements under Mexican agricultural law:
1. True tequila must be made 100% from the blue agave plant and distilled only in Mexico’s Jalisco (pronounced hah-LIS-ko) state and certain specified adjoining counties.

2. Tequila 100% Agave: Must be made only with the juice of the blue agave plant and must be bottled at the distillery in Mexico. It may be Blanco, Reposado, or Añejo (ahn-yay-ho).

3. Tequila: Must be made with at least 51% blue agave juices. It may be exported in bulk to be bottled in other countries following the NOM standard. It may be Blanco, Gold, Reposado, or Añejo.
NOM, the official Mexican product safety requirements, defines four types of tequila:
Blanco, or Silver: The traditional tequila. Clear, transparent, fresh from the still. Must be bottled immediately after distillation process. Traditionally served in a cylindrical two-ounce glass called a caballito (kah-bah-yeeto).

Oro, or Gold: Modified by adding colorings and flavorings, caramel the most common. Widely preferred for frozen Margaritas.

Reposado, or Rested: Kept in white oak casks or vats called pipones (pip-oh-nace) for two to 11 months. Much mellower than blanco or oro, pale in color, gentle bouquet.

Añejo, or Aged: Matured in white oak casks for a year or more. Maximum capacity of the casks should not exceed 159 gallons. Amber color, oak notes. Then there is Reserva. Like “Extra Añejo” it is not technically a category, but recognized as an Añejo aged in oak up to eight years.
Here’s a quick rundown on the other Mexican spirits:
Mezcal: The state of Oaxaca (wah-hawk-ah) in south-central Mexico claims this spirit as its own. It’s the result of the fermentation of the native maguey (mag-way) plant by the indigenous people and the distillation techniques introduced by Spaniard conquerors. The unique topography of Oaxaca — at the confluence of three great valleys at an altitude of 6,500 feet — creates a wide variety of growing micro-climates for numerous varieties of the agave variety known as maguey, from the giant pulque (pull-kay) maguey to the maguey tobala from which one of the rarest mezcals is made.

Bacanora: This traditional liquor, mentioned by the earliest Spanish explorers as a native drink, is made in the state of Sonora, which lies below Arizona. It was illegal until about 25 years ago when rules for its manufacture were put into place. It is made from a variety of the agave plant that grows exclusively in Sonora’s climate and terrain. One of what I refer to as “border spirits.”

Sotol: Another “border spirit,” made from a shrub that looks like a bouquet of spiny leaves with fringed tips. It grows in deserts, mountains, and on dry rocky slopes. Its powerful fermented juice is the state drink of Chihuahua state, south of New Mexico. Like tequila and mezcal, it was improved by distilling the original fermentation.

Raicilla: This liquor (pronounced ray-see-yah), widely known as “Mexican moonshine,” now can be found in somewhat more sophisticated varieties as a result of modernization and commercialization. It usually is distilled from a fermented mash made from the roots of the maguey plant. It’s a harsh liquor, 100 proof or higher. Despite its dicey reputation, the tourist haven of Puerto Vallarta thinks enough of it to hold an annual raicilla festival.

Destilado de agave: This spirit is quite similar to tequila, but is brewed outside the state of Jalisco which has 98% of all legal tequila production. As with tequila, it may or may not be made with 100% agave.
Armed with this information, you now have a shopping list and time to fill it as I wish you a happy National Tequila Day.

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At Cornell, big, fat new Concord grape seeking a name

A new breed in search of a name. (Cornell photo)
• From the Cornell Chronicle


Big on flavor, aroma and size, Cornell University’s newest grape lacks one defining feature: a name.

Grape breeder Bruce Reisch spent years developing the grape, and now he’s offering the public the chance to name it. Currently dubbed NY98.0228.02, the grape is a seedless, flavorful berry with the attractive blue coloring of a Concord at nearly double the size. Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the new variety is well adapted to the Northeast, with good cold-tolerance for most of the Eastern states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.

“This grape is the first truly seedless Concord-type and has naturally large, attractive berries,” said Reisch. The Concord has long been an American favorite, known best for its use in grape juice, jellies and jams. “Our new grapes weigh 5 or 6 grams per berry, almost twice the weight of a traditional Concord,” said Reisch. “It’s pretty rare to find a grape that size, especially with such full flavor.”

Reisch hopes the contest will inspire a name as inviting as the grape. Submissions can be made online until July 31. Reisch and his collaborators at Double A Vineyards will decide on their favorites, then present the choices to the public for a final vote in September.

Go here for the full story.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

SLA accepting requests for craft beverage production centers

New York State today began accepting applications for the operation of custom craft beverage production centers to provide space and equipment to those looking to produce beer, wine, or cider for home consumption.

The State Liquor Authority (SLA), which oversees the process, will provide new licenses to facilitate production of homemade beer, wine and cider. Licenses are available both to current craft manufacturers seeking to establish a secondary business at their current location, or businesses seeking to open a standalone custom homemade craft beverage production center.

“This new license provides greater opportunity for New Yorkers to make their own beer, wine or cider, while helping to strengthen an already booming craft beverage industry,”Governor Cuomo said in an announcement. “This win-win-win makes it easier for hobby brewers, vintners and cider makers to hone their craft, while offering beverage manufacturers a new source of revenue that in turn helps New York farms succeed and thrive.”

It was on November 14, 2016, that the governor signed legislation creating the new license that authorizes production centers where craft beverage enthusiasts, hobbyists and other amateur brewers, vintners and cider makers can utilize the expertise, space and equipment of existing facilities to produce craft beverages for personal consumption.

New York’s craft beverage industry is one of the fastest growing in the nation, however in urban and suburban areas, residents often cannot afford or do not have access to the appropriate space or equipment to manufacture products at home. In addition to providing space and lowering the overhead costs, the new production centers also will increase demand for locally grown ingredients, generate revenue for New York’s small craft manufacturers and provide expert hands-on training for hobbyists and those exploring joining the growing ranks of craft producers across the state.

Downloadable application forms are available online.

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Imbibeable Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.

 

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pushback on brewers' tasting rooms may hurt craft movement

From Forbes.com
Grumblings are growing louder and legislation that limits direct beer sales out of tasting rooms is getting passed.[around the country] ...

Though breweries work in partnership with their distributors and retailers, they also compete against them when they construct tasting rooms and pubs that might draw hundreds of customers every day of the week.
Go here for the story.
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New Lake George Beer Hub is in full operation

• From NYupstate.com
By Don Cazentre
QUEENSBURY -- A big new "beer hub" is gearing up this summer to boost growth for two breweries in different parts of Upstate New York.

The Lake George Beer Hub is in the town of Queensbury between Lake George and Glens Falls. It's producing beers for two separate breweries -- Cooperstown Brewing Co., of Milford near Cooperstown, and Davidson Brothers Brewing Co., founded in Glens Falls.

The hub -- with a big brewhouse and tasting room -- was built by Davidson Brothers in 2014. It now is owned and operated by a third company, Northern Eagle Beverages, a beer distributor located in Oneonta. Old Slugger Pale Ale from Cooperstown Brewing Co., produced at the Lake George Beer Hub. Old Slugger Pale Ale from Cooperstown Brewing Co., produced at the Lake George Beer Hub. ...

"The bottom line is we can produce more beer for both Cooperstown and Davidson Brothers and better manage the production efficiently (at the beer hub)," said George Allen, Northern Eagle's president. The Lake George Beer Hub had its grand opening last week.
Go here for the full story.

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Update: Barge-shipped beer tanks to be delivered Saturday

Fermentation tanks en route to Rochester.
UPDATE (6/2/17): The first shipment of Chinese-manufactured beer fermentation tanks measuring 20 feet wide by 60 feet tall today was sitting on an Erie Canal lock just outside the suburban  Rochester town of Gates. They are on schedule for delivery, and are expected to be loaded onto flatbed truck on Saturday and moved five miles to their destination, the Genesee Brewing Company in downtown Rochester.

Despite media and public interest in the project, several state and local politicians have expressed displeasure with the brewery using state economic development funding for the purchase of tanks they claim could have been made in-state. Go here for that story.

(Originally published 5/22/17)

HEADLINE: Beer fermentation tanks moving via the Erie Canal

Even the weakest student of geography knows it's a shorter distance from China to Rochester if you don't go by way of Albany (and if you're traveling the traditional easterly route). But, it's a different story if you're delivering beer fermentation tanks.

The first three of a dozen 20-by-60-foot tanks being shipped from the manufacturer in China to the Genesee Brewing Company in downtown Rochester is now on the way. Their first domestic stop was at the Port of Albany, where they were placed on barges because they are too large for conventional movement by rail or truck. Then it was goodbye high tech, and hello Erie Canal.

The barge passed through the Waterford locks at the eastern terminus of the waterway just off the Hudson River opposite Troy on Friday. The westbound trip had temporarily been delayed by a high water level caused by heavy rains.

The tanks are part of Genesee Brewing's $40 million expansion project. If you're interested in tracking -- and maybe observing -- any of the trip as some people have been doing, here's the schedule for the first shipment of tanks:
May 23: Tanks will proceed to Niskayuna to Scotia to Rotterdam Junction/Glenville to Cranesville to Amsterdam to Tribes Hill

May 24: Tribes Hill to Randall to Canajoharie to Fort Plain to Mindenville
May 25: Mindenville to Little Falls to Frankfort to Utica

May 26: Utica to Rome to New London

May 27: New London to Brewerton to Baldwinsville

May 28: Baldwinsville to Mays Point to Clyde to Lyons

May 29/30: Lyons to Newark to Palmyra to Macedon to Pittsford to Henrietta; Tanks arrive at 150 Lee Road in Rochester
By way of comparison with the $40 million project, the idea of the 363-mile-long Erie Canal was authorized in 1817 by the New York State Legislature with a  budget of $7 million. It was completed in 1825.

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Dept. of Don't Believe Everything You Read


This screen grab is from a promo of a story published in the UK newspaper The Daily Mail. Admittedly, tequila may not be THE liquor of choice in the UK, but the editors there should know there is no such thing as a "tequila plant." That's like calling barley a "Scotch whisky plant." The iconic Mexican beverage is distilled from roasted hearts of the blue agave plant.

Here's what the story actually is about.

Naturally-occuring sugars in the agave plant, called agavins, have been shown in test using laboratory mice to help lose weight and fight diabetes, according to a newly-released study presented to the American Chemical Society.

Thus, the potential exists to create a new sweetener to be used in diets for obese people and sufferers of type 2 diabetes. The key words being "mice" and "potential."

Agavins are non-digestible, and may help make people feel fuller so they might eat less; i.e., they act a dietary fiber and will raise blood sugar, according Dr. Mercedes G. López, who carried out the research.

“We believe that agavins have a great potential as light sweeteners since they are sugars, highly soluble, have a low glycemic index, and a neutral taste, but most important, they are not metabolized by humans. Agavins are not expensive and have no known side effects, except for those few people who cannot tolerate them," Lopez said.

An important cautionary note: This is the only known study on the topic, so it has  not yet had peer confirmation, and anyone with diabetes needs to be extremely careful about alcohol consumption.

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Celebri-Quote: Richard Overton

Richard Overton is 111 years old and a celebrity in Texas or anywhere else our military veterans are revered. Here's a bit of a story about him published in the Dallas News on a day he was sitting his porch in Austin, puffing one of the dozen or so cigars he smokes each day.

On Richard Overton's 111th birthday on May 11, the town renamed his street [in his honor]. Some 200 people came out for the party on his front lawn, lining up to take a photo with Overton like kids waiting to meet Santa Claus.

Many brought gifts, like fancy cigars and bottles of whiskey. That’s his drink of choice -- a whiskey and Coke -- and when his caretakers are pouring, it’s always more Coke than whiskey. His cousins estimate he received more than 40 bottles that day, now dispersed throughout his home in kitchen cabinets, a bedroom closet and dresser drawers. ...

He’s sitting in a lawn chair on the front porch of the Austin home he built nearly 70 years ago, working on his fifth Tampa Sweet cigar on a 91-degree sunny day. The smooth tunes of the Isley Brothers flow from a portable speaker. Birds are chirping in the late afternoon breeze.
“I’m feeling pretty good today,” Overton says, emphasizing the word pretty, because any day spent on this porch smoking cigars is a pretty good day for the 111-year-old.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fort Orange Brewing post tops May readership list

My guest mixologist
What posts did readers of "Dowd On Drinks" like most in May? My report on the latest local craft brewery proposal topped 'em all by a large factor.

The post titled In-development Fort Orange Brewing embraces local history (5/11) was far and away the most-read post, attracting about 300 more views than the second most-read post, the also-well-read Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival this weekend.

"Dowd On Drinks" readers' interests appear as eclectic as the blog content that ranges from local to international items across the adult beverage spectrum. The most-read items including product reviews, hard-news items, event announcements and a bit of snark (hint: see No. 5).

Here are 3 through 10. If you missed any of them and are interested, just click on the links to go there.

3. Tasting: Beauregard Dixie Southern Vodka
4. Tasting: Kung Fu Girl Riesling
5. When news breaks ...  (5/8)
6. New pact tightens tequila identification requirements
7. Bombay Sapphire: A case of accidental overproofing
8. Update: Argyle Brewing opens its second tasting room today
9. Hard cider brew fest planned in Steuben County
10. Anthony Road entry goes gold in French competition
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Riesling and beer event morphs into NY State Wine Festival

If you attended the last Finger Lakes Riesling & Craft Beer Festival, yes you did. The "last," that is.

The event, scheduled for the weekend of August 12-13 in Canandaigua, has been rebranded. It  now is known as the New York State Wine Festival. Among the changes:
• The emphasis will be on a variety of wines from across the state, not just Rieslings from the region.

• The craft beer element has been dropped.

• The Canandaigua City Pier no longer will be used as part of the festival venue, hosted by the adjacent New York Wine & Culinary Center.

• Wine-centric cooking demonstrations by Wine & Culinary Center chefs have been added to the schedule.
“Wine is so tightly woven into the fabric of the state and the people who live here, so this event will do more to recognize that incredible depth of passion,” said Lauren Dixon, CEO of Dixon Schwabl, which produces the event.

Tickets can be purchased in advance online. While they also will be available at the gate on the days of the festival, they will be on a cash-only basis.

The Wine & Culinary Center is located at 800 South Main Street on the lakeshore.
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Sports bar/restaurant plans to be reviewed by Troy panel

A sports bar in the making (Google photo)
The onetime site of the restaurant Badass Burrito in Troy's Lansingburgh section that closed in 2011 may come back to life in 2017.

Jeff Jackson, a resident of Galway, Saratoga County, has applied to the city Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for what is known as a "major area variance" for parking as part of a proposal to turn the vacant former restaurant at 443 Fifth Avenue into a sports bar/restaurant.

The request is on the ZBA agenda for its meeting scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, in the Planning Department hearing room of City Hall, 433 River Street.
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