Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Ole Smoky Moonshine, Deliciously Authentic

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine

Bold, yet subtle. Prominent, yet unassuming. Old, yet new.

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine is full of wonderful juxtapositions that have catapulted the brand into the position of an industry leader while remaining true to their Appalachian roots.

All around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you'll see people carrying newly purchased products in Ole Smoky logo-clad gift bags. And upon entering their flagship store, The Holler, you're immediately overcome by the sheer amount of moonshine choices, beautifully stacked in rows across every wall. You know that Ole Smoky has something special before you've even tasted a drop.

Ole Smoky Moonshine in Gatlinburg, TN

I stopped by the Ole Smoky Distillery and spent time with Johnny, one of the nicest, most down-to-earth guys I've had the pleasure of meeting. He took me behind the scenes to see how their moonshine is made, talked about his family history (his nephew started the company based off century-old family recipes), and took some shots with us while explaining just how special the brand is to the history of alcohol. And indeed, it is special.

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Distillery

Moonshine became legal in Tennessee in 2009. By 2010, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine was in business as the first federally licensed moonshine distillery in East Tennessee. In the beginning, the family made and sold moonshine to keep themselves afloat, as many early Smoky settlers did. Generations later, when Ole Smoky opened shop, seven employees sold product out of a store window. Seven years later, it has expanded into three locations with two distilleries, and they sell their moonshine jars in 50 states and over 50 countries. A feat that's wildly incredible! Adding to the list, news just broke last week that they have partnered with Yee-Haw Brewing Co. and Music City Roots to open an entertainment complex in Nashville within the next year. I imagine the venture to be huge.

Exponential growth sometimes leads to the sacrifice of product, but that's far from the case for the world's most visited distillery. As I learned firsthand, their creative concoctions are ever-growing (they've even added whiskey to their product list) and the flavors are delicious. In fact, Ole Smoky is so proud of their variety they let the customers try before they buy. For $5, visitors can sample 13 flavors. If patrons buy anything, that $5 goes toward the purchase. Can't beat that!

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine tasting
Ole Smoky Blue Flame Moonshine
Ole Smoky Moonshine Cherries

I partook in a sampling and was amazed at the smoothness and variety. From straight-to-the-point, 128 proof Blue Flame to 35 proof coffee-flavored Mountain Java cream liqueur moonshine, Ole Smoky has you covered whether you want a stiff drink or something to sip on. No matter what I tried, I was pleased to find that all of the shots were smooth. I imagined I'd be choking down burning liquid, but it was quite the opposite. I savored each shot and able to really appreciate the flavors. That being said, the Blue Flame was presented in a thimble-sized shot glass, so when you drink the harder stuff don't forget it's moonshine. As Johnny explained, "You don't go lookin' for the moonshine, it will find you."

Ole Smoky Salty Caramel Whiskey

What may have surprised me the most was the Ole Smoky Whiskey. I am not a fan of whiskey at all so when I saw two flavors in the tasting lineup I was hesitant to try, but ended up loving their varieties. In fact, I took a bottle of the Salty Caramel home with me it was so good. I recently spotted Caramel Apple on the Ole Smoky site and I really want to try it but it's only offered at the distillery. Seems like a great excuse for a return trip!

Between the moonshine, moonshine-soaked fruit, and whiskey, there are just about 40 flavors to choose from and I can confidently say there's something for everyone who enjoys alcohol. From now on, any time I attend a gathering I'll be bringing the Ole Smoky. Consider picking up a bottle if you're attending a New Year's Eve party. You'll quickly become everyone's favorite guest.

To locate a store selling Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine in your area, check out the Get a Jar feature on the Ole Smoky site.

Disclaimer: I was hosted at Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed here are accurate and my own, and not influenced by the company in any way.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Last week marked the 109th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade in Newport Beach, CA. It's the longest-running lighted boat parade in the country and contains as many as 100 vessels of all types decorated for the holidays. The parade only runs for a few days each December and is a huge event that draws large crowds of spectators who watch from the shore, purchase tickets to ride on one of the many boats that are part of the parade, or if you're one of the millionaires that have a home or boat in Balboa, you have the pleasure of watching from your property (both of which host lavish parties taking place at the same time!).

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
Newport Beach Christmas Boats

When riding on a boat you have the opportunity to be part of the parade. Boats line up and cruise around the harbor allowing patrons to see spectacular homes and water crafts decorated to the nines. During the voyage, people watching the parade wave and shout good tidings to the passengers on the boats. It was pretty fun to experience so much holiday cheer. This was my first year attending and I definitely recommend riding on one of the boats for the unique experience, but my one complaint was that being on the boat limits your view of the other vessels. Next year I want to go again and watch from the shore.

Ride on a Newport Beach Christmas Boat
Newport Beach Christmas Boats

Tips for the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade:
  • Arrive several hours before your boat departs/the parade starts due to insane traffic and parking. And be prepared to walk a distance to get to your destination.
  • Try to attend on the first or last night (Wednesday or Sunday) to see the fireworks show.
  • Check out Groupon/Living Social several weeks before the parade to get big ticket discounts.
  • Take your family! This is a fun things to do with kids and adults alike.

Fun note: this year Vicki Gunvalson of “Real Housewives of Orange County” was the Grand Marshall. It would have been fun to see her kick off the festivities, especially since I attended opening night, but I opted for the later parade time. Keep an eye out, maybe it'll be featured on next season of RHOC!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Warner Bros. TV Holiday Media Mixer

Warner Bros. TV Holiday Media Mixer
Beauty & Essex Hollywood

Last night I attended the Warner Bros. TV Holiday Media Mixer, and as always it was a great time! The event was held at a swanky Hollywood bar, Beauty & Essex, that I highly recommend. Think beautiful chandeliers, upscale dining, pretty twinkle lights and a secret entrance via a faux pawn shop. Once inside, the party featured delicious food and drinks, a psychic and tarot card reader, candy maker, lip artist (check out my red glitter lipstick below!), and mingling with others involved in the entertainment industry.

Warner Bros. TV Holiday Media Mixer
Warner Bros. TV Holiday Media Mixer
Beauty & Essex Hollywood
Red Glitter Lips
Warner Bros. TV Holiday Media Mixer

Friday, December 1, 2017

Aquarium of the Pacific Holiday Celebration

Holiday Season at Aquarium of the Pacific

This December, visit Aquarium of the Pacific to experience a seasonal celebration, complete with Santa Diver, Penguin Walk, "fish"mas treats, holiday-themed characters, and more! The fun takes place December 2 through 24.

The Aquarium, although located in sunny Southern California, transforms into a winter wonderland fun for kids and adults alike. There's something magical about a big, bright Christmas tree surrounded by falling snow with a tank full of colorful sea life in the background! And in true marine fashion, see Santa swim with the fishes in between posing for pictures in his traditional attire.

Aquarium of the Pacific Santa Diver

On weekends, crafts, Hanukkah storytelling, and real snow are highlights not to be missed. And every day at 10 a.m., see penguins up close as they waddle their way to their habitat, marching in front of the otters in the Northern Gallery.

During a preview of the holiday experience, we got to interact with one of those penguins who hammed it up for the audience!

Aquarium of the Pacific penguin
Aquarium of the Pacific penguins
Aquarium of the Pacific penguins

Admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is $29.95 for adults, $26.95 for seniors (62+), and $17.95 for children ages 3-11. For additional information on all of the holiday activities taking place, visit the Aquarium Holidays page.

Spark of Love Toy Drive 
A toy drive runs daily December 2 through 24 and supports the Long Beach Fire Department Spark of Love Toy Drive. Aquarium guests who donate a new, unwrapped toy – at a $15 value or more – will receive a coupon valid for $10 off adult/$3 off child, up to 4 total admissions. Aquarium members will receive a complimentary Aquarium admission ticket for each toy donated (max of 6).