Cocina Lolo Sangria Cocktails
Since Cocina opened (the newest culinary baby of Bryan and Andrea Sikora, located at 405 N. King St.), they’ve enjoyed a great dinner buzz. But I feel everyone should know they also have a terrific at-bar Happy Hour too (Tuesday-Friday, 4-6 p.m., with $5 classic margaritas, $3 cervezas and $2 tacos). Above all that, my favorite new thing is their homemade BLANCO (white) Y TINTO (red) sangrias: Spanish wines mixed with oodles of brandy-soaked fruits and a touch of Cointreau—the perfect “something new” for your everyday HH party. P.S., also try their mushroom fundido for another something new.
— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer
Hop Sing Laundromat in Philly
The best bar within 100 miles of where you are right now. It’s this crazy hidden speakeasy in Chinatown. You give a big, scary, ex-football pro your ID when you buzz in. He disappears for an uncomfortable amount of time, then returns to read you the rules. Sneakers or jeans? Don’t even bother knocking. Take a photo, even with your phone, and you get kicked to the curb. But man, the drinks…I recently had the Funkify Your Life (Thai pepper with gin, ginger liquor, mint and lemon juice), which is so spicy if it touches your lips you are toast. But it is all delicious and worth the dance, whatever your poison.
— Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer
Narragansett Allie’s Donuts Chocolate Porter
I have a love/hate relationship with chocolate beers. Simultaneously, they’re my most favored and most detested brews. This beer is sweet as expected, and proves to be light, uncharacteristic of many chocolate-based batches. I found my pack of six at Inner Spirits in Trolley Square.
— Ryan Alexander, Contributing Designer
Wine & Cider-making
Creative Director Matt Loeb and I have always suggested home brewing beer in O&A Worth Trying editions, but each time we try to offer something different. This past fall, I tried my hand at making hard cider with locally-sourced apple cider from Highland Orchards. Everyone who had a chance to try it fell in love with it, and making hard cider is much easier than home-brewing beer. With wine or cider-making, you cut out the actual “brewing” part and just add some yeast to your “juice,” let it sit and follow regular home brewing procedures.
— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer
Born in moonshine country, this American single malt whisky was a spontaneous buy at Frank’s Wine. I finally tried it and was pleasantly surprised. It’s obvious that Blue Ridge Distillery mastered this blend before it hit the bottle and the shelves. It’s the perfect sipper to enjoy with holiday guests.
— Matt Loeb, Creative Director & Production Manager
Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
The eerie mystic on the label of California’s North Coast Brewing Co.’s Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is anything but welcoming. But the bitter brew, an enigmatic blend of coffee, dark cocoa and dark malts, is rich and smooth. At 9 percent ABV, it’s one to sip slow and savor.
— Krista Connor, Associate Editor
Aperol Spritz at Capers & Lemons
I’m typically a beer and red wine drinker, but at our office holiday party at Capers & Lemons I was in the mood for something different. They had lots of delightful looking options, but our server recommended the Aperol Spritz: prosecco, aperol (an Italinan liquer made with bitter orange and rhubarb), club soda, and a splash of fresh orange juice. It was delicious! Exactly the festive-type cocktail I had in mind.
— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media
Dark and Stormy
A colleague introduced me to this concoction during a recent holiday dinner. Trust me, I will be having another. Created with Crabbie’s ginger beer, Gosling’s Black Seal Bermuda dark rum, and a twist of lime, the drink has a nice bite, is not too sweet, and the perfect option when you’re looking for a break from a filling craft beer or glass of wine.
— Jerry duPhily, Publisher
Swigg – Wine, Craft Beer & Artisan Spirits
Located in Independence Mall, David Govatos’ new shop is both stylish and thoroughly engaging for the adult beverage aficionado. It focuses on lesser known producers from all over the world, quality products are offered at very competitive pricing. One wall features an ever-changing roster of 15 red wines and 15 whites, all under $15. If craft beer is your thing, craft is all they sell. An impressive collection of local, regional and other quality American brews are chilled and ready for a session with the crew. And an outstanding selection of premium artisanal spirits make excellent gifts or additions to your liquor cabinet or winter sipping list. Located at 1601 Concord Pike, Wilmington.
Four Delaware bartenders dish on serving The First State
Walk into most restaurants, and whether it’s a slow Tuesday afternoon or a busy Friday night, there’s usually something going down at the bar. Customers are laughing and carrying on, or yelling at the TV, or even singing along to the acoustic duo doing covers of Dave Matthews and Billy Joel.
In the center of it all is the bartender. He or she mixes drinks, pours beers, takes orders, conducts traffic, tell jokes, and in effect creates an environment that makes customers feel at home.
We spoke with four “lifers” with a total of more than 85 years behind some of Delaware’s most well-attended bars to find out what it’s like being the ringmaster of all this action. They revealed how they got started, what keeps them in the business, and described some unique tips they’ve received over the years. They also threw in some advice for today’s bar-hoppers.
Alan Rutherford, The Man at Kid’s
Just a little over 20 years ago, while he was waiting tables at Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House & Saloon in Wilmington, Al Rutherford was offered a shot at tending bar during one of Kid’s famously busy Sunday brunches.
Anyone who has stopped in for steak and eggs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a Sunday knows that the scene at Kid’s can be a dizzying display of servers, hostesses and kitchen staff working as a well-oiled machine.
For Rutherford, it was baptism by fire, but he survived it, would continue working nights while getting his master’s in physiology from the University of Delaware, and then would be faced with a decision to make when he graduated.
“Most people will tell you they get into bartending for the money, and I’m no exception,” says Rutherford. “The job offers I got when I graduated were for peanuts, so I decided to stay on at Kid’s, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Now 48, Rutherford hasn’t a single regret. He’s become as much a part of the bar scene at Kid’s as the comfy swivel chairs aligned on the back side of the bar itself. But aside from the money – Rutherford says Kid’s has been a “gold mine” – the North New Jersey native says you have to love people to be a good bartender.
“The best part of tending bar is the people, although the worst part of tending bar can also be the people,” says Rutherford. “I’d say 95 percent of the people are great; they come in to share their stories, hang out and have a good time. But of course you’ll always have that 5 percent of cantankerous folks that just don’t want to be nice. For each type of person, you have to be a professional and try your best to show them a good time.”
Over the years, some folks have had a little bit more of a good time than others. During the 1990s, when Kid’s was under different ownership (the Trolley Square icon is now owned by the Harry’s Restaurant Group), Kid’s featured a DJ Night on Thursdays that sometimes got a bit rowdy.
“Yeah, I remember seeing some girls get up on the bar on those crazier nights,” says Rutherford. “And I remember seeing some of those girls’ clothes come off. After a few incidents, we had to, um, discourage that. The ‘90s were a different time.”
Today Rutherford still enjoys his job, but does feel that the younger clientele has changed the relationship between bartender and customer, mostly because of the smartphone. They’re constantly on their phones, he says, and it comes off as rude.
“I don’t want to sound like an old guy, but the kids with the cellphones…it’s gone too far,” he says. “We used to have a no cellphone policy years ago, but that doesn’t fly anymore. I’d just say that if you’re gonna go out to the bar, enjoy your experience. Engage with your bartender, your friends, and the atmosphere. Kid’s is a really fun place to hang out, and I think you miss out on that if you’re constantly looking down at your phone the entire time.”
Matty Kasper, Starboard Icon
Drive down Route 1 through Dewey Beach just about any weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day and you’ll see a packed house and lines out the door for what is one of Delaware’s most popular bars, The Starboard. Somewhere buried among the throng of bikini-clad ladies and the dudes in swim trunks you’ll usually find Matty Kasper busy juicing hundreds of grapefruits and opening bottles of Bud Light.
It’s been that way for 18 summers, ever since Kasper, now 44, was offered a job bar backing (basically being a busboy for the bartender—getting him ice and other supplies, cleaning up after hours; a bartender starter job). That turned into a bartending gig a few summers later.
It’s been said that Starboard bartenders don’t quit; they simply die, implying that the gig is so coveted because of both the money and the excitement of working at such a busy establishment that no one ever leaves the job. Kasper agrees.
“It really is a phenomenal place to work, from the co-workers to the owners to the regular customers that come through here every summer,” says Kasper. “It’s like a big family here, which is kinda cool. The hours can be rough, but the pace of the place makes them fly by. However, if you want to be a bartender here, get in line.”
While The Starboard does great business for New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day weekend, things really kick off on Memorial Day weekend, when Dewey sees its annual flood of out-of-towners and vacationers looking to kick back and have a few adult beverages. Kasper says that three-day weekend is the longest stretch he works each year.
“The craziest shift is Memorial Day Sunday. We can’t serve booze until 9 a.m., but we’re open for breakfast at 8 a.m.,” says Kasper. “By 8:59 a.m., we have a line of 300 people around the building, and the waitresses already have pre-ordered drink tickets for their tables. Once it strikes 9 a.m., the floodgates open and it doesn’t stop until 1 a.m. the next day.”
He says that’s roughly a 22-hour shift, if you begin with a 7 a.m. call time and continue until all the checks are closed and the bar is cleaned Monday around 4 or 5 a.m. Though he doesn’t know how many crates of oranges or grapefruit the bar goes through to make its famous “Crush” drinks, Kasper says he’s been told by distributors that they sell the most Absolut Ruby Red vodka in the country to make the drinks.
When bartenders get busy, according to Kasper, they have a system of getting to patrons one by one, avoiding long waits for people based on when they belly up. However, if you’re at Kasper’s bar during a busy shift, one thing can guarantee you slow—or no—service: Yelling “Yo!” or calling him “Bro!” if you don’t know him.
“If people just stand there and smile, or raise their hand, I’ll get to them,” says Kasper. “It’s when you start yelling at me that I’ll likely tune you out and move on to the next person. I know you’re waiting there, and I’ll get to you, just be patient.”
Brian Ford, Mr. Main Street
Brian Ford is another lifer. For 23 years, Newark bar-goers could find him perched at Klondike Kate’s on Main Street. Every Thursday around 5 p.m., he’d have the same set of regulars who bellied-up and joined him and co-workers for what felt like a weekly private party.
Now down the street at Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen, Ford finds himself in a slightly different environment. The hours are a little easier and the clientele is a little more grown up, but he still feels that being a good bartender comes down to a few fundamentals.
“For me, bartending is all about interaction with the guests, and getting to know people,” says Ford. “The drinks and food, to me, have always been secondary. You can get a Ketel and tonic or a chicken sandwich anywhere. But if you get to know your bartender, and maybe even become friends, you’ll go back again and again.”
The 44-year-old has certainly worked at enough bars—including Scratch Magoo’s, Firestone and the Columbus Inn in Wilmington—to know that guests can sit at any table and have a waiter or waitress serve them a burger. But to Ford, the bartender-customer relationship is different.
“A martini is just a martini, but if I ask what you do, ask your name, and get to know you a little, I guarantee it’ll be a more memorable martini than usual,” he says. “And I’m not just trying to start new relationships for better tips, but it usually does work out that way, which is great.”
Ford says he’s been rewarded heavily over the years for great service. Parents of a University of Delaware ice hockey team member once tipped him a thousand dollars for “looking after their son,” while another regular once offered him keys to a beach house in Key West.
“Don’t get me wrong, those kinds of tips are great, and I’m always very appreciative when someone goes out of their way to show their gratitude,” he says. “But a lot of younger bartenders today, from what I’ve seen, kind of expect 20 percent or more just for showing up. It doesn’t work that way.”
Ford says tips need to be earned, rather than expected. As the bar manager at Grain, he’s trying to instill the ideals of hard work, conversation, and relationship building with the next generation of bartenders.
“If you can get on a level with your customers where you become Facebook friends with them, or text them to go out and grab a beer the next time you’re not working, you’ve really gone above and beyond as a bartender,” says Ford. “When you’re tending bar, you should be having fun with the people around you. With two bars here at Grain, that’s our goal: to create a great atmosphere at each one.”
Nicol DiMarzio, Logan House Linchpin
Now a 24-year veteran of the restaurant-and-bar business, Nicol DiMarzio’s start in the hospitality industry includes a bit of humor as well as a historic tragedy. Her first bartending shift took place in her home state of New Jersey, where a customer ordered a Bloody Mary, and after tasting it, asked for DiMarzio to make it hotter.
“I went in the back and microwaved the thing,” says DiMarzio, laughing. “I had no idea he meant make it spicier; that’s how naïve I was.”
So much for the humor. The tragedy was on a much greater scale. Her first “real shift” as a bartender, as she puts it, came just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, while she was working as a server at Kid Shelleen’s.
“One of the owners at the time had a son who died in the terrorist attacks,” says DiMarzio. “It was awful. But that Friday, we held a benefit and they needed an extra bartender. I guess they figured that for that kind of event, no one would complain if my service was slow on a Friday night. They threw me back there and I started working bar shifts the next week.”
For DiMarzio, bartending is about three things: interaction with guests, the money she’s made over the years, and avoiding the monotony of a corporate desk job. She’s now at Kelly’s Logan House, where she acts as manager much more often than she tends bar, but she still enjoys talking with people.
“I’m not the kind of person who would start up a random conversation with people on the street,” she says, “but get me behind the bar and I can’t stop talking with them. Just don’t call me sweetie, baby, or hon.”
Besides her disdain for pet names, DiMarzio also doesn’t like it when she hears people ask her co-workers about getting a “real job.” She says some customers don’t view waiting tables or tending bar as real careers, just because they’re not 9-to-5 desk jobs.
“I’ve had people ask me what I do for a living while I was tending bar,” she says. “I used to work for DuPont, but I couldn’t do the corporate desk thing. That’s probably one of the best parts of working in the restaurant industry: things are a little more relaxed, and you can joke around and have fun with customers.”
For DiMarzio, a good regular bar patron asks about how the bartender is doing, and has some respect for the job. After working at places like Six Paupers, Dead Presidents, Lime and even the long-forgotten Café Bellissimo, DiMarzio says the guests who treat bartenders the best usually get treated the best in return.
So to sum up: the perfect bartender is a professional—not some moonlighting amateur—who will lend a sympathetic ear, deliver a well-mixed drink in a timely manner, and expect an appropriate gratuity for his or her services. In return, customers are expected to be respectful, keep cell phone use to a minimum, and never, ever use the words “yo,” “bro,” “hon,” “baby,” or “sweetie” within earshot of the bartender.
Welcome to our sixth annual Worth Trying Issue. Though we feature Worth Trying suggestions monthly, each January we devote much of the magazine to personal recommendations from staff, contributors and friends of Out & About. These suggestions on where and what to eat, drink, see and do are scattered throughout these pages, interspersed with our usual assortment of feature stories, news items and other fun stuff.
Enjoy, and have a very happy New Year!
Trolley Grooming Lounge
Technically, this isn’t from me, it’s from my hubby. On a tip from our bestie living in “Trolleywood,” Scott visited Trolley Grooming Lounge for a quick haircut. He loved the stylists and the chill atmosphere. It’s become location of choice for all his ‘scaping needs. (And it’s not just for the boys. Gals are welcome too, and they now have their own product line.) Best of all, it comes with the “MKF Seal of Approval.” You can “like” them on Facebook at Trolley Grooming Lounge.
— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer
The Central YMCA
This time of year we all make resolutions to get in better shape, so if joining a fitness center is in your plans, pay a visit to the Central YMCA. Though the facility has been serving the Wilmington community since 1929, the fitness center is state-of-the-art, offering 96 high-end workout machines in an invigorating setting accented by a giant glass wall that overlooks 12th Street. But what’s unique about the Central Y is its egalitarian feel. One day you’ll be working out next to a U.S. Senator, the next day you’ll be sweating it out with your mailman.
— Jerry duPhily, Publisher
REI (Recreation Equipment Inc.), Christiana Fashion Center
When REI opened its voluminous (23,500 square feet) Christiana store earlier this fall, outdoor cognoscenti anticipated a serious dose of “wilderness porn.” The store does not disappoint. Although many sporting goods stores carry basic hiking, camping, and other outdoor gear, REI focuses exclusively on those pursuits with a larger and more varied selection of clothing and goods. The store also offers seasonal classes, trips, and bike repairs. An added benefit: REI provides a low-cost membership that gives discounts and an annual rebate based on one’s purchases.
— Mark Fields, Movie Reviewer
Himalayan Salt Lamp
These are big, hollow salt crystals that are mined from underground salt mines in the Himalayan Mountains with a light bulb inserted in the middle. People claim they can neutralize pollutants in the air caused by electronics, like TVs and computer screens, by emitting negative ions. They also claim other “benefits,” such as reducing respiratory symptoms and improving mood and creativity. I have one next to my computer screen at work, and one at home in the living room. I’m not too sure how beneficial it’s been to my health, but I think it’s definitely improved my mood and creativity, especially on rainy days. And it looks pretty cool. I got mine at Home Depot.
— Tyler Mitchell, Graphic Designer
I wanted to repaint some of the rooms in my house recently, and in an attempt to save a few bucks I bought paint from Home Depot. What a mistake! It wasn’t too long before I stopped using that stuff and headed down to Shinn’s on Lovering Avenue—where I should have started in the first place. Higher quality paint requires far fewer coats and applies so much better. And when you need advice on the best products for your job, the folks there never steer me wrong.
— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media
Balance That Body
At 36, it takes more effort to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. A friend and co-worker introduced me to Scott at Balance Strength and Fitness Center and I’ve never felt better. It’s conveniently located at 4th and Greenhill, so I can work a visit into almost any busy day. BalanceFitnessTraining.com.
— Matt Loeb, Creative Director
John Saward, Vice Magazine
I used to write, but I stopped when I started taking photos. Others do it much better. Take Vice Magazine’s John Saward (Google him, but be prepared to lose your afternoon). He’s young, unflaggingly honest and writes these gloriously poetic tantrums. He wrote that American Bro (“The Worst Person In The World”) article that went viral last year. I love everything I’ve read of his, and it’s been a long time since a new voice stopped me. I predict Bob Yearick will hate him because his grammar takes liberties, but they do have their similarities.
— Joe del Tufo, Contributing Photographer
Winterthur Museum Store
This under-the-radar treasure boasts some of the most unique home-decor accessories (and wow-worthy gifts) in the state, but few know it exists—or that Winterthur conveniently allows shoppers to park near the shop instead of taking a shuttle all the way from the visitors’ center.
— Eric Ruth, Contributing Writer
Gloss Hair & Makeup
I have been going to Tateum at Gloss for several years and love her and the salon. They always make you feel and look great. They offer a wide variety of options from wedding services to eyelash extensions. For more information, check out salondelaware.com.
— Kelly Loeb, Account Manager, Catalyst Visuals, LLC
My 2-year-old daughter wanted pink boots for Christmas. I wanted to get her something warm and functional. My research led me to Bogs. The company started in Oregon with a focus on footwear for the farm industry. In addition to being super durable, comfortable, and easy to maneuver in, they are machine washable! After hearing all that, I was sold. So I was even more excited to find out that the company dedicates a portion of its sales to outdoor education and urban farming. I can’t wait to get a pair of my own. (Available online and locally at Trail Creek Outfitters in Glen Mills, Pa.)
— Marie Graham, Director of Digital Media
If you haven’t paid a visit to the up-and-coming little town of Smyrna recently, pick a Friday night and swing by Blue Earl Brewery for some seriously good suds, food truck magic and live music. Things get started at 5 p.m., when the designated food truck or cart (usually Mr. BBQ or The Wise Pig) starts cranking out its wares, followed by local acoustic musicians like Nik Everett and Bruce Anthony, playing from 6-9 p.m. All the while, you’ll be able to drink craft brews like Walking Blues IPA and the Top of the World Imperial Stout. The 45-minute drive from Wilmington is totally worth it.
— Rob Kalesse, Contributing Writer
The Conowingo Dam
A trip to the banks of the Susquehanna River around the Conowingo Dam is an excellent outdoor adventure. Birds, birds and more birds await you. Bald eagles, 11 species of gulls, blue and black-crowned night herons, terns, vultures and osprey all vie for airspace. On good days you can see more than 100 bald eagles soaring in the wind currents. There are parking and viewing spots on the Harford County side of the dam. Dress warm and enjoy the scenery.
— John Murray, Contributing Writer
River Towns Ride
Cyclists are discovering that the 10-mile stretch of road between historic New Castle and historic Delaware City is a great circuit. Both ends of the route offer fantastic views of the Delaware River, it’s mostly flat, the majority of the road is recently paved, and a wide shoulder complete with sharrows (bike path designations) allows riders to feel safe. You can do the official River Towns Ride the first Saturday in October…or you can check out the ride on your own. rivertownsride.com.
— Jerry duPhily, Publisher
The Restaurant Depot
Opened last February, this big-lots food wholesaler targets restaurant owners, but membership is open to owners of any business. Just provide your EIN (employer identification number) for your free membership card, and start shopping instantly. Imagine paying wholesale for items like whole beef tenderloins and pork rib racks, an extensive selection of fresh produce, frozen hors d’oeuvres, dairy, dry goods, even paper and chemical products for the kitchen, home or small business. Located at 200 Cornell Rd., Wilmington, it’s part of a chain of stores open in 34 states and first in Delaware.
— Chef Robert Lhulier
Francesca’s for Accessories
This Greenville shop is my favorite go-to when I need jaunty, fun baubles (earrings, necklaces, etc.) for dress-up or if I need a new swag bag, tote, or wallet. The staff is friendly, fun and helpful, and I always seem to walk out with something cool…mostly just what I was looking for, but also things I never knew I wanted!
— Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Contributing Writer
After the crazy holiday time, do yourself a favor and head to Pure Yoga in Trolley Square for a yoga, Pilates, yoga/Pilates fusion or barre class. This intimate studio allows you to practice in a class where the teachers are able to be attentive to your needs. I love this place and its teachers. For more information about class times and schedules visit pureyogapilatesstudio.com.
— Kelly Loeb, Account Manager, Catalyst Visuals, LLC
Look for more Worth Trying suggestions throughout this issue!
Say farewell to cabin fever with this collection of classes, exhibitions, performing arts, and more
Ushering in post-holiday doldrums and cooped-up blues, winter is arguably one of the dreariest times of year. But fear not: we’ve compiled a list of fun indoor options to get you off the couch and out of the house. From concerts to children’s activities to beer-or-wine-and-yoga sessions (yes, you read that right), we’ve got every taste covered.
Floral Fun at Longwood Gardens
At Longwood Gardens, winter is far from bleary, thanks in part to the annual Orchid Extravaganza, on view this season free with Gardens admission from Jan. 23-March 27. The Conservatory transforms into a tropical oasis featuring Longwood’s largest and most diverse display of orchids ever.
For a personal challenge, try the Botanical Illustration Studio. Use your artistic skills to illustrate plants and flowers from Longwood’s greenhouses and grounds. The studio time gives you a chance to receive individual attention, constructive suggestions, and encouragement. Work at your own pace on your project, large or small, surrounded by fellow artists. This is a six-session course, on Mondays from 12:30-3 p.m., Jan 4-Feb. 8.
Johnny Gallagher at The Queen
Wilmington native Johnny Gallagher—musician, award-winning actor and Broadway performer—will come to World Cafe Live at The Queen on Friday, Jan. 22, to showcase his singer-songwriter skills.
His debut album, Six Day Hurricane, is set to be released Jan. 15 via Rockwood Music Hall Recordings. The first single of the album, “Two Fists Full,” is available through Soundcloud.
The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25.
For those up for a jaunt to New York City, Gallagher can be seen on Broadway in the Roundabout Theater Company production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night starting in March.
The Musical Box: Recreation of Genesis’ Foxtrot
In 1972, the English rock band Genesis toured to promote their fourth album, Foxtrot. The first concert on the tour began a trend of combining music and theatre.
The Musical Box—a Sunday, Jan. 17, performance at the Grand’s Copeland Hall—undertakes the reproduction of the original concert to give people an illusion of being at the actual Genesis show. Visual reconstruction of the show is based on photos and slides of the original concerts, magazine articles and first-hand experiences. Tickets are $32-$39.
Cinderella at the baby grand
First State Ballet Theatre—Delaware’s professional ballet company—presents Cinderella, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20-21, at the baby grand in Wilmington. The classic fairy tale with the ultimate happy ending is told with wit and elegance. Tickets begin at $14 for students ages 18 and under. Senior, group and military discounts are available. The performance starts at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 21.
Wine, Cheese & Honey Pairings at Penns Woods Winery
Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford, Pa. is teaming up with local cheese and honey artisans to bring exclusive wine, cheese, and honey pairing events on select dates (Jan. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31). Indulge in a sit-down pairing of five premium Penns Woods wines matched with various cheeses and honey from local farms. Admission is $28; reservations are required. Live music is on Jan. 9, 16, 23, and 30 from 2-5 p.m.
Contact Penns Woods at 610-459-0808 to make a reservation.
Great Balls of Fire!
From Feb. 6-May 30, the Great Balls of Fire! exhibit at Delaware Museum of Natural History explores the pop culture fascination of a catastrophic impact from an asteroid or comet. If there was a dinosaur-killer in earth’s past, is there a human-killer in our future? The exhibit asks: What are the chances and how do we assess the risks? For that matter, what are asteroids, comets, and meteorites, and where do they come from?
Chicago—The Musical at The Playhouse Chicago – The Musical has it all: a universal tale of fame, fortune and “all that jazz,” one show-stopping song after another, and fantastic dancing. The award-winning show is coming to The Playhouse Feb. 23-28. Based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, it’s based on actual criminals and crimes she covered. A satire on corruption in the administering of criminal justice, the performance explores the concept of the “celebrity criminal.”
Poetry in Beauty: the Art of Marie Spartali Stillman
Marie Spartali Stillman (1844-1927), one of a small number of professional female artists working in the second half of the 19th century, was an important presence in the Victorian art world of her time and closely affiliated with members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Poetry in Beauty, the first retrospective exhibit of Spartali Stillman’s work, runs through Jan. 31 at Delaware Art Museum. In addition to approximately 50 of her pieces, works from public and private collections in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, many of which have not been exhibited since Spartali Stillman died, will also be on view. After the exhibition, her art will be transported overseas and on view at the Watts Gallery in Guildford, England, through June 5.
Winter Classes & Fun at CCArts
Center for the Creative Arts in Yorklyn offers a bounty of fun and productive wintertime activities. First up, “Ballet for Adults” runs Tuesdays (10-11 a.m.) from Jan. 12-March 15. Study under Ballet Master Val Goncharov in these adult classes. Tuesdays (9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) from Jan. 12-March 1, try your hand at oil painting. Learn basic techniques through demonstrations, discussions and application. Tuition is $184 for members and $204 for non-members. For a one-day class on Saturday, Jan. 9, “Glass Fusion” (9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.) will explore the art of melting glass into designs to create one-of-a-kind pieces. Create a sun-catcher, pendant, tray or dish using glass that will be provided. Tuition is $40.
Additionally, try out “Yorklyn Live,” a CCArts Open Mic Night every third Thursday. It’s free, with a cash bar and food. Lastly, a Dinner Theater called “Blind Love” on Saturday, Feb. 6, is about how a blind man sees what a fool does not. People can come for dinner, drinks and dessert. The show is at 7:30 p.m. and tickets, which can be purchased online, are $35.
Call 239-2434 for more information about these activities.
Robots: they’ve explored the far reaches of space, the depths of oceans, and the inner workings of the human body. Now children ages 4-14 can explore robots themselves at Hagley’s Invention Convention, from Jan. 16-18.
The weekend includes robotic demonstrations, hands-on engineering challenges, and in-person conversations with professionals who use robots in their daily work. Visitors will discover how the Wilmington Police Department uses bomb robots to dispose of explosive devices, and guests also will take part in tinkering tables, create-an-invention fun, and a hands-on science fair. Invention Convention will be in Hagley’s Soda House and Library. Admission is $8 and $6 for children. Hagley members and children ages 4 and younger get in free.
Additionally, Hagley features the exhibit “Driving Desire: Automobile Advertising and the American Dream” through autumn. It explores the relationship between automobile advertising and Americans’ car buying decisions. Driving Desire is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Yoga in the Paradocx Tank Room
Uncork, relax and unwind at Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg, Pa., on two Sundays—Jan. 10 and Jan. 24—for Yoga in the Tank Room at 11 a.m. Your focus will be drawn away from the everyday hustle and bustle with this unique yoga class in the winery tank room. Each class is designed to relax the mind—and open the senses to encourage a mindful wine-tasting experience. Tickets are $25, and the event includes a 60-minute yoga session with wine tastings of four wines to follow. (Bring your own yoga mat.)
Winterthur Book Club & Exhibition
Embrace learning and quality time at Winterthur’s Pages of Time: Mother & Daughter Book & Craft Club. On the first Thursday of each month through May, from 6-8 p.m., this is ideal for book worms and crafty girls in 4th-6th grade. Discussions will revolve around historical fiction books, and there will be tasty snacks and crafts related to the book each month. Tickets are $25 per member adult/child pair; $35 per nonmember pair for the complete seven-month series. Winter dates and books include: Jan. 7, Betsy Zane: The Rose of Fort Henry; Feb. 4, Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark; March 3, The Smuggler’s Treasure. Call 800-448-3883 to register and for more dates.
Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia, an exhibition running March 26-Jan. 8, 2017, examines the profound influence of Asia on the arts of colonial Americans. This scholarly exhibition is the first Pan-American study to explore how craftsmen across North, Central, and South America adapted Asian styles in a range of media—from furniture to silverwork, textiles, ceramics, and painting.
Delaware Theatre Company Acting Classes
Attention, aspiring actors: ready to take a step in the right direction? Have fun while exploring characters and scenes in a six-week course at Delaware Theatre Company, Sundays from Feb. 7-March 13 (5:15-7:15 p.m.). Take on the actor’s role of examining scripts, finding characters’ objectives, and exploring various acting techniques to bring out your richest performance. Though no experience is required, students should be ready to participate, to jump in and work together—and have fun. The course is $180, and open to adults ages 18 and up. Classes are also available for children and teens.
Touch Tank: Lunch and Learn
Join the Delaware Children’s Museum staff daily from 12:30-1:30 p.m. for feeding time at the Touch Tank Aquarium. Learn about the food marine creatures eat, the habitat they live in, and special facts about the vertebrates and invertebrates who share the tank. Or stop by Try Science: Be a Physiologist, Jan. 9-10, from 11 a.m. to noon, to learn about the body’s parts that work to keep it running. Children can become junior doctors or nurses as they take a hands-on and entertaining look at the organs and systems inside a very unusual patient—the DCM’s 7-ft. doll, Stuffee.
Beer & Yoga at Victory Brewpub
Victory Brewing Company’s Kennett Square brewpub is hosting Beer & Yoga on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 9 a.m. After the yoga session, enjoy food and beer pairings. Instructor Diane Rogers will guide participants through the yoga process. Tickets are $30.
These brews can warm you inside and out as winter descends on us
Brace yourselves, folks: early winter forecasts for the Northeast are not encouraging (depending on your perspective). The vaunted Farmer’s Almanac says it “will be colder and snowier than normal,” while websites like FirstHandWeather.com predict a “wintry battle zone.”
The best way to prepare for this battle, as we know from years past, is to stockpile the weapons to fend off Old Man Winter and his arsenal of wind, snow and sub-freezing temperatures.
Certainly shovels, snow blowers, salt, space heaters and generators come to mind. But what about strong ales, bourbon porters, Belgian quads? What about heavily spiced dark beers that warm from the inside out?
Some local breweries are battening down the hatches and raising the AVB on some seriously stout winter beers. Here’s a round-up of these offerings, which are lovely, dark and deep, and will be flowing from taps and bottles in the very near (and cold) future.
Argilla Brewing Company, Newark
The little nano-brewery continues to crank out some big beers, including its “Baron,” an English strong ale, and a forthcoming Belgian quad that weighs in at 10 percent, due in January. Owner/brewer Steve Powell says Argilla brews between four and five times per week, and is working on installing a three-barrel system.
“Getting three barrels in here would double our current brew capacity from 1.5 barrels,” says Powell. “That would allow us to brew a greater amount and keep certain beers on tap longer. Right now we have between five and eight house beers on tap, but they rotate pretty frequently because of our smaller system.”
Powell is currently working on a collaboration beer (all the rage with breweries right now) between Argilla and Mispillion River, in Milford. Called “Old Earth,” this spiced strong ale will include components like ginger, vanilla beans, cinnamon and molasses, and is scheduled to be on tap at the Kirkwood Highway brewpub in December.
Mispillion River Brewing, Milford
The downstate brewery, which will celebrate its two-year anniversary on Nov. 15, will once again be releasing its popular “Kringle Beer,” a spiced brown ale, just in time for the holidays. Filled with cinnamon and clover, this 6 percent ABV brew is intended for those who like to drink more than a few per session.
Mispillion will also re-release its “Black Tie Black IPA,” which features lots of roasted coffee and black licorice notes, and is rounded out with El Dorado hops for a finish full of pine notes. Six-pack cans should reach northern Delaware spots like Kreston’s and Premier Wine & Spirits by mid-late November, and will go for between $9.99 and $10.99 per six-pack.
Stewart’s Brewing Company, Bear
Head brewer Ric Hoffman is rather blunt when it comes to popular winter beers: “I’m a traditionalist. I kind of despise the heavily spiced winter beers, and I steer away from putting that god-awful cinnamon and allspice in the brew kettle.”
Well, then … what does Hoffman, a two-decade veteran of brewing and Great American Beer Festival medal-winner, prefer? Simplicity, mostly, in the form of a rye beer, called “Winterfest” that shows off a “nice, medium brown color” at 6 percent ABV.
“We put molasses in the kettle for depth and richness, but I also use the tips of Scottish heather flowers, which bring notes of lavender to the beer,” says Hoffman. “That and hops, of course, along with some vanilla beans; the result is beer’s answer to mulled wine. We’ll have it on tap for the Winter Solstice.”
Hoffman also plans on another showing of Stewart’s “Dark Helmet,” an imperial schwarz bier (strong black lager) by Thanksgiving. The malty flavor but clean finish goes well with big holiday meals, according to Hoffman. He is also planning an imperial stout, called “Destroyer,” which was placed in bourbon barrels last December, and will be aged and ready to go this January, weighing in at 10.5 percent ABV.
Blue Earl Brewing Co., Smyrna
The new kid on the block, Blue Earl opened in May of this year, and is owned and operated by Ron Price, a mechanical engineer by trade and enthusiastic home brewer who first warmed up his kettle in 1992.
Price says that some of his favorite beers to brew are the wintery big boys that carry a high ABV or require oak bourbon barrel aging. Blue Earl currently works off a 15-barrel system and features 12 beers on tap in its tasting room off Rt. 300 in Smyrna.
Blue Earl’s winter lineup will include an American strong ale infused with American bourbon called “Born Under a Bad Sign,” at a whopping 12 percent ABV, along with an imperial porter called “Big Joe,” which is also bourbon barrel aged.
“We also just brewed a Russian imperial stout that will be the darkest and boldest beer we’ve brewed since we opened this past spring,” says Price. “We’ll be distributing that in kegs across Delaware through NKS Distributing in December.”
2SP Brewing Company, Aston, Pa.
True, 2SP is technically a Pennsylvania brewery, but with such strong roots in Delaware under the Two Stones Pub umbrella, it had to be included in our round-up. Besides, it has got a lot coming down the pike as it continues its late-summer launch of brews, most of which will be on tap at the Newark and North Wilmington restaurants.
Brewer Bob Barrar, formerly of Iron Hill Brewery, is well known for his Russian imperial stout recipe, which just won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival for his former employer, Iron Hill (Lancaster store).
Now he brings his talents to 2SP, where he plans to release his “Russian” on Mischief Night (Oct. 30). Following this winter season, 2SP will release its “triple threat” to limited accounts in Delaware.
Those three beers include a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout, a bourbon barrel aged Belgian tripel, and a bourbon barrel aged S.I.P. (or Stigz’s imperial porter, named for founder and president Mike Stiglitz).
In the coming months, 2SP also will be releasing what it calls the “Citrus Rhine’d,” a collaboration between its brewers and Jeff O’Neil, originator of the highly popular “Flower Power,” from Ithaca Beer Co. This imperial pale ale, at 7.5 percent, will feature 88 pounds of Mandarina Bavaria hops, giving it a distinct tangerine and citrus aftertaste.
Iron Hill Brewery, Newark and Wilmington
Beginning in early December, both Iron Hill locations will feature the brewery’s award-winning Russian imperial stout and the “Winter Warmer,” an English brown ale infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, and served in a sugar-and-cinnamon-rimmed glass.
But big beer lovers should mark their calendars for Dec. 19, when Iron Hill Wilmington will host its eighth annual Dark Side Party, starting at noon. Iron Hill’s “Dark Side” black lager, at 9 percent ABV, is the star of the show, and pays homage to brewer Brian Finn’s love of Pink Floyd and Star Wars.
“Last year we had Darth Vader and Princes Leia walking around during the event,” says Finn. “It’s a really fun event that’s become more popular each year. At first, we thought it might scare people off, because all we have on tap are black beers. But as people have come around to darker beers, it’s become big.”
The Dark Side Party also falls on the same weekend that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released in theaters. Finn says that they will be raffling off tickets to see the film at Penn Cinema on the Riverfront, all while pouring big, black beers like 2SP’s Russian imperial stout, Firestone Walker’s “Wookie Jack,” and Iron Hill’s new black IPA called “Galaxy Far, Far Away IPA,” which features galaxy hops. The popular dual-purpose hop (for aroma and flavor) has increased in popularity recently, and offers notes of citrus and even passion fruit.