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NYC’s Next Flight to Saigon: Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist and Foodie Shines Global Spotlight on Asian Flavor

NYC’s Next Flight to Saigon: Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist and Foodie Shines Global Spotlight on Asian Flavor

Tracie May made a name for herself in Los Angeles for 25 years as a luxury publicist and event planner leading hundreds of Opening Night parties, events and red carpets.

Then in an “Eat, Pray, Love” – inspired move, she decided to take a leap and move across the world.  


FlavRReport.com on Youtube

FlavRReport.com on Youtube


 

In 2020, she relocated to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and became the Senior Editor of Epicure Vietnam Magazine, the most prestigious culinary and hospitality publication in Asia.

Today we catch up with Tracie to talk about life in Vietnam.  The people, the culture, and of course the food.

Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist Foodie Indulges in Delicious at her role with Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Joe Winger: 

What’s the most important thing that you want to share during this conversation?

Tracie May: 

Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith. Honestly, I took a massive leap of faith, uprooting my entire life.  

I had a big life in LA.  I was there for 25 years, and to take that leap of faith to relocate to Vietnam.  It was never even on my radar.

People thought that I was insane when I said I was doing this. It was not supposed to be for the long term. But the whole point is, you never know where opportunity is going to come. You don’t know what your future looks like, until you write your own story.

I am proof positive that anything is possible if you just take a risk for yourself and your happiness, because the energy or the universe will provide for you if you’re truthful, connected and really get specific about what you want.

Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist Foodie with Chef Eden Daus of Lesung, holding Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Tracie May with Chef Eden Daus of Lesung, holding Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Joe Winger:   

You are now the senior editor of Epicure Vietnam Magazine.  Tell me a bit about the magazine and your role.

Tracie May: 

It’s a really beautiful, glossy print publication. They also have online and social [media presence].

It’s available in every VIP lounge, every business lounge at every major hotel, airline and club lounge. It has a lot of subscribers. 

Focuses on culinary, luxury travel, hospitality, wine, chef profiles. [Food and beverage] business profiles as well as features on certain resort properties.

I was really lucky to [connect with] the publisher.  I sent her a bunch of my writing samples. I joined the magazine about 17 months ago. 

My main focuses are editing content, making sure the English is perfect, and dealing with editorial and the marketing teams.

But my favorite part is running the news section.  [It’s] basically my curation of what’s hot in [food & beverage] in Saigon and all over the world. 

I get to eat the best food all the time. 

The majority of the restaurants that we cover are very high-end, gorgeous, [food and beverage] in town. So I get to eat a lot of amazing food which is awesome. 

The food in Vietnam is extraordinary.


 


Joe Winger:

As a USA foodie, what’s a lesson you’ve learned about Vietnamese cuisine that you want the world to know about?

Tracie May: 

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned, and it is evident in my extreme weight loss of 75 pounds in 2 ½  years, is it’s whole real food.

They are not jacking up their cows and their pigs with hormones. Organic is actually a thing here. The quality of the food, it’s not processed crap in a box that is run by Monsanto.

Because of the climate here, Dalat, which is the region in Vietnam where most of the produce is grown, some of the most unbelievable tasting produce is grown there. 

The fruit is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. 

A watermelon is the sweetest, juiciest, delicious thing you’ve ever put in your mouth; and it’s available from every little fruit stand that is on Quốc Hương.

I walk to my local [stores] because I like to support locals here and have my little bag and pull my produce and all of it is grown on their farm, 

It’s just that’s how people eat here. There is no Kraft macaroni and cheese. There is no processed, boxed chemicals here. 

Because of that, the quality of the flavor profiles is so superior. 

So that is the biggest difference.

The reason why there’s such an obesity problem in the U.S. is the abundance of processed food.

[Here in Vietnam], even fast food.  We’ve got McDonald’s and Popeye’s and KFC. But the taste of a Big Mac or a Whopper with cheese is far different than anything you can get in the States because of the quality of the meat that they use.

That is the biggest difference of why Vietnam is so globally recognized as such a foodie hub.

Joe Winger: 

You’re doing a lot to bring attention to Vietnam as a foodie hub.

Tracie May: 

I was the guest judge on Top Chef Vietnam, and I was the guest judge on the finale of this show called Super Cake, Banh Xeo, which was basically, Build a beautiful cake. And these Vietnamese national TV, reality shows which showcase culinary.

So that was fun.

Joe Winger: 

If somebody from the United States comes to Vietnam for a few days, from a food point of view, what must we try? 

Tracie May: 

Saigon is incredibly vibrant and there’s too much to do.  For the best Vietnamese food hands down It is in district one, which is basically the city. 

Mạ Quán 

Mạ Quán

Mạ Quán 

It’s gorgeous. A restaurant with Vietnamese cuisine that focuses on historical dishes from the imperial city of Huế to the north and in Hanoi to the Mekong Delta and is visually stunning.

The flavors are unbelievable. For sure if you want to eat an extraordinary Vietnamese meal, that’s a place, hands down, highly recommended. 

Lesung

Lesung

Lesung SGN 

In the last 3 months I was introduced to Malaysian cuisine.  Spicy,  sambal based, chili based. The chef / owner is a fine dining chef, who’s a celebrity chef here. He wanted to get back to his roots and he opened this restaurant that’s very reasonably priced.  Fine dining, but in a casual setting, not expensive and truly authentic Malaysian cuisine.   All of his grandmother’s recipes and it’s home cooking at its best. That is a must go. 

Noriboi Omakase

Noriboi Omakase

If you love sushi, Noriboi is an extraordinary omakase restaurant in Thảo Điền, in the town where I live. 12 to 18 tastings of caviar, and the best uni flown in from Japan, and extraordinary toro, and you can’t imagine how good, it’s insane.

Joe Winger: 

You took a very dramatic pivot a few years ago and it turned out so well. 

Tracie May: 

I knew that I had to make a change. I knew that I was unhappy.  Even though I had great friends and a great life and did really cool stuff in LA, I felt like I was just trapped in a hamster wheel.

I was bit by the “Eat Pray Love” bug. 

Decided that, life’s too short to be unhappy.

There is a big, wide, beautiful world out there. Why not explore it while I have the chance?

I happen to have family who live in Saigon, and we conspired together.

I sold my car, put everything in storage, all the paperwork, packed my two dogs and three suitcases and got on a plane.

The original plan was to hang out in Southeast Asia for three months.

Leave my stuff with my family, get a backpack and travel throughout Southeast Asia and go pray with some Buddhist monks.  Have my Tomb Raider moment in Angkor Wat in Cambodia and go do a lot of scuba diving.  Then three months later, go home [to the United States] and face the music. 

But COVID happened, my life shifted. So I stayed. 

I couldn’t have imagined a more incredible life that I’ve been able to curate for myself than I have been able to in Saigon.

Tracie May at Tet Lunar New Year 2024 party

Tracie May at Tet Lunar New Year 2024 party

Joe Winger: 

Your background is a world class publicist in North America.  Because of the pandemic, you went from a publicist to a “stay at home mom” figure.

Tracie May: 

I did, but I still had to pay my bills, right?

So I had a free place to stay because my family was paying the rent. When [my family] got stuck in the US during COVID, when Vietnam closed their borders, they got locked out for 10 months. 

Suddenly I’m a mother to 2 kids in an international school. I’ve got to take care of their three dogs, my two dogs, their villa, all their stuff, in a country that I didn’t know and a language that I didn’t speak.

It was all about pivoting.

At the time I had hot pink hair.  All the expat moms, they’ve got kids and they live in a compound because their husbands run Nike or Adidas or…[some huge company]

There’s me, this newbie from LA with my fuchsia hair riding my family’s electric bike with the kids on the back taking them to school.

The [expat Moms are] like, who and what is this? 

Originally I became the talk of the town. 

I live in a bubble, a little enclave within the city, it’s expat land. 

I really think in the beginning I made friends out of total pity.  Suddenly they were like, “Let’s take you to lunch.”  So there were several luncheons introducing me to society and I created my clan. 

The one thing that’s hard about here is that the expat life is very rotational because a lot of the families are on contract.

If you work at the consulate, you’ve got a 2-3 year contract. 

Once the contract is done, you’re back home. I don’t want to leave. 

So one of the hardest things about making really close friends here is that they leave. So it’s a lot of continual rotation.

I have friends who’ve been here for 14 years up to 35 years who felt the bug like me and decided no, this is where you want to be right now. This is a good place to be, but yeah, that’s basically how it happened.

Joe Winger: 

A minute ago, you used the phrase “talk of the town.”  Let’s dive deeper.

You’re getting huge growth on social media. Food and dining, lifestyle, travel in this genre. Your face is everywhere. Your voice is everywhere. Your name is everywhere. 

What’s it like living your life, when someone sees your face, name and recognizes you? 

Tracie May: 

It is bizarre. 

I have no idea how it happened, especially in Vietnam.  Local Vietnamese don’t speak a word of English. 

There’ve been so many times that I’m walking my dogs up my street or [I’m] on the back of a “Grab” bike, which is our version of Uber and they see me, look at my picture before and say:

 “Sorry, Madame. Are you Madam Tracy?”

And show me a picture of myself. 

I’m sure it’s due to doing TV appearances on Top Chef Vietnam and other major, national primetime TV shows here with millions of Vietnamese watching.

It’s bizarre, especially coming from Hollywood where all my focus has always been the promotion of others and the promotion of brands.

Suddenly I’m the [one being] promoted and I just find it really funny. But I’m grateful. 

Joe Winger: 

How has publicity changed from LA to Vietnam?

Tracie May: 

I wear a lot of hats here [in Vietnam].   I’ve become the “go to” event producer.

I was a pretty major event producer in the States and produced [around] 250 fashion shows in three continents around the world, a bunch of parties in LA, and red carpets.

There’s tons of talent in Vietnam.  So now I’m doing it for major Western companies who want a sprinkle of American or they want a real Western perspective for [their event], I’m the girl they call.

One of the events I produced was the 25th anniversary of the Sofitel Saigon Plaza Hotel

That was a huge event inviting every government official, major CEO, all of their massive VIPs. 

Tracie May with Artist Jerome Pichard

Tracie May with Artist Jerome Peschard

I’m actually about to produce another event with Sofitel for one of my clients. One of the most talented people I’ve ever met in my entire life, Jerome Peschard

He’s a French artist with the same story as me, except he got here, fell in love with Saigon and just never left .  He met his wife and has a bunch of kids.  He has become the most collected artist in Asia globally, for specifically pop art related to historic, historic Vietnamese French and machine and pop art and he does it all.  Composite art. 

I brokered a deal with Sofitel on June 21 in celebration of the 60 year anniversary of the Sofitel Hotels and Resorts global brand, their Diamond Jubilee.

We are doing a two month installation, exclusive installation of his works being some are 2.6 meters x 1. 5 meters  – large scale, which are going to be in the lobby as an installation in collaboration with the hotel.

It’s a massive thing, and they called me, so I’m really honored. 

I get to work with him every day and he’s a total rock star.

Tracie May living her best life in Vietnam

Joe Winger: 

What’s the theme at this point in your life?

Tracie May: 

The moral of the story is “Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith.”

Joe Winger: 

It sounds like you crossed your fingers, closed your eyes and took the jump. 

Was there a big concern before taking that jump? How did that big concern work out for you?

Tracie May: 

It’s very personal.

The concern wasn’t about work. I knew that I could work internationally. I knew I could do PR online and still service clients abroad. No matter where you are in the world, the cream rises to the top and you will figure it out.

On a personal level in the sense that I have always been a serial monogamist. I had a really petrified, paralyzing fear of being alone.

The idea of being 50 and alone again, scared me. Having to start over again, scared me. 

What I’ve learned from that is, I have no problems dating. I have no issue being alone. I actually revel in it because my life is so public now. When I get to be in my underpants, watching Netflix with my two dogs, eating a ham and cheese on freshly baked sourdough baguette with some tomatoes and lettuce; and some truffle aioli from my friend’s company. That’s my happy place. 

That has been the biggest lesson that being alone is okay. Being alone is actually a good thing. 

I don’t need to have a partner or a marriage to justify and qualify who I am. I’m just fine on my own. 

Joe Winger: 

What are the ways to find you and follow you online? How do you want people to find you?

Tracie May: 

It’s all about the gram, right? My Instagram is @_TracieMay_  

Or you can find me as Tracie May on LinkedIn.

My blog is here, but I rarely update it because I never have time.

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NYC take a Weekend trip Tasting Bourbons? This Fredericksburg Virginia Bed & Breakfast Might Be Your Dream Visit, Owen King from Ironclad Distillery shares Delicious Details

NYC take a Weekend trip Tasting Bourbons?This Fredericksburg Virgina Bed & Breakfast Might Be Your Dream Visit, Owen King from Ironclad Distillery shares Delicious Details

Ironclad Inn is the first B & B & B – Bed & Breakfast & Bourbon Tasting Room.

Ironclad Inn is the first B & B & B – Bed & Breakfast & Bourbon Tasting Room

Ironclad Inn is the first B & B & B – Bed & Breakfast & Bourbon Tasting Room

Today’s conversation with Distiller Owen King from Ironclad Distillery has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here.

 

Owen King, Ironclad Distillery

Owen King, Ironclad Distillery

Joe Winger: 

A lot of really cool things are happening right now. I want to jump into your tasting room, the distillery, we’ll get into bourbon tastings in a few minutes.

But first and foremost, what’s the most important thing with Ironclad right now for you?

Owen King: 

The most important thing about Ironclad for me right now is the same thing it’s always been, trying to make the best bourbon we can

The other thing is spreading the word about our bed and breakfast; and bourbon. It’s a bed and breakfast in Fredericksburg that when you’re there, you can drink bourbon.

Ironclad's famous Old Fashioned cocktail

Ironclad’s famous Old Fashioned cocktail

We make a lot of old fashions there and we always have all these leftover oranges. Now the perfect thing is in the morning you have fresh squeezed orange juice from our [leftover] old fashions.

It’s really working double duty now.

Besides that I just love the fact that we can now expand our distillery up to Fredericksburg. So we can have more people try our bourbon and enjoy our bourbon, which is the goal.

Joe Winger: 

Getting to know you before you jump into Ironclad, I want to use the word “were”, you were a football player and cooking changed your life.

Tell us more about your cooking. Was there a special dish that enhanced your life?

Owen King: 

I’m Italian. So obviously with the Italian genes, we share our love through food. Growing up I cooked a lot.

When I went to college [I cooked] for my teammates.  I’d make dinner for everyone. So when we decided to open the bourbon distillery, I figured, I know how to cook. I think I could probably figure out how to make bourbon. 

I know flavors. I know how things go well together. I think I have a pretty decent palette. 

So putting all those things together to make a great bourbon was the goal. 

Food is one of those things where you never stop improving. I feel the same about bourbon.


FlavRReport.com on YouTube

FlavRReport.com on YouTube


 

Joe Winger: 

Is there a favorite dish?

Owen King: 

Breaded chicken cutlets and spaghetti.

That is how it started. Then I was like “I really like cheese.”  Maybe I could put cheese in with the breadcrumbs and then do that. Then I started expanding.  Chicken Parm.  Making my own sauce.  Thinking I could add something here to make that better.

It’s the same way I look at bourbon.

Thinking, “I like what this person’s doing. Let me see what they’re doing. I can build off that to make it work on my own.”

Creating my own recipes, going from there, just continually tweaking little things here and there.

We’ll make a 5% difference, maybe a 10% difference.

Joe Winger: 

Ironclad Distillery is in Newport News, Virginia. The bed and breakfast Ironclad Inn is in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

For most people when we think of bourbon, we don’t always think of Virginia as the first choice. What would surprise us most about coming down to Virginia for a bourbon tasting and staying the night?

Ironclad Distillery

Ironclad Distillery

Owen King: 

If you’re coming down to Virginia, you have to remember Virginia is the birthplace of American spirits. The first place spirits were made in the new colonies, in the new world, was here in Virginia. 

The first corn liquor which would eventually become bourbon, was made in Virginia.

You can also talk about Elijah Craig, who was from Fairfax County, Virginia, before he moved out to Kentucky. 

On top of that, Kentucky wasn’t a state until 1793. Evan Williams was doing distillation in 1783, and at that point Kentucky was still Virginia. 

The birthplace of bourbon is right here in Virginia.

I’ve been to Kentucky a lot. They talk about the birthplace of bourbon being there in Kentucky.

Maybe the territory it’s in was Kentucky, but it was still Virginia at the time.

Whenever someone comes by, I can tell them the history of actual bourbon, where you’re gonna get the whole story, not just the fantasized story that you get in Kentucky.

Joe Winger: 

I’m incredibly glad you just shared that.

Let’s talk about The Ironclad Bed and Breakfast now. The bourbon tasting room, the event space.

Owen King: 

We wanted to spread our bourbon out around the state. We’ve always really liked Fredericksburg. It’s a beautiful town. It’s got a ton of history to it.

Nothing goes better with bourbon than a good story.

So we can always tell our history while drinking. So with our bed and breakfast, we looked at what the bigger guys were doing. A lot of them were starting to have these places where you could stay [the night] and get an experience to go along with it.

We really wanted to spread our Ironclad experience. 

We have a tasting room. It’s beautifully decorated by my sister. We’ve got a bottle shop where you can pick up pretty much every one of our bourbons that are available. We’ve got a bar so you can try it from our seasonal cocktail menus where we change it five times a year.

We have a winter, a fall, a spring, summer [menu].Then a holiday menu as well. 

No matter what time of year you’re there, you’re trying something that’s going to go well seasonally.  

Everyone likes seasonal drinks.  You don’t want to drink in the fall, what you’d drink in the summer.

We always have an old fashioned and it’s a damn good old fashioned. 

Then we also have an event space. We have weddings. We’ve had 50th birthday parties. 

Ironclad Inn wedding and special events

Ironclad Inn wedding and special events

We’ve had any event that you want to tie into with our bourbon or just if you want a beautiful event space in a building that was built in 1793 we have that as a great option. 

It’s a really cool spot that you can go and see and experience.

It’s something we want to share, our love for bourbon with everyone.

Whether you’re here in Newport News or in Fredericksburg, you’ll get a King family member there to tell you our story and tell you all about our bourbon and show you around.

Ironclad Bottled-in-Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Ironclad Bottled-in-Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Joe Winger: 

Outstanding.  Let’s get to the tasty part now.  You have several amazing bottles.  When someone comes to your tasting room this weekend, what should they be looking forward to? 

Owen King: 

We do a few bottle releases that are once a year for us. One of my favorites. 

A five year, three barrel blend of three 30 gallon barrels. Bottle of Bond.

The history alone is one of my favorite things to talk about.  In 1897 the federal government stepped in because there was people dying from drinking bad whiskey.

They stepped in to “certify” everything in there.

“If you bottle it at four years old and at 100 proof, we will claim that this is a bottle and bond bourbon certified” by the federal government that it is safe to drink.

That story alone is one of my favorites of bourbon lore. 

We just want to make sure that we do that every year that we can.

It’s absolutely one of my favorite bourbons. It’s our four grain mash bill. 70% corn 10% wheat, 10% rye, 10% malted barley. 

So with the corn and the wheat, it adds a nice sweetness to it. But then the rye is there to kind of balance that whole thing out.  Before it gets [to be] a very sweet bourbon, it balances out, a little baking spice, maybe even some clove, maybe a little black pepper.

It balances it out to be a nice, rounded bourbon.

Ironclad Sweeter Creations Maple Syrup Cask

Ironclad Sweeter Creations Maple Syrup Cask

Joe Winger:

Let’s move on to your Maple Syrup Cask

Owen King: 

Absolutely delicious. But this is a cast finish, not a flavored bourbon.  So we’re not adding maple syrup to it. People who drink it might think it’s going to be super sweet and not going to like it. Because they don’t like maple syrup.

This is my version of drinking maple syrup responsibly and not getting diabetes. 

After we empty our barrels, we give them to a maple syrup producer in upstate New York.  He’ll age his maple syrup using our bourbon barrels. 

By doing that through transference, there’s about a gallon of bourbon stuck in the staves of the wood. So when he puts a new liquid in there, that maple syrup is going to absorb into the wood and that bourbon is going to come back out.

Now his maple syrup is picking up that beautiful bourbon flavor and we are picking up all that maple syrup flavor into the wood. 

When he brings those barrels back down to us, we put our aged bourbon back in there and we let him finish in there for about three to six months. 

After we take the bourbon out, it’s now got this beautiful, mild sweetness, but it’s got that hint of maple syrup at the end.

I always say, I don’t want it to be maple syrup with a hint of bourbon. I want it to be bourbon with a hint of maple syrup, which I think it absolutely is.

Ironclad Missouri Toasted Oak Cask

Ironclad Missouri Toasted Oak Cask

Joe Winger: 

The maple syrup is so subtle, almost a tertiary flavor to it. 

Moving on to the Missouri Toasted Oak Cask.

Owen King: 

This is a double oak bourbon.  With double oaking, what you’re going to do is exactly how it sounds. 

You’re going to go from one new charred oak barrel. But instead of a second new charred oak barrel, we’re going to go to a lightly toasted barrel.

So my analogy for this is you’re sitting at a campfire and you’ve got a marshmallow. You’re roasting your marshmallow over the flame and it gets burnt. It catches on fire. So now you’ve got that roasted marshmallow where you’re still gonna eat it because it’s a roasted marshmallow.

So you eat it and it’s still sweet. But it’s got that sort of maybe a bitter acrid note just cause you burnt those sugars. You haven’t toasted them. 

Now you take another marshmallow.  You’re a little more patient this time.  You’re going to stick it down in the coals and you’ll slowly rotate it until you’ve got that perfectly golden brown marshmallow. 

When you taste it, it’s now twice as sweet because you just caramelize those sugars as opposed to burning them. 

It’s the same with a charred oak barrel to a toasted oak barrel.  With that charring of those oaks, you’re gonna you’re still gonna have that sweetness.  We’re amplifying that sweetness with the toasting of the oak. 

With this one you get those softer vanilla flavors like toasted marshmallow. You get a cookie dough flavor,  maybe it’s raw cookie dough without the chocolate chips.

Joe Winger: 

That’s amazing. mmIs there an extra bottle when I come down there, I’m in the tasting room, another good bottle we should ask for?

Owen King: 

Another one that we have right now that is a very limited run.   Very small release is our blueberry mead cask finish

We give our barrels to a meadery in Williamsburg, Virginia and they make this blueberry honey mead.  So now they have this bourbon barrel aged blueberry mead. And when they’re done with them, they give them back to us. 

You’re not necessarily overwhelmed with [a] heavy blueberry flavor but it opens up to this really nice fruitiness and then like a fermented honey flavor on the front end. 

It’s so unique, but it’s great neat on the rocks.

Joe Winger: 

If we come down for the weekend, we visit the distillery in Newport News. What’s a tour like? 

Owen King: 

If people aren’t the biggest bourbon drinker, I want you to walk away saying, “Okay, I found something that is made with bourbon that I like.”

We are a distillery that only makes bourbon. 

I want to make sure that everyone who comes here has something they can enjoy.  This isn’t an uppity bourbon bar.

I want someone to come and be able to say,  I’m not the biggest bourbon fan. What kind of cocktails do you have?” We always have a cocktail on every single menu that’s open for everyone. 

Everyone’s going to love it and whether you’re a big bourbon fan or not.  We just really want to be accommodating. We want to be a fun place for everyone to hang out. 

We want to tell our story, the history of the Ironclad ships.  Go through our distillery tour, we’ll show you that. If you want to know the history of Fredericksburg, or the history of What the bed and breakfast is we’ll tell you that.

Nothing pairs better with bourbon than a good story. And we really care about spreading that word.

Joe Winger: 

Whether it’s a romantic getaway, a weekend getaway, why choose your bed and breakfast instead of a hotel?

Owen King: 

While we’ve only had it a short time.  But we’ve been adding things here and there. You’re going to get a fresh orange juice in the morning, made with the oranges that we used for our old fashions [last night]. 

We have our barrel aged maple syrup for your pancakes.  So you’re going to have that maple syrup with a hint of bourbon. 

Ironclad Inn

Ironclad Inn

We really drive home that it’s a bed breakfast and bourbon experience. Get immersed in the bourbon culture.  That’s our goal.

Joe Winger: 

Any favorite bourbon and food pairings?

Owen King: 

Bourbon’s wonderful for food pairings.  

We’ve gone from pasta pairings to pizza pairings.  Anything that’s fatty is a perfect pairing.  Pork belly with a cherry reduction over top of it with one of our bourbons straight 

We have this bourbon cream, Buzz’s Bourbon Cream, where it’s made with our small batch bourbon that’s infused with coffee beans, cacao nibs, and vanilla beans. That one over vanilla ice cream is perfection. 

You’re adding a little booze, some coffee, a little bit of chocolate.

You take a bite and all of a sudden you had three scoops and it’s gone 30 seconds later.

Joe Winger: 

What’s the best way to learn more about Ironclad Distillery and Ironclad Inn?

Owen King: 

We have our website at ironcladdistillery.com. All of our social media Facebook and Instagram

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Mayenda Introduces Reposado Double Cask, A First-of-its-kind Aged Sipping Tequila

Mayenda Introduces Reposado Double Cask, A First-of-its-kind Aged Sipping Tequila

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For Mayenda Reposado Double Cask, the tequila is then aged for six months in a mix of American and European Oak, showcasing Mayenda’s continued commitment to developing innovative tequilas that stand apart from others on the market today.

This elegant sipping tequila will be available in the U.S. and Mexico beginning June 2024.

“With Mayenda Blanco, we knew we had unlocked new possibilities for expressing deeper flavors of the agave, thanks to the two extra steps in our signature process; yet it still felt like we had only scratched the surface of what was possible,” said Jesus Susunaga, Maestro Tequilero at Casa San Nicolás. “When developing our Reposado, we decided to employ a double cask maturation and longer aging process. This resulted in an exceptionally smooth and balanced, aged tequila that maintains the soul of our beloved Blanco.”

Mayenda’s Signature Process: Every Mayenda Tequila is made at Casa San Nicolás (NOM: 1440) in the highlands of Jalisco, using only mature 100% blue weber agave. Mayenda starts the same way as other premium tequilas, but the magic is in the two extra steps. Maestro Tequilero Susunaga and his team steep (or infuse) roasted agave and then agave miel from the cooking process just before the last distillation step. This naturally captures fresh roasted agave notes and herbal complexity that are typically lost in the tequila-making process, creating a soulful sipping tequila with a honeyed and multi-dimensional flavor profile.

 Double Cask Aging in American & European Oak: For Mayenda Reposado Double Cask, Mayenda Blanco is then aged in the finest American and European Oak barrels. Each barrel type enhances the opposing characteristics of the other — one barrel adds impact while the other softens. The dry, spicy and earthy profile of cinnamon, chamomile and red apple in the European Oak is expertly balanced with the rich, fresh, sweeter notes of butterscotch, honeycomb and vanilla in the American Oak.

A Longer (6 Month) Aging Process: While most Reposado Tequilas are aged two to three months, the aging for Mayenda Reposado Double Cask is extended to a minimum of six months to impart the optimal amount of flavor from each cask. A longer aging time brings a more sophisticated, multi-layered and refined flavor profile.

Artful Master Blending: Careful to keep the essence of Mayenda Blanco in every sip, Maestro Tequilero Jesus Susunaga and his team of experts at Casa San Nicolás carefully blend every drop of Mayenda Tequila to ensure the highest quality of consistency, flavor, texture and refinement. Jesus’s extensive experience blending some of the finest aged spirits around the globe has helped him master this delicate craft and pioneer a new type of tequila in Mayenda.

Mayenda Reposado Double Cask may be enjoyed neat or in elevated cocktails such as a Morita Martini or Elevated Paloma. For recipes, visit mayendatequila.com.

Mayenda Reposado Double Cask will be available at select retailers in the United States for SRP $75USD per 750 mL bottle and in Mexico for $1,445 Pesos. Please sip responsibly.

Follow them on social media @mayendatequila and visit their website Mayendatequila.com

NYC Discovers Aphrodise Sparkling Wine, Taste Before Your next Party, Frank Schilling Reveals

NYC Discover Aphrodise Sparkling Wine, You should taste Before Your next Party, Frank Schilling Reveals

Whether it’s a wedding, party, or just drinks with dinner.  We want taste.  Maybe we want a few drinks.  We also want to protect ourselves from tomorrow’s hangover.

It’s hard to find a drink that can take day to night quite like a Greek rosé and Aphrodise wants to prove it to you.

Frank Schilling, Co-Founder of Aphrodise

Frank Schilling, Co-Founder of Aphrodise

Today’s conversation with Frank Schilling from Aphrodise has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here.

Joe Winger: 

Our audience is foodies. We’re wine lovers. What’s the most important message today you want to share with an audience of foodies and wine lovers?

Frank Schilling: 

I’m an Epicurean myself. I don’t have a lot of pretense around my love of food and wine, I just love great food and wine and I’ve tasted so many great things. 

I’m a character who hasn’t had a meal at home in 22 years. As an internet entrepreneur, I used to work, literally seven days a week for many years and eating out was my escape from my work because it’s the one place my laptop and phone couldn’t rule the day, or the moment.

For me, eating out was that escape and that vacation of the moment. 

I created a life around dining out probably like many of your listeners or viewers. And I have a deep well of respect for great food and wine and also for the people who admire it and chase it, it’s a, it’s one of the great things in life.

I’m always stunned by people who don’t truly love food. I feel like they’re missing something and leaving part of life on the table.

Discovering Aphrodise sparkling wine

Joe Winger: 

You have this new discovery. Let’s talk a little bit about Aphrodise. Tell me about how you discovered the grape varietal?

Frank Schilling: 

I’m a wine lover. I tasted my way through Bordeaux and Burgundy.

All the way through, I could never really tell a Merlot from a Cab.  I’d be lying to you if I said I knew what a Nebbiolo or a Valpolicella was and how all those grapes differed from each other.

I do enjoy great brands of wine. I do understand the difference between years and what impacts a year. 

But when I was building [my restaurant] it was COVID. I was doing some fingertip math and I realized we’re gonna have to start bringing over a lot of sparkling [wine] for mimosas and for brunch. It was 300 seat restaurant, two seatings, 600 seats on a brunch [shift].

You start to do the math and you realize, “Wow, 52 weekends a year, bottomless mimosas. I’m going to need about 3,000 bottles of wine per quarter of champagne. So let’s go out and get some.  We live on an island and supply chain management wasn’t really an option.

So we started to taste through different varieties of champagne

I came to discover what Tom Cruise did in [the movie] “Cocktail”, which is, champagne is like perfume going down, but like sewage on the way back.

It comes from a well meant place, not mean spirited towards the great region of Champagne.

Joining the Aphrodise sparkling wine party

Joining the Aphrodise sparkling wine party

It’s just the nature of Champenois produced wine and that Chardonnay grape that makes a beautiful champagne is such that you just can’t consume a lot of it in the heat or humidity in the sun.

Traditional Champagne vs Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

It just isn’t the type of forgiving libation that lets you function afterwards and you don’t feel good. 

The yeast isn’t good for a lot of people. Not everybody’s impacted the same way but, a large portion of the population doesn’t do well with champagne and heat in sunlight  as a day drink.

The recovery profile isn’t something that people look forward to.

Aphrodise from the grape varietal called Xenomavro

Aphrodise from the grape varietal called Xenomavro

I discovered that I’d had that problem myself for years. The yeast wasn’t working for me. 

So when I discovered Aphrodise, it was a grape varietal called Xenomavro. 

A high altitude grape, Greece’s most noble grape.

It’s a very forgiving drink.  In a sparkling format, it’s something you can drink in the heat, it’s something you can drink in larger quantities, I can tell you that the recovery profile, for me and for many others, is exceptionally good.

Meaning you can drink a lot of it and bounce back and go again. 

As a wine producer, that’s music to your ears. But it’s also nice knowing I’m making people feel better. I’m not putting something in the market that’s going to make you feel sick after overconsumption.

At a party enjoying Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

At a party enjoying Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

Joe Winger: 

Just to give a little backstory.  Frank, I hope you’ll talk to us a little bit about one of your first adventures.  You mentioned you’re an internet entrepreneur, you had some success with website domains. 

Can you explain a little bit about that and maybe a lesson you learned from that journey?

Frank Schilling: 

It’s a lesson that some of your listeners and viewers probably have some experience with.

I registered a domain name back in the dot com era. Then I registered 2 [dot com names], then 10 and I got some generic names like wine.com , cars.com.  Names like those.

I started to realize, wow, these names have value.

I wound up registering a lot of generic names and then I had difficulty managing them because in those early days of the Internet, it was all very unwieldy. The infrastructure for managing those names. 

So I created a lot of that management infrastructure.  Then in the process, grew that business over a 20 year horizon and wound up selling the 3 companies that comprised that enterprise to a company called GoDaddy, which we’ve probably all heard of.

So some of their infrastructure was my infrastructure and is now their infrastructure. 

To the extent you like the new GoDaddy offering for managing domain names, you’re welcome, for the small part I played in helping that become a reality.

In the old days, I was traveling a lot. I had an office in Manchester in the United Kingdom, one in Newport beach in California and my main office here in the Cayman Islands.  I would travel between the offices, New York, Miami and many other cities, just for work all around the world. 

Enjoying Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

Enjoying Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

At the beginning of COVID that all came to a grinding halt.  I sold those businesses and decided that with my love of food, if I was going to stay in the Cayman Islands, I realized I’m gonna have to eat at home more and I realized, the offerings of restaurants wasn’t the depth was hoping for.

So I built the restaurant, as a result of that that then led to Aphrodise.

Joe Winger: 

I love the full circle of it. 

Since we’ve mentioned the restaurant once or twice. Can we hear more about your restaurant Mykonos Cayman?

Frank Schilling: 

Sure.  During COVID lockdowns, there was a new plaza going in on the beach and I had mentally designed a restaurant years ago, but sold the real estate for it.

So when I saw the plaza going up, I was crestfallen. These guys built my dream on their land.  My fantasy of what a place would look like. But then I was happy to learn that the plaza was a strata titled affair. It wasn’t owned by one conglomerate.

So I bought into that plaza so I could control the real estate. Then once I had the real estate I did a sort of “money no object” fit out that left a very residential-looking restaurant really quite beautiful. 

I love the culture of Greece and I love the idea of the long lunch and the lack of pretense in the party and [being] all welcoming, with children, grownups will dance on the table and get really carried away.

The kids are running around. It’s all very loving and family oriented.

Whereas, Ibiza is a little more drug fueled and party, ragey and a little more intense.

I loved the soulful day party of Greece. We’re on an island and the Greeks are on islands. So I thought how nice it would be to bring some of that to my reserved island here in Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman is more of a place you quietly go to escape and enjoy the beach and family.

It’s not really a St. Bart’s where you go to seek out a great party. I always hoped that there’d be room for at least one place like they have in St. Bart’s here. 

So I built a really big place, 320 seats, super residential, relaxed, welcoming, But completely devoid of pretense.  You can come in, flip flops and shorts, or you can come in a beautiful gown as we’d hope in the evening. 

But we don’t have a lot of structure and posture around it. We want you to feel free when you come. So that, I built that venue here, and you can see it online.

It’s called Mykonos Cayman. We have an Instagram where people can learn about the restaurant.

When you come, please come for a glass of Aphrodise on me. Mention Frank said I could have a glass of Aphrodise

Joe Winger: 

You introduced Aphrodise at the Las Vegas Wedding Show.  How did it go?   Why do you think Aphrodise is the best drink to have at a wedding?

Frank Schilling:

It’s the color of love. It’s a beautiful color of red. 

We took it to the wedding show because I thought that wedding planners would share the same pain point that I discovered as a restaurateur.  Which is, if you want to buy a bottle of great champagne, easy, you go to the liquor store.

But when you start getting up there and you need 100 cases for an event or a series of events, getting that quantity consistently and getting a good product is actually quite difficult. And expensive.

So we thought we’d introduce Aphrodise.

Knowing that we could go directly to the wedding planners and help their fulfillment and execution and deliver a better product.  

Something that people could really lavish in the heat or at an after party where you’re really enjoying the bubbly and then feel better in the morning.  That was really the goal. 

My first champagne experience was at a wedding and I drank a little too much.  For the next day or two, I was laid up.

So we try to bring something to market that is good for people or at least makes them feel good in the moment and helps them recover.

We had a line all day.  I poured a 5,000 servings of Aphrodise that day. People loved it.

Let me tell you, that’s a lot of work, opening bottles. It looks very glamorous. But when you’re really going at velocity, my hands hurt at the end of the day.

We got a lot of upstart business out of that. People were like, “Wow, this stuff is actually quite good.’ 

Joe Winger: 

Let’s talk about flavor profile.

Pouring out 5,000 samples, what’s the most common feedback we get about the flavor, aroma, the mouthfeel, what are we experiencing?

Frank Schilling: 

So when you sip a drink and you talk about mouthfeel or we have a glass of wine or champagne and you have a sip and there’s a little bit of a yeasty, gamey after taste.

For some people in red wine, it can be somewhat desirable. 

In champagne, unfortunately it stays with it as well. 

When you’re having champagne, which is more of a celebratory libation, that’s not a desirable quality. You want to have something that finishes clean in your mouth. 

If you have lots of sips, you’re going to get a good buzz. You want to be able to recover quickly and elegantly without that headache that comes from the yeast and all those elements that bring its flavor.

So the taste of Aphrodise is a very clean mouthfeel and it finishes with a light crisp apple or cherry. Some people taste strawberry. 

It’s a small bubble. Very light charmat, produced in small vats, a naturally produced bubbly effect. It lives in tanks for 3 months and it gains its bubbly in a natural way. 

A little more expensive to produce that way.  Prosecco, for example, will carbonate.  They’ll add carbonation just like you would to a can of soda.

We don’t carbonate. We allow the bubbly to form naturally through the fermentation process, which is how it should be. 

Co-Founders of Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

Co-Founders of Aphrodise Sparkling Wine

Joe Winger:

When it comes to food and wine pairing.  What would be your favorite dish to pair with a glass of Aphrodise?

Frank Schilling: 

Aphrodise is literally the only thing that I drink, and I’m crestfallen when I can’t find it. 

It’s a dark rosé so it goes nicely with meat – a burger or a steak.  Chicken or fish. It’s also a great dessert drink.

I like Aphrodise as a warmup libation and as an after dinner, like celebratory drink if you’re having a party, there’s an after party.

Joe Winger: 

You’ve done a lot in your life. You’ve had a lot of adventures, a lot of successes.

Any inspiration or lessons you can share with the audience?

Frank Schilling: 

The answer is love for people and love for living your best life, love for conviviality. I have a lot of love for the people that I encountered that have helped me in my journey. Those who’ve just been a part of my life, there for a season or there for a reason, as the saying goes, I try to embrace everybody.

See the good in everybody. There are people you click with more than other people. I say yes to everything unless it hurts me. I have a real lust for life and a good energy level.

Joe Winger: 

If you’re loving Frank’s energy and his positivity, you wrote an amazing book. Would you mind giving us a summary of the book and what it was like writing it?

Frank Schilling: 

It’s called Omnia Vincent: the universe wants you to win. 

I wrote the book as I’d sold my businesses. It was during COVID lockdowns and everybody was [going through a] “The end of the world” mood type thing at that time.

You write a book like this for your grandchildren. If one day they want to know more about grandpa and did our success come from or where did our financial wealth come from?

It’s nice for them to know a little about the person who tried hard and maybe you can see something in yourself.  So I really wrote it for my future ancestors.

I want to be the guy who left something for the grandkids and great grandkids to understand a little about my brain. And it’s really just written in short micro chapters. 

Joe Winger:

Because you’re an epicurean, if you’re going to have any plate for dinner tonight, what would it be and why? 

Frank Schilling: 

Tonight I’m actually feeling a Pittsburgh style steak, seared on the outside. I haven’t had good red meat in about a week, and we just got some A5 Wagyu at the restaurant Our chef is a butcher and he’s also a certified Angus ambassador. So he gets great cuts. 

We do a beautiful short rib burger, which is really lean short rib again on the outside with a bit of a char finish.  We have a charcoal grill inside the restaurant, which is beautiful. 

Joe Winger: 

Thank you so much for your time.  If someone wants to learn more, what are the best ways to find and follow websites, social media for Aphrodise?

Frank Schilling: 

DrinkAphrodise on Instagram and the website DrinkAphrodise.com

 

About the Author
Joe Wehinger (nicknamed Joe Winger) has written for over 20 years about the business of lifestyle and entertainment. Joe is an entertainment producer, media entrepreneur, public speaker, and C-level consultant who owns businesses in entertainment, lifestyle, tourism and publishing. He is an award-winning filmmaker, published author, member of the Directors Guild of America, International Food Travel Wine Authors Association, WSET Level 2 Wine student, WSET Level 2 Cocktail student, member of the LA Wine Writers. Email to: Joe@FlavRReport.com

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