Buck’s Goes Poolside for the Summer, Beginning with Biscayne Bay Brewing Co.

July Bucks Beer Garden Flyer

This Thursday, July 2 we are diving head first into summer with our first Buck’s Beer Garden Poolside at The Raliegh Hotel Miami Beach! We’re kicking it off with Biscayne Bay Brewing Company and their divinely refreshing drafts. We’ve also added a few pool games, so bring your swim suit!

Biscayne Bay Brewing Co. is located in Doral, where they have a 15 barrel brew house, which means they can brew about 465 gallons of frothy amber goodness at one time. The BBBC owners have a background in politics as well as a deep love of beer, when they traveled the country and noticed craft breweries popping up every where, they decided to set up shop at home. The Doral brew house officially opened in August 2014 and they are planning to open a tap room in the next few months. I spoke with Tito, brand ambassador at BBBC, who said the brewers really make his job easy. “The beers speak for themselves. A great brewer is like a great chef! There are so many different types of yeast, hops and grains and BBBC brewers know how to make the most of them. It’s incredible what they can do.”


Find BBBC on tap at Buck’s and at the hotel all month, check out the line up:

1513 Golden ale
Miami pale ale
Biscayne Bay Saison
La Colada Porter
Double nine IPA
Pequeña habana pilsner

The Double Nine is a Rocky Mountain Pale Ale “so big, so bold” BBBC boasts, “it deserves its own snifter.” A nod to 18th Century ship imbibers, this IPA does not mess around. Striking a balance between a malty foundation and grapefruit finish, this is the ideal poolside brew. Using a variety of hops BBBC brings us a beer with “a pungent citrus-driven hop infusion.” And… we’re sold! See you this Thursday and again on July 16, poolside!

Quick Buck’s recap: The beer garden is on every first and third Thursday of the month from 6PM – 10PM, The Raleigh brings its iconic backyard Oasis to life for locals and visitors, with local craft brews, Genuine Food, lawn games and much more!  There is no cover charge to attend.Guests have the flexibility with an a la carte, “pay-as-you-go” format purchasing tickets at a booth for food, beer and wine (one ticket equals $1).  The Raleigh will offer a special valet rate with Buck’s cashier validation of $5 per car, subject to availability. A different local brewery is featured monthly and will serve 12 ounce pours of a selection of beer for 5 tickets ($5); Michael’s Genuine® Home Brew for 5 tickets ($5); wine by the glass is also available for 5 tickets ($5); and full bar available for more tickets.  All food items are less than 10 tickets ($10) and served from concession-style stations. Savory items include, a soft pretzel, sausage with toppings, Tuna sandwich, Veggie Sandwich and burgers with an assortment of toppings and sides of warm German potato salad and bacon and savoy-celery root slaw. For the sweeter side, DIY s’more kits with are ready to roast on at the firepit.  Lawn games include ping pong, corn hole and giant Jenga.

Cheers and see you Thursday at 6pm!

Join Amy and Harry’s for July’s OMG! Dinner & a Movie


O Cinema Wynwood and Harry’s Pizzeria reunite to celebrate AMY, the new documentary chronicling the career and life of Amy Winehouse, for our OMG! Dinner & A Movie series on July 9. A once-in-a-generation talent, Winehouse captivated us with her unforgettable voice. A jazz artist in the truest sense, she sang about her experience and struggles with raw honesty. The film, directed by Asif Kapadia, features previously unheard tracks and archival footage of Amy in her element. We’ve been humming the soundtrack for weeks, and absolutely cannot wait to see this film!

Doors open at 6pm and the movie starts at 7. General admission tickets are $40 and VIP tickets are $55 (the VIP tickets come with a signed copy of Chef’s cookbook Michael’s Genuine Food.)  Tickets are now LIVE and can purchased through O Cinema, here!  Chef de Cuisine Daniel Ramirez wrote a menu fit for a Queen, see below!

Fennel and radish salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette
Sunday roast with braised beef
Roasted summer vegetables with parmesan
Mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding
Banoffee pie (a traditional English pie made with banana, cream and toffee)
And a special movie snack of home made spiced corn nuts!

Summer at The Cypress Room Shines in The Beverage Book

Cool off from Miami’s heat with something new and refreshing at our elegant American dining room and bar in the Design District!  Beginning today, The Beverage Book at The Cypress Room features six new cocktails from Aperitifs and Classics to Specialty Housemade. Also, for the first time the restaurant offers nightly-changing cocktail and spirits pairings for its 5-course Tasting Menu in a “Bartender’s Choice,” available for $40 additional, plus tax and gratuity.

Inspired by the classics and summer in the Magic City, TGHG Beverage Director Ryan Goodspeed reimagines old school cocktails through a modern American lens.  Pouring into vintage bar books and cocktails lists from as early as 1895, Goodspeed can usually find a home for a new idea he’s had or a new ingredient he’d like to feature.

“The beverage program at The Cypress Room is unabashedly spirit driven and careful calculation goes into each drink,” says Mr. Goodspeed.  “Cypress cocktails have a depth and texture to them. They are well-mannered, but get straight to the point!”

Beginning with light and refreshing Aperitifs (11), Four Rosés blushes with Chef Schwartz’s favorite, featuring rosé wine, Lillet rosé, Dillon’s gin-based rosé liqueur, rosebud and hibiscus flower water and a lemon twist. Lonely Negroni combines Miller’s Westborne gin, Campari, Aperol, JuJube syrup, lemon and orange peel. Classics (12) add a Whiskey Sour with WhistlePig rye, Cardamaro, lemon, simple syrup, egg whites and orange bitters, and Singapore Sling shakes Fords gin, Cherry Herring, Cointreau, Benedictine, pineapple, lime, angostura and a maraschino cherry. Specialty Housemade (14) includes Brewster highlighting the final harvest of the lychee season with vodka or gin, simple syrup, lime and cilantro. And every summer needs an anthem, so for Cypress it comes in the form of Summer’s Soda, a clear-as-a-summer’s-day elixir packing a punch with Highwest Silver Rye, Dolin Blanc, lemon, and lemongrass-lavender-chamomile syrup.

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Christian and Ryan, a meeting of the beverage minds over the TCR bar.

Cocktail and spirits pairings at The Cypress Room change nightly based on the 5-course tasting menu of the evening. Each day before dinner service our chefs review the dishes with Bartender Christian Carnevale and General Manager Amanda Su who perform some improvisational magic exercising their smarts and a little creative license for good measure.

Christian says, “The guests at The Cypress Room are looking to see what we can do. They are genuinely interested in what they’re drinking – whether it’s from a wine glass or a highball. They want to test our knowledge. These pairings give us an opportunity to converse with the Tasting Menu, show off what we can do and get creative! Our focus is on guest experience, everything is thought of beforehand, needs are anticipated and tailored to you.”

And if you were to ask Ryan, what makes a good cocktail? He’d say, “if you keep going back for more!” And we sure will, see you at The Cypress Room!  What will be your summer cocktail go-to at The Cypress Room? Follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @thecypressroom and tag us on your next visit. New summer hours offer dinner Monday through Thursday, 6-10pm and Friday and Saturday 6pm-12am. The restaurant is closed Sundays.

The Cypress Room is located at 3620 Northeast Second Avenue in Miami’s Design District. Reservations recommended by calling 305.520.5197 or emailing reservations@thecypressroom.com. For more information, including current menus, please visit thecypressroom.com.

Chile Chile Bang Bang: Genuine Sommantics


It’s all fun and games until some somms wage a Wine Bar War.

Wine Bar War is in all caps because it’s an event sanctioned by Wines of Chile, and it has sparked some serious competitive spirit amongst Miami’s top sommeliers.  They’re going at it tomorrow night split into four mixed teams – teamwork across restaurants is essential – to bring Chile to Miami through wine, food and design.  At stake, a premium business class trip to Chile for the winning team to experience the best Chile has to offer courtesy of Turismo Chile and LAN Chile.  So what’s the task?  Physically erect a wine bar in one day and build a solid list to win over judges and guests, choosing from among the best producers this Andes-hedged, 2672 mile coastal strip of South American real estate has to offer.  As Team Ungrafted Wine Bar approaches Thursday’s Chilean rumble, Captain Amanda Fraga‘s strategizing has been long underway as she juggles her day/night job as sommelier of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.  For Amanda, “Wine Bar Wars is about bringing sommeliers, consumers, trade to an event so they can learn what Chilean wines are all about.”  Quite a way to make an impression!

We’ve got two dogs in this fight – Amanda and her boss, TGHG Wine Director, Eric Larkee. Needless to say, there has been some intra-company trash talk. Amanda’s team is Ungrafted, and Larkee’s is Natural Roots. Amanda is joined by Chris Zarcadoolas of Scarpetta, Cindy Woodman from Café Boulud and Josh Mesnik of Market 17. Natural Roots is headed up by Brian Grandison from Hakkasan, and teaming up with Larkee are Danny Toral from 50 Eggs and Kirsta Grauberger of Market 17 and Day Market Kitchen. So aside from a trip to Chile, there are bragging rights on the line!

Amanda and her team chose the name “Ungrafted” to highlight something uniquely Chilean, the original root stalks. She explains, “in Chile they do not graft the vine into a specific root stalk. Chile, being boarded by The Andes and the ocean, is in prime ungrafting real estate. Which is different from the other main wine growing countries around the world, like France and Spain.” Larkee had a similar idea, and his team, Natural Roots, refers to the same concept. Larkee says, “Chilean wines are grown on their own root stalks, their natural root stalks. This can get kind of wine wonky, talking about this, but basically this is all due to a bug called phyllorxia. They are a menace and in most of the world, grape vines have to be grafted onto phyllorxia-resistant root stalks in order to thrive. But Chile is an agricultural island, it is isolated from the rest of the world and hasn’t suffered this infection.” Therefore, Chilean vines are grown on their original root stalks and grapes are produced with no varietal cross over.

Around the time Amanda started at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Eric had remastered the wine list. He did not change the guiding principals, but he did make it more user-friendly.  For TGHG, there are two primary objectives to a wine list: 1. Provide an enjoyable experience for guests and 2. Be profitable for the business as a whole. Larkee says, “most of the other important things, like showcasing a variety of regions, or small producers all loop back in with the primary goals.”  Presentation is key. There are slightly fewer options, giving more room for explanations; the font is bigger, larger spaces between words, all aesthetically contributing to the guest experience. Larkee and Amanda agree that where they can really shine is through the By The Glass list. Amanda says, “guests are more comfortable buying one glass of something they’ve never tried rather than an entire bottle. It’s less of a commitment and, most importantly, well priced so people are more inclined to try something new.” Larkee calls the BTG list his tool belt, “this is the only way we can contribute to the dishes. Our wines by the glass allow you to find something that pairs well with the octopus and something for the braised beef tongue special without stiffing half the table.”

Amanda’s service experience at MGFD is what may give her team an edge at tomorrow’s competition.  Cozy neighborhood atmosphere as a backdrop, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is a destination for culinary risk takers and curious palettes.  She says, “People are interested in trying new wine, and they actually want to talk to me! They are going to ask questions, and I am going to teach them something new. This makes great practice for wine bar wars, talking to guests about grape varietals, regions, etc. on the floor each night is sure to help me win over the attendees.”


Hondarrabi Zuriaidura, Getariako Txakolina, Spain 2013. Summer’s wine!

So after the wine bar war dust has settled on Friday, what can we expect from MGFD’s wine list this summer? Larkee and Amanda immediately answered “Txakolina!” Pronounced like chocolate, this Spanish “backyard pounder” as Larkee refers to it, is sour, a little spritzy and has the bite of a green apple. But as Larkee also points out, “we go from hot to freaking hot. Maybe some people put down the Malbec for the summer and drink some rose. But our sales of fresh, crisp white, are great all year.”

What can we say about our dueling sommeliers? First, good luck! Second, it’s a very good thing you’re on separate teams because who would work the floor if you BOTH go to Chile! Get your tickets before tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. through Gilt City and you and a companion may be riding shotgun with the winners.

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Mango the Ways…

During Harry’s Pizzeria’s BBQ Night in Pizzaland a chance encounter landed the restaurant with over with 50 pounds of mangoes!  I met a woman named Valerie Stern, and she is my mango queen! When I saw her last, she handed me about 40 pounds of mangoes and told me to sprinkle their goodness around Genuineland.  Make your summer a whole lot sweeter?  We’re on it, Val!

Valerie moved into her Schenley Park home in 1992 – a mango tree stood on the property, complete with rope swing and it was too beautiful to pass up. Not even a month after moving in, on August 24, Hurricane Andrew took half of Valerie’s tree but couldn’t wipe it out.  This story has a happy ending and after a few years of consulting with various arborists and mango experts and lots of love, Valerie was able to nurse her mango tree back to health. She estimates that her mango tree is about 80 years old, based on when some other trees were planted in her neighborhood.  It’s over 30 feet tall!

One great thing about Valerie is that she’s generous, another great thing about her is that she doesn’t like raw mangoes… So… Valerie brings her mangoes to local restaurants and about 90% of her harvest are scattered around Miami’s finest eateries. She keeps about two mangoes a week for herself and the rest go to friends. Friends like PopNature and Wynwood Brewery, who are able to process and use the mangoes at the rate Valerie’s tree is producing them. Valerie’s mangoes are an endangered breed. About 10 years ago Valerie reached out to Dr. Richard Campbell, the Senior Curator of Tropical Fruit at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, to get some answers about her mysterious fruit. Cherwin mangoes are very sweet, very large and very dense and almost impossible to find in Miami any more. Cherwin’s are perfect for pulping and purees – they aren’t fibrous at all and have a very compact seed. They are most similar to Jubilee, another culinary favorite. At Harry’s Pizzeria, as part of our (RED) campaign, we are asking guests to bring in their mangoes to #86AIDS and raise awareness for the month of June… ’tis the season! Chef de Cuisine, Daniel Ramirez, put these mangoes to work and immediately had them on the menu. Now you can find them in our salad and house soda!

Executive Chef of The Genuine Hospitality Group, Bradley Herron, has his own 80 year old mango tree in his backyard. Chef Brad says, “I got mangoes coming out of my ears at home. You just gotta process all of them in the right ways,” Bradley explains. “The mint condition mangoes go on the counter – those are sliced for eating fresh. The slightly bruised ones that have tree-ripened and fallen (I have a tall tree!) – those get pureed and added to kombucha.  I have mango in the dehydrator for leather.  12 hours at 135 degrees. I have 60 pounds in the freezer for smoothies or sorbet.” Not everyone is a trained chef, but seasoned mango lovers know how to process their fruit!

Chef Michael Schwartz, Sunil Bhat and Eric Elliot Mango Hunting during last year's season!

Chef Michael Schwartz, Sunil Bhatt and Eric Elliot Mango Hunting during the 2014 season in May!

Eric Elliot, long time mango hunter, Miami Beach resident and good friend of Chef Michael, comes at mango season with full force! All he needs are his specialized mango picker (a Miami staple) and the sun at his back! Eric has four mango trees on his property, all different varieties; Carrie, Julie, Southern Blush and the elusive and highly prized Indian Alphonso — “the King of Mangoes”. One day he harvested over 300 pounds! Needless to say, Eric has to process his mangoes quick. Aside from the dedicated freezer in the garage filled with whole mangoes and purees, Eric uses a dehydrator to make mango chips – his kids’ favorite (not to mention they last all year round!) Eric credits mangoes with introducing him to his wife. In 1994, Eric attended a super spicy Indian dinner party and the only thing he could stomach on the menu was dessert, a mango pie. He had to find out who made this pie, and that search led him to Victoria, who later became his wife. Victoria’s parents have 11 mango trees at their home, so Victoria knew a thing or two about baking the best mango pie. As their wedding gift, Victoria’s father gave the couple their first mango tree. See how mangoes can bring people together? It’s a beautiful thing. How do I love thee? Let me mango the ways…