Bernardo Fort-Brescia: Architect, Tangerine Farmer, Tavern Tastemaker

Jared and Bernardo screenshot

If there is one person who has their finger on the pulse of this city, this magic, ever-changing city, it is an architect. Better yet, a founding principal of Arquitectonica, the international architecture and urban planning firm founded in 1977 in one of the least developed, original villages in this parts – Coconut Grove.  It has grown to over 500 employees in 11 offices worldwide since then, and Bernardo Fort-Brescia’s awards and accolades have kept rolling in.  Still, he will be the first one to tell you that it is with each new project he faces that his career is rebuilt, just as each new project changes the face of that city.

As our final Tavern Tastemaker, it was fitting that Bernardo was full of surprises. It wasn’t until after their lunch of various fruits de mer that we learned Bernardo knows a thing or two about fruits himself. He is a tangerine farmer in South America and as we discussed the ways that the United States prefers perfectly shaped fruit while Europe prefers blemished, we sipped on the “Sunshine State.” Named for its main squeeze, the sumo tangerine, and rosemary cordial, with sake and Plymouth Gin.   “I like this cocktail because you feel the fruit, but also the pure,” Bernardo added.

We hope you have enjoyed these brunches and lunches with Ocean Drive Magazine Editor in Chief Jared Shapiro, and each of our Tavern Tastemakers. Just as Bernardo’s projects shape his career and a cityscape, we like to think our cocktail hours are an opportunity for people to come together with friends and family for a taste of the tavern and maybe the start of something special. One thing is certain, there is a place at our table for artists, producers, chefs, models, architects, television stars, and you.

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Model Behavior with Some Lobster and a Cherry on Top

Kasey Ashcraft is living the dream. The one on the postcard of Miami Beach. Or maybe she’s on the post card of Miami Beach.  She is nothing short of picture perfect and has had her picture taken on a whole lot of beaches, but still calls ours home. This sun kissed Wilhelmina model turned Miami local is a Tavern Tastemaker and sat down with her friend, Ocean Drive Magazine Editor in Chief Jared Shapiro, and a tasty table of Cypress Tavern brunch dishes to talk about why we all want to live in Miami and how exactly she made that dream come true.  There was lobster, of course, because Kasey is from Maryland and “seafood is a big deal.” We know a thing or two about that!  Watch here.

They toasted with a scotch and prosecco cocktail that Cypress Tavern lead bartender David Ferree created. The “Take Me Out” is Chivas Regal 12 Year with sparkling wine and house brandied cherries. An unlikely combo even for Kasey, she said, “I didn’t think I was going to like it because I don’t like cherries or either of those things. But I love it. I never stay and finish drinks, but I’m finishing it.” Come taste for yourself tonight at our Cypress Tavern cocktail hour from 6-8pm with Amanda Fraga, the Genuine Hospitality Group Beverage Manager and Sommelier as we toast Kasey Ashcraft at the end of another day in the sun.


Michele Oka Doner: World-Renowned Artist, Native Miamian, Tavern Tastemaker

Behind the Scenes (4)

Miami is a transient place. People come as often as people go. For some, our magic city is just a staging place for a bigger life, for others, arriving in Miami brings the dreams of a new life. For a few of us though, Miami is the magic city where we were born. Michele Oka Doner is one of the latter. Her remarkable talent and awe-inspiring works of art have taken her all over the country and globe, but Michele will always call Miami Beach home. In today’s Tavern Tastemakers episode with Ocean Drive Magazine we get a little bit of insight into what that was like while she cozies up to a lunch at Cypress Tavern with Editor in Chief Jared Shapiro.

Director and editor Gio Gutierrez shooting Jen Massolo as she crafts two drinks for Michele's episode. Visit her tonight behind the Cypress Bar to enjoy them at a special price of $10.

Chat Chow’s Gio Gutierrez shooting Jen Massolo as she crafts two drinks for Michele’s episode. Visit her tonight behind the Cypress Bar to enjoy them at a special price of $10.

The beauty of a childhood spent outdoors amidst the flora and fauna of our tropical paradise shaped the artist that Michele has become. One look at any of her pieces is to witness the glory of the natural world in some form. Miami was not just a backdrop though, the social aspect of a budding city was a part of her world as well. As Michele explains in today’s Tavern Tastemakers episode, when approaching how she might design a piece of work for a city, she looks to the locals, the people who her art will impact, and she goes from there. This because she knows something of transience and she knows the gravity of permanence. A Miami native has seen the makeovers and resurgences that a city goes through, and Michele’s gift is taking that experience and reflecting it back. Her art represents the full spectrum of a city, it’s people, and it’s soul.

Her work The River of Quintessence is a mosaic floor of green glass, mother of pearl and seashells that winds through the U.S. Courthouse in Laredo, Texas just as the Rio Grande snakes through the city’s landscape, creating a sense of comfort in a building  that might not always offer much. A Walk On the Beach at the Miami International Airport channels the Miami beaches of years past, that Michele’s young feet walked upon. Some of these creatures can only be witnessed through art anymore, because of people and time and change. But Michele gives these treasures back to us, under our own feet, in beautifully crafted bronze and mother of pearl, for us to continue to explore year after year.

In this way, Michele is a sort of gatekeeper. She gives us back a bit of the past so that, like the ancient trees on Pine Tree Drive that she speaks of, a little more of her Miami Beach can continue to live on. For this, we are lucky to have her, and for this she is a Tavern Tastemaker.

Visit Michele’s latest Miami installationHow I Caught A Swallow in Mid-Air, at Perez Art Museum. Now until September 11, 2016.

[Recipe] There’s No Place Like A Walk on the Beach for Michele Oka Doner

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Next Tuesday our third of six episodes of Tavern Tastemakers goes live on featuring world-renowned artist Michele Oka Doner, conjurer of the spirit of the ocean and the soul of Miami Beach, the place where hers first opened and where father, Kenneth Oka, was a judge and Mayor.  The Schwartz family’s midcentury modern gem they purchased years back is her childhood home, tucked away off Bayshore Golf Course — brimming with its history and full of new life and art of its own.

And there is so much art to celebrate now in Miami, thanks to our honored guest.  Earlier this month Michele visited from New York City to debut her costumes in the Miami City Ballet’s new production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, fittingly set under the sea, and to open a new show at Perez Art Museum Miami, “How I Caught a Swallow in Midair” on March 24 (on view until September 11, 2016.)  More on this here when her episode airs on April 5.

Jen behind the bar on March 7 at Michele's shoot.

Jen behind the bar on March 7 at Michele’s shoot.

We will toast all these beautiful things that evening from 6-8PM at Cypress Tavern’s Tastemaker Cocktail Hour with beautiful cocktails to match, designed for our visionary enigma by Jen Massolo, an admirer and percolating well of creativity in her own right.   Our dear friend, a spirits expert and the founder of consulting company The Liquid Projects, offers two bright and refreshing drinks inspired by Michele’s art works, The River of Quintessence and A Walk on the Beach.

We concern ourselves with the latter here, named for the mother of pearl, bronze, and terrazzo installation meandering travelers through the American Airlines terminal of the Miami International Airport.


The River of Quintessence, to the back, and A Walk on the Beach to the front.

The treasures in the sand that fascinated and nurtured Michele as she was growing up on Miami Beach now dazzle newcomers with their whimsical brilliance and wash those of us familiar with these charms — colorful sunsets, the hurricanes, thunderstorms, tides, the flora and fauna — gently back to shore.  There’s really no better way to be welcomed home, gliding over this glittering magic carpet of jewels.

A Walk on the Beach  — honey-ginger syrup, lime, fennel
This cocktail is delightfully light in its non-alcoholic form as it was designed for Michele on the day of her interview.  Add 1 ounce (or more if you desire!) Tequila Avion Blanco or Reposado for a spirited version.

Makes one drink

2 ounces Ginger-Honey Syrup (recipe below)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Dash of fennel bitters
1.5 cups sparkling water
Lime zest and mint sprig for garnish

Add syrup, lime juice and fennel bitters to a tumbler filled with ice and vigorously shake.  Strain into a collins glasses built with crushed ice and top with sparkling water.  Finish with lime zest and a mint sprig.

Ginger-Honey Syrup

Makes about 2 cups of syrup

2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons raw honey
2 cups boiling water

Steep ginger, mint, and honey in the boiling water.  Allow to cool and strain into a quart container. Keeps for a while sealed in the refrigerator, but shouldn’t last long given all the cocktails and sodas you’ll want to make with it.  Great pantry item for your home bar.

Cypress Tavern’s Tastemaker Cocktail Hour Begins Tuesday March 1

IMG_1129 (2)To celebrate tomorrow’s launch of Tavern Tastemakers with Michael’s episode, Setting the Schwartz Table at Tavern begins a Tastemaker Cocktail Hour where for the first two hours of service weekdays ~ 6-8PM Tuesday-Friday ~ cocktails featured in our new video interview series are available for $10.  On Tuesdays when new episodes debut, we’ll have a host join us from Miami’s food and beverage community, a tastemaker in their own right.  For tomorrow’s first TCH, Pernod Ricard’s Nelson Giacometti toasts the Tavern with Michael’s Irish Whiskey Sour featuring Yellow Spot Whiskey, lemon, Trockenbeerenauslese and egg white.

Live at tomorrow.

Live at tomorrow.

Of what you could categorize as a sommelier’s twist on this classic cocktail, The Genuine Hospitality Group beverage mentor Eric Larkee says, “It works because we add a balanced sweetness not just sugary sweetness from a simple syrup.  We use a sweet wine, with notes of caramely richness and spice that add another layer of complexity to the cocktail.”  Trockenbeerenauslese refers to the sweetness level, which is probably most familiar to us as a Riesling index, but this wine is a blend of Welschreisling and Chardonnay grapes from a producer Larkee frequents, Kracher.  So like making muffins with apple juice or beet instead of granulated sugar, this cocktail has just something a little extra special to take it to Tastemaker status.  It is for Chef, after all! Cheers.