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Sep 29

Tino Vino Closure Causes Chaos

About a month ago,  Tino Vino, a winemaking venture in East Hyde Park, closed its doors. Because the closing was sudden, without notice, some chaos has ensued. Customers who have placed orders for custom wine have been left with a large hole in their pocketbooks, no way to retrieve their wine, and no way to contact the owners.

The shop was originally owned by Annie McManus, Lindsay Valentino, Michelle Banks, and Jennifer Fairbanks. I admit, I’ve reached out privately to one of those ladies, as well as a former Tino Vino employee, to find out what happened. I honestly don’t expect to hear from anyone. I’ve been led to believe that Annie and Jennifer, at the end, were only peripherally involved in the venture and have acquired lawyers.

I found out about the closing because I’ve been contacted by several of Tino Vino’s customers who think I’m Michelle Banks.  I’m not. Let me make this clear – I do not have any business association with Tino Vino, nor have I ever. I’m as surprised as the rest of the you that they closed in the unprofessional manner they have.

Lindsay Valentino’s recently ex-husband, Steven Sykes Valentino, has his own legal troubles. He and his realty group, ORP, were accused of stealing more than $1 million from the condo properties they manage. One of the girls from Tino Vino was also an employee of ORP. I’m not sure if there is a direct relationship between that situation and the closing of Tino Vino, but common sense tells me there might be.

I have been trying to dig into the closing a little more, but there isn’t much out there. Both Howard Ain (WKRC) and John Matarese (WCPO) have tried to contact the owners with no luck. Both of those gentlemen did reach the landlord of the building, and they both reported an eviction notice on the door. (I drove out to Tino Vino on Sunday and was surprised to find the eviction notice had been taken down. To me, that’s a sign of life. Take it as you will.)

According to Ain at WKRC, the building owner cannot give out any of the wine, as it is still legally the property of Tino Vino. There is an eviction hearing scheduled for the end of the month. If something is not done by then, the Sheriff may have to dump the wine because it’s illegal to set it out or give it away.

My recommendation? Call your credit card company. If you can get your charge reversed for the wine you paid for, do it. It’s certainly worth the call. Also keep in mind that the shop has been closed for a month. If the utilities weren’t paid for in that time, then the wine was no longer in a temperature controlled environment. It may be baking in there under terrible conditions.

If I hear anything that will shed some more light on this situation, I will certainly publish it here.

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Posted by Michelle at 10:57 am in Current Affairs, Local, Local Wineries, Wine Shops | Permalink | Comments (9)
Sep 27

Mad Men Monday: The Playboy Club

I was so excited last night when our ad men ended up at the Playboy Club. I’ve always had a strange fascination with the place.

Photo from AMCtv.com

The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago on February 29 (Leap Year), 1960 and was a success from the moment the doors were opened. The Playboy Club was a classy (no kidding) place that Newsweek eventually called “Disneyland for adults.” Early entertainers in that first Playboy Club included before-they-were-famous Aretha Franklin and Barbara Streisand.

Photo by O'Rourke at explayboybunnies.com, from Playboy June 1965

The Playboy Club eventually expanded to include more than 40 clubs and resorts. In Cincinnati, our own Playboy Club opened in September, 1964. It was located at 35 East 7th Street (current address of The Lodge Bar) and was in business for 19 years. Headliners in our own Club included Henny Youngman, Red Foxx, and Flip Wilson. You might have even heard Bootsy Collins performing in the lounge. From what I’ve read, the best years were between 1964 and 1976. In 1976, the Playboy Club concept moved from classy joint to more of a disco club and continued to change with the times. Our local club closed its doors in September, 1983.

I collect swizzle sticks and there are several Playboy sticks in my collection that I can only assume came from my parents. I called my Mom this morning and, to my surprise, my parents had a membership to the Cincinnati Playboy Club.  My Mom won the membership from a radio station contest around 1975. Mom says she always enjoyed the club because “it had a great atmosphere. You would take an elevator up, as it wasn’t on the ground floor, and then just step into the club.”  She remembers plush surroundings, with couch areas for conversation. Apparently my parents went to the club and restaurant quite often. I tried to find out what they used to drink. Mom thinks she drank something with vodka in it that tasted like lemonade.

Playboy Bunnies were by far the most famous part of the Clubs. Bunnies underwent strict training and weigh-ins. They also had to be able to identify 143 types of liquor and garnish over 20 cocktails. Bunnies were not allowed to date or mingle with the customers and, on the part of the customers, touching a Bunny was forbidden. A move I’ve always loved is the Bunny Dip. It’s a graceful way of bending slightly backwards to deliver and pickup drinks without bursting out of the Bunny Bustier. Something I always loved is that Playboy Bunnies were curvy girls, which was attractive back in the 60s. Famous bunnies include Deborah Harry (Blondie), Sherilyn Fenn, and Lauren Hutton.

In 2006, the Playboy Club reopened in (where else?) Las Vegas at The Palms. Some friends and I visited the Club in 2009 and I loved it. It’s classy and lush, with plenty of couches and a rich gold and red decor. One entire wall is digitized, displaying randomized images of Playboy magazine covers throughout the years. The Bunny costumes are still classy and the Bunnies still do the Bunny Dip.

Playboy Club, Las Vegas 2009

The Club is near the top of the Palms tower and overlooks all of Las Vegas. You can take a private escalator up to Moon, the nightclub with a retractable roof and always-open patio section. Personally, I preferred the Playboy club though – classy cocktails and an environment where I could chat with my friends. If you ever go, cover can run up to $40 on a weekend night. When we went (a Thursday, I believe), the guys each paid a $20 cover and I’m pretty sure the girls were all free.

Playboy Club, Las Vegas 2009

Perhaps the reason I love Mad Men is the same reason I’m fascinated with the Playboy Club. It’s a piece of history where women weren’t a size 2, bars were classy and encouraged cocktails and conversation, and the clothes were amazing. Could I live back then? No. I’m far too independent. I probably relate the most to Faye on Mad Men. But I love the chance to relax in the 60s now and then.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Sep 21

Mad Men Monday … on Tuesday

I’m not a day late because I’m busy (although I am). I’m a day late because I am actually a little angry with my favorite show.

You see, they’re drinking a lot of Canadian Club (Don), Stoli (Roger), and Johnnie Walker (everyone else). But that’s it. They’ve stopped ordering the amazing classic cocktails from the first couple of seasons. Why? Apparently because of the advertising dollars. I even get countless emails from several different Canadian Club PR reps who are thrilled with my coverage. Great.

I’d given thought to covering HBO’s Boardwalk Empire as well, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Despite that, a PR rep has already informed me that Canadian Club is everywhere. While actually historically accurate in both shows, I’ve still got the CC problem in Mad Men – I don’t need it twice. Actually, I’m fine with them using CC, but is there some sort of rule it can’t be blended in a cocktail?

Image from AMCTV.com

Despite my own issues with product placement, Sunday night’s episode was fantastic. You’ve got to give the writers credit, as they’re really nailing a lot of the issues women had to deal with in the mid-1960s. From Peggy and Joan both struggling to be taken seriously, to Joan’s Vietnam-induced loneliness and struggle to define herself, and Faye’s choice to have a brilliant career instead of marriage and children … all three women are impressive, yet surrounded by unwitting chauvinists.

I can’t believe they killed off Miss Blankenship. She had the best one-liners (and best delivery) in the show. I call it a “Joss Whedon writing trick,” to kill off a character that makes everyone smile.

So let’s raise a toast to the women of Mad Men. In fact, we’ll raise what used to be Don’s favorite drink, using the recipe from the Mad Men / AMC web page. It’s an Old-Fashioned, and I don’t care what whiskey you use.

  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • ½ tsp sugar dissolved with water and bitters
  • 1½ oz of bourbon
  • 1 cherry
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 lemon wedge

Fill glass with ice. Add cherry, orange slice and lemon wedge. Pour in bourbon. Serve in a rocks glass over ice.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 9:24 am in Mad Men Monday | Permalink | Comments ()
Sep 16

Harmony Hill and Beta Testers

First off, a reminder that Harmony Hill will be pouring wine at Mainstay Rock Bar this evening, from 6-8 pm. Kevin and I are both popping by after work, and we’d love to see you there! Tickets are $20 at the door.
More info ….

Next, I know I’ve been sporadic with posts lately. But there’s a reason. I’m working for Panstoria, a start-up company based out of Dayton, and I get to be their Director of Marketing & Social Media. (Yay!!) However, start-ups will be start-ups, which means sometimes I hardly feel like I have time to breathe. Why am I sharing this? Because we need beta testers for our new software product.

If you’re interested in scrapbooking – in particular, digital scrapbooking – and you own a Windows machine, you might be interested. We’re beta testing our product starting ~Oct 1 and we still need 10-15 more participants. You’d have to actually use the software and report back on any bugs you might find. We plan on releasing the finished software in January and as a thank you, you would receive a free copy of the finished product. I invite you to check out our web site and if you’re interested, sign up to be a beta tester!

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 8:33 am in Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (1)
Sep 13

Mad Men Monday: Mountain Dew-Da

In this week’s episode, we saw Don finally start to reacquire his brain. He’s been lost, but he seems to be working his way out of the maze. He’s been drinking too much and realizes it, now often turning to coffee instead. Of course, he hasn’t stopped drinking, but he’s making an effort to cut back. So he’s making smarter choices and, by the end of the episode, dating smarter women as well.

Peggy has her own issues at the office, but I do like the homework she assigned the guys for their Mountain Dew client: three cocktails with at least three ingredients.

It never occurred to me to make a cocktail of any sort with Mountain Dew. It was my beverage of choice in college, which was before the days of Red Bull and other energy drinks. After all, Mountain Dew has 54 mg of caffeine per 12 fl oz. I can’t drink Mountain Dew now for the same reason I could back then – too much caffeine.

Because Peggy assigned homework, I went out and hunted down three drink recipes with at least three ingredients each, one of which is Mountain Dew.

Strange Brew
I picked this one because it takes the episode drink a step further. Peggy said that cocktails require three ingredients (done!) and that just Mountain Dew and vodka mixed was for emergencies.

1 oz Mountain Dew
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Vodka

Mix with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Magic Mountain Dew

1-1/2 oz Absolut Citron Vodka
1-1/2 oz triple sec
3 oz Mountain Dew

Pour the Absolut Citron vodka and triple sec into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, and strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top with mountain dew, stir briefly and serve. (From DrinksMixer.com)

Morning Dew
This is actually a punch and not a cocktail, but you get the idea.

8 L  Mountain Dew
64 oz Orange Juice
1 bottle of Southern Comfort

Pour everything into a punch bowl and stir. Cherries and grenadine may be added (optional) and Diet Dew can also be substituted for the real thing.

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Posted by Michelle at 10:43 am in Cocktails, Mad Men Monday, Television | Permalink | Comments ()

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