Behind the Bar - Photo by Daniel Peragine
It’s really easy to get stuck in old habits. Same playlist, usual drink, regular haunt, typical invitees.
Call up, go out, bar hop, get fed, lather rinse repeat.
So when somewhere pops up that is doing different, fun and easy to adventure into you’ve got to perk up your ears.
There is a local cult following of Snakes and Lagers' sister cafe Snakes and Lattes. Both board-game bars, one beer, one coffee. Great reputation but then again sequels can be hard.
Snakes and Lagers - Photo by With Elyse
Bubbly going in invited for a pre open tasting before the grand opening. Pre opens are always exiting like being in on a secret or the punchline of some fabulous party joke.
Arriving abnormally early I was seated at the sturdy bar with a view of the gorgeous selection of taps and bottles.
The building emulates the nod in the name to snakes and ladders. A thin stretched room to the back stacked with additional seating on the top floor. High tables, booths and gothically vogue stone walls.
Introductions are made and we are launched into educated suggestions on everything from games to beer to munchables.
As a Stiegl girl (a leftover habit from time in Austria) I’m directed towards the Beau’s Lug Tread. Not overly hoppy, crisp and generally just refreshing.
Photo by Daniel Pergine
We dig into the nibbles which I’m told are a culmination of worldy pub fair meets street eats. The later clearly coming through as none of them get in the way of upcoming friendly game initiated competitive streaks.
Brussel sprouts in a skillet and kale chickpea salad in a mason jar, all rustically appetizing. Both difficult foods to get right - the sprouts and kale. Done wrong the feelings of a punished petulant child get stirred up but, done right it’s health infused bar snacks. Salty and decadent with beer but with a little more green than usual. Snakes and Lagers does them right. To be able to satisfy craving with a salad is a feat worth mentioning.
Kale and Chickpea Salad, Brussel Sprout - Photo by Daniel Peragine
It’s true when they say all the servers as “Gurus” connect on a personal level. We start a game of Fandoodle (yes actually the name) and our lovely host stays for a few rounds to ensure the ball or rather dice is rolling smoothly.
Sliders and falafel join the table. Not a drop spilled and the gambling style game is full swing. The mix in of white beans for the falafel adds a creamy profile and combats happily with the pickled onion topping while the Mini Mac is the solution to every fiend in need of drive through answers to boozy questions.
Mini Mac Slider, Falafel - Photo by Daniel Peragine
Switching on to Time-line (staff recommended), a historical game to order events of everything from the introduction of the Euro to dear old dial up. It gets you properly attentively thinking and moves us into dessert with cocktails.
Lemon Meringue Pie, Bourbon Sour, Fluffer Nutter and Lemon Meringue Pie - Photos by Daniel Pergaine and With Elyse
Again nuzzled in mason jars are the Lemon Meringue (I can never resist) and The Fluffer Nutter. I’m able to pop behind the bar to see the cheery men at work making me a egg white based Bourbon Sour that I’ve seen circulating the bar.
The slightly deconstructed delicious desserts are texture based and excellently portioned but the knockout is the cocktail deserving of a standing O with its frothy goodness.
Wrapping up I feel, unlike some nights, that I actually did something. A feeling of specialty of an event, out of the norm excitement to draw closer with strangers, colleagues and even the oldest of friends.
Snakes and Lagers is located at 488 College St in Downtown Toronto
Videos from all the interviews, behind the scenes, reviews, shoots, Product Pulls and more!
Christmas has passed, 2014 is approaching and December is coming to a close. The month of relatives, presents, long lines, comfort food and the ever important holiday party.
While everybody throws them from your Aunt Linda to Mr. Hugh Hefner, throwing a great holiday party takes some skill so here are the top two parties of the 2013 season.
Windsor Arms Hotel Holiday Party
Contrast a Contemporary/Neo Gothic 20s built hotel with classic cars, swimsuit models, modern menu selections and a VIP guest list. It wouldn’t be the holidays without a proper party soundtrack, in this case DJ Fizza and RnB band fronted by Juno award winning Carlos Morgan, working Blackstreet and Michael Jackson.
Augusten Borroughs type high ceilings and a crowd worth watching, offset by Venao Swimwear’s light catching designs towering over. Old world glam on a new scale for the festive.
FERKNOT Holiday Affair
Everyone has a signature that marks who they are and if you’re a bash thrower it’s most likely a cocktail. FERKNOT's Mint Julep perfectly encapsulates their party persona, debonair, fresh, strong and vibrant. A Kennedy worthy location - The Ganzi - makes little touches such as beanie sales that benefit charity all the more charming.
I’ve teamed up with the fabulous people at La Coupe ORGNX Haircare to give away a basket FULL of their amazing products. Perfect timing to use their treats (which I’m addicted to) to get you ready for party season.
The Basket Includes
- Keratin Complex Shampoo & Conditioner
- Coconut and Macadamia Oil Shampoo & Conditioner
- Coconut and Macadamia Oil Intensive Repair Treatment
- Moroccan Argan Oil Complex Shampoo & Conditioner
- Moroccan Argan Oil Complex Leave-In Styling Creme
- Moroccan Argan Oil Complex Leave-In Styling Oil
Total value is $100!
Great for a personal pre-Xmas gift or to give to someone you love over the holidays.
There are four ways to enter.
1 - Regram through Instagram with #withelyse and #orgnxholiday
2 -Retweet through twitter with tag #withelyse #orgnxholiday
3 - Share through Facebook with #withelyse and #orgnxholiday
4 -Reblog through Tumblr with #withelyse
Each one equals one entry. Do all four for four entries and a better chance to win!
GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE
YouTube sweetheart and American Horror Story Soundtrack star, Lauren O,Connell talks covers, Coven and connecting with an on-line audience.
A lot of people know your music from your eerie rendition of House of The Rising Sun featured in the soundtrack of the new season of American Horror Story: Coven.
How did you get involved with the cult TV show? Were you inspired by the New Orleans storyline?
I actually recorded the cover almost two years ago, so it was a pleasant surprise when the folks from AHS got in touch this year. The song obviously suits the New Orleans setting and my recording has kind of an eerie vibe, so it ended up being a great fit.
Why do you think YouTube has worked so well as a platform for what you do? Is it harder or easier connecting with an audience separated by a web presence?
It’s definitely easier to connect with people via a web presence and that’s why it’s worked for me. It’s not the same connection as playing for a live crowd, of course, but the sheer breadth of it makes it easier for you and your ideal audience to find each other. There’s a lot of luck involved there, too.
Making VideoSongs and vlogs on YouTube pulls back the curtain a little bit on artists as working musicians. I think people appreciate that. It makes music seem a little less disposable and that goes a long way in the age of piracy and short attention spans.
What us the most important tool to take advantage of when creating an engaging live webcast?
"Engaging" is the key word there. I think it’s important to treat it like a live show as much as possible. The format takes some getting used to, but I do my best to take requests and respond to people in real time. If there are no surprising moments or audience participation, people might as well be watching a recording or listening to an album.
Recently you talked about the power and intention of covering a beloved song. Do you think covers are still the fastest way to connect with people or is it fighting an uphill battle?
Covers of well-known songs are definitely an effective way to reach new ears. It feels like an uphill battle sometimes because new listeners are going to include new detractors, no matter what you’re doing. Covers not only reach people who wouldn’t normally seek you out, but also tend to be more polarizing (for better or worse) because people have emotional histories with the songs. You just have to be okay with that and remember that if everyone likes what you’re doing, it’s probably not very interesting.
The Toronto International Film Festival (or TIFF if you’ve opened any type of publication for the past month) is known for being the yearly Toronto hot spot for star watching even in the daytime, artistic luxury and if you’re very lucky - the lounges.Invite only VIP events to sample cutting edge brands, get pampered and mingle.
This year I was invited to the Premiere Celebrity Gift and Style Lounge.
Held over a course of three days, the lounge was hosted in the heart of TIFF madness at the stunning Ritz Hotel.
When I arrived, I was ushered into the suite by an attentive PR staff and a view that could make P Diddy’s bank account blush.
True to its name the event hosted an array of VIPs coming through including Canadian funny man Colin Mochrie, Matt Letscher of The Carrie Diaries, Academy Award Nominated Damien Bichir and the multi-talented Cory Lee to name a few.
As an invitee to the lounge, I was treated to styling, makeup, hair, massages from The Massage Lady as well as high-end gel manicures by Seaweed Bio Gel. All necessities to guests running off to a day full of busy events and red carpets or as a reprise for those in need of some downtime.
To keep everyone hydrated and delicious, We Bake in Heels and Barefoot Wine provided bubbly and cupcakes galore. Add in Awake Chocolate’s tasty caffeinated treats whose Dragon Den’s backer and supporter, Dave Chilton made an appearance and you have a content crowd.
Pampered and at ease there was a relaxed excitement in learning about all the companies showcasing.
Familiar loved brands like ORGNX Hair Care matched with companies presenting upcycled TIFF themed products like TOTEM Bags grounded an eclectic mix.
Skincare and hair demos from Pretend Tan, Ms Hair Extensions and Face Addiction kept the whole vibe very Hollywood in a quality way.
VENAO Swimwear, Ferknot, Moose Knuckles, Shoelery, SERENDRA, Fiori Fashion all showcasing clothing or accessories each representing individual styles to cater to a wide array of guests. Some poshly classic (Ferknot), some lavishly unique (Fiori), some exotically sensual (VENAO), some secretly beneficial (SERENDRA), it seems personality was the name of the design game.
However the niche standout of the day was Jarrell Guitars whose carefully crafted work of well balanced standout instruments and presence alone brought in high lister Tom Felton of the beloved Harry Potter series.
With so much to see, good spacing and great room flow, a change of lighting would help to capture these moments. Though understandably a challenge with such gorgeous wide span windows.
In the crazy days that make up TIFF, the mix of good company, variety, luxe delivery and style at The Premiere Celebrity Style and Gift Lounge is a definite destination next year for those who like to be deeply spoiled.
Company : Awake Chocolate
Background : Three friends meeting while working at Pepsi Co connected to create the only caffeine enriched chocolate bar
Claim to fame : After officially launching in 2012 Dragon, Dave Chilton of CBC’s Dragon’s Den invested in the caffeinated chocolate company
"Not recommended for children". That alone upgrades the image of your 5 year old self at the check out counter of bugging mum for a candy bar to a now adult who eats adult chocolate…like an adult…
Wonderfully quirky in their promotion approach with videos, photos and packaging in gorgeous warm, rich earthy colors plus a charming owl mascot peering out at you.
Photo by Taylor Brockelsby
I skipped my morning coffee for the sake of testing (brave ambition for someone who lives on an average of 6 espressos shots a day) Awake’s bite size piece. Not sleeping well and urges to crash were bringing me down prior to indulging, but 15 minutes later I felt alert and of course awake. The difference in energy level was really pleasantly surprising.
This is not mocha chocolate. Despite the Cup of Joe content, it tastes like regular milk chocolate. I personally think this is lovely since I’ve never been keen on mocha.
The caramel is like a friends with benefits version of your run of the mill Caramilk. Silky filling plus your pick me up for the day.
This is your cravings and addictions bundled into one little package.
Photos by Taylor Brockelsby
I look hopefully to the future for a dark version of these and maybe even latte inspired flavours (Green tea? Cinnamon Dolce?) to touch more on the coffee infusion.
A wonderfully smooth transformation of addiction on addiction to satisfy your adult needs and your childhood sweet tooth.
All Products Pulled are available at Awake Chocolate online
For more photos of the Products Pulled visit the With Elyse - Instagram @withelyse
My piece on the Yves Saint Laurent Resort ‘14 Collection featured in the Resort Report article in the July issue of Dalliance Magazine