Chavez vs. the spirits

If you're visiting Venezuela between now and Monday, April 9, don't expect to find it easy to get a cooling gin and tonic or cacha├ža in the afternoon.

President Hugo Chavez has banned the public sale of such beverages before 5 p.m. until after Easter Sunday, supposedly to reduce road deaths caused by drinking and operating vehicles in the traditionally heavy Easter week traffic.

There may be something to the safety idea. Venezuelans are known as two-fisted spirits drinkers, and in 2006 ranked seventh in the world in the importation of Scotch whisky, according to the Scotch Whisky Association.

Not that imbibing has halted in the capital city of Caracas. The Reuters news service notes "It is almost as easy as ever to get a drink in Caracas, although bartenders have to be careful. In restaurants, beer or whiskey bottles are removed from tables, and some even serve wine in coffee cups."

Chavez, whose "reform" moves usually have an anti-United States angle, says whiskey drinking is an affectation of the U.S. He already had cracked down on the illegal but popular practice of selling beer and rum from trucks in public and drinking on the streets.

CIA Worlds Factbook: Argentina
• Think Venezuela: The Tourism Directory

TAP New York is ... on tap

New York's longest-running beer and food event will mark its 10th anniversary later this month.

The annual TAP New York extravaganza, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Beer and Food Festival, is scheduled for the weekend of April 28-29 in the base lodge at Hunter Mountain in the Catskill Mountains.

Although the organizers stress this is a food and beer event, the craft brewers bringing in their beers to compete for the Matthew Vassar Cup and the F.X. Matt Memorial Cup are the main drawing card.

The list of confirmed brewery participants (LI denotes Long Island):

• Black Forest Brew Haus & Restaurant, Farmingdale, LI
• Blue Point Brewing Co., Patchogue, LI
• Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown
• Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn
• Brown's Brewing Co., Troy
• Butternuts Beer & Ale Co., Garrattsville
• Chatham Brewing Co., Chatham
• Cooperstown Brewing Co., Cooperstown
• The Defiant Brewery, Pearl River
• Gilded Otter, New Paltz
• Great Adirondack Brewing, Lake Placid
• John Harvard's Brew House, Lake Grove, LI
• Heartland Brewery, Manhattan
• High Point Wheat Beer Co., Butler, NJ
• Ithaca Beer Co., Ithaca
• Keegan Ales, Kingston
• Kelso of Brooklyn
• Roosterfish Brewing Co., Watkins Glen
• Saranac/Matt Brewing Co., Utica
• Six Point Brewery, Brooklyn
• Southampton Publick House, Southampton
• Southern Tier Brewing, Lakewood
• Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec

The event began in 1997 as the Hudson Valley Beer and Food Festival, originally hosted at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. As it outgrew that venue, it was moved in 1999 to Hunter Mountain.

The food theme this year will be the best of the past decade.
Town of Hunter
Guide to the Catskill Mountains

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