Beefeater 24 aiming at air travelers

International travelers have caught on to the wide variety of bargains and choices offered to fans of adult beverages in airport duty free shops.

The latest, at London Heathrow Airport, is Beefeater 24, a new gin from the iconic British distiller.

The gin, distilled in London, is named for its 24-hour steeping process and is presented in a new bottle inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement. Inside is master distiller Desmond Payne's new 12 botanical recipe that includes what he terms "a rare blend of teas at its heart."
• London Heathrow Airport
World Duty Free
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Bacardi to unveil special rum for special people

Psst. Bacardi Reserva Limitada.

Never heard of it? You will, when the drinks press latches on to it.

The distiller's newest, and, it says, "most exclusive," rum will be unveiled next week during a special dinner at the first Taste of Cayman Charity Wine Dinner on Grand Cayman.

Joaquin Bacardi III, president and CEO of Bacardi Corp. and great, great grandson of company founder Don Facundo Bacardi will visit the island to make the presentation.

The "founder's blend" rum has been matured in American oak barrels for 10-16 years -- an average of 12 -- to produce a deep golden hued rum. It is individually bottled, numbered and packed by hand. The 80-proof rum will go for a suggested retail price of $55.

Maggie Matías, Bacardi vice president and managing director, told the Cay Compass News that the rum "will be treated as a very exclusive, high–end product, available only at the Bacardi Visitors’ Center in Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean for selected clients and restaurants."

Which means one more thing to look forward to if you visit Puerto Rico or the Caymans.
• Casa Bacardi
Puerto Rican Tourism
Discover the Cayman Islands
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Harvard Art Museum gets huge grants

Anyone who thinks they've seen everything there is to see at the Harvard Art Museum better think again.

The Cambridge, MA, museum has received a $45 million donation and 31 works by leading modernist and contemporary painters, a gift from Emily Rauh Pulitzer. She was a curator at the museum and wife of the late Joseph Pulitzer Jr., grandson of the famous newspaper publisher. Presently, she is a member of the Board of Overseers.

University officials said the donation includes painting by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, and Barnett Newman. The monetary contribution is the largest financial gift ever to the museum.

In addition, the university announced 43 other modern and contemporary works donated by the family between 1953 and 2005. Those works, never formally announced, include paintings by Cézanne, Monet, and Picasso.

Museum officials also said that the financial support of the Pulitzers has allowed it to purchase 92 works of art over the past few decades.

Among the latest donations is Picasso's "Harlequin" (above, an oil on canvas painted in 1918. For a full list of the donations, go here.
• Harvard Art Museum
Harvard University home page
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Hotel boom may be a bust, except for you

A change is looming in the U.S. hotel industry that may work to the advantage of bargain-seeking travelers.

A new study by PKF Hospitality Research says demand for hotel rooms will contract for the next two years. Couple that with the forecast of a combined net increase in 2008 and 2009 of nearly 275,000 new hotel rooms compared to year-end 2007 should lead to lower occupancy rates and an improvement in rates and special packages to make up for that.

Reports by Smith Travel Research show three consecutive years of fewer accommodated room nights for the average U.S. hotel.

"Because of the extended slowdown of the U.S. economy, compounded by the negative consequences stemming from airline capacity cutbacks, we are now forecasting a 0.2% decline in lodging demand in 2008, followed by another loss of 1.1% in 2009," said Mark Woodworth, president of PKF Hospitality Research. "According to data from Smith Travel Research, this is the first time since 1988 that the U.S. lodging industry will experience two consecutive years of decline in lodging demand.

"With supply and demand moving in opposite directions, the typical hotel manager will not be able to maintain their aggressive approach to raising room rates," Woodworth said.

Occupancy at U.S. hotels continued to fall in the first week of September although room rates remained steady, according to Smith Travel Research. That means occupancy dropped 7.3% year-over-year to 54.3%. The industry's average daily rate grew 1.2% to $100.73.
• Hotel construction updates
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Cocktails as theater

The Enzian Theater in Maitland, FL, near Orlando, is known for its Florida Film Festival events and its status as a non-profit, fulltime cinema for first-run independent and international films, classic revivals, documentaries and select family entertainment.

Now it will be known for unique cocktails as well.

A new outdoor bar and restaurant is scheduled to debut Sunday at the theater. The Eden Bar, with a biblical Garden of Eden theme, is a 2,000-square-foot, 70-seat restaurant and bar that will feature Viennese specialties with original cocktail creations, according to a news release.

Among the drinks: America’s only Mojito served with pre-Cuban embargo rum and a Manhattan prepared with Prohibition-era bourbon.
• Enzian Theater
Florida Film Festival
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Iconic Peruvian beer reaches US, or part of it

Talk about a small test market. MillerCoors has chosen Rhode Island as the entry point for Cusqueña, the Peruvian beer that is one of Latin America's favorites.

"Consumers around the world have embraced Cusqueña and we're eager to get this product in the hands of American beer connoisseurs who are intrigued by Cusqueña's interesting origins," Mike Browne, a MillerCoors vicepresident, said in a statement.

"Cusqueña isn't like anything beer drinkers in the U.S. have tried before. We're sure that the beer's quality and crisp flavor will create a demand that will reach beyond Rhode Island in a short amount of time."

The brew is an all-malt lager that is the best-selling premium beer in Peru. It is known for using Saaz hops and pure glacier water from a source at 18,000 feet in the Andes Mountains.

The brand was created by German entrepreneurs who founded the Cervesur Brewery in 1908 in Cusco, seat of the ancient Incan empire. The brewery is located near Machu Picchu. It is brewed in accordance with German Purity Law. Only water, malted barley, hops and yeast are used, and there are no additives or preservatives.

Cusqueña received gold medals at the Monde Selection, Selection and Quality Awards in 2007 and 2008 and is a seven-time winner of superior award ratings in international taste competitions, including the "Superior Taste Award" given by the International Taste and Quality Institute of Belgium.

It is being sold in six-packs of 11.2-ounce bottles. It has 130 calories per 11.2-ounce serving and 4.8% alcohol by volume.
Cusqueña Beer
• Visit Rhode Island
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Bee vodka all the buzz in NY

Tourists in New York's Finger Lakes or lower Hudson Valley who enjoy visiting wineries are finding they c an get more impact for their visit at several places.

An example: That New York vodka I mentioned the other day now has made its name known. Bee Vodka, from Montezuma Winery's new Hidden Marsh Distillery, was unveiled to the public yesterday at a special tasting at the Seneca Falls complex in the Finger Lakes.

Bill Martin, 32, co-owner and winemaker at Montezuma, noted that "This vodka is made from 100% honey. It's the only one like it in the U.S."

Hidden Marsh becomes the third licensed farm distillery in New York State. The others are in the Hudson Valley -- Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery in Warwick and Harvest Spirits at Golden Harvest Farms in Valatie.

A farm distillery must use only ingredients of New York origin, is allowed to conduct on-premises tastings and sell spirits for off-premises consumption, under state law. A fourth farm distillery, called Finger Lakes Distilling, is planned to open next year in Burdett, Schuyler County. (While it is under construction, you can keep up with its progress on its blog.)

The 80-proof Bee Vodka is triple-distilled in small batches, each of which takes about two months to make, using a pot still imported from Germany.

Martin released an apple brandy in June and plans to expand the line through the remainder of the year to include a honey brandy and other cordials. The vodka sells for $48.99 for a 750ml bottle, the brandy $28.99 for a 375ml bottle at the distillery. Martin plans to begin distribution of the vodka next year.
New York's Wine Trails
2 Wine Trails Divided By a River
Shawangunks: NY's 'Unknown' Mountains
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Ryanair to link U.S., Europe

Ryanair is a popular regional airline in Europe, known for no-frills service and low-cost tickets. Now, we learn that passengers could be taking budget flights between the U.S. and Europe on a Ryanair-backed airline in less than three years.

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said in a Friday announcement that plans to launch a no-frills trans-Atlantic service had been bolstered by an industry downturn that could slash the cost of long-haul aircraft as rivals go bust or orders are cancelled.

O'Leary said the airline could be launched 18 months after acquiring a new fleet next year. The carrier would operate from up to nine bases on each side of the Atlantic. Islip Airport (MacArthur) on Long Island is expected to be the New York base.

"There may be an opportunity to pick up cheap long-haul aircraft next year, in which case we might launch a low-cost, long-haul program in 2½ years," O'Leary said.
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Swanky Bubbles has a swellegant site

If you run a restaurant and champagne bar named Swanky Bubbles, what sort of music would best convey your atmosphere to online visitors?

When I checked out Swanky Bubbles, which has locations in both Philadelphia and nearby Cherry Hill, NJ, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the bouncy voice-over/music-under and vice-versa presentation along with a graphically pleasing Web site. Go here to experience it.

By the way, Swanky Bubbles doesn't limit itself to wines. In fact, it even has a "Journey Through Crown Royal" Canadian whisky tasting scheduled for November.
• Philadelphia Club Vibes
Cherry Hill Nightlife
• Dowd On Drinks
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Who you gonna call? Booze hustler

At first I thought Dan Aykroyd was working on a new bit for a guest spot on "Saturday Night Live." Many of us remember when he did a lot of con artist/pitchmen put-ons during his "SNL" heyday, and this seemed much like those skits.

But, no, with either total disregard for veracity or with tongue firmly planted in both cheeks -- or even all four, the actor/singer/entrepreneur is spieling for a new vodka called Crystal Skull and in an online ad delivers a very long, very rambling, very self-impressed monologue about mysterious crystal skulls found in different parts of the world. He also throws in mentions of Roswell, witchcraft, ghosts and other stuff.

He eventually stops talking and lets a colleague describe the Newfoundland vodka -- quadruple distilled, triple filtered at the suggestion of one Mr. Akyroyd through "500-million-year-old crystals known as Herkimer diamonds."

For those unfamiliar with that particular mineral, it's a faux "diamond" found in upstate New York around the Herkimer/Utica/Syracuse area. It's OK for costume jewelry but of no particular value otherwise.

This isn't the Canadian star's first venture into pushing an alcoholic beverage. In June of last year, he announced plans for the $12 million Dan Aykroyd Winery to be built in the Niagara wine area. Part of it will house memorabilia from his film and TV career. The project also includes a line of wines bearing his name.
Akyroyd's Winery Project
Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism
Herkimer Diamond Mines
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Akvinta Vodka taking wings

Croatia isn't the first place you think of when someone says "Mediterranean." However, Akvinta Vodka, a luxury-niche vodka distilled in Croatia, now is being made available on Virgin Atlantic Airways flights. And, it's labelled "the first Mediterranean luxury vodka."

Akvinta is available to passengers in a 70cl bottle wrapped in Virgin Atlantic packaging.

The vodka was launched in Croatia in 2006 and was the first product to be fully developed at the distillery from concept to final production. Akvinta isn't new to the world market. It was introduced in April to the Virgin clubhouse at New York's Kennedy International Airport and in June it became a featured vodka on the clubhouse cocktail list for Virgin passengers waiting to depart from London Heathrow Airport.
• Virgin Atlantic Airways
• Akvinta Vodka
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Scotland gets world's No. 1 whisky collection

From the BBC America:

The world's largest collection of whiskies [3,384 bottles] has arrived in Edinburgh this week, brought home from Brazil.

Featuring 3,384 bottles, the record-breaking collection was built up over 35 years by Brazilian whisky enthusiast Claive Vidiz (right).

Vidiz has scoured the world for whiskies to create the collection, which has been bought by Diageo. The whisky manufacturer will be loaning the collection to the Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile next year. The bottles are currently being stored in a high security location in Scotland, after being shipped 6,500 miles from Sao Paulo on board a container ship. A specially designed vault is being created at the Scotch Whisky Experience (the visitors center next to Edinburgh Castle) to display the collection.

[Go here for the rest of the story.]

Scotland's government, tourism organizations and businesses are preparing for next year's huge tourist push known as "Homecoming Scotland," scheduled to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the birth of iconic Scottish poet Robert Burns.
• Scotch Whisky Experience
Scottish Tourist Board
Homecoming Scotland
• Classifying the Castles of Scotland
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'Brewery resort' an Aussie first

Wine country B&B's are all the rage in many countries, but how many can boast a "brewery resort"?

Australia will, once a $95 million tourist development at Bulahdelah is completed. The first phase includes a brewery and pizzeria with an outdoor stage for live entertainment and a 100-space car park.

Phase 2 will be a tourist facility. That translates into various restaurants, 206 hotel suites, 105 serviced apartments, 23 ancillary commercial tenancies, a chapel, parking for 489 vehicles, swimming pools, tennis courts and conference facilities.

The project is targeted for a tract of land on the Pacific Highway in New South Wales at the base of heritage-listed Bulahdelah Mountain (also referred to as Alum Mountain). The developers say construction will begin next month.

Ralph Kellar from Brewery Australia Developments estimates that now the two phases have been given the green light, construction will begin as early as next month. Eventually, a 200-lot housing subdivision will be included in the complex.

The first thing to be built will be the brewery. It has been described as a "tourist brewery" where visitors can enjoy samples with a slice of pizza on the side.

New South Wales is located in the southeastern part of of Australia. Sydney is its major city.
Visiting Bullahdelah
• New South Wales tourism
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St. Lucia festival moved to January

Anyone who gears a trip to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia to take in the annual Food & Rum Festival better amend their plans this winter. The event, usually held in December, has been moved by the St. Lucia Tourist Board to January 15-18, 2009.

The new dates will coincide with the Caribbean's premier travel trade show, Caribbean Marketplace, which is to take place in St. Lucia from January 18 to 20. Based on historical attendance numbers, the organizers expect close to 1,500 attendees at the 2009 Marketplace event.

Due to the increased size of the event in January, the site will be moved to the Pigeon Island beach front where Marketplace will be held.
St. Lucia Tourist Board
St. Lucia Hotel & Travel Association
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NY's 'mystery' vodka to be unveiled

Another New York distillery will unveil its first product -- a vodka whose name will be kept under wraps until then -- on Saturday, October 11. And you can be in on the action.

Montezuma Winery, the Seneca Falls operation off Thruway Exit 41 in Upstate that makes grape, fruit and honey wines, is expanding with its new honey-based vodka from its Hidden Marsh Distillery.

It will produce liqueurs, brandy and vodka made with honey, apples or other seasonal fruits, uses a 400-liter pot still custom-built in Germany.

The distillery's grand opening is set for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the ribbon-cutting at noon. It will feature live music, hors d'œuvres, distillery tours and store specials and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon.

Earlier this year, Long Island Spirits, located on the North Fork of Long Island, unveiled LiV -- rhymes with "5," a super-premium vodka ($38) made from Long Island potatoes.
Montezuma Winery
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Delta adding 1st class to shuttles

Delta Air Lines will add first-class seating to its Delta Shuttle flights that operate between New York's LaGuardia, Washington, DC's Reagan National and Boston's Logan airports.

The company said in an announcement that it will make the change effective December 1 although "customers may experience a mix of one- and two-class Shuttle aircraft as Delta completes the reconfiguration of its nine Shuttle aircraft by the end of the month."

Delta will offer 14 seats in first class and 128 seats in economy with its open-seating policy remaining in place for each class of service. First-class shuttle seats will cost between $100 and $250 more than coach-class seats, depending in the route.

Delta also said it plans to outfit its entire Shuttle fleet with Wi-Fi access by spring 2009 through Aircell's Gogo service. Customers will pay a $9.95 flat fee on Shuttle flights for the Wi-Fi access, which will allow fliers to use Wi-Fi-enabled devices to access the Internet and to use texting and instant-message services.
Delta Air Lines
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Belvedere's Intense airport bound

International travelers now have one more premium vodka to look for. Belvedere Intense, a 50% abv (100 proof) distillation exclusive to travel retail and World Duty Free, has just been released by Moët Hennessy.

The 1-litre bottle will be sold at international airports such as New York's John F. Kennedy, Paris's Charles deGaulle, London's Heathrow Terminal 5 and in Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore and Warsaw.

Unlike the usual Belvedere frosty white bottle, Intense is in black glass with silver foil tree designs. Intense is double filtered through charcoal, resulting in an increased alcohol content that its makers say "accentuates the notes and texture of the vodka."

Suggested retail price: €45 ($63 U.S.).
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