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BOO 2011

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Photo by Jason Greene

Food and Drink - Staff Picks

 

Best news for gimlet drinkers

Winter Park Distilling Co.
P.O. Box 2878, Winter Park , 321-285-9492; wpdistilling.com

We like drinking and we like vodka, so you can imagine we were pleased as punch when we ran into Winter Park Distilling Co.’s proprietors at the Downtown Pour in Thornton Park in April. The big deal? Orlando has its own distillery – the first and only – that specializes in artisan microdistilling. With grandiose ideas about how their liquor “hearkens back to the days of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate distillery and the founding of our great nation” on their Facebook page, drinkers might expect a snooty, expensive pour. But WPD’s Genius grain vodka and Bear Gully Classic corn whisky recipes are based more on the concepts of the locavore movement. You can try these spirits at fine establishments such as the Ravenous Pig, Stardust Video & Coffee and City Fire, or purchase a bottle of the 40-proof stuff at Mucho Liquors, Knightley Spirits and other local liquor stores.

Best happy hour eats

Bar Louie
7335 West Sand Lake Road; 407-608-5190; barlouieamerica.com

After the longest week, a few half-price cocktails and some creative bar food are more than welcome. Bar Louie offers an extensive menu for their 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. happy hour, featuring inexpensive and generous wine pours and half-price appetizers, as well as innovative cocktails made with top-shelf liquor. (Or without: Keep your designated driver alert with the Raging Bull, comprising strawberry puree, Red Bull and ginger ale.) The Bavarian pretzel sticks are our favorite: full-sized pretzel breadsticks served with queso, honey mustard and cinnamon butter. The huge basket of golden-brown tater tots loaded with cheese, giardiniera, bacon and scallions invites sharing … or greediness.

 

Best root beer on tap

Shipyard Emporium
200 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; 321-274-4045; shipyardemporium.com

OK, it’s almost assuredly the only root beer on tap around these parts, but damn, it’s refreshing. Sweetened with natural cane and brown sugars and flavored with wintergreen oil, anise and vanilla, the Capt’n Eli-brand stuff comes from the Shipyard home base in Maine. A little advice, however: A chilled mug would make the $3.95 price tag go down much easier.

 

Best hidden Mexican gem

Mi Mexico #2
5214 Satel Drive, 407-296-3388

Driving northbound on Edgewater Drive after crossing the intersection with Lee Road, you notice that just past the weed-eaten carcass of the Worldwide Deliverance Church sits a squat Hispanic market with barred windows flanked by a rusty barbed-wire fence. Usually, you’d drive right on by, but if you’re hungry, we want you to park at that market. Trust us. Enter the building, make an immediate right, pass the pastry display and voilà – you’re at one of the most enjoyable Mexican restaurants in town, Mi Mexico #2. (Numero Uno is in Apopka.) Every dish stands out: the pita-thick tortilla chips, the guacamole tinted with the perfect amount of lime, the shrimp perfectly browned on the skillet, the subtly salted strips of steak. And the sub-$10 prices are great, especially considering that you’ll get at least two meals out of most dishes.

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