Montreal native Tony Bianco teamed up with executive chef Enzo Addario to create Hot Tomatoe, a traditional Italian bistro boasting a menu that brims with house-made, cooked-to-order pastas, flavorful meat dishes, and full- and light-bodied Italian wines. Their regional cuisine typically integrates up to seven essential ingredients—oil, garlic, basil, tomatoes, pasta, and olives—from which Snow White’s seven dwarves drew their names. In addition, the staff goes shopping for fresh ingredients three to four days a week to supplement both seasonal compositions and year-round dishes, which include veal parmigiana, filet mignon, and penne norma.
Equipped with in-depth product knowledge and bottles from all over the world, the consultants of PRP Wine International waltz into homes ready to answer nearly any question a novice oenophile may have. As they pour samples for small groups, they explain everything from the intricacies of flavor profiles and the correct pronunciation of “pinot noir” to the most dramatic way to throw a glass of red at a mortal enemy. After tastings, guests can select any of the wine varietals sampled, all of which are chosen by PRP consultants after thorough scrutiny.
Beautiful waitresses clad in plaid mini kilts crisscross Tilted Kilt, hoisting trays of Celtic-themed pub fare as sports fans catch games on high-definition TVs. Almost a decade old, the Tilted Kilt franchise originated in Las Vegas, where restaurateur Mark DiMartino first conceived of a sports bar with Irish touches—an idea that has since spread across the country. Patrons can stay out late at the pub, spending the night sipping on beers while sampling burgers, fish ‘n’ chips, or shepherd’s pie filled with beef and veggies. On a weekly basis, musicians enliven the already party-like atmosphere, strumming tunes or throwing up fistfuls of counterfeit money on the eatery’s patio.
As rum collector and enthusiast Robert Burr sensed what he termed the "awakening of rum" in 2005, he decided to direct his passion toward educating the community. Drawing from an earlier career in magazine publishing, he compiled a list of 100 of his favorite rums each year into a free guide, which he gave to local liquor stores. As he developed connections with other enthusiasts and tasting judges, he formed the International Rum Expert Panel, an organization of 36 cane-spirit lovers from around the world. He gathers the majority of these experts in Miami Beach each year for the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival, a celebration of the libation's international varieties. Through the festival's schedule of events, Robert aims to honor iconic spirits while also featuring lesser-known rum makers that guests might not otherwise find without finding and deciphering Blackbeard's long-lost treasure-map pajamas.
Held at the opulent DoubleTree by Hilton, the annual event has grown to include hundreds of rums hailing from countries such as Jamaica, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. As they mingle in spacious convention halls, visitors navigate a labyrinth of bartenders and brand ambassadors proffering island apparel, art, and books. Industry experts expound on the history, origins, and childhood fears of the libation during weekend seminars and bartender competitions. Attendees also revel at a two-day tasting exhibition, late-night parties, and VIP events at various Miami venues.
Though classic drinks such as the old fashioned may once have reigned in the stately bars of Miami's art-deco hotels, today a high-energy club scene pushes bartenders to pour higher volumes of more sophisticated drinks—and yes, style counts. After slinging drinks in nightlife hot spots including the Clevelander South Beach, Gordon Eagerton launched Elite Bartending School to prepare cocktail craftsmen for today's Miami, eschewing outmoded techniques and rarely ordered drinks to focus on about 120 of South Beach's most-wanted libations.
Eagerton and his fellow instructors run the state-licensed school within Club Play, a 10,000-square-foot South Beach nightclub with three bars, eight wells, and six computer terminals, enabling hands-on practice for all levels of mixologists, from beginners to full-time professionals. The school supports its alumni by posting full-time job leads every week, and the quality of education has earned Elite Bartending School honors in Miami New Times’ Talk of the Town for three years running.
At Cara Mia Trattoria Italiana, chef Alessandro DiMaggio takes a farm-to-table approach to his menu, creating dishes that pop with the flavors of fresh mozzarella, organic greens and vegetables, and wild porcini mushrooms. The restaurant blends fine Italian cuisine with a festive Caribbean motif, like a macaroni map of the Lesser Antilles. The cooks augment the culinary beauty of plates of thin-sliced carpaccio and creamy risotto with the aesthetic beauty of terracotta tiles, white-leather barstools, and a hint of a pink-neon glow. The open air of the high-ceilinged dining room hosts meals of homestyle lasagna or grilled swordfish, and the full-service bar doles out 14-ounce pours of cold Peroni beer as well as glasses of Italian wines.