Garrison Brothers Distillery donates $200K for COVID-19 relief

Team Rubicon COVID-19 relief. Photo: Trang Lee, used with permission. 

On April 2, Garrison Brothers Distillery launched Operation Crush COVID-19, a fundraising campaign to help American communities recover and rebuild from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One way Garrison Brothers was able to raise these funds was by pivoting the forthcoming release of an eight-year-old, top-shelf bourbon called Laguna Madre and gifting it to donors who contributed $1,000 or more to the cause. Since then, the initiative has raised over $200,000 and has an ultimate goal of $2 million. Veteran-led disaster response organization Team Rubicon received $100,000 from the philanthropic effort and Garrison Brothers recently announced three more groups as beneficiaries, including 53 individual bartenders, Southern Smoke Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund and The Texas Restaurant Education Association’s TX Restaurant Relief Fund. (Garrison Brothers Distillery, 2020)

Two Texas hospitality nonprofit organizations each received $23,500 from Good Bourbon for a Good Cause, Garrison Brothers Distillery’s 501(c)3 public charity. Houston-based Southern Smoke Foundation allocated the donation to their  Emergency Relief Fund, providing assistance to individuals in need in the food and beverage industry.

Austin-based Texas Restaurant Association Education Foundation (TRAEF) allocated the donation to its TX Restaurant Relief Fund, an initiative providing immediate financial support to Texas’s independent restaurateurs and their employees.

Nonprofit organizations were not the sole beneficiaries of funds raised via Operation Crush COVID-19. Bartenders who participated in The Bourbon Take Over of Texas each received $1,000 as well. The Bourbon Takeover of Texas is Garrison Brothers Distillery’s annual mixology event, which pre-qualifies bartenders to compete in a statewide bartender competition, The Garrison Brothers Bourbon Brawl. The competition was originally supposed to take place from March 26 through May 7 but has been tentatively rescheduled to October.

Garrison Brothers Distillery plans to continue their fundraising efforts until their goal of $2 million is met. Anyone interested in making a contribution to the fundraising efforts can do so online.  Contributors of $1,000 or more will receive a bottle of Laguna Madre, an eight-year-old, top-shelf Garrison Brothers.

“This crisis has once again shown how our industry and our customers band together to support each other. Restaurants are the core of our communities, and the generosity of individuals and organizations like Garrison Brothers who rally them are helping to ensure that they survive this challenging time. On behalf of those independent restaurateurs and their employees who will benefit from these funds via the TX Restaurant Relief Fund, thank you!” – Dr. Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association.



Pearl announces re-opening of Farmers Market and Food Hall

The Farmers Market will re-open this Saturday June 6. Photo: Julia Keim, used with permission.

Pearl continues its dedication to small businesses and farmers by updating its response to COVID-19 and announcing re-openings. Pearl Farmers Market will reopen on Saturdays only from 9a.m. to 1p.m. starting on June 6. The Bottling Department, Pearl’s food hall, will reopen its dining room at 50% capacity beginning on June 9. The hours of operation for the Bottling Department restaurants and bar will be Tuesday through Sunday 11:30a.m. to 8p.m. (Pearl, 2020)

To accommodate the overwhelming response to curbside pickup in the wake of COVID-19, Pearl will also continue to offer its Farmers Market curbside service. Farmers Market Headquarters will be located next to Bike World in the former Can Recycling Building, located at 300 E. Grayson St., Suite 100.

Guests can continue to order online.  All online market orders must be submitted by Tuesday at midnight for pickup on Friday. Curbside pickup is available from 3p.m. to 7p.m. on Fridays and the pickup location will move to the Farmers Market Headquarters space starting on June 12. The last pickup from the Pearl Stable will be on June 5. Upon arrival, guests can follow the signs to the curbside location and Pearl representatives will be on hand to deliver bags to vehicles.

The Saturday Farmers Market will move from Pearl Park to the parking lot area by Green Vegetarian Cuisine, 200 E. Grayson St., until further notice. The Farmers Market will serve as an open air grocery store. Currently there are no tables or sitting areas available to avoid congregating and eating or sampling in the market footprint will not be permitted.

Pearl has committed to the following Farmers Market pledge to maintain the safety and health of its employees, visitors and residents:

Farmers Market at Pearl

  • Vendors will wear masks
  • Make hand sanitizer/hand washing stations available to employees and guests
  • Vendors will handle all products; guests are asked to point to product and avoid touching
  • Post the Pearl Pledge in high traffic areas to remind everyone of best hygiene practices

Farmers Market Guests
Please approach Farmers Market like you would a grocery store:

  • Wear a mask
  • Maintain at least six feet distance from individuals not in your household
  • While shopping, refrain from consuming food and drink
  • Wash or sanitize hands upon entering the market area and between vendor interactions
  • For the time being, leave furry friend(s) at home

“Our local producers and farmers market team were able to quickly pivot in the wake of COVID-19. The overwhelming response to curbside pick-up has prompted us to invest in a new Farmers Market Headquarters that will enable us to continue this service alongside the careful reopening of the market to the public. We are excited to continue to support our local producers and community with this new endeavor.” – Pearl’s Chief Marketing Officer Elizabeth Fauerso.

PechaKucha San Antonio Volume 38 this Thursday June 4

Animal Adoption Advocate Ben Yanto will be one of the presenters at PechaKucha San Antonio Volume 38. Photo: Josh Huskin, used with permission. 

PechaKucha San Antonio, the global arts and culture series that hosts speakers who share their passions in a unique format, is excited to announce the lineup for its Volume 38 edition, scheduled for Thursday, June 4, 2020, live streamed on PechaKucha San Antonio’s Youtube and Facebook. The night begins with presentations starting at 7p.m. This will be PechaKucha San Antonio’s first online event to practice safe social distancing during these uncertain times. (PechaKucha, 2020)

Vol. 38 will feature a talented group of locals. The six presenters include:

Emcee for the evening will be local singer-songwriter Garrett T. Capps. This event will be completely free and donations are encouraged to help support the San Antonio Food Bank and fund PechaKucha San Antonio. Donations will be split equally between the San Antonio Food Bank and PechaKucha San Antonio. Everyone who donates will be entered to win a curated gift basket that will be raffled off at the end of the event. The gift basket will include local goodies like a gift card to Bakery Lorraine, Tio Pelon’s Salsita salsa, Olla Express Coffee and more.  PechaKucha San Antonio is presented in partnership with the Las Casas Foundation.

PechaKucha San Antonio would not be possible without the support of annual sponsors, including Lake Flato Architects, Centro Properties, Zurich International Properties, RYNO General Contractors, San Antonio Food Bank, Schroeder Art, Gary and Janet Sweeney and Southwest School of Art.

In-Kind sponsors for the event include Giles Design Bureau, Giant Noise, Josh Huskin Photography, The San Antonio Current, The Rivard Report, Sprocket Media Hub, Olla Express Café, Bakery Lorraine and Tio Pelon’s Salsita.

PechaKucha is a 20 image x 20 second arts and cultures series. Each presenter gets exactly 20 images, and each slide advances automatically every 20 seconds (for a total time of 6:40). San Antonio’s first quarterly PechaKucha Night took place on February 2011 and now attracts hundreds of attendees to venues throughout San Antonio. It showcases a broad range of individuals, including architects, artists, makers, academics, community leaders and more. PechaKucha (Japanese for “chit chat”) is an event format developed by Tokyo’s Klein Dytham Architecture to encourage creative professionals to share projects and ideas that they are passionate about. Since it began in 2003, PechaKucha has expanded to more than 1200 cities around the world.


Book review: ‘Fire and Vengeance’ by Robert McCaw

The e-version of ‘Fire and Vengeance’ is now available. Photo: google

Robert McCaw is an American author who graduated from Georgetown University and served as a lieutenant in the US Army before earning his law degree from the University of Virginia.  He was a partner in a major international law firm with offices in Washington, DC and New York City and maintained a home on the Big Island of Hawai’i.  This allows him to bring a unique authenticity to his Koa Kāne Hawaiian mystery novels in both his law enforcement expertise and his ability to portray the richness of Hawai’i’s history, culture and people. His Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery Series includes “Death of a Messenger” and “Off the Grid.” In “Fire and Vengeance,” the third book in the series, police Detective Koa Kāne new case revolves around an elementary school that was placed atop a volcanic vent, which has now exploded. The ebook was released on Tuesday May 26.

The story begins with a brief description of past disasters that have befallen the Big Island of Hawai’i and the surrounding areas: “Ferocious gusts felled century-old trees….Torrential rains pounded the mountains, filling gulches, and gathering into flash floods…..” The latest catastrophe is taking place at the KonaWili School on Hualālai Mountain and the victims this time are children and teachers. As it turns out, the school was built atop a volcanic vent and with the police chief currently in California due to a medical emergency, Chief Detective Koa Kāne is now the senior officer at the horrendous scene. When the school’s contractor and architect are murdered, Koa becomes even more determined to find out the truth. To make matters worse, his estranged brother Ikaika, who is in jail, collapses from a previously undiagnosed brain tumor. This condition might explain his past anti-social behavior and could get him early parole. The investigation into the school explosion uncovers a conspiracy years in the making and it might affect Ikaika’s future when Koa has to decide between justice for the victims and his brother’s freedom.

Robert McCaw is back in full force with his third Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery novel. “Fire and Vengeance” starts off strong with the shocking details of the aftermath of the school explosion and with Koa collapsing after rescuing one of the children. Since the mystery involves greed and power grabs decades in the making, the characters are well-developed. The language is easy to folloow and understand and when he uses Hawaiian terms, the author explains them: “He owed it to his mother…to his family…to his ancestors….and to himself as the hiapo, the oldest Kāne male.” It is a fascinating read, with the action flowing effortlessly through the pages, aided in part by down to earth dialogue. The investigation is  sidelined because of family drama that is predictably solved, but it gives the story an added touch of humanity. “Fire and Vengeance” is recommended for fans of mystery/crime novels with a flawed leading man whose past continues to haunt him even while he solves difficult crimes. Learning about Hawai’i’s culture and its people is an added bonus. This page turner is the perfect summer read – pack it in your beach bag.

*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.

Twin Liquors returns to regular business hours

Starting Friday May 22, Twin Liquors all liquors locations return to regular business hours. Courtesy photo, used with permission. 

Twin Liquors recently announced that beginning tomorrow, Friday, May 22, all locations will return to regular business hours: 10a.m. to 9p.m. The Texas based liquor store had previously modified the store hours due to COVID-19. While hours are reverting back to normal, Twin Liquors is committed to the safety of their team members and community. With online ordering available in 90+ stores and enhanced in-store safety guidelines, Twin Liquors will continue its mission of customer service making shopping easy, accessible and safe for Texas. (Twin Liquors, 2020)

As a reminder, Plexiglas “sneeze-guards” have been placed in all Twin Liquors locations for protection between the cash register and counter as well as safety signage and social distancing markers. The staff uses gloves and protective gear and is actively disinfecting the store on a regular basis. All locations are continuing to limit the number of people in the store at one time. Shopping in groups of more than 2 will not be allowed at this time.

To find a Twin Liquors near you,  visit Twin Liquors online. Customers are encouraged to shop online or via the Twin Liquors app, available to download on iOS and Android app stores. For step-by-step videos, please visit Twin Liquors and Sigel’s.

Born and raised in downtown Austin, Texas, Twin Liquors began as one small store and has developed into a successful “home-grown” Texas company. With a unique and well-respected reputation throughout the United States for having impeccable team members, outstanding customer service, conveniently located stores, extensive selections of fine wines and premium spirits from around the world, and substantial community involvement, Twin Liquors currently operates 85+ neighborhood stores across central, south, and southeast Texas.

Whataburger delivery now available in San Antonio

San Antonio’s Whataburger fans can now have their favorite burgers delivered. Courtesy photo, used with permission. 

Whataburger has always delivered made-to-order burgers and now in San Antonio, the brand is proud to take customer favorites just a little further – right to their front door. As one of the first cities to roll out delivery, locals can conveniently satisfy their cravings with delivery as an option on Whataburger’s app and online. Orders will be delivered through a third-party service and bags will be sealed. (Whataburger, 2020)

Beginning next week, delivery will be available across Whataburger’s 10-state footprint.

How to enjoy delivery:

  1. Place your order
  2. Select your pickup method
  3. Add your delivery address
  4. Set your delivery time
  5. Confirm and pay
  6. Kick back and relax

Customers who create an account will also start earning rewards to get free food and gain exclusive access to amazing Whataburger deals and offers – including buy one Whataburger online, get one free at participating locations through May 25. In addition to the new delivery option, Whataburger locations will continue serving customers through the drive-thru and curbside pickup.

Whataburger has been making burgers since 1950 when Harman Dobson opened a humble hamburger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He wanted customers to take one bite and say, “What a burger” so he named his stand on Ayers St “Whataburger.” Whataburger now has over 800 locations across the country and continues to deliver fresh, made to order meals every day with superior customer service.  Community support includes charitable giving and volunteerism to nonprofit organizations that focus on children’s charities, cancer research, hunger assistance, disaster relief and military support.

La Cantera Resort & Spa reopens June 3

La Cantera Resort & Spa will reopen for business on June 3. Courtesy photo, used with permission. 

La Cantera Resort & Spa announced last week that it will reopen for business on Wednesday, June 3.  Loma de Vida Spa & Wellness will open Monday June 1 for hair and nail appointments only; and Signature, Inspired by Chef Andrew Weissman, will reopen its award-winning dining room on Tuesday, June 2 at 5:30p.m. for dinner service and Sunday Brunch. Signature hour remains suspended. The Resort golf course is now open seven days a week. (La Cantera Resort & Spa, 2020)

La Cantera Resort will continue to practice social distancing based on guidelines provided by the CDC, American Hotel & Lodging Association, Benchmark Hotels & Resorts, and elected officials, therefore  limiting occupancies in areas such as restaurants, pools, lobby, etc., including limiting overnight occupancy to 50 percent of capacity to optimize social distancing. The Resort will continue to monitor ongoing conditions of COVID-19.

La Cantera Resort has teamed with safety, engineering, chemical partners, consultants and the CDC to develop LA CANTERA’S CLEAN TOUCH initiative.

LA CANTERA’S CLEAN TOUCH standards include:

  • Dedicated Sanitation personnel in all guest and associate areas.
  • Sanitizing stations throughout The Resort
  • Sanitation amenities will be included in your welcome packet and in-room
  • Enhanced valet safety and sanitization procedures
  • Guestrooms subject to electro-misting systems for comprehensive sanitation
  • Daily in-room housekeeping is temporarily suspended
  • The Resort will continue to practice social distancing standards throughout The Resort, based on guidelines provided by the CDC and Texas Government
  • Social distancing in all restaurants and bars with single use menus, gloves and masks for service staff and elimination of self-serve buffets
  • Contact-Free services where applicable
  • Hospital-Grade Merv 15 HVAC filters for HVAC systems
  • Use of La Cantera Resort & Spa App (coming soon) is strongly encouraged and will allow for a heightened contact-free ability to maneuver around the resort including check in, check out, food ordering, etc.
  • Temperature testing of all associates upon entry to The Resort

“Service excellence and memorable moments that guests have come to expect from the Resort will be artfully balanced with safety and sanitation protocols to continue to produce exceptional experiences in our unrivaled Hill Country Oasis – featuring expansive indoor and outdoor spaces to allow for natural social distancing and the option to be with friends and family or find your own place of solitude. Given the constant flow of new intelligence and ongoing developments, La Cantera Resort’s Clean Touch initiative will continuously evolve as new protocols continue to emerge.” – John Spomer, Vice President & Managing Director for La Cantera Resort & Spa.

Movie adaptation: ‘Hide’ by Lisa Gardner

The movie adaptation of ‘Hide’ is available on Amazon Prime. Photo: google

Lisa Gardner is the New York Times’ bestselling author of thrillers that include the series FBI Profiler, Detective D.D. Warren and Tessa Leoni as well as several stand alone novels and romance novels written under the Alicia Scott pseudonym. Lisa’s books have received awards from across the globe. Her novel “The Neighbor” won Best Hardcover Novel from the International Thriller Writers and she was recognized with the Daphne du Maurier Award in 2000 for “The Other Daughter.” She received the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle in France and the Silver Bullet Award from the International Thriller Writers in 2017 for her work on behalf of at-risk children and the Humane Society. On the lighter side, Lisa invites her readers to enter the annual “Kill a Friend, Maim a Buddy” Sweepstakes on her website. Every year, one Lucky Stiff is selected to meet a grand end in Lisa’s latest novel. Past winners have nominated spouses, best friends and even themselves. Her second Detective D.D. Warren novel “Hide” was adapted into a movie which aired on TNT and is now available on Amazon Prime. Her newest release is “When You See Me,” the eleventh book in the Detective D.D. Warren series.

In “Hide,” Bobby Dodge has to deal with the return of a killer he thought was dead and buried.  It all begins with the gruesome discovery of six mummified corpses in an underground chamber of the grounds of an abandoned Massachusetts mental hospital.  One of those bodies is wearing a necklace bearing the name Annabelle Granger; the only problem is the real Annabelle is still alive.  To solve this mystery, Bobby must team up with his former lover, partner and friend D.D. Warren from the Boston P.D. and search deep into Anabelle’s past.  A past that includes a childhood that included a blur of new cities and assumed identities as she and her father seemed to be running from an unknown stalker.

“When You See Me” reunites Boston Detective D.D. Warren, FBI Agent Kimberly Quincy and vigilante Flora Dane to investigate a cold case that quickly turns red hot in a small town where nothing is as it seems. Flora always assumed her kidnapper Jacob Ness took his secrets to the grave but with lives hanging in the balance, she must finally learn the explosive truth. For all the evil he committed while alive, his worst secret is still to be revealed and Quincey and D.D. must use their exceptional skills and experience to solve the most disturbing case of their career. Flora must also face her own past to save others.

Open call for 2021 Texas Medal of Arts Awards nominees

Texas Medal of Arts Awards 2019. Courtesy photo, used with permission.

This week, Texas Cultural Trust (TCT) announced that honoree nominations for the eleventh biennial Texas Medal of Arts Awards (TMAA) are now open. More than ever before, the power of the arts has been magnified as an emotional salve, a way to connect, a universal language, an expression of current events and a symbol of hope. The 2021 TMAA will reflect and look ahead to the role the arts play in our lives and our communities, while celebrating the creative excellence, exemplary talents and outstanding contributions by Texans in selected categories. The honoree nomination form is available on the TCT website and is due by Wednesday, July 15. (Texas Cultural Trust, 2020)

The signature event is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, February 23–24, 2021, at various venues across Austin. Chairs will include Texas Cultural Trust 2019 TMAA Honoree and Texas native Brandon Maxwell, TCT Immediate Past Board of Directors Chair Linda LaMantia and TCT Board of Directors Executive Committee Member Judy Robison. Maxwell, who is the Awards’ youngest recipient, is the first to be recognized for fashion design. He launched his eponymous ready-to-wear label in 2015 in New York City and has since gone on to create awarded collections and custom creations. LaMantia, from Laredo, Texas, joined the Texas Cultural Trust board in 2009, and with her family, has supported arts and education for decades. Robison, former chair and board member of the Trust since 2008, from El Paso, has been a lifetime supporter of the arts and culture with extensive experience working in education and arts advocacy.

Since 2001, TCT has presented 117 medals to Texas leaders and luminaries who have achieved excellence through their creative talents, as well as those whose generosity has opened doors to artistic opportunity for Texans of all ages. Culminating in a star-studded celebration, the TMAA raises substantial financial support, visibility and awareness about the power of the arts to enrich a child’s education and enhance our state’s economy and cultural heritage.

Nominees are considered from the following categories: architecture, arts education, arts patron (individual and corporate), dance, design, film, lifetime achievement, fashion design, literary arts, media/multimedia, music (performance and songwriter), television, theater arts and visual arts.

Texas Cultural Trust is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and increasing access and awareness for the arts across the state. Programs of the Texas Cultural Trust include the Texas Medal of Arts Awards, Art Can, Texas Young Masters, Texas Women for the Arts, Partners in the Arts, and Arts Access. Texas Cultural Trust efforts are amplified by its partners who are instrumental in the success of leading a cohesive voice for the arts in education, advocacy, and economic impact in Texas, spotlighting the artistic excellence of our state.

“I was honored to be a Texas Medal of Arts Award recipient last year and knew I wanted a greater role for the 2021 event. I take pride in helping determine the new class of honorees from our great state who will be joining us in February. These honorees, and the arts as a whole, provide an important role to the healing of our communities, and it is a privilege to be in their company.” – Brandon Maxwell

New release: ‘Say Goodbye and Goodnight’ by David Ruggerio

‘Say Goodbye and Goodnight’ by David Ruggerio will be released June 11. Photo: google

Known worldwide as a celebrity chef, David Ruggerio’s life story is one of redemption, sacrifice and a new lease on life as an award-winning genre fiction writer. By age 25, he rose to the position of top chef at the famous La Caravelle in New York. In 1995, Robert Mondavi, the noted vintner, named him one of the thirteen best young chefs in America. With two acclaimed cookbooks under his belt, David Ruggerio became known as a “Super Chef” and was called for television guest spots that quickly became opportunities. He hosted the iconic TV shows ‘Ruggerio to Go’ on the Food Network and ‘Little Italy with David Ruggerio’ on PBS. Throughout his outstanding career as a chef, Ruggerio cooked for five US Presidents. Today, Ruggerio lives on the East Coast and spends his days writing mostly genre fiction. He is an Amazon bestselling author and the recipient of the Maxy Award for Best Horror 2019 for his debut horror novel, “A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men and Monsters.”  Now, David Ruggerio introduces a love story to his readers with “Say Goodbye and Goodnight” which will be released Thursday June 11, 2020. It is available on pre-order on Amazon. (Black Château, 2020)

“Say Goodbye and Goodnight” takes readers to Brooklyn in 1977 where an up-and-coming fighter named Anthony Marino falls for Gia, who becomes the love of his life. But the hatred their affair attracts could be their demise. Set against the backdrop of disco music and the grit of the city, this book takes readers to a time in history that liberated a generation. Ruggerio’s “Say Goodbye and Goodnight” has received advance praise from prestigious reviewers. Reader’s Favorite refers to it as to a “modern-day retelling of a classic Shakespearean tale of love enduring all forms of tragedy” and Sublime Book Review recommends it as “a well-written, unexpected, and unconventional love story.”

“Say Goodbye and Goodnight is a novel that I lived. I have laced this tale with real people and real places, and most of all, real romance. It was truly a labor of love that at times I had trouble putting down my feelings on paper.” – author David Ruggerio