Roc City Tattoo Expo and Iron Smoke Whiskey: Local Finger Lakes Love 2016

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The Roc City Tattoo Expo is Upstate NY’s only high end tattoo convention, drawing an impressive roster of international artists each year to our beautiful area.

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2016 saw the 8th annual Roc City Expo in a different venue, the addition of more local artists and vendors, and a focus on artwork as opposed to entertainment and contests.image

 

 

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The Hand of Fate has attended every one of these eight years of shows, starting with the first event right after we had opened our business, and relocated to the Finger Lakes. Jet and his crew at Love Hate Tattoo have always focused on bringing the best artists in tattooing, to an area that is often overlooked for larger markets and cities.

Rochester is a fantastic town, larger scale than Ithaca, with an artsy, young, downtown crowd and a flourishing dining and entertainment scene. Due to local Finger Lakes wine trails, breweries, and distilleries being less than an hour away, the locavore movement is strong here, and local vintners and brewers are represented along side menu items, sourced from area farms.

Iron Smoke Whiskey, a small batch distillery located close to home in Fairport, NY, saw the opportunity to join in on the Roc City Expo fun! FINALLY, a local booze producer that saw the potential marketing frenzy that a tattoo convention crowd offers: exposure to an absolute rainbow selection of adults, from all walks of life, that enjoy quality luxuries. A whiskey tasting at a tattoo convention? YES. SO MUCH YES.

imageLet me say, the whiskey tasting was VERY well received, pouring staff were knowledgeable and answering questions, and I’m sure three days of sales reflected that!

Iron Smoke also seem to have a growing distribution to bars and restaurants in the Upstate area, so make sure to keep your eyes open, or request it by name at your favorite watering hole. Iron Smoke Distillery is run by a contact that goes by the name of Skully, and their labeling and merchandise feature a distinguished skeleton, in a suit, smoking a pipe. Very well suited to a tattoo crowd, to say the least. Lots of teeshirts went out the door with that whiskey….

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Back to the actual whiskey tasting and my own impressions. Iron Smoke brought two products with them- Iron Smoke small batch Apple Wood Smoked Whiskey, and their Rattlesnake Rosie’s Apple Pie Whiskey. Both were surprising, and I was shocked that as a local booze hound I had never had the pleasure! Jet and the Roc City crew must have known I was coming, and planned the whiskey accordingly. 🙂

imageIron Smoke Apple Wood Smoked Whiskey: small batch, locally sourced grain is mashed and smoked with an apple wood smoking process, before distillation and aging for years in charred, American white oak barrels. With a hint of sweetness on the nose, this smooth amber colored whiskey has a light, smoky, vanilla and apple flavor with a nicely rounded, deep oak finish. Lovely small batch spirit.

imageRattlesnake Rosie’s Apple Pie Whiskey: Forbidden Apple Pie recipe of small batch house distilled corn whiskey, blended with all natural upstate NY apple cider, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Slightly sweet, with the tang of fresh apple cider and a bite of corn whiskey, this potion is delicious on its own, or as a mixer for some beautiful cocktails. Slightly sweet, bright, and luscious long finish. According to their Iron Smoke website, Apple Pie was the winner in the San Fransisco World Spirits Competition–for those of you that follow the medals and events scene!

Once again, huge thank you’s go out to Jet and the entire Love Hate Tattoo Rochester crew for all of the hard work and hoop jumping it takes to have such a great show turnout in this area! Hand of Fate has enjoyed the journey since the beginning, and there is always something surprising to enjoy, along with world class tattooing and artwork. This year, BoozyLife felt especially loved! Want to buy your own bottles of Iron Smoke Whiskey? Check out their website here : Iron Smoke Whiskey website –there are awesome cocktail recipes for your newly aquired local whiskey!

#WBC15 WineBloggers Invade the Finger Lakes! A Brief Overview of #WBC2015

imageAfter a long week of jumping through hoops as a tattoo wife and shop owner, it was a pleasure to attend the Wine Boggers Conference 2015 in the Finger Lakes area of NY, or as I like to call it, ‘home.’

Over two hundred and fifty wine writers and bloggers would be participating in a three-day weekend (plus some pre and post excursions!) of wine tasting, exploration, seminars, and networking. I’m an old pro at the tattoo convention scene— but a wine blogger convention? What was that going to be like? I had a few notions, but seeing that it was to be held in our backyard of viticulture in the Finger Lakes area, I couldn’t miss it! This area is exciting, vibrant, and on the cusp of great things…I wanted to see what the OTHER bloggers thought, as a way to see our area (and my ‘hood) through fresh eyes.

All three days were pretty heavily scheduled with events, some as writing workshops, mentoring, and pro panels, excursions to several different wineries and events, and LOTS of wine tasting.

Karen MacNeil and women in wine

Karen MacNeil and women in wine

Keynote presenter Karen MacNeil, wine goddess and author of The Wine Bible, was as inspirational as she was fierce. HERE is a woman to idolize, ladies….strong, professional, and absolutely taking no shit from anyone. Honestly, if that was all the conference had for me…Karen’s words would have been enough. She’ll get a post all of her own, because Karen is an incredible spirit– that the women in the wine industry MUST recognize — as a door opener and trail blazer. She may be in Napa now, but she has the heart and fire of a New Yorker. One of my favorite quotes that she dropped on women in the industry during the weekend was, in relation to sexism in the wine industry: “the barrier has never been sex, it is mediocrity. The door is open, walk through it.” ABSOLUTELY!

a few of my favorites

a few of my favorites

Tastings were a huge part of the event, and I counted over seventy-three wine tasting notes over two days that I took–not too shabby! LOTS of spitting, kids….don’t try to be a hero. You will fail and quite possibly make an ass of yourself.

The tastings ranged from the normal table and pour, to a “speed dating” version of a tasting (wine makers came to your table with their bottle, gave some wine notes, and had five minutes with you, then it was off to the next table!), to a mystery bus excursion….get on the bus, go to a secret location, have an AMAZING TIME, return later to hash out where we all ended up!

Element Winery is taking things to a new level in the Flx

Element Winery is taking things to a new level in the Flx

BoozyLife ended up on the bus headed to Element Winery in Arkport, vision of the incredibly talented and hard-working Master Somm Christopher Bates-whose  dinner and wines will get their own post as well, because I saw things happening there that DEFINE what the Finger Lakes can and will be to the wine industry, in the near future and beyond.

In short, the weekend was exactly what I was hoping it would be, and it opened my eyes to magic happening right under my nose! BoozyLife can’t wait to share some of the wine makers and their creations with you all, because the Finger Lakes are where it’s all happening right now in New York State.

Now, just let me sort out all of these tasting notes…

Happy National Drink Wine Day!

National Drink Wine Day

National Drink Wine Day

Today is February 18th, which means its National Drink Wine Day 🙂 Spreading the love of wine through social media, share what’s in your glass! Check out the website to follow along on Twitter and Facebook, and enjoy something fun tonight– let me know if you love what’s in your glass, because I absolutely want to try it 😉

http://www.facebook.com/drinkwineday

http://twitter.com/drinkwineday

Tattoo Conventions and (Boozy)Life on the Road

Paris Tattoo Convention

Paris Tattoo Convention

Tattoo Conventions are a huge business, and show numbers are growing exponentially worldwide. Promoters compete for the best weekends, and to host the biggest names in tattooing. Larger cities and markets often have the highest regarded shows- Paris and London are long running, premiere events that artists try to plan their schedules around. Serious tattoo collectors often follow favorite artists on social media, and travel hundreds of miles for a sitting with an artist they might not otherwise have access to. Sites like Facebook and Instagram help artists to gain exposure internationally, and connect first hand with potential clients. So, what happens at these things? Why would a tattoo artist go out of their comfort zone and hit the road?

NETWORKING- Conventions are a great place to expand your circle. The best of the best choose only particular shows- if you’re good enough to get in, you’re hanging with the top percentage of artists practicing the craft.

Tin Tin from Paris

Tin Tin from Paris

Meeting other artists and connecting on a personal level sets up future growth potential. ‘Guest spots’ are essentially invites to work at another shop for a small amount of time, which enable artists to learn from each other and work in a different space. Give and take to build and grow within the circle.

IMG_0804.JPGTATTOOING- YES, tattoo artists tattoo at tattoo conventions. Seems like common sense, right? Artists pay for a booth that has all of the necessities to work,- tables, chairs, electricity, and basic supplies are provided (paper towels, electricity, etc.). Artists vary in setup: some bring a banner and their equipment, others can enjoy more showmanship and decorate the booth with a bit more flare. Convention promoters for high end shows focus on safety, for clients as well as artists. If you want to get tattooed by a particular artist, it’s always a good idea to communicate with them first! Email usually works best,  and setting up an appoint will guarantee that you’re not left out of getting tattooed. Saturday is usually the busiest day of any show, so plan accordingly.

EXPOSURE- Getting out there builds a tattoo artist’s name as well as client base. The more people that see you on the road (artists and clients alike), the more familiar you become within the tattoo industry. Magazines and media cover larger shows, and now it’s pretty common to see TV cameras too. Nothing like a good freak show! 🙂

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Artists on the beach in Tofino, Vancouver Island

TRAVEL- If you had a job that allowed you to see the world, and it required your dedication and energy and study to continue to improve and grow? Would you? Tattoo artists take advantage of these opportunities, absorbing reference and details from touring like sponges. Artwork is a living process, and the work these artists produce is even more so. Seeing this great big world adds a level of a different consciousness, and a tie to the world history of tattooing.

20140314-162425.jpgLOCATIONS- So, where the hell are these tattoo conventions? Damn near everywhere!  If it’s a major city, there is at least one major show. If there are no shows near you, chances are you’re not living in a metropolitan area! Want to go to one? TRAVEL!! Drive, fly, however….don’t stagnate and wait for one of these shows to come to you in the stix. Make a weekend of it, spend a day at the show, and then enjoy the area you’re in! That’s where I came up with the BoozyLife–conventions are fun, but unless you’re getting tattooed CONVENTIONS ARE BORING AFTER A FEW HOURS. YOU CAN ONLY WALK SO MANY LAPS AROUND THE FLOOR BEFORE YOUR EYES GLAZE OVER. Head to a city, catch a convention, and see what that particular city has to offer! I focus on mostly wineries and booze, but tattoo artists LOVE to eat at the highest rated gourmet restaurants– also a tradition for Sunday night dinner at the wrap of the show. If you see a gang of heavily tattooed, usually slightly loud men and women headed into your restaurant after eight on a Sunday night? LET THEM IN. They will make it worth your while (servers LOVE these guys!)

In our booth

In our booth

Now that you have all that info, where is a show near you? Well, we landed in Ithaca because it’s rural, but about four hours central to several hubs we use a lot. (NYC, Toronto, Montreal). Rochester is now home to the Roc City Tattoo Expo, best upstate NY convention by far– this year May 1st-3rd! http://www.roccitytattooexpo.com

We also use the website http://www.worldtattooevents.com  This comprehensive calendar lists conventions in the US, Europe, Canada, and damn near everywhere else in the world. No matter where you are, Waldo….there’s a show (and probably a winery or two) worth checking out. Keep reading BOOZYLIFE to see where we end up next…catch you soon kids!Chardonnay vines in the snow

New York Apples and the Hard Cider Revolution (and how BoozyLife was ahead of the curve)

Harvest season

Harvest season

Last week, the New York Times posted an article that really caught my attention. Article link: Sips from a Cider Spree in New York State. The local hard cider scene has been jumping since we moved to the Ithaca area eight years ago-what’s different is that people are more open minded and willing to taste local creations.

Local hard ciders have a special place in my heart. Personal boozy story: On a visit home to the upstate NY area almost ten years ago, my mom wanted to take me to a new winery that had opened relatively close to our neck of the woods. Black Bear Winery is a spot off of the beaten path and ‘wine trails proper’, but they specialize in hard ciders, meads, and fruit wines. After a tasting, I concluded that I liked the ciders, and particularly the Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider was delicious. Hard apple cider, blended with house made maple syrup. Tart, mellow, slight sweetness, autumn in a glass. I bought a couple of refillable growlers, and have refilled them several times since. Black Bear has grown from a by appointment and event farm rental spot, to open year round and quite successful! At least five years after that first tasting at Black Bear, I married my husband at the end of September, here in Ithaca. We served Black Bear’s Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider for the toast at our wedding, instead of the traditional champagne. The cider had more meaning, and it was so reminiscent of the fall in upstate NY that I wanted our guests from all over the world to experience that flavor; champagne was too formal for our outdoor waterfall ceremony, and the cider was truly a hit!

Cracklin' Maple Hard Cider from Black Bear for our toast

Cracklin’ Maple Hard Cider from Black Bear for our toast

In the NY Time’s article I mentioned, the author Freda Moon tours the Upstate NY Apple growing areas about five hours from NYC. She hit several local cider stops, and even gave a quick run down of her time spent in Ithaca:

“Ithaca was a decadent couple of days in which cider seemed to appear in every possible form. We had a cider flight with dinner at the too-popular Just a Taste tapas restaurant, where our wait was over an hour. The next day, at Maxie’s Supper Club and Oyster Bar, I ordered a Cider Sidecar of Maker’s Mark, Cointreau, a Finger Lakes Distilling’s Maplejack liqueur and an unspecified local cider before a spectacular three-course cider pairing dinner at Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg.”

The guys at Finger Lakes Distilling are also making some incredible products, and I was glad to see she sampled some of their wares at Maxie’s Supper Club, one of our favorite spots in Ithaca. The Cider Sidecar is a drink that is an anxiously awaited seasonal cocktail, signaling that fall has officially arrived. Sweet and tart, with a mellow maple kick, sitting in Maxie’s listening to live music on the outdoor deck, watching the world go by. I love living here in fall.

Surviving the Polar Vortex: Ice Wine and Good Point Tattoos with Cory Ferguson & Eddie Molina

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to visit our tattoo family at Good Point Tattoos in Oakville, Canada for more work! The shop is owned by our good friend and tattooer Cory Ferguson, who specializes in dotwork, blackwork, and a continual assault of puns. I was there as a client this time, for the continuation of my sleeve, and for collaboration background of my phoenix backpiece. Cory’s geometric work on my left arm now extends across my shoulders, and will eventually scatter my chest as well. My husband Eddie Molina is collaborating with him, and added the smoke tendrils that swirl through the geometric pattern in this last session. I had two incredible artists work on me for several hours this weekend, and I’m so excited to show off their progress! Everything is really starting to tie together, and I dare say I look like a heavily tattooed woman…at least, from the back!

After all of that tattooing, I needed a DRINK! The weather screamed for an Ice Wine tour, so after two days of needle poking sessions, I grabbed my purse (NOT over my shoulder….OUCH) and we hit a few wineries on the way home to the States.

First stop, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. The beautiful tasting room has high ceilings and an elegant feel, and I’m struck by the views. I really love grape fields, and they are no less stunning in winter. The tasting bar crew was friendly and helpful, even during a slow Monday afternoon. I tasted their Vidal Icewine 2006, as well as the Cabernet Franc Icewine 2011. The Vidal was an Ontario Wine Awards Bronze winner, silky apricot and pineapple, sweet with a bright acidity. It was fresh and crisp, with a finish of honey. The Cabernet Franc 2011 was a very different ice wine. Aged in Stainless and French Oak, the red was much less sweet, and had a lot of smokey character. Oak balances with strawberry,  honey, and even a touch of currant and citrus on the end. Paired beautifully with a sample of 70% dark chocolate.

Next, we hit Fielding Estate Winery and their Wine Lodge tasting room, complete with fireplace and furry blankets in the loungers. Recognized as one of Canada’s Top 10 Wineries in 2013 according to their press, owner Curtis Fielding was named 2012 Grape Grower of the Year by the Grape Growers of Ontario Association. The view of their fields includes wind turbines, used to help warm the vines with moving air. The bar was pouring tastings of their 2012 Riesling Ice Wine. Aged in stainless steel and neutral French Oak, the color was a lovely medium gold. A sweet intensity was followed by a much softer light mouthfeel, the lingering finish was quite delicate.

Our last Canadian stop was Rosewood Estates Winery – Home. This is essentially where I dropped the ball and the Ice Wine tour became the Merlot stop. What can I say? I LOVE REDS. I tried to stick with the plan. I did. But then, I saw the 2010 Merlot Reserve on the tasting menu. I asked for a pour. “We’re sold out, but I still have a bottle to taste. Would you still like to…?”

“YES PLEASE,” was my answer. Ohhhh, yes.

Winemakers Notes 2010 Merlot RESERVE:  Picked by hand from low yielding vines, sorted first in the vineyard and then at the winery selecting only the very best clusters. The clusters were gently destemmed then separated into small fermentaiton totes. The intact berries were cold macerated for 5 days then were warmed up to allow the natural yeasts to start fermentation, which lasted 3 1⁄2 weeks. Manual punch-downs were perfromed twice daily. Select French oak barrels were chosen for this Merlot, spending 15 months in both new and seasoned barrels, each barrel taking on unique characteristics. Final filtration was completed the day of bottling.

I LOVED it. I was sad there was no more, and it had sold out. I have told countless tasters from behind the bar-“get it while we have it, once it’s gone it’s gone.” Then, something amazing happened. Our taster started pulling tasting boxes apart in the back room, looking for ONE bottle for yours truly. SHE FOUND ONE! I took it home happily, and I ended up with a bottle of Merlot on the Ice Wine tour. Great customer service, on top of a beautifully made wine. We made a break for the US border, it was getting late and I was feeling fine.

We made it into the States and off of the Thruway, and I decided to drive down Route 89 along Cayuga Lake for our last stretch of the journey. It was almost closing time, but I made one last stop-Sheldrake Point – Sheldrake Point Vineyards. I love their winery, I love the tasting staff, their wines are delicious…it’s a local jewel. I had also heard fantastic things about their 2013 Late Harvest Ice Wine, and had to make that the grand finale of our trek. I’m SO glad that we DID–that was our favorite Ice Wine of the day! The best description is ‘winter sunshine in a glass’. Fruity, acidic, sweet, balanced…but MORE. Bright. Gorgeous mouthfeel, silky and lasting intensity. It won BEST AMERICAN RIESLING at Canberra International Riesling Challenge 2013, and was awarded Double Gold from the New York Food & Wine Classic 2013…just in case you don’t trust this palate of mine. Nice to know it’s less than 45 minutes from beautiful Ithaca, NY…or as we call it, HOME. It’s so easy to drink Local here…Ithaca really is Gorges. 🙂

 

Blue Hair in a Little Town….Again

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Blue hair, don’t care 🙂

Many, many moons ago, I dabbled with hair dye in college. It started innocently enough– deemed “an external manifestation of internal changes” by a psych major that had little classwork accomplished. From long blond to an angled bob dyed the color of black cherries, I was hooked. I tried them all, every color of the rainbow, much to the horror of music professors and my parents alike. Some think it’s bravery, others stupidity, others a cry for attention. Truth? I like fashion, I like extremes, and I’m very comfortable away from the center of the road. My mother warned me, continue to play with hair colors, and eventually you will wake up with your  entire head of hair on the pillow next to you. Not true…yet…and still I continue to play. This time, it’s a lovely robin’s egg blue…and a month from now, who knows? Whatever catches my eye. Owning a tattoo shop has given me the opportunity to play again, colors and pigments are par for the course. Sorry, mom, I never grew out of it….even all these years later!

Post Script–If you see me at your tasting bar, I hope my colors brighten the view this season! XO