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Bars

Altbier DusseldorfAsk anyone the first thing that comes to their mind when they think of Germany, and beer is sure to come up in conversation. We know all about Oktoberfest, and we know all about Munich, and light versus dark (or at least, enough to get by). But mention the local Altbier from Dusseldorf, and prepare for blank stares.

The copper-hued ale, whose name means “old beer,” uses a pre-lager brewing method with warm top-fermenting yeast, and is entirely unique to Dusseldorf.

About a half dozen Altbier breweries make their home throughout the Altstadt (which literally means “old town”) in Dusseldorf, and while there are plenty of things to do there – with over 300 bars and restaurants within half a square kilometer – you should definitely make sure you give all the different versions of Altbier a try. Just as a brewery would offer its unique take on a lager or a pale ale, each brewery produces its own version of the ale, and all are worth a sip (or three). Read more

Green Beacon Brisbane BeerI turned up in Brisbane thirsty. The kind of thirst that only a stiff drink or well-poured brew could possibly quench. While it’s no secret that Aussies are a generally hop-happy breed, this laid-back Queensland capital takes its swill rather seriously, turning the act of casual beer drinking into a veritable art form. A bevy of new boutique beer bars and microbreweries have recently cropped up about town, with top taps turning out specialty suds and respectable bar bites in stylish, yet unpretentious, settings. Read more

Think of Melbourne as Sydney’s shy but sexy little sister, who doesn’t scream out for the spotlight, but once you get to know her, va va voom. I tacked on a couple of days in Melbourne at the tail end of my recent Australian travels, and regretted not having more time to idly explore the subtle charms of this captivating cosmopolitan capital, pulsing with creativity and cultural flair.

While lacking the major blockbuster attractions that typically reel in the international tourists, Melbourne’s real allure is uncovered while exploring its city-within-the-city, on its tucked-away “laneways” that sneak away from the wide, well-ordered, and trafficked streets of Melbourne’s polished facade. Here, a rich-in-character back-door world of bustling back alleyways brimming with quirky bars, trendsetting boutiques, cozy cafes, edgy art galleries, and multicultural restaurants is unveiled, all overseen by a vibrant and unrivaled street art scene. Read more

Walt Disney World alcoholWhen I visited Walt Disney World as a kid with my family – and even during a school trip to the parks in high school – I never noticed anyone drinking alcohol. Maybe the hard stuff is just more pervasive now than back in 1989, but these days you can buy booze pretty much anywhere at Disneyland and Disney World (except the Magic Kingdom – the teetotalers won out there).

Epcot is by far the booziest of the Orlando parks – the annual Food and Wine Festival (September 28-November 12 in 2012) comes highly recommended – while your best bets in Anaheim can be found in Downtown Disney. Here are a few of the top places to tipple at the Happiest Places on Earth.

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Times Square New YorkThe Dilemma: You’ve spent the day admiring the bright lights, soaring billboards, and glittery marquees of Times Square. After spending most of your budget on a Broadway show, you emerge from the dark theater only to be surrounded by a throng of hungry tourists. There is nothing but lackluster restaurants and overpriced bars in sight. Where do you go to get away from the herd and enjoy a soothing drink or delicious meal without breaking the bank?

The Solution: Wander west to nearby Hell’s Kitchen, where you’ll find a lively young neighborhood with unpretentious nightlife and hundreds of affordable, quality restaurants. Here’s our shortlist of the Hell’s Kitchen hotspots where you’ll get the best bang for your buck. Read more

Interior of CrossBar in New York CityThere are more than just new hotels (see last week’s blog) in New York City this summer – the city is buzzing with several just-opened restaurants, gastro-pubs and bars (many of them beer gardens – but that’s enough to fill an another entire blog). Here’s a sampling:

CrossBar by Todd English: If you are old enough to remember when Limelight was a nightclub not a Marketplace, stepping into the latest offering from Todd English will bring waves of nostalgia. More gastro-pub than restaurant, CrossBar (www.crossbarny.com) is located in a series of rooms on two levels and the exterior courtyard of the church-turned-club-turned-mall (at 20th Street and Sixth Avenue) and has the feel of a Middle Ages-meets-Morocco lounge, with studded red upholstery and retro-chic chandeliers (shown above at left). The menu features a “head-to-tail” pork concept with snacks such as Puffed Pigs Ears and Pulled Pork Bites ($8), while entrees include Pork Schnitzel and BBQ Ribs & Tail. For non-pork-eaters, there are scallops, Loaded Gnocchi, and Lil’ Tacos of hamachi, chicken, or fried fish ($12-$29), among other offerings. Wash it all down with an eclectic mix of wines, scotches, bourbons, and beers. Just be wary if you order Delirium Tremens ($8), an aptly named and highly potent Belgian beer that tastes oh-so refreshing – before it makes you fall over.

Interior of DohYO at YOTEL in New YorkDohYO: Midtown Manhattan’s new YOTEL (see last week’s blog) has tagged America’s Latin-Asian fusion guru Richard Sandoval, of Zengo, Maya, and Pampano fame (www.richardsandoval.com), to helm its small-plate restaurant, DohYO, located next to The Terrace and open for lunch and dinner. DohYO (shown at left) features a series of long, communal tables (which raise and lower offering flexibility for events) and menus of hot-and-cold Latin-Asian dishes designed to share (from $5 to $14 each). Standout items include addictive Halibut Sliders with crispy tomato and chile morita-remoulade sauce; Seared Tuna Causa with capers, cilantro, shallots, and Yukon gold potato; and Crunchy Shrimp with lemon sake aioli, sesame, scallion, and masago. EndThe Terrace at YOTEL with a sweet treat called the Hummingbird Toffee Cake, and then head to The Terrace (shown at right) for an after-dinner drink.

High Line Extension: It’s not a restaurant or bar (but it is surrounded by them), so don’t miss the newest section of the High Line (www.thehighline.org). You can now stroll for more than a mile, from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 30th Street in far west Midtown, on this ambitious and meticulously landscaped urban park located on once derelict elevated railroad tracks built in the 1930s. Start your stroll at either end (there is elevator access at 14th Street and 30th Street), and meander amid modern pathways lined with benches and naturalistic gardens and witness architecture of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District from a totally different perspective. Open from 7am to 11pm daily; no dogs or bicycles allowed.

Edi and the Wolf in New YorkEdi and the Wolf: When you’re exploring the East Village, wander over to 102 Avenue C at 7th Street and check out this nine-month-old, rustic-meets-shabby-chic restaurant (www.ediandthewolf.com) by chefs Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban, who also helm the upscale Austrian restaurant Seasonal (www.seasonalnyc.com). Their downtown take on Austrian fare (shown at left), served in a funky garage-turned-eatery with weathered plank ceilings, communal tables, and eccentric décor (peacock feathers and dried flowers abound) serves hearty traditional cuisine such as smoked mackerel ($14), spaztle with hen of the woods mushrooms, fava beans and asparagus ($17) and, of course, wiener schnitzel ($19), as well as a wide array of wines (there’s a small wine garden, too). The restaurant started serving brunch ($14, including coffee, orange juice, and bread) two months ago and standout items are the scrambled eggs with gruyere, walnuts and cipollini, and the schnitzel burger served on sliced challah with shredded cabbage and lemon aioli.

Above 6 at 6 Columbus CircleAbove 6: If you find yourselves exiting Central Park or the Shops at Time Warner Center in the early evening and feel like sipping cocktails with a skyline view, head to Above 6, the brand new rooftop lounge (shown at right) atop 6 Columbus, a Thompson Hotel. This intimate space (it seats about two dozen people and has a retractable roof if the weather turns) serves sake, beer, and wine ($7 to $16), as well as assorted summer-inspired cocktails (try the very refreshing Hummingbird, made from Avinyo Cava, St. Germain, Club Soda, and Yama Momo, $13) created by the bar team at the hotel’s Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill on the main floor. Seating is on a first-come basis, and access is via Blue Ribbon Sushi.

Wine Bar at Brooklyn WineryBrooklyn Winery: Williamsburg, a quick subway ride on the L train, makes a great half-day excursion from Manhattan. Get off at the first stop, Bedford Avenue, and wander the boutique and restaurant-lined streets (namely Bedford and N. 6th Street), and when you tire of window-shopping, head here to Brooklyn’s first winery (www.bkwinery.com), which opened in late 2010 at 213 N. 8th Street. It’s a cool spot (shown at left) to sip the winery’s newly available first offerings, which include Batch 001 Chardonnay and Brooklyn Noir (a pinot noir). There’s a happy hour every night form 5pm to 7pm, with 25 percent off every bottle of wine, or visit on $20 Bottle Wednesdays to get select bottles for just $20 when you order two food items from the menu.

See our New York City Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages and more travel deals.


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