The Best Gins To Drink On World Gin Day

This week is Negroni week, a celebration of the iconic Italian cocktail. But, what’s a Negroni without gin? It’s just a strange concoction of vermouth and Campari, that’s what. I don’t know about you, but that really doesn’t sound as refreshing. Gin is where the magic is at!

If Negronis aren’t your thing, you can sip gin and tonics all summer long (or various other gin-based cocktails) without ever needing a change of pace. Or, if you’re really feeling frisky, enjoy some gin on its own. Since June 10th is World Gin Day, the time is right to stop by your local liquor store and buy a bottle of gin you might not have tried before. But, in a market full of various gins, how do you pick the brand that suits your tastes?

Scotland is more known for its whisky, but with products like Caorunn, that’s slowly changing. This unique, small-batch gin is infused with five botanicals foraged from the Speyside region of England’s neighbor to the north.

Victoria Pink Gin

This gin is given its color and flavor through a combination of bitters, but that doesn’t keep the juniper flavor from coming through. It adds a nice layer of complexity to mixer-neutral drinks like G & Ts and opens the door for a whole range of custom cocktails.

Spirit Works

This northern California distillery is cranking out some seriously great spirits. One of its best is its gin. It all starts with organic California Red Winter wheat that is milled, mashed, fermented and distilled into its gin base before adding juniper and myriad California botanicals.

Hendrick’s

Another Scottish gin, Hendrick’s has only been produced since 1999, but is already one of the most respected gins in the world. On top of the usual juniper and other botanicals, Hendrick’s also adds cucumber and Bulgarian rose to give it a unique taste, perfect for your favorite cocktails.

Plymouth

Since 1793, Plymouth has been making this London Dry Gin using the same seven botanicals (juniper, coriander, orange peel, lemon peel, cardamom, angelica, and orris). This smooth, herbal gin is just about as perfect as a gin gets.

Tanqueray No. 10

Tanqueray is one of the biggest names in the gin world. Its No. 10 was made for bartenders to mix with. Its name comes from the number ten still it’s produced in. This gin is different from regular Tanqueray because, on top of the usual botanicals, it has a distinct citrus presence that makes for exceptional gin and tonics.

The Botanist

Yet another Scottish gin, Botanist is a truly one-of-a-kind spirit. Made by famous peaty Scotch brand Bruichladdich, Botanist is made using traditional flavors like juniper as well as botanicals and herbs only found on Islay, the island the distillery calls home.

Monkey 47

If England is the country most known for gin and Scotland and the US are up-and-coming, it might surprise you that Monkey 47 comes from the Black Forest of Germany. The name comes from the 47 ingredients and the 47% percent alcohol. It might sound like a gimmick, but this gin won a gold medal at the 2011 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London.

Fords

If you buy a spirit from the 86 Co., you can be pretty much guaranteed it’ll be great. Fords Gin is a collaboration between Simon Ford and Master Distiller Charles Maxwell. It’s produced in London at Thames Distillers and is made up of 9 botanicals, including: juniper, coriander, bitter orange, and jasmine.

Sipsmith

Opened in 2009, Sipsmith was the first copper-pot still distillery to begin production in London is almost two-hundred years. Its London Dry Gin is made to taste like a classic London Dry. The base is Macedonian juniper berries, but also has ground almond, cassia, orris, and coriander.

St. George Dry Rye

This 100% rye gin was designed to be enjoyed by whiskey fans and gin fans alike. It’s spicier than most gins because the base, instead of being a neutral grain spirit, is in-aged rye. The addition of six botanicals (including juniper) adds the flavor gin fans expect from this unique gin.

Here’s Where You Can Get Free Donuts Tomorrow

Guys, tomorrow, Friday, June 2, is National Donut Day. It’s your patriotic right, nay duty, to load up on some circular fried dough confectioneries before the clock strikes midnight—or whenever Dunkin’ Donuts closes—and all the donuts turn into pumpkins. Here’s a brief list of places (via Thrillist) where you can get donuts for free. A few places are requiring you to jump through some donut holes to get your treat, but it’s a small price to pay for multiple mouthfuls of sugary goodness. Each of these offers lasts the entire day.

Krispy Kreme
What you have to do: Nothing. Just walk in there, jostle other freeloaders out of the way and grab yourself one free donut. Any flavor.

Dunkin’ Donuts
What you have to do: Strut in there and grab one free classic donut of your choice after first purchasing a beverage. And saying please. This deal ends once they run out of donuts.

Tim Hortons
What you have to do: First, buy a hot or iced coffee. Second, make sure you remind them that it’s National Donut Day. Third, chow down on a free classic donut.

The Psychology of Why Companies Should Embrace More Three-Day Weekends

Most Americans with regular day jobs would probably say that they live for the weekend. And to those overworked and tired laborers and pencil pushers, a three-day weekend comes as a blessing from above.

But one extra day every now and then isn’t enough to revitalize people in any meaningful way. While people might get an extra hour or two of sleep and feel a little bit better, it’s likely that they’re just riding out the high of a placebo effect.

In order to really fight sleep deprivation and boost productivity, more companies may want to look into making three-day weekends a regular deal.

“I think the best way is to say we’re gonna work our butts off Monday through Thursday, but people want Friday off,” says Jarrod Spencer, a sports psychologist who started a company called Mind of the Athlete and wrote a book of the same name. In the summer, he wants his employees to spend more time at home. “After lunch on Friday, we’re done,” he says.

Spencer says that he sees a number of benefits to the “Summer Friday” model in which employers give people shortened work hours — flexible or enforced — on Fridays so they can get more rest and spend more time on self-care at home. Among other things, he says his employees are more willing to work from Monday to Thursday — during which they fall into a routine sleep schedule — than they are on Friday afternoons.

There’s no denying the psychological benefits to spending less time at work: Many advocates of long weekends argue that they should be year-round so people can enjoy more time away from work to sleep, relax, and clear their minds.

And research is on your side. One study suggests that the two-day weekend acts as more of a disruption to the circadian rhythm (the body’s internal clock that directs sleep cycles) and can impair people’s moods and mental capacities upon returning to work or school. While people can make up for some of the sleep they missed during the week — whether it be by sleeping in or afternoon naps — two days of sleeping in is enough to adjust the circadian rhythm such that they have to jolt back into their regular rhythm when they wake up early on Monday morning. When people can take Friday off to relax, they have more time to sleep, exercise, or work on their relationships. The result is a clearer mind and more productive work during the week.

“I think it increases focus,” says Spencer. “When we have more time, we spend it on ourselves and our health, or our relationships. We’re able to focus more on the task at hand at work with fewer outside mental distractions, so I think it translates to work efficiency.”

You may feel some of these benefits this Memorial Day, but it won’t be enough to pay off your sleep debt. Spencer compares the holiday to taking a sip of water while trapped in the desert: it feels great but doesn’t actually do anything for you. Rather, sleep studies suggest that it will take a long-term approach to really make up for lost sleep and improve your circadian rhythm in a less disruptive manner. Hence the three-day weekend.

But the distinction between Summer Fridays and a universal three-day weekend is deliberate. Spencer argues that if people always had a three-day weekend, their bodies and minds would just shift to the new routine and the same complaints that that they have about having to work on Friday would re-emerge on Thursday. So it’s less about getting a specific amount of time than it is about getting extra time off beyond the norm, though getting three rather than two days off on a regular basis does help smooth the transitions from weekend to weekday sleep cycle.

“There’s not a person in America who’s working efficiently and productively between one and five on Friday,” says Spencer. “We’re already checked out mentally, so we might as well check out physically as well.”

Where To Find The Best Specials On Cinco de Mayo

Get ready friends, Cinco de Mayo is here. That means you have no excuse for missing out on margaritas, Coronas, and every cheese and salsa-covered form of Mexican fare. Even if you don’t want to get tipsy on tequila and Tecate, you can still take advantage of the various Cinco de Mayo food deals and drink specials at restaurants all across the US.

Here we go!

Bahama Breeze

Visit any Bahama Breeze location to get $5 margaritas. On top of that, many locations are also celebrating the day with outdoor Cinco de Mayo parties where you can purchase $5 margaritas, $3 beers, and two-for-$5 tacos and empanadas.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s

The popular chain restaurant might not be known for its Mexican food, but that didn’t stop them from offering a $5.99 Cinco de Mayo taco special (two tacos, chips, and salsa).

California Pizza Kitchen

California-based chain will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo today by offering customers its Fresh Agave Lime Margarita for $5 at participating locations.

Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse

Stop into Charlie Brown’s Steakhouse today to get $4 Coronas and $5 dollars margaritas all day.

Chili’s

If you stop by the popular restaurant chain, you can purchase a special Cinco de Mayo cup. For only $5, you can have it filled with your favorite beer or a margarita.

Chuy’s

Chuy’s will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo by offering drink specials all night. This includes frozen margaritas, floaters and various Mexican beers.

El Pollo Loco

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, El Pollo Loco is getting downright crazy (get it?). Visit the company’s website to get coupons to get a variety of deals special for the day.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant

Feeling hungry? You can get all-you-can-eat nachos at Margaritas Mexican Restaurant until 4 p.m. today. This deal is good for every nacho style on the menu.

Marie Callender’s

To celebrate the holiday, Marie Callender’s is offering $4 house margaritas and $6 ultimate margaritas. Don’t worry if you can’t find a time to get in today, this deals lasts until May 7th.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

The restaurant chain is celebrating Cinco de Mayo by launching its new Moe-Rita, a family-friendly (alcohol free) margarita made with limeade, lemonade, orange, and other flavors. If you’re lucky, you can also get a free T-shirt (at some locations) and others are offering $5 burritos.

Schlotzsky’s

Visit any Schlotzky’s location and purchase a Fiesta Chicken Meal Deal (a small fiesta chicken sandwich with chips and a small drink) for only $5.

TGI Fridays

The famous chain is offering premium Casamigos tequila shots for $5, $3 Dos Equis Drafts. and $5 Sauza ‘Ritas.

On the Border

Do you love the magical mixture of tequila, lime, and triple sec? Well, you’re in luck. On the Border is celebrating Cinco de Mayo by offering $5 margaritas all day.

Taco Cabana

Visitors to Taco Cabana in Texas can win free Taco Cabana for a year. Customers can enter the Cinco de Mayo-related contents on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

TacoTime

Look through your cushions to find all of your hidden change. But, you won’t need much because TacoTime is offering $0.79 tacos all day long today.

Tijuana Flats

The Mexican food chain is offering myriad Cinco de Mayo deals throughout the weekend, including $2 draft beers today and on May 6th and 7th, customers can get $2 drafts, $2 chips and salsa, $2 tacos, and $2 churros.

Here’s Why April 26 Is “Alien Day”

Today is “Alien Day,” an unofficial holiday for fans of the iconic space-horror franchise and a big promotional event for the studio behind the upcoming Alien: Covenant. This year will see the release of a new Alien VR experience, a Q&A session about Covenant, and the return of the original 1979 classic to select theaters. But why April 26 of all days? The answer is a fun little Easter egg — one that hopefully won’t hatch into a Facehugger.

Aliens, the 1986 action sequel to Ridley Scott’s original, takes place on a colonial moon known as Acheron. However, before it was given a proper name the moon was known as LV-426. Hence, Alien Day is on 4/26. The first official Alien Day was only last year to celebrate Aliens’s 30th anniversary, so it made sense.

For 2017’s Alien Day, though, the big event is probably the livestream, which you can catch over at Alien Universe starting at 1 p.m. Eastern. There will be a Q&A with the cast of Covenant along with exclusive footage from the upcoming movie. For more information about some of the minor Alien Day events, including merch revivals and details about Alien screenings, go to the website.

How 4/20 Became National Weed Day

It is 4/20, the day tens of thousands of Americans gather around the country to celebrate a drug that remains illegal in most of the country: marijuana.

April 20 (or 4/20) is cherished by pot smokers around the world as a reason to toke up with friends and massive crowds each year and celebrate their favorite drug. Major rallies occur across the country, particularly in places like Colorado, Washington state, and Washington, DC, where marijuana possession is legal.

But as support for marijuana legalization grows — with several states considering it in 2016 — the festivities are becoming more mainstream. As a result, marijuana businesses are looking to leverage the holiday to find more ways to sell and market their products. This puts 4/20’s current iteration in sharp contrast with the holiday once embraced by a counterculture movement that was largely made up of hippies and others who decried greed, corporate influences, and all things mainstream.

Why is 4/20 National Weed Day? There are a few theories.

There are a few possible explanations for why marijuana enthusiasts’ day of celebration landed on April 20, but the real origin remains a bit of a mystery.

Steven Hager, a former editor of the marijuana-focused news outlet High Times, told the New York Times that the holiday came out of a ritual started by a group of high school students in the 1970s. As Hager explained, a group of Californian teenagers ritualistically smoked marijuana every day at 4:20 pm. The ritual spread, and soon 420 became code for smoking marijuana. Eventually 420 was converted into 4/20 for calendar purposes, and the day of celebration was born. (A group of Californians published documents giving this theory legitimacy, but it’s unclear if their claims are valid.)

One common belief is that 420 was the California police or penal code for marijuana, but there’s no evidence to support those claims.

Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana, hence an obvious connection between the drug and the number. But there are more than 500 active ingredients in marijuana, and only about 70 or so are cannabinoids unique to the plant, according to the Dutch Association for Legal Cannabis and Its Constituents as Medicine.

A lesser-known possibility comes from the 1939 short story “In the Walls of Eryx” by H.P. Lovecraft and Kenneth Sterling. The story describes “curious mirage-plants” that seemed fairly similar to marijuana and appeared to get the narrator high at, according to his watch, around 4:20. Since the story is from 1939, it’s perhaps the earliest written link between marijuana and 420.

Whatever its origins, 4/20 has become a massive holiday for cannabis aficionados.

4/20 is the biggest single-day celebration of marijuana

Today, 4/20 is partly about supporting people’s legal rights to use marijuana. But just like St. Patrick’s Day is known as a holiday for America’s booze lovers despite its religious origins, 4/20 is turning into a major holiday for the country’s pot enthusiasts.

What the holiday stands for varies from person to person. Some people just want to get high and have fun. Others see the day as a moment to push for legalization, or celebrate legalization now that more states are adopting it and it has popular opinion behind it.

Back in the 1970s, 4/20 was part of a smaller counterculture movement that embraced marijuana as a symbol to protest against broader systemic problems in the US, like overseas wars and the power of corporations in America. “Marijuana was the way you said you weren’t a suit,” Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, previously told me.

In recent years, marijuana legalization activists have tried to bring a more formal aspect to the celebration, framing it as a moment to push their political agenda. Organizers for the 2014 Denver rally — during the first year marijuana sales were legal in the state — put out a statement comparing the battle for legal marijuana to “the time when Jews fled from slavery in Egypt,” a moment commemorated in Passover celebrations. “This year’s rally represents the continuing fight for freedom from economic slavery for marginalized members of our community and a rebirth of creative genius that will get us there,” they wrote.

Businesses are also trying to take advantage of the holiday. Eddie Miller, CEO of Invest in Cannabis, which seeks to bring investment into the marijuana industry, previously told me that his company was trying to build and sponsor major 4/20 gatherings around the country — similar to what other companies, some of which Miller has been involved with, have done with holidays like St. Patrick’s Day.

“Our perspective is 4/20 is a real holiday — no smaller than St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween,” Miller said. “It’s just nobody knows about it yet. And our company is going to let everyone know about it.”

Legalization is turning 4/20 into a commercial holiday

Originally 4/20 was a counterculture holiday to protest, at least in part, the social and legal stigmas against marijuana. Marijuana legalization undercuts that purpose: As big businesses and corporations begin growing and selling pot, marijuana will slowly lose its status as a counterculture symbol — and that, Humphreys of Stanford University speculated, could bring the end of the traditional, countercultural 4/20.

“If a corporate marijuana industry adopts 4/20, it would still be a celebrated event, but not with the same countercultural meaning,” Humphreys said in an email. “People celebrated Christmas long before it became an occasion for an orgy of gift-buying and materialist consumption, but the meaning of the holiday for most people was different then than it is now.”

Companies such as Invest in Cannabis admit they’re already leveraging the holiday as another opportunity to promote the industry and its products — much like beer and other alcohol companies now do with St. Patrick’s Day.

“The media is covering 4/20 as a consumer interest story,” Miller of Invest in Cannabis said “But some portion of the media is covering 4/20 as a call to arms for the industry — so [in 2015] there are multiple competitive business conferences that are happening in Denver, the [San Francisco] Bay Area, and Las Vegas.”

The pot industry has also gotten directly involved in 4/20 events. The Cannabis Cup, for example, has become a major event at Denver’s 4/20 rallies, where hundreds of vendors show off their finest marijuana products to more than 40,000 attendees. The event has steadily grown over the years, featuring big concerts from notable musicians like Snoop Dogg, Soja, and 2 Chainz, as well as a wide collection of marijuana businesses as sponsors.

The Cannabis Cup is only one of many events, which also include comedy shows (like Cheech and Chong), marijuana-friendly speed dating, and trade shows for glass pipes and bongs, offering businesses and celebrities various opportunities to push their products and brands.

Still, some people don’t attend the public festivities at all, choosing instead to stay home and enjoy a joint (or more) with their friends. For these people, 4/20 likely remains a more casual affair void of big sponsorships and marketing.

But in public, 4/20 is increasingly becoming a commercial holiday.

4/20 started big in Western states, but it’s expanded

Since 4/20 supposedly originated in California, according to Hager at the High Times, it’s unsurprising that 4/20 is a big deal there. But the celebration has already spread — particularly to other Western states.

The most well-known 4/20 rally tends to be in Denver. Following Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana in 2012, Denver became the first big city to allow recreational marijuana shops. That made Denver the center of the legalization movement and, as a result, the capital of 4/20 celebrations in the US. (In particular, the 4:20 pm smoke-out — in which tens of thousands gather in front of the state capitol to smoke pot at 4:20 pm on 4/20 — is heralded as one of the largest pot rallies in the world.)

But celebrations are also taking place in Seattle, Las Vegas, and Washington, DC. And Miller of Invest in Cannabis expects the list of cities hosting major 4/20 celebrations to expand over the years, with some focusing less on tourism and more on local events.

“I believe Denver and Colorado in general will continue to grow with their cannabis tourism,” he said. “Separately, you can see that, for example, San Jose is not a primarily tourist destination — but the events happening in the Bay Area are primarily for the residents of the Bay Area.”

Americans support marijuana legalization, but they’re not okay with public smoking

Although surveys show 4/20 celebrators have the support of most Americans when it comes to legalization, many people would likely disapprove of the public smoke-outs that often take place in celebration of 4/20.

A 2015 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of Americans support legalization, and 82 percent said it wouldn’t bother them if people used marijuana in their own homes — but 62 percent said it would bother them if someone used pot in public.

This puts 4/20 in a tricky place for legalization advocates: Americans by and large support the pro-legalization message of the holiday, but they’re probably not okay with someone ripping a bong in front of the state capitol.

So where can I sign up for 4/20?

It’s probably too late to plan a trip this year, unless you already live in Denver or another city holding a 4/20 rally. But if interest in the event continues climbing after legalization takes place in other states, it’s probably a good idea to be a bit forward-looking with your airplane and hotel bookings for next year’s rallies. And keep in mind that although many of the 4/20 events are open to the public, some do charge a fee for entry.

Here’s the Full List of Exclusive Record Store Day 2017 Releases

The full list of exclusive releases for this year’s Record Store Day has been unveiled, and it’s pretty extensive.

Record Store Day, a day dedicated to supporting local independent record stores, will take place this year on April 22—about a week from now. A ton of bands and labels release RSD exclusives, and this year there’s something for everyone. Major releases include rare David Bowie LP sets, an unreleased Smiths demo, 12” Prince singles, an Andre 3000 Beatles’ cover and rare singles from both Madonna and Patti Smith. There will also be a new live EP from Animal Collective that they recorded in a Brazilian rainforest, plus live albums from Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and The Grateful Dead. You can also look forward to RSD exclusives from Fleetwood Mac, AIR, Against Me!, Alice in Chains, Danny Brown, Johnny Cash, Cheap Trick, Miley Cyrus, The Lumineers, Sia, Spoon and even a fantastic tote bag from Run the Jewels. Oh, and the Space Jam soundtrack is getting reissued on vinyl.

We know it’s a lot. You may want to spend the afternoon looking through the full list here.

Why April 7 is National Beer Day

Friday, April 7, is National Beer Day, which commemorates April 7, 1933, the day that the Cullen-Harrison Act was enacted.

It was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on March 22, 1933.

The law allowed for the legal sale of low-alcohol beer in the United States, several months before Prohibition was completely repealed.

Roosevelt made his famous remark upon signing the legislation: “I think this would be a good time for a beer,” noting the end to the nation’s 13-year-long dry spell.

The low-alcohol beer that the act allowed could have alcohol by volume of as high as 4 percent.

Lower-alcohol beer is the biggest seller in the U.S. today.

“By far the largest segment of beer today is the light beer segment and has an average ABV (alcohol by volume) of about 4.2 percent,” Jim McGreevy of the D.C.-based nonprofit Beer Institute.

The beer business is big business in the U.S. today.

“Beer across the country is a $253 billion contributor to the U.S. economy, and the amount of beer sold in the U.S. each year could fill the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool over a thousand times,” McGreevy said.

There are more than 4,000 active breweries in the United States, and the Beer Institute said roughly 1.75 million Americans have jobs as a result of the American beer industry. Those jobs contribute nearly $79 billion in wages and benefits each year to the U.S. economy.

The beer business is big enough that it registers about 1.5 percent of the nation’s total gross domestic product.

The most rapid growth in the past decade has been the number of craft brewers. The number of small and independent craft brewers in the U.S. is at a record high.

According to the Brewers Association, based in Boulder, Colorado, craft brewers have seen double-digit growth in eight of the last 10 years.

Nearly 2,400 of the nation’s active breweries are classified as microbreweries, and craft brewers now hold a 12 percent share of the overall beer industry’s market.

LEGO Star Wars Days Return to LEGOLAND FLORIDA May 6-7 and 13-14

LEGO Star Wars Days are returning to LEGOLAND Florida this year and the event has been expanded to two weekends, May 6-7 and 13-14.

The Lucasfilm-authorized event will feature some of the most famous scenes from the Star Wars saga made out of 1.5 million LEGO bricks.

Activities will include appearances by costumed Star Wars fans, Star Wars inspired LEGO building activities, a Star Wars-themed costume parade for kids and many more exciting activities.

It’s Time to Tidy Your Neighborhood for the Great American Cleanup

If you’ve been looking for a way to get involved in your community while improving the great outdoors, Keep America Beautiful has just the thing.

The 19th annual Great American Cleanup launched on the first day of spring and will run through the fall. The annual nationwide effort brings millions of people together to improve their communities, parks, trail systems, waterways, and even vacant lots. This year’s theme is Clean Your Block Party, which encourages participants to do something on their own blocks to improve the local area and to bring neighbors together.

Some 50,000 events are expected to be held this year — and that’s a lot of litter picked up and flowers planted. According to KAB, here’s a better breakdown of what they hope to accomplish:

Nationally, the Great American Cleanup annually delivers more than $175 million in measurable economic benefits to communities. The program is led by more than 620 Keep America Beautiful state and community-based affiliates and hundreds of other community, business and government partners who plan community improvement events and experiential education programs that help to:
– Clean and improve 100,000+ miles of local roads, trails, shorelines and waterways;
– Plant millions of flowers, trees, shrubs and community gardens;
– Revitalize and restore acres upon acres of public parks, nature trails and recreation areas as well as vacant lots;
– Collect tons of litter, debris and other items for proper disposal, recycling or reuse.

“It’s inspiring to see millions of volunteers, businesses, public officials and others turn out each year for Great American Cleanup events to ensure that our nation’s vital public spaces – our parks, trails, beaches, oceans, rivers, lakes, roadways, community gateways and more – remain clean, green and beautiful places to live,” said Mike Rosen, senior vice president, marketing & communications, for KAB.

Interested in starting your own Clean Your Block team or hosting an event in your neighborhood? Visit the Great American Cleanup page to find out what’s going on in your neighborhood or to get something started.