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Bowman & Landes Raises Free-Range Turkeys

The night they’re born, turkeys come to Bowman & Landes, where they spend their entire life cycles. It’s one way the turkey farm is uncommon in its field: “Outside of a hatchery, we’re a fully integrated farm,” says Drew Bowman, the farm’s co-owner. “We don’t have to truck the turkeys to a third-party harvesting facility. It makes a healthier, more flavorful bird.”

Bowman & Landes in New Carlisle is a century farm. Bowman’s great-grandfather bought it in 1915, and it became a turkey farm in 1948. The Bowman and Landes families continue to run the operation to this day.

Though Bowman studied and worked in the finance industry for eight years, the family business pulled him back. “My perspective changed,” he says. “I really enjoy working with family, [and] I also like the small business aspect of it. And there’s so much variety.”

Bowman estimates that 90 percent of the turkey industry keeps its birds in barns exclusively, but Bowman & Landes has been free-range since its inception, when free-range farms were the norm. “The turkeys come and go as they please,” he says. “There is added labor, but we like to think turkeys are kind of like humans, and when it’s nice outside, fresh air and sunshine are good for them.”

The farm raises an average of 70,000 turkeys per year. New chicks in July become the large, 25-pound Thanksgiving turkeys, and the mid-August arrivals the smaller, 12-pound holiday birds.

Bowman & Landes Turkeys, 6490 Ross Rd., New Carlisle, (937) 845-9466

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How Cincinnati’s Food Tours Are Dealing With COVID-19

Sampling the delicacies of the Cincinnati food scene via a tour is probably not at the top of anyone’s mind right now. For those who aren’t familiar, food tours generally consist of a tour guide who shares interesting facts about the history and culture of the city while moving through a set walking path to a variety of restaurants. Each stop involves a drink or food sample.

Food tours were forced, like so many companies, to close down in March, but the food tours in Cincinnati were able to come back online this summer, amid new challenges. “Many restaurants are still only open in the evening, and my tours are usually in the morning or afternoon,” says Michael Van Oflen, owner of Flavors of the Queen City. “Other restaurants have closed down altogether or are only doing delivery or carryout orders.”

Food tour operators even at the best of times must be adaptable and good at building relationships with restauranteurs throughout the city over time. “We’ve focused on hosting our five most popular tours for now,” says Laura Noyes, owner of Riverside Food Tours. “It was very slow at first, but visitors coming to Cincinnati are happy to see that our city has tours seven days a week. The granddaddy of all food tours, Foods of New York Tours, is closed until April 2021.”

The tours have a range of safety procedures in place at this point, from the ability to book private itineraries for a single party of people to mask-wearing between actual tasting times. They use sanitizer, distribute individually-wrapped food samples, and aim to eat in open-air or patio areas whenever possible.

“We’ve been blessed with really good weather this year,” says Barb Cooper, owner of Cincinnati Food Tours. “Most people on my tours are very comfortable, but we’ve lost our out-of-town people. Very few come from farther than Dayton.”

With the winter months coming, a time when food tours are usually in lower demand anyway, companies may focus on gift certificates for future tours, as well as compilation products like the Cincinnati Food Tours’ gift box of Cincinnati-made food items.

“We’ve all had to twist and turn, zig and zag, and people have been very understanding,” Cooper says. “Food tours are a safe way to help other small businesses during a time that is challenging for everyone.”

Meet 19 Authors With Local Ties

Past or present, these nineteen celebrated writers all have ties to the Queen City. We introduce to you each and highlight their best works, which are definitely worth your time.

Nnedi Okorafor

Cincinnati native and author, Binti trilogy and Marvel Comics’ Wakanda Forever

Will Hillenbrand

Born-and-raised Cincinnatian, writer, and illustrator, Snowman Story, Bear and Mole series, Louie!

Christopher Bollen

St. X alum and novelist, Lightning People, The Destroyers, A Beautiful Crime

Heidi Petach

One-time Cincinnati Zoo employee and writer and illustrator of children’s books, Rainbow Babies, Goldilocks and the Three Hares

Curtis Sittenfeld

Graeter’s enthusiast and bestselling author of American Wife, Eligible, and Rodham

Delilah Beasley

Cincinnati Enquirer journalist and first African-American female columnist for a major metropolitan newspaper, The Negro Trailblazers of California

Rakesh Satyal

Fairfield native and novelist, Blue Boy, No One Can Pronounce My Name

Veena Sud

Cincinnati Country Day alum and television writer, The Stranger, Cold Case, The Killing

Daniel Carter Beard

Writer, illustrator, early Boy Scout leader, and big yellow bridge namesake, The American Boy’s Handy Book, The Field and Forest Handy Book

Theresa Rebeck

Ursuline Academy alumna, Broadway playwright, and screenwriter, Bernhardt/Hamlet, TV’s Smash

Thomas Berger

Lockland resident and author, Little Big Man, Arthur Rex, Neighbors

Cuesta Benberry

Cincinnati-born quiltmaking historian, Always There: The African-American Presence in American Quilts, Piece of My Soul: Quilts by Black Arkansans

Jessica Strawser

Cincinnati Library Writer-in-Residence and novelist, Almost Missed You and Not That I Could Tell

Geoffrey Girard

Moeller English teacher and author of sci-fi and horror thrillers, Cain’s Blood, Mary Rose

Robert F. Schulkers

Covington native and author, Seckatary Hawkins series

Emily Henry

West Chester–raised novelist, People We Meet on Vacation, Beach Read

Emma Carlson Berne

Queen City resident and author, Still Waters, Never Let You Go

Kathy Y. Wilson

Cincinnati Magazine contributor, journalist, educator, Your Negro Tour Guide

Jeffrey Hillard

Mount St. Joseph Professor of English and author, Shine Out of Bedlam and Shine in Grit City

Cincinnati’s 1884 Election Was a Real Riot


If you think this year’s political campaigning is contentious, you might be amazed by Cincinnati’s 1884 city election. It was a real riot. In 1884, Cincinnati was ruled by a mostly Democratic political machine. The ringleader—he wasn’t quite a “boss”—was the Publisher of The Enquirer, John Roll McLean. The machine controlled the courts, the police, patronage jobs, and even elections. For years, the Democratic organization in Cincinnati flagrantly encouraged fraudulent elections.

The Cincinnati Graphic carried scenes from the November 1884 election, including a poll monitor shot by a policeman (lower left) and an angry voter stabbing a policeman (lower right).

Image digitized by the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

Most Cincinnatians have heard about the Courthouse Riot of March 1884, but few recall the other riot that year. It was, in many ways, an echo of the more famous spring rebellion. The Courthouse Riot inspired the Cincinnati upper class—capitalists, businessmen, clergy, professionals—to mobilize for better government and honest voting, and this progressive groundswell inspired the local Republican Party to break a decade and a half of Democratic control. Cincinnati citizens organized an Honest Election Committee, which invited a force of U.S. marshals to supervise that fall’s contests. Cincinnati businessmen backed the committee. The federal government (Republican at the time) paid for 700 marshals to ensure accurate balloting.

Ohio elections were ripe for corruption and vote tampering. In 1884, the state didn’t require registration or proof of residency to vote. Prospective voters went to the polls, announced their residence and—if they lived within that precinct—dropped a ballot in the box. At least that’s how it was supposed to work.

In practice, Democratic functionaries staffed the polls and controlled the vote outcome. Lot Wright, U.S. Marshal for Southwest Ohio, described some of their methods in a letter to his superiors in Washington, D.C., asking for help in 1884:

“All methods that can be thought of are resorted to. The colonization of voters, repeating, refusing to let men vote who are entitled to vote, intimidating, counting improperly, recording the count reversed what it ought to be, improperly certifying, stuffing, changing ballots, buying votes, and last, but most infamous of all, scratching with chemicals in place of ink, which at first is not detected by the voter [disqualifying the ballot].”

U.S. Marshal Lot Wright, a Republican appointee, recruited 700 sworn deputy marshals to counteract election interference by the Democrat-controlled Cincinnati Police and Hamilton County Sheriff.

Image extracted from microfilm by Greg Hand

In those days, Ohio elected congressmen through a special election in October. Wright asked for special deputies to monitor the Congressional election on October 14, 1884. The national Republican Party pressured Marshal Wright into making the request and then raised funds to hire an additional 700 deputies and to ship 600 brand-new bulldog revolvers to Cincinnati. Wright and his deputy marshals served under the authority of the federal election supervisor, William Howard Taft. In his 1939 biography of Taft, Henry Pringle describes the disaster:

“[The marshals] were to take their posts at the polling places and keep the peace. Taft hoped, he said in his official announcement, that they would ‘encounter no opposition, especially from the municipal or county authorities.’ This was a hint that the police, controlled by the Democratic city administration, might get tough. If opposition came, however, Taft’s marshals were to ‘treat them as you would any other citizens committing crimes against the United States and have them arrested.’ The inevitable result was bloodshed. A Negro was slain, apparently without reason, by one federal marshal.”

It is impossible to tell, looking back 136 years, whether Wright’s armed deputy marshals ensured a fair election. Rumors claimed that Cincinnati counted 7,000 more votes than the city had voters. It is entirely possible that all the marshals did was replace Democratic thugs with Republican thugs. That, at least, is how the (Democratic) Enquirer saw it [October 15, 1884]:

“The history of yesterday’s election in Hamilton County will forever remain a foul blot upon the fair fame of Ohio’s metropolis. Such scenes were witnessed at the polls as brought the cry of shame from every honest man. Riot and bloodshed held sway at many of the precincts, while intimidation was practiced on all sides by the paid hirelings of a Republican National Government.”

The Republican-leaning Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, of course, saw things differently [October 15, 1884]:

“The election yesterday was a Waterloo for the local and State Democracy, and that in spite of their preparations for fraud and the most flagrant outrages on Republican voters, white and colored. In spite of the best work of the Deputy Marshals the Democratic police perpetrated some of the most foolhardy outrages and, in defiance of all warnings, put themselves in direct offense with the Government of this country.”

Throughout the day, skirmishes between the sheriff’s deputies (Democratic) and the deputy marshals (Republican) erupted into melees, often involving gunfire. According to The Enquirer, chaos was widespread:

“In the lower precinct of the Sixth Ward several hundred [deputy marshals], all colored, blocked the street and fired off their revolvers at random. Respectable people were insulted and mistreated. In the Eighth Ward it was only by a superhuman effort that the liquor-crazed deputies were driven from the polls, after having fired a volley into the crowd. The scene was repeated in the lower precinct of the Fifth Ward, while in Precinct A of the Eighteenth Ward the imported thieves took possession of the polls and installed three Republican Judges, thus leaving the Democrats without representation.”

Despite all of the combativeness and outbreaks of gunfire, only one death resulted from the competition between parties. Two armed poll watchers, one of the sheriff’s and one of the marshal’s, both African American, argued over access to a polling place in the Eighteenth Ward and the deputy marshal shot and killed the deputy sheriff.

The national Republican Party shipped 600 bulldog pistols to Cincinnati to arm deputy marshals hired to oversee the 1884 Congressional election.

Image extracted from microfilm by Greg Hand

The Enquirer, vehemently opposed to integration or equal rights for African Americans, used the election conflicts to promote its racist vision of savage Blacks insulting their white superiors. Here is The Enquirer’s front-page commentary:

“It was indeed humiliating to honest men to be compelled to crowd through a dirty, smelling crowd of ignorant negroes, who invariably kept their clubs and revolvers exposed, in order to exercise their rights of franchise.”

When the presidential election came around in November 1884, both sides stood down—somewhat—and there were fewer incidents of riotous behavior. Nevertheless, a Republican poll monitor stabbed a city policeman, gangs of Democrats attacked any Black voters attempting to cast ballots, a Covington “floater” brought in to illegally vote was murdered, and a Cincinnati police sergeant shot and killed a man who refused to leave a polling station.

Democrats took office in Washington that year with the election of Grover Cleveland. The new administration immediately launched an investigation of Marshal Lot Wright. The blatantly prejudiced inquest found so much blame on both sides that they ended up slapping Marshal Wright on the wrist for sloppy expense accounts and not much more. Still, Wright was replaced by a Democrat as Marshal for Southwest Ohio.

Boomtown Biscuits and Whiskey Sets Sights on a New Frontier with Union Location


It started with an image of a Western prospector panning for gold in the 1800s, starting the day off with a messy, biscuit breakfast and ending a long shift sharing whiskey around the campfire. Inspired by this tale of the prospector, Chef Christian Gill of Boomtown Biscuits and Whiskey wanted to share his own gold with Cincinnati. And early next year, Union, Kentucky will get its own slice of the fortune.

Gill, who has made several appearances on the Food Network, curated Boomtown’s concept and opened the first restaurant in Pendleton in 2018, alongside owner P.J. Neumann. Boomtown is a contemporary take on classic American frontier food, with a slight Thai inspiration. Gill describes the menu, which centers around a buttermilk cast-iron biscuit, as elevated comfort food with a twist.

On the heels of Boomtown’s success, the pair began searching for a second location but quickly hit heavy delays. Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, Neumann passed away. Now the majority owner, Gill is dedicated to expanding his concept through the Union location.

With the nation still facing the pandemic, and after a summer of demonstrations, Gill knew he needed to adapt to the current dining climate. The downtown location has been doing well on the weekends, but Gill said it has been a struggle to get visitors during the week. He decided the suburbs were the right place to go.

“There needed to be another way for us to get our biscuits out to, not only our core audience, but a new one as well, and the suburbs are the place for that,” Gill says. “People are staying closer to home.”

Gill is hopeful the new location, which will take over the former Sugarfire Smokehouse space in front of Union’s flagship Kroger, will be ready by February of next year. The location will have a similar feel to the original, with a heavier Western saloon inspiration that Gill hopes will transport visitors when they step inside.

“Union is an up-and-coming [town] in Kentucky that is very attractive to a lot of people with kids and [people] starting new families,” Gill says. “It’s one of the fastest growing parts of Kentucky and it needs food—good food.”

The Union location will seat 55 guests with an additional 30 seats on the patio. A larger kitchen will give Gill the room to expand the original menu, with additions to breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings. The new location will also offer extended hours for carryout and delivery. Plus, Gill is developing a mobile offering, a Boomtown biscuit wagon, to bring restaurant favorites around town.

Gill, who was born and raised in Lexington, is excited to bring his concept closer to home and share the Kentucky staples he has reimagined. He is also grateful for the ability to expand the business during a pandemic and for the opportunity to bring his concepts to life and provide quality food to the community.

“Regardless of if it’s carryout, delivery, or dining in, being able to enjoy someone else’s food definitely brings a form of relief, especially now being in [isolation] to stay safe,” Gill says. “I’m just happy that I have those opportunities.”

This Renovated OTR Home Was Once a Local Bank


1302 Main Street

Not many people can say they live in a former bank, but this renovated gem in Over-the-Rhine is a dreamy mix of Art Deco exterior and industrial chic interior. It’s also located on one of the most eclectic streets in OTR, where you’re just steps from Liberty Bar and Bottle Shop, LouVino Restaurant and Wine Bar, Cincy Shirts, and Iris Book Cafe. Whatever way you turn, classic hangouts and newer nightlife spots are easily found, as are the urban green spaces of Ziegler and Washington parks.

Built in 1853, the former Buckeye S&L bank features an Art Deco facade with inlaid designs, eight windows, and sets of pillars at the entry. Though historic, the imposing facade opens into a renovated single-family home. The elevator lies behind a gold door in the tiled foyer, which also leads to the living room’s hardwood floors and exposed brick walls. A gas fireplace unit sits in a corner behind the elevator. In the kitchen, there’s an alcove for a dining table and an eat-in bar with room for several stools. Granite countertops and stainless appliances complement the darker wood and backsplash. The massive pantry has a wall-length run of cabinets that provides plenty of storage, an area to hide small appliances, and doubles as a prep station.

Each of the three bedrooms, two full and one half bath are true to OTR style—think exposed brick and steel beams, thick-framed windows, and hardwood floors throughout. Upstairs, the master is on its own floor including a master bath, a walk-in closet, and a seating area that could double as an entertaining space or office area with views of Main. The open third-floor staircase leads up to the second and third bedrooms.

The best part of the home might be the rooftop deck. At the bottom of the stairs to the deck, a wet bar is set up with a fridge, sink, and cabinets for easy access to refreshments. Outside, the views of the neighborhood and the central business district are great. The deck has plenty of space for a variety of seating arrangements, a grill, and unlimited entertaining possibilities. There’s even an attached garage—a huge city-living perk.

Click through our gallery to view more photos of this home:

My Little Free Library Helped Me Be a Better Neighbor

Last December, all I wanted for Christmas was a Little Free Library. Specifically, I wanted my husband to build one for me. In case you aren’t familiar, a Little Free Library is, well, a little library that’s free. It’s sometimes called a book box. You’ve probably seen them in people’s yards (usually near the sidewalk) or in parks or other public places. A friend of mine calls them giant birdhouses. But birds don’t live in them. Books do.

Little Free Library is a now a full-fledged nonprofit organization, but it started about 10 years ago with a guy in Wisconsin building a box and putting out free books, encouraging people to take a book and leave a book. Now there are 100,000 Little Free Libraries in 100 countries, but the idea is still the same: Take a book, leave a book.

I learned about Little Free Libraries from Margret Aldrich, the woman who literally wrote the book on them, appropriately called The Little Free Library Book, and who now works for the organization. But before she wrote that book or had that job, Aldrich was my editor. In 2010, she worked on my first book, Sew Retro, published by Minneapolis-based publisher Voyageur Press. Because we’re roughly the same age and had many of the same interests, we hit it off and stayed in touch even after she left the publishing house. When I was in Minneapolis for a conference in 2014, I asked Aldrich if she wanted to get together. As we sipped our drinks, she told me about this fun book she was writing about the little library boxes people have in their yards. The way she described Little Free Libraries was enchanting.

Granted, I was a pretty easy mark, because my history of loving libraries dates back to the early 1980s, when my mom would take me to the Covington library. I’d climb the stairs to the children’s section, anticipating the crinkling sound the library-standard clear plastic book dust jacket makes. When I was about 8, I somehow got a hold of a stack of old checkout cards—I think from a neighbor who was a teacher—and spent afternoons playing library. So when my former editor told me that it was a thing to have a library in your yard, I wanted one immediately.

I came back home from the conference, got back to my life, and mostly forgot the conversation. Mostly forgot is how I sometimes think about the 10-year period between about 2008 and 2018, or the time between when I started having kids and when my oldest turned 10. Something good happens when your children are around 10. You emerge from the parenting dungeon, look out, and remember that there are other things in the world. Pursuits you can do simply because you want to, in service of no one else’s desires but your own.

Some parents do things like brew beer or learn calligraphy. I started thinking about libraries. The catalyst may have been reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean, which is a book about libraries by way of telling the story of the catastrophic 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library (this sounds boring, but I’m not kidding when I say I couldn’t put it down). With libraries on the brain, I started noticing the little ones all around town. I saw one at Summit Park in Blue Ash when I took the kids there last summer. I browsed the book selection in the one near the path to Madeira High School on the way to a football game last fall. And then I started picturing my own, calling to people from the sidewalk.

On a frosty Saturday morning in January, my husband and I scoured the web for library inspiration. He found a plan in his skill set and worked on building it through February, finishing construction the first week in March. I knew I wanted to paint it aqua and yellow (if you know me, you know there would be no other choice). I walked to my neighborhood hardware store to choose the exact shades the same after­noon that Governor DeWine announced the closure of Ohio schools because of COVID-19. I didn’t realize until I got back from my walk, paint chips in hand, that it was possibly unsafe to put up our library when the world was locking down.

So we put it in the shed. I thought about it out there, bookless and unloved, for the next two months. People everywhere were grieving so much that pointing out this little sadness to anyone seemed ridiculous.

And then in late May, as things began to re-open just a bit, the library started to seem less dangerous. After all, I could wipe down the handles and people could wipe down their books, right? I asked my most cautious friends what they thought, and they all agreed it was low risk, especially as we’d learned more about how the virus usually spreads (and how it usually doesn’t). Plus, seeing as how the Madeira branch library would remain closed for remodeling for a few more months, it seemed more important than ever to make books available in my neighborhood.

So my husband painted it, dug the post hole near the edge of our yard (calling to check on buried utility lines first, of course), and installed it—a dazzling aqua and yellow book house, perched buoyantly in the shade of a craggy old Norway spruce.

I officially opened my Little Free Library, Charter No. 98770, on Friday, June 5, stocking it with books I’d bought as well as books from my collection and my kids’ bookshelves that we were ready to share. I designated the top shelf for adults and the bottom shelf for kids. We had Louise Erdrich and Liane Moriarty. Sharon Draper and Captain Underpants. Isabel Allende and David Sedaris. Paddington Bear and C.S. Lewis. Judy Blume and Judi Ketteler (yes, I put copies of the books I wrote in there).

The entire kids’ section turned over within days, children excitedly taking books and leaving books. The adorable kiddos next door came at least 10 times that weekend. Every time I peeked out my front window, I saw someone else at the library. Families with strollers. Kids on bikes. Friends walking dogs. People were safe. Strangers didn’t congregate. But there was a buzz around it. Books are cerebral things, but the street felt physically energized.

So did I, which was really lovely after months of bleariness and weariness. I loved the fact that people were engaging with books, swapping out one to take home and enjoy with one they wanted to share. But it wasn’t just about what was happening inside the tiny library. It was about the conversations outside the library.

According to the Little Free Library organization, 73 percent of people say they’ve met more neighbors because of a Little Free Library. The organization is transparent about that statistic: It comes from a survey of 3,000 Little Free Library stewards and fans.

As a steward, this is absolutely true for me. In fact, the number of conversations I had with neighbors just in the few weeks after we put up the library was more than the sum total of conversations I had with neighbors in my 14 years living on my street.

And I think I know why. Do you know that moment of awkwardness you have when you see someone you kind of recognize but don’t actually know? Or someone you do know but are never sure what to say to them? There’s a weird game of social chicken that often happens. Will they say hi? Should I say hi? Who will make eye contact first? Is a nod sufficient? Should I mention the weather? Will they think I’m strange if I speak? Will they think I’m strange if I don’t? What is the matter with me?

If you have no actual idea what I’m talking about, please continue living your extroverted life and enjoy being perfectly comfortable having all manner of human interactions. But if you know what I’m talking about—and I bet a lot of you book lovers do—then you know that you can be the friendliest person in the world in your head and still struggle to engage with the people who walk their dogs by your house every day, the other parents you see at school functions, or the neighbor across the street who waters her plants at the same time as you.

More than anything, my little library has been the elixir that’s made a bunch of that awkwardness go away. Almost like a cute baby everyone passes around. Oh, a little house for books! Look at its shingles! It’s abundantly easy to talk about, to smile about, and to enjoy together with people who are no longer strangers. In fact, I know far more of my neighbors’ names and the things we have in common than I did before.

The way I see it, building more Little Free Libraries means more books would be shared and more people would talk to each other. We have Super Big And Terrible Problems right now related to divisiveness. We need bigger solutions than books and conversation, but I don’t think either of these things could hurt.

I also know that, in my neighborhood, you can’t go more than a few driveways without seeing a small house being torn down to make way for a larger one. People need to live somewhere, so who I am to say anything about it. Except maybe this: Let’s build more houses for books, too. It’s a lot cheaper, and instead of keeping people out, it invites them in.

All Are Welcome at Downtown’s Rebel Mettle Brewery


After spending 12 years in The United States Air Force and getting “medically retired” in 2014, Mike Brown says he was “disenfranchised” with his career options. “I went out into corporate America, and I just didn’t feel like it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he says. So he launched Rebel Mettle Brewery. The unique name is inspired by Brown’s personal experiences: a conversation with a friend and fellow veteran about “testing his metal” on a mission together in Iraq, and a handwritten letter from his mother on his 36th birthday about his rebellious spirit.

“Having the ability to own our own business allows us to have some artistic ability in not only our product but in our overall look and feel,” Brown says. When deciding that he wanted to open a brewery, he looked at “the big dogs” in Cincinnati’s brewing industry and thought, If they can do this, why can’t we?

Brown says the downtown location “felt like an incredibly good fit” for the brewery because of its diversity, women-owned businesses, community, and people. So, what makes Rebel Mettle Brewery different from its competitors? Brown says he wants his brewery to be “a trendsetter in American craft lagers.” The menu is focused heavily on lager production, which he says is a “large differentiation” from other local breweries that typically concentrate on Ale production.

There are 11 different brews on tap, including three flagship beers: the Mettle Mayhem, an India pale lager; the Volume, a Juniper Schwarzbier; and the Stubentiger, a light lager. Patrons can try these options and more for $1 off during happy hour every Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Food is also available via QR code at your table, courtesy of Rusconi’s Pizza, with a menu designed specifically for Rebel Mettle Brewery. Brown also encourages customers to order takeout from neighboring eateries, and delivery drivers can bring food directly to the brewery.

It’s a kid-friendly environment, too. “The kids absolutely go bonkers,” Brown says, over the brewery’s selection of vintage pinball machines, including an original Ms. Pac-man game, as well as ski ball and ping-pong.

To keep people safe during COVID-19, Rebel Mettle Brewery is closed on Mondays for a dedicated sterilization day. They also sanitize tables after each party, sanitize games after each use, require masks, and enforce social distancing between tables and the bar. “We want everybody to come to our establishment and celebrate our similarities rather than our differences,” Brown says.

Rebel Mettle Brewery, 412 Central Ave., downtown

Halloween Cookie Tips From The BonBonerie

This year has brought with it a list—a novel, really—of questions parents never expected to have to ask themselves. A big one at front of mind right now: Can my kid go trick-or-treating? Should they?

What’s best for each kid is different, but in case you’re looking for something else to do on the evening of Oct. 31, or if you’d like some additional Halloween fun this year, how does cookie decorating sound?

We spoke to Kelly Morton, the marketing director at The BonBonerie in O’Bryonville, for some tips to make and decorate this year’s Halloween treats.

The tools

Chances are, you already have the tools you’ll need to decorate your Halloween cookies:

  • Something for spreading, like a butter knife
  • Plastic baggies, to pipe icing
  • Toothpicks, for detail work
  • Wax paper, for easy clean up
  • Paper towels, for the mess

To turn a plastic baggie into an icing bag, select one that seals, and put the icing inside. Use scissors to cut a small hole in a bottom corner—emphasis on small. You can always make the hole bigger.

Photograph courtesy of The BonBonerie
Photograph courtesy of The BonBonerie
The icing

Simple icings aren’t difficult to make: You just need water and powdered sugar.

  1. If you have a fine mesh sieve, sift the powdered sugar first. This will remove lumps and keep your icing smooth.
  2. Add a few drops of water to the sugar, and mix until smooth. If you’re going to pipe the icing, use less water because thicker icing is better for piping. Thinner icing—read: use more water—is better for spreading. If the icing is too thick, add a few more drops of water; if it’s too thin, add more sugar.
  3. To flavor your icing, swap out the water with vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon juice or orange juice.
  4. Now it’s time to color that icing! Use food coloring, and remember: A little goes a long way. Add just a few drops at a time. Liquid food coloring will change the icing’s texture, so you may need to add more sugar after this step. Some Halloween-specific color tips: Yellow and red make orange; red and blue make purple; blue and yellow make green. Mix all three for brown. Black’s a little tricky to DIY, so you may have to purchase that specifically.

Keep in mind that icing gets firmer in cold air and softer when warm. The longer you hold the icing bag, the warmer the icing will get from your hand—and the softer, and runnier, it will become. To firm up too-warm icing, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes.

Decorating tips
  • If you’re icing a cookie and want to pipe the full surface, first outline the cookie’s edges before filling it in.
  • Wet icing blends as it dries. To make fun patterns, cover the cookie in one icing color, and, while it’s still wet, use another color to stripe the top.
  • Drag a toothpick through wet stripes to make small spikes along the stripe.
  • Drag the toothpick in small dots to outline different shapes.

The cookie: Simple Vanilla Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Halloween-themed cookie cutters

In a large bowl, beat softened butter for 30 seconds. Add sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can. Stir in any remaining flour.

Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for two hours in the fridge. (Don’t skip this step. It gives the ingredients time to rest and combine, and it makes a much better cookie!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, half at a time, to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes. Place cutouts on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes or until edges are lightly brown. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely before icing.

To store, layer unfrosted cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container and cover. Store at room temperature for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.

Some Bengals Losses Hurt More Than Others

There’s a little game I play in my head when the Bengals take a big lead, a little mantra I repeat to myself. Not even the Bengals can blow this lead, right? Alas, as history has shown—including this past Sunday in Indianapolis—the Bengals sure can blow seemingly insurmountable leads. Up 21-0 mere ticks into the second quarter, having run the Colts out of their dome in the opening stanza, Cincinnati looked poised to earn its first laugher of the season and just the fourth win in the 22 games Zac Taylor has coached the team, not to mention his first road victory.

Instead, like a team that’s bored with losing in all the standard ways, Taylor’s crew decided to spice things up by losing 31-27. It was egregious in multiple ways, one of which is that given the cap on attendance, there wasn’t much crowd noise to overcome as the comeback gained steam. If anything, given how many Bengals fans actually made the trip to NapTown for the game, it was something of a neutral site.

There are a million places to turn the spotlight after a crushing loss like this, but for me it was the failure over three quarters to score a touchdown after that hot start. And that stems directly from a lack of aggressiveness on a pair of drives in the second half, when Cincinnati settled for field goals, missing one of them. Randy Bullock, who will hit every single field goal when the game is 17-7 in the second quarter but inevitably blow the crucial kicks, hit the upright with the score 28-27 Indy, which meant that Joe Burrow was forced to play for the touchdown late, resulting in a game-sealing interception when he lost sight of a Colts safety screaming back into the middle of the field.

Settling for three is a loss for the offense, but doing so on fourth and short in a tight game on the road is a body blow. Especially when converting fourth downs is something—one of the few things—the Bengals do well! They have kept the drive going 10 of 11 times this season, and if you factor in the last quarter of 2019 they’re 15 of their last 18 on fourth down. I mean, at this point, they should stop kicking altogether.

Meanwhile, Carlos Dunlap, who watched most of the action (“socially distanced from the bench” as he put it on his Instagram account) while a bunch of practice squad players and lowly drafted rookies were on the field getting rolled, has joined A.J. Green in letting his discontent be known. Actually, “The Other Lap” has been griping since the summer, and when combined with Green and the Trae Waynes debacle (along with Cordy Glenn last year), it’s clear that the veterans aren’t in total buy-in mode with Taylor. This is the kind of stuff that happens with losing franchises, and the Bengals have black belts in player alienation, so it isn’t surprising, just depressing.

(That doesn’t excuse the players, by the way. Dunlap has done nada and was deservedly benched, while Geno Atkins is either still hurt, which would hardly be surprising, or using the shoulder injury as a convenient crutch. Glenn, in a league devoid of O-line talent, isn’t on a roster anywhere.)

It all means that the clock is ticking on Taylor, which isn’t something I thought would happen until next season. But when your overall record is 3-18-1 and the lockerroom is grumbling, the heat gets turned up, even though Taylor’s actual performance has hardly been egregious. I mean, think how easily the team could be 3-3 or even 4-2 right now. His main issue, aside from the staff he put together, appears to be communication, which ironically was supposed to be his strong suit. He seems to spend all his talking time with Burrow while blindsiding the rest of the team with his decisions—that’s how the situation has been portrayed by the disgruntled vets, anyway.

This isn’t quite like Dave Shula, who was fired after blowing a 21-point lead, by the way. The players were openly mocking Shula to his face. But the results are what they are, and while I still doubt Taylor loses his job after two seasons, especially with the COVID excuse so handy—and, to be fair, legit—it’s worrying that this is where we are after just 22 games on the sideline.

There were some positives to take from the Colts game, of course. Indeed, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out in this space (and then failed to heed my own advice), this season isn’t especially about wins and losses in the big picture. It’s fair to wonder about said big picture, as elucidated above, but there was a reason the team had the large lead to choke away in the first place. Burrow continues to be strong on intermediate passes, not hesitating to ram balls into tight windows and throwing with anticipation (until his final throw, alas). He’s also displaying a complete command of the offense, several times faking out the Colts with pre-snap motions designed to get the defense thinking one way, only to be hit with a play to newly opened space.

Tee Higgins is quickly blooming into the player he was drafted to be. Sunday’s game illustrated his skill set. No burner, Higgins seldom got much separation on his routes, the deep pass he caught notwithstanding. But he’s outstanding at attacking the ball and expanding his catch radius and is, for a player who isn’t especially fast, extremely tough to bring down before he rolls up yards after the catch. Green got off the schneid on Sunday (though he remains the worst NFL receiver by DYAR by a wide margin), and Tyler Boyd continues to be Tyler Boyd. Tee’s rapid development would allow the dream of this three-wide set becoming the monster we all hoped it could be to achieve fruition in the back half of the season.

On defense, issues elsewhere aren’t affecting safety Jessie Bates, who’s blossomed into a Pro Bowl-level player. His sensational interception showed off the ball skills he brought into the league, while he’s clearly improved as a tackler and has shown tremendous instincts all season. Indy did a good job getting Vonn Bell matched up in coverage and took advantage, but in general the two safeties complement one another’s game quite well.

Cincinnati is in the midst of a brutal stretch of its schedule, which is why losing this one hurt more than usual. Up next are the Browns at home, before dates with the unbeaten Titans and Steelers. Cleveland won’t be the same team that ran all over Cincinnati back in week two, not with Nick Chubb sidelined, but they remain a formidable team offensively, at least when not facing a dominant defense like Pittsburgh. The Browns have had two seasons—a pair of godawful showings vs. Baltimore and Pittsburgh and four decent to very good games against the rest of the league. Sounds very Bengals-like, no?

Baker Mayfield is dinged up but expected to play. This is the last chance this season to get some shots in at the mouthy upstate QB. In the first meeting, he was untouched as the Browns O-line whitewashed Cincinnati’s D. Time for defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo to restore the luster he earned two weeks ago and design a game plan that will fluster Mayfield, who has shown a predilection toward turnovers and poor play when uncomfortable in the pocket. That probably means a lot of blitzing, as the front line is in tatters.

The Browns defense, Myles Garrett aside, has been as mediocre and hit-or-miss as Cincinnati’s this year. And the Bengals will have a huge special teams advantage, which will surprise everyone still hot over Bullock’s miss. Cleveland, however, is 31st in the NFL in the third phase, so expect a few issues from them in the kicking game.

The goal will once again be to get a lead and force the opponent to throw. Ideally, they’ll be ahead by so much that not even the Bengals could blow it.

Robert Weintraub heads up Bengals coverage for Cincinnati Magazine and has written for The New York Times, Grantland, Slate, Deadspin, and Football Outsiders and authored four books, including his newest, “The Divine Miss Marble” from Penguin Random House. You can follow him on Twitter at @robwein.